I was totally unprepared for my first Laparoscopic surgery to look for endometriosis. Between the pre-surgical paperwork I’d received and my own memories of having my gallbladder out, I really didn’t expect it to be a big deal.
When I had my gallbladder out, I’d been having SO MUCH pain that the surgery was really nothing and I was actually in less pain after the surgery than I’d been before. Add to that the pre-op paperwork and discussion with my Dr and I really thought the laparoscopy would be no big deal.
The pre-op paperwork had me expecting MAYBE a week of pain and discomfort after the surgery. That was so not the case. So, for those with fibromyalgia who may be planning for laparoscopic surgery, here’s a few tips to help you prepare.
1. Pre-Op Prep – Your Dr will likely ask that you take something to clean your bowels out before surgery. This makes it easier for them to move things out-of-the-way and see what they need to say.
The prep is basically the same as what you would do for a colonoscopy. The earlier you can stop eating and start your prep, the better. The later you start the more likely you are to be up all night before surgery.
Edit: Thankfully, in the few years since this first surgery I’ve noticed a couple of changes. First, my follow-up surgeries haven’t required the same level of full prep. Second, even when I’ve done full prep (prior to colonoscopies) they’ve changed how it’s done so it seems to be easier (or maybe I’ve just gotten used to it).
2. Get Meds Filled – If your Dr doesn’t bring it up, make sure you go ahead and ask for some pain meds for after surgery. Whatever normally works best for you, is what you should ask for. In addition to getting this filled before surgery, make sure you have at least a couple of weeks worth of all your meds ready to go.
3. Loose Clothes – When they tell you to wear loose comfortable clothes to surgery, there is a reason. When you leave surgery you WILL be bloated, and your regular clothes will not be comfortable. This includes your undies. Wear low-cut briefs (not granny panties).
You will not want anything near your belly button. If you’ve got sweats or pajama pants that are a size too big, those are the ones you’ll want to be wearing.
4. Laundry – Beyond what you wear to surgery, you’ll want to have your laundry (and all your housework) caught up prior to surgery. You won’t be doing it for a week or so.
5. Change Your Sheets – The day before surgery, change your sheets. When you come home (and for a week or two) you won’t want to change them. But, you will want to climb into nice clean sheets to recuperate. If you prefer to recuperate elsewhere, make sure that place is ready to go.
6. Prepare Your Meals – If you have a specific diet, or don’t have someone who can be there to make sure you have meals prepared, then prepare meals in advance and freeze them.
If I had it to do over again I would have made a few gallons of juice and frozen it, as well as made sure I had some other easy to grab/digest foods on hand (edit: I did this for future surgeries and it made my life easier). You’ll want to avoid foods that cause gas or bloating (spicy, beans, raw veggies, etc).
7. Pack a Bag – You may end up spending the night in the hospital, so have a bag ready to go that has everything you might need if an overnight stay is required (extra undies, phone charger, medicines, and even some snacks).
8. Make Sure your Chaperone Knows What’s in your Bag – It does you no good to pack your Just-In-Case Bag, if the person who takes you to surgery has no idea that you packed it. That’s what happened to me.
I was so out of it when they checked me in that I couldn’t tell my husband what (if anything) I needed. I really didn’t need anything, but he went home to get my meds, retainer, etc only to finally look in the purse I’d brought and find that I’d already packed them.
9. Pillow! – I wish someone had told me about this prior to my surgery, but put a pillow in the car (the longer the ride home the more important this is). You may want your pillow in the hospital if you get checked in. But, you WILL want your pillow on the way home.
Hold a pillow to your stomach on the ride home to help soften the blow of any bumps in the road. Use that pillow as you walk around the house, as well. Hold it to your stomach and it will make walking so much easier.
10. Miralax – Pain meds will make you constipated. You are already bloated (and will be for a while) and constipation only makes that worse and adds to the pain. Start with Miralax (or something similar) once you get home and take it regularly to keep you regular. It will greatly help decrease some of the gas/bloating pain.
Your recovery time will vary depending on what they do while they are inside you. Had my surgery only been exploratory (as it started out) my recovery time probably would have been much shorter (probably).
The more they do (remove) the longer your recovery time will likely be and the more pain you will have (they moved a lot and cut a lot, and probably bruised a lot). Don’t freak out (like I did) over how long it takes to recover. If you are concerned talk to your Dr. If you are still in pain, ask for more pain meds. The bloating can last many weeks after surgery.
I’ve had laparoscopic surgery twice since I originally wrote this post. I’ve learned that the aftermath varies a lot, and can be dependent on your surgeon, as well as what they do when inside you. My first was by far the worst. My last surgery was so easy it was silly.
Have you been through Laproscopic surgery? What tips do you have for those preparing for the procedure?