Sterilized On World Population Day
Edit 14APR12: Wow, it looks like I’m not the only one interested in telling their tubal ligation story. Scotia shared hers on this very blog. Additionally, Alicia Domina recently posted her own story on her own blog. Hopefully, anyone who finds themselves in the position of perusing a tubal ligation, but wants information on the procedures from the first-hand perspective of patients, as I looked for prior to my own tubal, can find these posts as well as whatever answers they may seek. If you have had a tubal, or a similar procedure, I encourage you to share your experience somewhere, as doing so might help others in ways you couldn’t predict.
I finally got fixed! Warning, some TMI.
Yesterday, July 11, was Word Population Day, a day to raise awareness of worlds growing population problems, and approximately the 24th anniversary of the world population rising to 5 billion (just for reference, the world population is expect to exceed 7 billion this year.) July 11 was also – and I swear I didn’t plan this – the day that I had my tubal ligation. If I’d known it was WPD, I would have made all kinds of jokes about celebrating way too seriously, but I didn’t actually find out about WPD until just this morning. No matter, I wouldn’t have been able to write about it yesterday anyway.
So, yes, yesterday, I finally had that long awaited tubal. I was told at my pre-op that I should shower before the operation and use some special sponge they gave me. I was also told that my appointment wouldn’t be until 10 am. At about 6:30 am, my phone rang, telling me my appointment had moved and I needed to be at the hospital in one hour. Here, I might complain about how that’s an impossibly short amount of time to get ready, but I wouldn’t be allowed to wear make-up or even lotion that day, there was no reason for me to do anything more with my hair than to tie it back, and I dressed, well, comfortably.
When my boyfriend and I arrived at the clinic, the nurse took my ID, handed it to my BF, and whisked me away to the back. I wasn’t sure why she’d given my BF my ID, or why he wasn’t coming back with us. She told me my ID was given to him so he could pick up my medications later, and that she had some things she needed to do to prep me before my BF could come back. I put my personal belongings and my clothes into a plastic bag they provided, put on a hospital gown, and hopped into bed.
She asked me a few questions, and then came what I’d been dreading – the IV. I am absolutely terrified of needles. I don’t like the feeling of metal objects poking through and moving under my skin. It freaks me out horribly. Not to worry though, she gave me some lidocane so I didn’t feel the IV. Unfortunately, she gave me the lidocane with a needle. It’s not really pain that bothers me, understand. It’s needles. At my pre-admission yesterday, a nurse had to take a blood sample. She told me this while taking my blood pressure. My BP got so high, she had to wait for me to calm down to do it again. I was glad my BF wasn’t there to see me get the IV. He knows I’m afraid of needles, but I’d rather he didn’t see me freak out.
The room I was is was much like a large bay, full of beds, each surrounded by curtain. There were other people there, waiting for whatever surgery they arrived for. I didn’t like being left alone there. Eventually, by BF was allowed to join me. Just talking to him, even about absolutely nothing at all, did wonders to help me relax and pass the time. We have a running joke, my BF and I, of scratching each other’s head or rubbing each other’s bellies or backs, then remarking “I need a dog,” both of us being dog-lovers. As he sat with me there, I thought he was better than any therapy dog. It’s a silly observation to anyone reading this, but it made us happy.
At one time, another nurse, one I’d never seen before, came back to ask a few questions. My name, my birth-date, what I’m here for, etc. Then she asked the most ridiculous question I’ve ever heard.
“You know you can’t ever have kids then, right?” she asked after I answered I was there for a tubal ligation. I nearly laughed in her face. Hell, maybe I did. My BF waited for her to leave before saying something snarky. How did she think that I would make it all the way to this point without even knowing what a tubal ligation was?
The doctor came back and re-introduced himself to my BF and me. He suggested using clips instead of cauterization, as it would be easier to reverse, which was in sharp contrast to what he said when we first made the appointment where he said he preferred cauterization to placing foreign objects and I agreed. I told him that if I though there was any chance at all that I would ever want reversal, I wouldn’t even be there at all. This satisfied him, and I was next visited by the anesthesiologist, who I had met Friday. We chatted for a bit, before he put sedative in my IV drip and walked away. The last thing I remember was calling to a nearby nurse, complaining that arm burned a bit. She answered that’s what sedation does. After that, my BF later told me, my head fell back into my pillow in a manner reminiscent of some dramatic movie death.
