Fair warning, this post is about to get all sorts of TMI and there is going to be liberal use of the words “vajayjay” and “vag.” There will not be a lot of medical words because I’m not a doctor. There will be a lot of details, however. I’m reliving this in the hopes that my story is helpful to others who may be on this path and could use a good friend to tell her what to expect.
After three kids, my “plumbing” was coming loose.
I know this because every time I did any of the following things, I peed on myself: cough, sneeze, run, raise my voice, climb the stairs, do the dishes, stand up, sit down, lay down, ride in a car, get out of bed or live. Even after years of this, I was convinced it was “normal” because I heard other moms say the same thing, although in hindsight they were only referencing coughing and sneezing.
This year, it got so bad I actually gave up running.
I got tired of being more worried about pee than pace. Resigned to medical intervention, I made an appointment with my OBGYN. He thought I was a good candidate for surgery and referred me to another doctor in his office who specialized in urology treatments.
Onto the meeting with the specialist. I met with her nurse and talked through ALL of my symptoms. The OBGYN did an internal exam and quickly diagnosed me with a prolapsed bladder, meaning my bladder was hanging in my vajayjay, distinctly where it did NOT belong. She also suspected I had a sagging urethra, but we had to do some actual tests to confirm that.
Good news; she confirmed it was all fixable via surgery (which I was expecting).
The next step was the “spa day” for my bladder, which was used to confirm all of the above and make sure it would be covered by insurance. Y’all, this is where we’re about to get WAY TMI. I was asked to drink approximately a gallon of water and hold it in before my exam. I showed up to my appointment early with two big gulps in hand and chugged water as fast as I could. I had ZERO idea what to expect, but even having given birth to three kids and giving up modesty forever, this was far beyond anything I would have ever hoped to do in my life.
First, I had to pee and empty my bladder — in front of the nurse.
They had a portable potty set up in the room and I just had to act like using it in front of a stranger was normal. The remainder of the 45-minute appointment included such fun as being catharized multiple times, having my bladder filled to bursting and then emptied by catheters, jumping up and down in front of the nurse while holding the catheters, peeing with a catheter in, and learning how to catheterize myself at home, just in case. To say I was shell-shocked when I left would be an understatement. Make plans for a large glass of wine the night you have to do this and warn your significant other that there will be zero touching. All that said, the tests confirmed pretty conclusively that I was a candidate for the surgery.
This procedure requires a significant recovery period, similar to that of a C-Section recovery. They will tell you there is an initial two-week period where you’re basically a sloth and then four more weeks where you still cannot lift anything more than a gallon of milk, spend a ton of time on your feet, exercise or have sex.
I’ll be honest: I spent very little time preparing myself for the surgery.
Much like giving birth, I didn’t want to know details; I just wanted to get there and get it done. I did have to go for a shopping trip for some very specific items, however. Nothing like a shopping list that reads: Betadine, Lubricated Jelly, Straight Catheters and Home Enema. Pro tip: I never did find the Straight Catheters (thankfully I never needed them), but they aren’t sold at local drugstores or Amazon; you have to go to a medical supply store for them.
The night before the surgery I had to do the home enema and was not allowed to eat or drink ANYTHING past midnight. No coffee or water even, although I was allowed to shower and brush my teeth. I had to use a special pre-surgical wash, both the night before and the morning of, which they emphasized should not come into contact with my face and my girl parts.
I woke up feeling apprehensive and headed for the hospital.
Pre-surgery was pretty standard: lots of questions, an IV and a meeting with the surgeon and anesthesiologist. Once I’d approved everything, they gave me the happy juice and wheeled me off to surgery. I do remember asking my surgeon at one point if this was a good idea, and she told me “YES!”
I woke up in recover in a SIGNIFICANT amount of pain. They gave me morphine and then some additional narcotics. I spent the remainder of the afternoon in the hospital bed, getting vitals taken and hoping someone would remove the catheter and the IV, to no avail. They fed me juice and crackers and tried to keep me comfortable, which was not easy. I shed some tears, but tried to rest and recover. I also tried to eat a salad, but that resulted in getting to use the puke bucket. #lessonlearned
Throughout the night I had difficulty getting comfortable – there was a tremendous amount of pressure on my nether regions and no position felt comfortable. But, the morning came and that meant the removal of the catheter and something I didn’t realize was bothering me – the aptly named “vag packing.” Prepping myself for the nurse to remove both those things took nerves of steel, but she was right; once they were out, I felt MUCH better.
After this, my goal was to drink water and then pee, fully emptying my bladder. Once I used the bathroom they used an external ultrasound to confirm I was empty. They encouraged me to walk around, saying it would start my healing process. I consider myself fairly fit, but one lap around the ward was enough to wear me out! Once I had completed the pee test twice, I was discharged and sent home with instructions to rest, take pain meds and to put “nothing in the vag for six weeks.”
Luckily, we had a friend who stayed and helped me and the kids for the first few days. For the first two days, I couldn’t bend over or reach my legs, and getting in and out of my bed required a step stool. I made sure to stay on the pain med regimen as directed and slept as much as possible. The hardest part was keeping the kids a few feet away from me because they weren’t allowed to hug me at all for the first week. The second hardest part was sneezing, as I was fairly sure I’d broken my insides due to the pain. But, as my mom noted, I didn’t pee on myself when I sneezed!
Two days later, I was feeling back to normal, although tenderness, tiredness and an overwhelming urge to lie down stayed with me for the first two weeks. The lack of exercise and the mass quantities of tv during the recovery period were also difficult to take, as was being unable to lift my children. It was a LONG six weeks and at the end, I’m still finding myself needing a nap to recover. Also, going to a football game or the fair is NOT a good idea. #lessonlearnedx2