For several years, I had experienced intermittent vaginal bleeding, cramping and gastrointestinal symptoms. Scans had revealed fibroids and an unidentified growth in my uterus. A year earlier, I had been treated for breast cancer, so this unknown growth was very alarming to me.
My doctors, Barbara Phelps-Sandall, MD, and Shane Dormady, MD, were concerned this could be cancer even though my uterine biopsies were negative. Dr. Phelps-Sandall, my OB/GYN, recommended a hysterectomy using the da Vinci® Robotic Surgery System — a set of tiny robotic instruments controlled by the surgeon from a console in the corner of the operating room. I agreed, and it was the best decision I ever made.
I had my surgery in October 2011. Dr. Phelps-Sandall found fibroids and also an adenoma (benign tumor). The uterus was quite enlarged to the size of a 12-week pregnancy. In addition, there was significant scar tissue extending from my abdominal wall to my bowel. She was able to remove this scar tissue and complete the hysterectomy.
Amazingly, I had very little bleeding following surgery. I only used one dose of morphine and didn't need any of the Vicodin® that was sent home with me. I was up and around the same day of surgery and was released to go home less than 24 hours after surgery.
Two days after surgery, I walked a mile. I was able to cook and look after my family one day after surgery. My only restrictions were in lifting for the first six weeks. I began driving four days after surgery. I believe I could have started sooner because I wasn't on any pain medication, but I was trying to be extra cautious.
Nine weeks after my surgery, I noticed an extra benefit. I no longer have the gastrointestinal symptoms of cramping and diarrhea because my doctor removed the scar tissue in the area that was probably the result of an old C-section scar. I no longer have the low-level uterine cramping and pain and, in general, I feel much better.
This surgery was like a miracle. My entire care team was terrific, from the anesthesiologist who took extra care with me (since I'd had a bad reaction to anesthesia in the past), to my outstanding surgical team, to the post-op nurses who were incredibly kind and proactive in caring for me.
I would recommend Dr. Phelps-Sandall, the El Camino Hospital team and the da Vinci® robotic system to anyone considering having a hysterectomy.
Thank you, Leeanne, for sharing your story with us!