I’ve always found it helpful when other women describe their experiences with various fertility treatments and surgeries -reading their detailed personal accounts made me feel more prepared for the saline sonogram, hysteroscopy and polyp removal I had last fall. So, since I’m one day post-op after my septum resection surgery and still chilling at home recovering, I thought I would use this time to write up a blog on my experience.
A Month Before: My septum removal was scheduled for Monday, 3/23. My prep for the surgery began about 3 weeks earlier, when I went in for Day 3 bloodwork and started birth control pills to keep the lining of my uterus thin. I was a little nervous about taking the pill, because I had previously experienced unpleasant side effects from it in my early twenties. However, I dutifully took it, and I made it through – though it did feel like 3 straight weeks of the worst PMS ever! Not everyone reacts to hormonal birth control the same way, and I have many friends who don’t seem to have ANY problem with it. So don’t take my experiences as the norm. But, damn, am I happy to be done with those pills!
The Morning of: On the morning of the surgery, Alex and I actually got to sleep late, since I didn’t have to report to check-in till 10 AM. As with most morning surgeries, I couldn’t drink or eat anything after midnight the night before. I tend to get dried out really easily at night, so I chugged a bunch of water and tea after dinner, and also hooked up our humidifier next to my side of the bed. Worked like a charm.
Due to delays in the operating room, my surgery was pushed back a bit, so I ended up chilling in the waiting room for two hours. They were playing Rachel Ray, which I thought was an interesting choice for a waiting room of people who can’t eat or drink. However, I was kind of masochistically transfixed by Rachel Ray and one of the guys from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy making thick-cut porkchops with a brown butter sage sauce.
Let’s Get This Show On The Road: They brought me back to get prepped for surgery around 12 PM. I got a bag for my belongings, and changed into the gown, a robe, that ugly hair-net thing, and some nifty slipper socks (way better than the paper booties I had last time!) The nurse asked me some more questions, and then brought me to my own little room. This was another pleasant surprise, since last time I was in more of an ER set up – a large room with a bunch of curtains partitioning patients. I’m not sure if the room I was in this time was used for pediatric patients, as it was bright yellow and covered with decals of jungle animals, but I was rocking it! They got me set up in bed with a blanket and pillows and hooked me to an IV. At this point, I started to relax – they make you really comfortable, and the nurse was super nice, so there isn’t much to get nervous about. Alex got to come back and visit me, and he stayed with me until the doctor and anesthesiologist came in.
I have to say, the anesthesiologist was a little weird, but he did not waste any time getting me ready for surgery. He introduced himself, told me my last name was very “royal” sounding, and then whipped out a needle and exclaimed (yes, exclaimed, he was very excited about it): “I’m going to put something in your IV to relax you!” Maybe it was just me, but that stuff hit me harder than last time – I immediately started to feel groggy and out of it (in a good way). I remember being wheeled into the OR, thinking they had some pretty chill music on the radio, and then the anesthesiologist asked me to take some deep breaths. That’s it – I was out! Not scary at all.
What kind of sandwich did you have again? (AKA – Coming out of anesthesia): Coming out of the anesthesia was also a more woozy/out-of-it experience than last time. I experienced some involuntary shaking/spasms in my muscles and felt very woozy for about five minutes. I also experienced some heavier cramping right after waking up, but that subsided very quickly.
A warning about blood – I could feel myself bleeding, kind of like a heavy period, when I woke up. They do put a pad down there, but it always seems to get jostled into some weird place (not under you where it should be!) by the time you wake up. In this case, I think it was on top of me – real helpful. Once you’re fully awake, they’ll give you some lovely hospital underwear to hold the pad in place.
This time, they let Alex back during Stage 1 recovery. If nothing else, this definitely illustrated my warped sense of time. I thought he was in there for 5 minutes, but according to Alex it was more like 30 – and I kept asking him what kind of sandwich he had for lunch. My priorities are pretty predictable!
Overall, I think I still tolerate anesthesia really well. I was only in stage 1 recovery for a short time. Then they took out my IV and wheeled me out to Stage 2 recovery, where I was able to have some cranberry juice and crackers, and finally get dressed in my own clothes! The nurse wheeled me down while Alex got the car, and after a short drive, I was home and chilling on the couch. All in all the whole experience at the hospital took about 5 hours.
The Recovery: The doctor ordered one week of pelvic rest after the procedure. The recovery was very similar to the recovery after my last hysteroscopy. I definitely had more bleeding this time due to the septum resection – more like a period, whereas last time I only had light spotting. But the bleeding subsided in less than 24 hours. I didn’t even have to take any advil afterwards – I experienced very little cramping and felt pretty great for the rest of the day. I’d still recommend taking it easy and not pushing yourself. I stayed on the couch for most of the day. I’d suggest keeping screen time to a minimum, since I found myself getting woozy after trying to get some work done on my laptop. So, just rest! Eating normally is fine, as long as you start slow. In my typical fashion, I had an appetite almost immediately after waking up, so I just started with light foods (soup and crackers). Once I tolerated that well, I went on to eat normally for dinner. I actually had Alex pick us up tacos from Chipotle – and suffered no ill effects ;-).
Taking time Off: I usually take two days off from work (one day for the procedure, one for recovery). While I could probably push through and get back to work immediately, I’d rather be safe than sorry. I’m a teacher, so I spend most of my day on my feet – it can be pretty draining when you are still not feeling 100%. I think you recover faster if you can give your body adequate time to rest. Some women also have a laparascopy done at the same time as their septum resection. Since this is a more invasive procedure, and requires an incision to be made, I believe that the recovery time is a little longer. If you just have a hysteroscopy like I did (no incision, they go through the cervix) you should feel back to normal in 1-2 days.
Medications: I started taking estrogen pills (estradiol) the night of the surgery, and will continue to take two doses a day for the next four weeks. On week three, I will also start progesterone pills along with the estradiol. By the end of the four weeks I should get my period! (After having my cycle medically lengthened to 8 weeks, I have a feeling that period is going to be a BITCH!)
Where do we go from here? I have a follow-up with the doctor in one week. Hopefully he will do an ultrasound and be able to see how effective the septum resection was and confirm that my uterus is healing nicely. Once I finish the 4 weeks of estrogen/progesterone and get my period, we will be cleared to ttc again! So, hopefully, we will be back in the game by the end of April. My doctor said we can discuss options to begin fertility treatments as early as May or June. Or, Alex and I can continue to try on our own for a few months. Clearly, we have a lot to think about.