(Medical details bother some people. Highlight to read.) I had a laproscopic tubal ligation with cauterization (and IUD removal.) I had this surgery under general anesthesia, so I had a tube down my throat, and also probably had a catheter in my urethra. I don’t remember either of these being placed as I was already asleep. A light-emitting instrument called a laprocope was inserted through a small incision just under my belly-button. Through a second incision, the surgical instrument used to cut my Fallopian tubes was inserted. To make my Fallopian tubes more accessible, a uterine manipulator was inserted through my vagina and cervix and into my uterus and was used to push it up, and also my abdomen was filled with air so I probably looked six months pregnant.
Due to the residual affects of anesthesia, I don’t remember much of what happened at the hospital after I woke up. Most of what I write here is what my BF either observed himself or was told by the nurses. I remember being startled awake by a nurse who introduced herself as Regina. I think we talked for a while, but I don’t remember much about it other than her telling me that the surgery was complication-free. I was surprised it was already over. I had no sense of time. I remember hearing someone reciting some poetry that I recognized as Robert Frost, and then explaining that they were trying to regain lucidity and then asking, “Is that the right word, lucidity?” I later discovered that this person was, in fact, myself when my BF told me later that a nurse had told him that I was reciting poetry. Odd.
I asked Regina where my BF was, and she said that was the problem. He wasn’t in the waiting room, but someone had called him. I asked for my phone, but I didn’t know where my personal bag was and my phone got no service in the hospital. I probably wouldn’t have been able to operate it anyway. Every time Regina walked away from me, I fell asleep, only to startle awake every time she came near me again. To me, she may as well have been teleporting.
Eventually, she wheeled my bed into the second recovery room, where two other nurses were waiting for me. As we approached the doors to the hall, I tried to help by reaching the button on the wall to open them. I didn’t realize that it was way too far away for me to reach, and wasn’t even the correct button anyway. I must have fallen asleep again, as the next thing I remember is the sound of my BF’s voice, startling me awake. I had to tilt my head to look at him as I couldn’t seem to manage to fully open my eyes. I do remember the amused grin on his face.
I don’t remember this, but at some point the nurses were checking my vitals and my BF said to them, as a joke, that they should threaten to give me a needle, to which I answered “that’s not funny,” as my pulse rose by 2o bpm. He told me later that I kept telling him “You’re a good boyfriend,” and, “The ladies here are so nice,” over and over. I repeated myself a lot, he says. It seems that I had no short-term memory. He said he once stood and watched me fall asleep, only to startle awake few minutes later, surprised to see him and asking him when he got there. He hadn’t even moved.
A nurse brought me some juice, which my BF held for me. I sipped a bit, then he set it aside. Each time he brought it back to me to drink some more, I’d get all surprised and excited, “Oh, juice!” Apparently, I frequently forgot it was there. A nurse stood by my bed and fiddled with the computer. I asked her if I’d seen her before just then. It turns out she’d been with me for the last hour.
Anesthesia is rough, but my BF got a good laugh.
Before it was even noon, it came time to go. My BF was sent to move his car to the front of the hospital to meet me. I had a lot of trouble just sitting up. Not only from the anesthesia, but from the air that I still had trapped in my abdomen. The anesthesia made me dizzy and off balance, but the air made it feel like I was being punched in the chest and I could hardly breathe. I got myself dressed, probably taking about three times longer than it normally should have. I noticed that there was some blood on the sheet. Embarrassed, I apologized profusely and asked for some pads, which the nurse cheerfully provided. I was glad that my boyfriend was already gone.
I’ve been pushed in wheelchairs before, but this was the first time I felt like I really needed it. I could hardly stand on my own. When the elevator began to descend, the movement of the air in my abdomen and the anesthesia clouding my mind made me feel like we were in free-fall for a moment before I realized I was only imagining it and was still safe in my chair. The nurse pushing my chair told me that she was afraid of elevators, at which point I shared with her my fear of needles. We met my BF at the front of the hospital and she helped me into his car. Almost immediately, I fell asleep again.
