Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Tubal Ligation Experience of my Dreams

Yesterday, I finally achieved something that I've wanted for a long time: sterilization. If you remember, in August, I attempted to have the Essure procedure done, and we had to abort it because my fallopian tube was spasaming and my doctor couldn't get a good implant of the coil. I left feeling heartbroken and dismayed, and with a lot to think about. I had chosen Essure because it was non-invasive and performed outpatient. I had chosen it because I was afraid of anesthesia, so when my only remaining options were to go under anesthesia, I really had to think about it.

Why am I afraid of anesthesia? Quite honestly, I watch too many medical dramas. Anyone remember that episode of Nip/Tuck where the patient wakes up? Yeah. I didn't want that to be me. I'm a rational person, though, so I did a lot of research ahead of time. I also had the support of friends and family who had themselves been under anesthesia, who were able to share their own experiences and allay my fears.

Of course, I got a lot of "why would you do that?" and ""what if you change your mind?" from coworkers. Others were surprised my doctor agreed to do it without me having any kids already. Ladies: if your doctor won't consent to you having a tubal without having a real conversation with you about your body and what you want, you need to find another doctor. My primary care provider has known I don't want children since I started seeing her in 2007-2008, and when I started making noise around 2010 about wanting to be sterilized, she said "you're 30, I think you know what you want by now." She referred me to the office that attempted my Essure procedure, and even there, I wasn't assaulted by a barrage of guilt-questions. In fact, the doctor only asked one: "what will you do if you and your partner change your minds?" to which I bluntly said "adopt, because 'get more cats' probably isn't socially acceptable."

I have to say, as nervous as I was about having an invasive procedure, I made sure I researched how a laparoscopic bilateral tubal ligation was performed so that I would be well informed on the day of surgery. As well-informed as I try to be, I have to give credit to the amazing staff at Maine General. I was brought to a room where my vitals were taken by my nurse, Linda, who reminded both John and I of the actress Francis Conroy and told us about the best Goth clubs (the best happens to be called The Castle, and is in Tampa, Florida, if you were curious). She put me a lot at ease and at one point, got into a debate with us about how many times Rutger Hauer has played a vampire in movies and demanded John look it up in IMDB. She was compassionate and personable and took great care of me. That's what a nurse should be. She was also the first of many of the staff to compliment me on my nails.

I had the lower left option
I met my anesthesiologist, Dr. Brackett, who was amazing. She listened to my concern about intubation (mainly, I wanted to avoid the discomfort of being intubated, not that I had a real medical concern) and she was all for not intubating me, citing studies she had read, however, her vote was outweighed by the rest of the staff and I was to be intubated anyway, which was fine. She also asked me about my teeth, and showed concern that my one front tooth is mostly dental composite (remember, I had an emergency root canal done a couple months ago). She and her anesthesiology team made sure I had a mouth guard in case I clamped down after the tube was taken out, which I never even would have considered a risk. I actually had a team of three anesthesiologists: Dr. Brackett, an attending, and a student. They were all awesome (and all loved my nails). They wheeled me into the operating room which was really cold, but wrapped me up in warmed blankets, so I was very comfortable. The put the mask on my face and didn't even make me count backwards, just a few deep breaths and then I woke up in recovery. According to John, I was only surgery for about 40 minutes before I was taken to recovery, and I was there for an hour and a half, coming out of anesthesia and receiving pain management (fentanyl, which I surprised my recovery nurse by knowing that it's often delivered in a trans-dermal patch).

From recovery, I was brought back to my room where my wonderful nurse Linda checked my pain, took my vitals (I remember the blood pressure cuff would automatically inflate periodically, which was cool). The most painful part, honestly, and I say this from the couch the following day, was the CO2 gas that they inflated my abdomen with. It actually felt like the worst period cramps ever, including the back pain (I told them it would probably go to my back and not my shoulder). I slept a lot yesterday, and John was wonderful, setting alarms and getting up with me so I could take my pain meds throughout the night in order to keep them constant in my system.

Now it's just recovery time, and a followup appointment in two weeks. I'm so happy that this was so easy, and so happy that, after this pack, I can go off of hormonal birth control forever. I'm happy that I have health care providers that listened to me, as a woman, about what I wanted to do with my body, and that political agendas weren't thrown around to suppress that. I can only hope other women have such a positive experience making similar decisions for their bodies.

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