The past few years of my life have been challenging. It is almost as if I never recovered from my bowel obstruction surgery. I was re-hospitalized several times during the course of recovery. I attempted to return to work but ultimately had to quit and officially file disability. Just as I was preparing for my final disability hearing, I had to have surgery #7 in order to remove my gallbladder that not only had decided to quit working completely but managed to create over 200 stones in the process.
That surgery itself was not a big deal. I actually remember waking up in recovery feeling relieved versus the usual “did anyone get the name of that train that just ran me over” feeling and begging to be put back under. I had been so disgustingly nauseous for so long that once they removed my kaput gallbladder it was almost as if I could breathe a sigh of relief despite having been cut open.
But it didn’t end there.
My surgery didn’t quite happen as scheduled. While waiting for my surgery date, I was in so much pain and so sick that I went to the ER and they decided to go ahead with the surgery that night. I went into the OR around midnight. By 9am, my surgeon was in my room ready to send me home but he wanted to go over his findings first. I vaguely remember what he said about my gallbladder other than it was being sent to pathology but what caught my attention was his description of my lower abdomen. He said my lower abdomen/pelvic region was full of adhesions and it was only a matter of time before I obstructed again.
In that moment, something changed.
The events surrounding my obstruction were traumatic and while I knew that there was a high chance it could happen again, the thought that another obstruction was imminent set off a whole new level of anxiety and fear. It was as if he handed me a grenade, pulled the pin, and left me standing there afraid to breathe for the fear of setting off a chain of events.
I have spent the last 2 1/2 years holding that grenade afraid to move.
Any time I have tried to ask that surgeon or another general surgeon why they didn’t remove the adhesions while I was already in surgery for my gallbladder, I never got a direct answer. One would say that if they weren’t in the way, they wouldn’t mess with them. Another surgeon stated that while it was obvious that the adhesions were causing pain (and affecting certain functions), I was considered too high risk to go in preemptively so they would wait for an emergency which only made my anxiety that much worse. The more anxious I got, the more questions I asked. The more questions I asked, the more vague the responses.
I couldn’t get a clear answer and all it made me do was hold onto that grenade even tighter.
I couldn’t move forward with my life until I had an answer.
Two weeks ago I had enough. I set up an appointment with Dr H, my endo doctor/surgeon that I have been seeing for over a decade. I put it all out on the table. All of the anxiety. All of the questions. All of the anger. It was all out.
She did the same. Instead of dancing around the truth (as some of the previous surgeons had), she told the truth, no matter how scary. The truth of the matter is that they don’t want to mess with my adhesions because they don’t want to kill me. The type and placement of my adhesions would make trying to remove or separate them an extremely delicate process. She described abdominal adhesive disease and the complexity involved in treating it and she said that unless it was absolutely necessary, the risk would be too great to go in otherwise.
I could finally put the grenade down.
Is knowing the details of just how dangerous of a situation I could be in because of my history and my adhesions scary? Heck yes. Absolutely. But knowing the truth allows me to process and accept it versus constantly fearing the unknown. I am a tangible learner. I need something in my hands to understand it and being able to recognize abdominal adhesive disease, even with all its dangers, allows me to take it in, process it, and find a way to move forward despite it.
Knowing the danger is better than knowing nothing.
For the first time in years, I feel like I can move forward. I didn’t realize just how stuck I had become until I was able to move.
I can breathe.
I am finally able to sleep which means I am finally able to dream.