I woke up when he parked in front of his barracks. I tried to let myself out of his car, but I couldn’t stand. I went from sitting in the car’s seat to sitting on the car’s door-frame. With my BF’s help, we walked over to his building. I tried to climb the stairs, but was stuck at the first step. I tried my best but just didn’t have the coordination for stairs. It might have helped if the stairs would hold still.
My BF picked me up and carried me up the stairs bridal style. It was easy for him. He’s a soldier and I, at 87 lbs to his 220, weigh less than the gear he had to carry every day in Iraq. If I were sober, I might have found that embarrassing. In his room, he made me a sandwich and poured me a glass of orange juice. I had intended to eat it so I’d have something in my stomach when I took my pills. I was prescribed Motrin for pain and swelling, Vicodin for pain, and ZoFran for the nausea Vicodin always causes me whenever I take it. I took the Motrin, but didn’t feel as though I really needed the Vicodin. My BF played an episode of Top-Gear, a favorite show of ours, but I fell asleep within minutes. BF cuddled up to me and we had a nice and well deserved nap together.
A few hours later, the effects of the anesthesia had worn off enough that I woke up on my own, without someone else needing to wake me, and was even able to stand and walk around a bit and could even walk up and down stairs on my own. The air in my abdomen was my biggest problem, as I could feel the air move every time I changed position. It hurt but not enough that I felt the need for Vicodin. Although I had a lot of trouble walking and breathing at the same time, I was told that walking would help my body absorb the air, so I joined my BF to drop off our application for a town-home, and then to the grocery store.
Today, I still feel the air in my abdomen move whenever I do. It hurts to roll over, or sit up, and I have to wait for the air to settle, and I’m quickly winded whenever I try to walk somewhere. For some reason, my shoulders and neck occasionally hurt very badly, which is something my doctor warned me about. I have a bit of a cough this morning, as the tube placed down my throat has irritated it and caused flem to build up in my throat which made my voice sound very funny this morning. With air in my abdomen, coughing is a bit difficult. This, however, was alleviated with orange juice. (More TMI ahead. Highlight to read.) Urinating this morning was uncomfortable, which surprised me somewhat, and was probably because of the catheter which the nurse who called to check up on me this morning told me I probably had. I have some light vaginal bleeding. My uterus, vagina, and incision points, however, don’t bother me at all. I feel no pain there. Honestly, the only pain I have felt has been tolerable, not even enough to make me feel the need for pills, and subsides if I just say still. It’s really not that bad, and I think that this is the best decision I’ve ever made. (Edit: All of this went away within a few days.)
(Edit: this is pure laymen speculation, don’t take it seriously.) I have had one thought about post tubal ligation syndrome, a subject I’d written about in a previous post. I wonder if the symptoms reported by women who claim to have this syndrome are caused by the residual effects of the air in their abdomens. That would explain why their symptoms are so rare that no studies on tubal ligation has been able to show a link between their symptoms and tubal ligation, as most people’s bodies are able to deal with the air on their own, and many tubal, although I’m not sure how many, follow a Cesarean section, which may or may not require the abdomen to be inflated with air. It would also explain why women report their symptoms disappearing after a tubal reversal, as being cut open again would allow the air to escape. In such a case, cutting or reconnecting the Fallopian tubes would have nothing to do with it, so it would still make no sense to call it post tubal ligation syndrome. I’m not a doctor or a scientist, so don’t take this blind speculation too seriously. It’s just a random thought I had while coming off anesthesia. In the off-chance that I do experience any negative symptoms though (edit: I didn’t. The air bubble went away after a few days, like like it was supposed to,) the possiblity of trapped air is something I think I’d address before doing something as drastic as a tubal reversal.
I’m a bit uncomfortable and have trouble breathing, but I’ve never been happier or more optimistic about the security of my future. This was a great decision, and one I’m sure I’ll never regret. Happy World Population Day.
Posted on 2011/07/12, in childfree, Countdown To Tubal, Diary, Prochoice and tagged childfree, countdown to tubal, feminism, feminist, pro-choice, prochoice, sterilization, tubal, tubal ligation. Bookmark the permalink. 43 Comments.