Friday, May 20, 2011

6 Week Post Op Hiatus.

After years and years of dealing with stress urinary incontinence I am ready to take a risk and fix the problem once and for all.

Let me start by giving a "little" back ground information: I had my first bladder infection at the age of 3. It was very traumatic and I remember it well. I remember telling my mother over and over that I had to pee even though I had just went. I remember being distraught over having to be in the car on the way to the Dr's office. How could I be away from the bathroom that long?  To this day I have a mild sort of PTSD every time it starts to feel like I am going to have a bladder infection.

In my 20's, after years and years of bladder infections, I trusted a  urologist who "dilated" my urethra in his office. He said I had strictures which were causing the infections. After that I had to go home and sit in a bathtub with warm water to ease the pain and wondered if I would ever be comfortable enough to get out of that tub again. I sat in there for hours. The good news was the procedure dramatically reduced my infections.  What also helped, for those of you that might have this problem, was ALWAYS voiding before and after sex (no matter what) and wiping front to back. Such a simple thing to not introduce E. Coli into the urethra.

When I was 30, I was told I had an incurable condition called adenomyosis. The only way to cure my 2 weeks of back pain I had every month would be to have a hysterectomy. Not a nurse at the time and naive to what this would really to do me, I was ready to be pain free. I opted for the hysterectomy. Afterwards I discovered that without a cervix, my orgasms would never be the same and that without a uterus my bladder and urethra would drop over time. The pathology on my uterus ended up coming back as endometriosis, maybe not curable but at least treatable. They don't do hysterectomies now like they did back then.

In my 40's the incontinence was rapidly becoming out of control. I could not jump, run, laugh, sneeze, or cough without peeing on myself. As a nurse you hear and see all the horror stories of good surgeries gone bad. I was scared to death to have anything artificial put in my body. Erosion of my bladder or my urethra would lead to a life of constant and continual urinary leakage, not to mention infection, and smell! As a young vibrant woman, not an option for me.

I opted for a BURCH procedure done by a highly recommended surgeon in 2007. 5 days into my recovery with a foley catheter attached to my leg, I had to pull a drowning 70 pound dog out of our pool. I was home alone and dog sitting. I couldn't let my niece's dog drown. I just couldn't. The other mistake I made after that surgery was to start exercising right after my 6 weeks post-op period ended which included boot camp (jumping) and running. In hindsight I should've gave myself more time to heal completely. Afterwards I never was completely incontinent free but it was better than it had been in years.

Over the last 4 years I am pretty close to where I was at my worst. Tired of years and years of having this problem I sought advice from multiple experts. The answer is a TOT surgery. Transorbital Tape. From what I understand he is going to go through the top of my inner thighs and insert a piece of tape that my urethra with rest on. The tape will give it the support it needs to keep from dropping down and leaking. It's a fast 20 minute procedure. The recovery: lifting nothing heavier than 10 pounds for 6 weeks. As a nurse this mean no work for 6 weeks.

I didn't arrive at the decision lightly but I can honestly say I don't know what I am more excited about, getting my urinary incontinence fixed once and for all or having 6 weeks off work.

I have been under a lot of stress lately. I severely injured my neck last year which lead to a long year of uncertainty and limited exercise. My 4 kids have their own issues (good and bad) and as their mom, I get involved and try to help them as much as I can. My long time co-worker retired in January which left her position to me. I gladly took her position but it came with a price of more stress and responsibility.

So for me 6 weeks off work means having 6 weeks where I can focus my time & attention on me. I can read, meditate, get more than 6 hours of sleep, prepare healthy meals, do activities that don't require lifting, like scrap-booking and knitting. I will visit my grandma & my parents, water my garden, basically be more emotionally present in my life and my loved ones lives.

I love my job as a nurse but I won't lie, it does drain me, physically and emotionally. I am looking forward to this time of healing to allow my body to recover and my mind to recharge.

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