Having your first laparoscopy is scary. For one, this is going to be where you find out if you have endometriosis or not. And two, if you haven't had surgery before it can be nerve-wracking. I mean hell, even if you have had surgery it's always scary. I’ve had 4 laparoscopies for Endometriosis so far, yet I'm always a little nervous. That’s why I’ve come up with this checklist to help other women know what to expect on surgery day, what to bring with them, and what to do afterward at home and at post-op.
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What to Expect on Surgery Day
Once you get to the hospital you will go to admitting and then you will go to pre-op. Here you will change into your surgery gown, give a urine sample, possibly blood, and then have your vitals checked. Your nurse will also go over questions with you. Then you will wait to see your surgeon and anesthesiologist. The waiting can make you nervous so I suggest reading or playing games on your phone to help the time pass by.
2. Meeting the Team
After waiting a bit, your surgeon will come in. They will explain the surgery to you one last time. If you have any questions or concerns, this is the time to ask them. Then the anesthesiologist will come in. They will ask if you have had it before and if you have had any reactions to it. For example, nausea is a common side effect. You can also let them know if you are really nervous so they can give you the anti-anxiety medication before you go to the operating room. I like this best since the operating room can be a little intimidating.
3. Operating Room
Once you are all set to go, now you will be taken to the operating room. If you have already received the anti-anxiety medication then you may not remember much of this. If you haven’t, then you will remember this part up until you receive it or the anesthesia. You will need to move from your bed to the operating table. Then the surgical team will attach some monitors to you, give you lots of blankets, and also talk to you to keep you distracted. Then it’s time to give you the anesthesia. They’ll let you know they’re giving it to you and then all of a sudden you’re asleep!
And now all of a sudden you’re awake! You will wake up in the recovery room with your recovery nurse. Make sure to let her know if you’re experiencing pain so that she can make sure you’re comfortable. You can also ask her questions or anything you need. You may not remember much of this later since you will be very sleepy from all the medications and anesthesia. But congrats, you did it! You just had surgery for endometriosis.
What to Bring With You to The Hospital
Your ID and Insurance Card
First things first, you must have your ID (or any form of identification) to get admitted into surgery. Once you get to the hospital, you go through registration where they need to make a copy of it. You will also be asked for your insurance card if you are using insurance for the procedure.
Someone to Take You Home
Another very important item to bring to the hospital isn't even an item. It is a human being. Make sure to bring a friend, family member, or spouse with you for support but mainly to take you home. The hospital will not let you leave if you don't have someone picking you up. They will also not let you take an Uber/Lyft/Rideshare alone, you need to go home with someone you know.
If you can't find someone to actually come and stay for the surgery but they can pick you up, then that's fine. If so, make sure to bring a small purse/bag and make sure everything is in it when you go into surgery. Your nurse should be able to keep it with your clothes. I mentioned this since you won't have someone around to hold your stuff for you and hospitals don't like being responsible for a whole bunch of valuables/belongings. So keep it small and compact. I personally like bringing my No, Thanks Endo Tampon/Pad pouch.
After the surgery, you will most likely be bleeding if you had a D&C, tissue removed from your endometrium, or an IUD insertion. The first time I had my lap, I remember being in recovery and having to use the bathroom. The nurse helped my very-medicated-self get out of bed and then just a stream of blood stared rushing down my leg and onto the floor. I just looked up at my nurse and he said: "You may have some bleeding..." Yes Brian, I just might. They will give you pads but I'm not the biggest fan of pads that are so thick it feels like you're wearing a diaper and I'm sure you feel the same way. So I would bring your favorite pads. 1-2 should be fine, but if there's a chance you are staying the night then bring a few more.
P.S. This means you should wear some "period" underwear to put on after surgery. This is not the time to bring out the sexy lace or g-strings.
I wouldn't say that hospital socks are the best socks in the world and have the best reviews. They often slide down your feet since they're XL and very thin. So if you get cold as I do, bring a pair of fuzzy socks and you can put them on after your surgery.
You should also wear very comfy clothing to your surgery so you can change into them afterward or when you're going home. When I say comfy I mean endo-belly-proof sweatpants and either a big t-shirt or a big hoodie. You are going to be very bloated after the surgery. Why? Because they pump your abdomen with air in order to see and use their tools better. So big belly calls for big sweatpants, right? Which brings me to my last item.
Anaesthesia, pain medications, anti-anxiety medications. What do all these have in common? They constipate you. So having a full belly filled with gas and being constipated for a few days it very, very uncomfortable. Therefore, I would bring Gas X (found at any local drug store) with you so you can take it as soon as you leave and to start getting it out. Walking around is the best way to relieve the gas but it can be hard when you’re in so much pain, especially that first day.
Tips for When You’re Back at Home
You’re going to have some pain and discomfort but it’s very important that you try and walk around. This is to help relieve gas and prevent blood clots. I personally live in an apartment building so I walked around on my floor a few times for the first day or two. If you live in a house, you can try walking around the neighborhood. I also walked around my neighborhood after a few days. This helps so much with the gas and the pain associated with it. I have found that it works 10x better than gas medication.
Your doctor will most likely prescribe you medications to help relieve your pain. Make sure you take them as prescribed and on schedule. You want to do this so you stay ahead of your pain and keep the medication in your system. If you miss a dose, the pain may come back with a vengeance. So take your meds on time and you should stay comfortable throughout the day.
With all the medications you’ve taken, you will definitely be constipated. You’ll want to grab a stool softener or gentle laxative to take. I personally love Miralax since it is tasteless, doesn’t cause abdominal cramping, and works very well. You can also try a stool softener like Colace. You can find these items at a drug store since they are over-the-counter.
When you go to your post-op appointment, you want to make sure your doctor gives you a copy of the surgery report, biopsy results, and photos from the surgery if they haven’t already. They will have sent tissue samples from your surgery to confirm Endometriosis and test for malignancies. Make sure to ask them to go over it with you especially if you don’t understand some of the medical lingo. You’ll want to keep these documents safe at home in case you need them for future reference.
Now you have a checklist to use before your procedure in order to be prepared for surgery, know what to expect, what to bring with you, and what to do at home. I would actually add a bonus item to bring which would be your positivity. Make sure that you stay positive during this whole process and try to calm your nerves ahead of time. It's always going to be a little scary to go into surgery but getting a diagnosis is completely worth it in my book. So good luck and wishing you all a safe recovery!