I had a laparoscopic surgery to remove a 3cm dermoid cyst from my ovary. I wanted to share my experience with you all and hope it helps you know what to expect.
The doctor asked me to make a decision in the event that the cyst couldn't be removed laparoscopically. I had to choose whether I would prefer the whole ovary and cyst to be removed laparoscopically, or to have her switch to an open surgery to remove just the cyst. I had to choose before the surgery started, so she would know what to do if things didn't go as planned. Luckily, everything went smoothly, and she didn't have to resort to either of those options. But it was a difficult decision to make and I was caught off guard by it at the pre-op appointment.
The Dr. told me to buy a Fleet enema and said I should use it the evening before surgery. This was terrifying to me, because I had never used it before. It ended up not being that bad, but only about 1/4 of the liquid came out of the bottle the first time I used it. So, I had to do it a second time with the same bottle. Again, only about 1/2 of the liquid came out (total). I ended up calling the on-call nurse that's available through my insurance to ask if this was ok. An enema was the last thing I wanted to deal with the night before surgery, since I was already anxious and trying to make sure everything was ready (cleaning the house, eating something before midnight, packing a little bag, etc.).
I asked if I could get my pain meds before the surgery, so I wouldn't have to do it when I was leaving the hospital. I recommend doing this. I didn't want to make the car ride home after the surgery any longer than it needed to be.
-I arrived at 7am for the surgery. Between 7am-9am, I changed into a gown, nurses asked me questions, took my blood pressure, hooked me up to an IV, etc. The IV made me have to go to the bathroom 2 or 3 times in that short period of time and I also felt a bit nauseous (not sure if it was the IV or just nerves). So I had to walk in my gown with the IV down the hall to the bathroom several times.
-My doctor and the anesthesiologist came by to talk to me before the surgery. The anesthesiologist asked when I last ate/drank anything, if I had any loose teeth (choking hazard), and a bunch of other questions.
-I got my period the day of surgery (it came early), but it was not a problem. The nurse provided a pad and mesh hospital underwear.
Waking up after surgery:
-I woke up and felt pretty good. Didn't feel much pain at all. I got moved to a private curtained room for an hour or so, until I was able to get up and use the bathroom. The nurse gave me a pain pill to swallow and some pudding and ice chips. I was surprised how easily I got up out of the hospital bed.
-When I went to the bathroom for the first time, I felt like I had no control of my bladder. I peed as soon as I sat on the toilet. That went away after a few times of going to the bathroom.
Here's the food I bought for recovery: chicken soup, crackers, whole grain pasta, bran muffins, rice pudding, jello, whole wheat bread, peanut butter & jelly, sliced turkey, hard boiled eggs, peanuts, ice pops, high fiber cereal, yogurt, and fruit (bananas, apples, grapes, etc.).
I was given vicoden-tylenol combo pills and ibuprofin (600mg). I took the vicoden for about 3 days, but I started having side effects (seeing disturbing images when I closed my eyes) that went away as soon as I stopped taking it. I continued the ibuprofin and started taking OTC tylenol. The tylenol seemed to be giving me headaches, so I stopped that after a few days and only took ibuprofin.
After about a week, I didn't feel like I was in pain, but I woke up with my heart racing and a throbbing feeling in the chest/abdomen. I went about 12 hours with no pain meds, but my heart rate kept increasing. I called the doctor and they told me to keep taking pain meds. Within 30 minutes of taking ibuprofin, my heart rate went back to normal. So, even though I didn't feel a specific "pain", I guess I still needed pain meds while my insides were healing. I ended up staying on the prescription ibuprofin for over 3 weeks and then switched to OTC ibuprofin (lower dose) for another week.
Symptoms I experienced:
-Feeling exhausted and/or feeling like the wind was knocked out of me after being out of bed for more than 30 minutes (walking or sitting).
-Stomach felt warmer than the rest of my body.
-Difficulty bending down, twisting. (Makes it hard to get dressed, put shoes on, shave legs, drive a car, reach stuff in kitchen drawers/cabinets, etc.)
-Feeling muscle cramps in my stomach constantly while out of bed (cramps like you get while jogging, not period cramps).
-Pain near the incisions was pretty mild and only lasted a week or so.
-Trouble breathing at night.
-Nauseau/loss of appetite for a day or so.
-Sporadic sharp pains - near right ovary, under rib cage, lower-middle abdomen. It seemed I felt a different pain every day. But it would come and go. The doctor told me it might be the nerves healing.
Week by week:
-I felt pretty good the first two days after surgery. I mean, I was walking like a 90-year old woman and it was hard to go from laying to standing position. But I wasn't in much pain.
-By the 3rd or 4th day, I guess the anesthesia finally wore off, because I felt pretty uncomfortable. My back hurt, my belly hurt, I had trouble breathing while laying down (woke up gasping a few times). I used a heating pad for my back, which helped a lot. I also had some post-nasal drip, which made me have coughing fits (which hurt my belly). But I could only lay on my back, so I couldn't do much about the post-nasal drip other than blow my nose and drink tea.
-On day 7, I felt a lot better. I would feel tired after being out of bed for more than 30 minutes (even just sitting).
-By day 11/12, I finally could walk down the stairs to my car and back. I was also able to be up long enough to cook dinner.
-After 14 days, I was able to go to work for a few hours, and to shower fully by myself (before that my husband was helping me reach my feet because it hurt to bend down).
-After 2 weeks, I had my first post-op appointment. I drove myself there. I sat on a pillow in the car, but every bump in the road still hurt. The doctor removed the waterproof coverings (those were the only coverings I had -- there were no bandages). The doctor answered my questions, and basically said what I was experiencing was normal.
Weeks 3 & 4:
-During weeks 3 & 4, recovery was slow. Some days I felt pretty good, other days I felt like it was a step backward. I tried to walk a little more every day, but it was slow. My ab muscles felt tight and it was hard to take big steps without feeling pain.
-During the 5th week, I started to feel better. I was out of bed almost all day, able to walk slowly, sit at the computer, cook, shower, walk up stairs, go food shopping, etc. without getting exhausted.
By week 6, I felt about 95% back to normal. I was finally able to sleep on my side again, with slight discomfort.
At the post-op appointment, my doctor said it might take up to 6 months to be 100% back to normal. It's been about 2 months since surgery, and I feel 99% back to normal. I have an occasional twinge in my abdomen, but it goes away within a few minutes. I still get tired walking uphill or upstairs, but hoping that goes away soon.
Hope you find this helpful!