The Day is Here: My Cone Biopsy Surgery
The days leading up to my surgery, I felt a sense of nervousness and relief. It was as though I was finally making progress. It was assuring to know that this next round of waiting was going to give some conclusive answers. I would no longer be waiting in an area of what felt like the unknown.
Casey hadn’t been sleeping through the night and I was prepared to feel very tired on the morning of the surgery. To my surprise, it was as though she knew I needed rest – she didn’t wake once. I was grateful for the much-needed sleep.
Surgery took place that morning on Monday the 3rd of July at Middlemore hospital. Hubby and I live on the outer skirts of Auckland and we knew we’d have to get up at the crack of dawn. We set our alarm for an early 5:00am rise as there was no way I was risking getting caught in the morning traffic.
Mum was coming down to our place to babysit Casey while hubby and I went through to the hospital. I was extremely thankful to know Casey would be in good hands, plus I knew she would have a ton of fun with her Nana. They have a very special bond and love spending time with one another.
Hubby and I arrived at the hospital just before 7:00am. Once we entered the hospital, my nerves started to kick in. Although I’d had surgery just a year and a half ago with Casey (c-section), I’d never had a general anesthetic. I guess the unknown is always nerve racking, but I kept feeling positive. I’m here to get rid of any abnormal and/or cancer causing cells lurking around.
As we entered Middlemore hospital, it was eerily quiet. Not quite the buzzing and thriving hospital I’d been to previously. We made our way to the operating theater in the Harley Gray building, and everything changed once we exited the lift doors. We stepped foot into the foyer and the receptionist asked us to take our seats. She let us know that she would call us once she was ready. There were at least twenty to thirty other people sitting quietly in the room, and the receptionist ran a tight ship.
Soon enough, the receptionist called out to us (we were identified by our clothes and seating position), and we quickly approached the reception desk. She introduced herself as Margaret* and her demeanor instantly changed. Margaret was warm, kind, and approachable. She asked me for the appropriate paperwork and let us know that a nurse would be with us shortly.
Within five minutes a nurse appeared. We were escorted through to a changing area where I quickly changed into the sexiest gown imaginable. I was given a hairnet to wear, and the lovely nurse helped me get into some even sexier compression stockings.
All the standard practices took place. I was asked a series of standard questions regarding my medical history, and then had my height, weight, and blood pressure checked.
Shortly after, the surgeon arrived. Charles* was an English chap and I loved his sense of humour. He was a no-nonsense type but had an air of sarcasm that I loved. He had to finish off his part of the paperwork and ran through some more questions.
Charles didn’t waste any time getting to the heart of the matter. He mentioned how he doesn’t like to use the word cancer. Charles’ words were “today is either going to be the diagnosis or the cure.” He continued to talk us through the three possible outcomes after surgery. He broke them down into plain English, something I was extremely grateful for. The outcomes were as follows:
1) The team would find the high-grade abnormal cells during the cone biopsy, cut them out and have them tested. If the tests came back clear, everything would be rosy. No more surgeries, no more concerns (unless of course a future reading came back and I required further tests).
2) The team would find the high-grade abnormal cells but once tested the margins would show that they weren’t clear. This would mean they would need to remove more cells.
3) The diagnosis was worse than they had imagined, and further treatment would be required. Charles mentioned that if this was I would need to consider if I would have a hysterectomy, and what type of hysterectomy could be performed.
Next, we discussed the after effects of the cone biopsy. Charles advised that a cone shape would be cut out of my cervix and that this may cause narrowing of my cervix. This meant that if I was to have another baby I could be at risk of early preterm labour, and regular ultrasounds would be required during pregnancy to measure my cervix.
In terms of recovery after the operation, Charles said that I could experience cramping and bleeding for up to a month. There were a few more details but I’ll spare you, they aren’t very PG and my hubby had to leave the room when the surgeon mentioned them!
Charles was very thorough, made me feel at ease, and I knew I was in good hands.
A nurse came back to escort me through to the waiting room for theatre. Hubby was able to wait with me for approximately 10-minutes, and then I was escorted through to the operating room.
Once I arrived, I met with the Anaesthetist – a large burly man called Robert*. He talked me through the role his part played with my surgery and assured me that it was a simple procedure. The whole team really looked after me, and I felt assured knowing that I was in great hands.
Shortly after, I was taken to the operating table. I lay down, had my IV line inserted, and then was given a mask to wear. Robert said they were just going to give me some oxygen, and that was it. I was out to it. No counting down, nothing, just a very peaceful sleep.
The surgery took approximately one hour, with no complications. I woke up in the recovery room and felt extremely relaxed. After running around for the past year and a half with a little one, having a deep sleep felt like a dream!
I dozed on and off for about 15-minutes before I heard the familiarity of my hubby’s voice. He came into the ward and sat down in the chair next to me. He asked how I felt and I talked him through what had happened since we last talked. I felt surprisingly good. There was no pain. I was just a bit sleepy and I was busting for the loo.
The nurse came to check on me and I let her know I needed to go to the bathroom (which is apparently part of the check up – you can’t be discharged till you’ve been for a tinkle), and she unplugged the IV line and cords. I was told to take my time, but I decided it was time to get changed. I figured that while I felt semi human, it was best to get moving. We had a long drive and I wanted to get home to Casey.
After the loo (and one very green-faced hubby who hates hospitals), I had my IV removed and another check over. Hubby had collected my painkillers, and I was told to rest for the next 10-days. Rest meant no heaving lifting – no washing, no vacuuming, and especially no lifting Casey. The nurse and surgeon had been pretty clear on that one. I thought after a few days I would be fine… apparently not.
Hubby and I realised we needed to try and make some arrangements that afternoon so that I could rest for a few days without running around and lifting Casey.
Once we arrived home, the hospital drugs slowly started to wear off. That’s when the cramps decided to make an appearance. They were pretty uncomfortable so I took my drugs and went to bed to rest.
Hubby had a chat with Mum and they decided it would be best for Casey to go stay up at the farm for a few days. Hubby would drop her off on his way to work and then pick her up on his way home. I appreciated the help but also felt like I was about to lose a limb. I’m hardly ever apart from Casey and she’s my everything. It made me realise how lucky I am to spend every day with her.
Being forced to relax was the best thing for me. For six days I didn’t do any lifting, housework or washing. I was a well-behaved patient.
Surprisingly, recovery was a lot harder than I thought. The cramps were pretty painful for the first four days, then they eased off, that was until I overdid it. One week after the surgery, I decided to drag a heavy basket of washing and that was enough to set the cramps off. Note to self, when they say rest for ten days, they really mean it.
It’s now been two weeks since my surgery and I feel really good. I’ve been booked in for a checkup at the end of the week to discuss my results and if to see if any further treatment is needed.
I’m crossing all my fingers and toes and hoping that this is the end of this journey for me. I’d like to be able to hang up the patient cap and say goodbye to the nasty abnormal cervical cells.
Until next time…
*Names have been changed