Laprascopic Hysterectomy -a personal view

Ten weeks ago today I had a total laprascopic hysterectomy.  I had my uterus, remaining ovary & tube & cervix removed. I am 46. What led to this major surgery?  Endometriosis and adenomyosis.

I have always had problematic periods and pain. Over the years I have seen gynaecology doctors and been given piecemeal information about what has caused this.  I have had times when my cycles seemed to settle but then I have had huge ovarian cysts drained, had pain so bad no pain killers would touch it, flooding so bad no sanitary towels could hold it, an oophrectomy to remove an ovary which showed signs of change,laprascopy & hysteroscopy procedures, abnormal smears, loop diathermy & an endometrial ablation.

Last autumn I began to experience the worst pain I have ever had in my life. I was doubled up in pain, my abdomen was swollen, I could barely walk and no prescription medication touched the pain. I went to my doctor  who sent me for a scan. The scan operator asked if adenomyosis had ever been mentioned to me. I was mystified and went home to look up this condition. My doctor referred me to the gynaecology department of my local hospital and I waited for the appointment to come through.

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When the hospital letter dropped through the letter box I opened it eagerly only to find -probably not unexpectedly that the initial appointment to be seen and assessed was nearly 3 months away. I had gone through 2 cycles of periods with the unbearable pain which lasted over 2 days each time and was absolutely dreading the next one. I went to my doctor to see what else could be done or if the referral date could be fast tracked in anyway.  I had already presented to the local Urgent Care Centre and had an ambulance take me to A&E because of the pain. Apart from stronger pain relief there was little my doctor could do. Both the Urgent Care Centre & A&E rang the Gynacology Dept to ask them to come and see me. Both times they refused. The first time they told the doctor to send me home with mefenamic acid which did nothing and the second time, in A&E, the attending doctor did an ultrasound, noted an abnormally large uterus but still they refused.

I had joined Benenden through my work several years ago and talked to my doctor about this. He was happy to refer me there. A few days later I collected the referral letter,  scanned it and rang Benenden.

I was asked to email the referral paperwork to the hospital and my case would be considered. It also gave me the time to read the referral paperwork. It was a lovely letter from my doctor with copies of paperwork from the hospital with my gynaecological history.  To my surprise,  on the paperwork about my ablation several years ago, the gynaecologist noted the presence of ….adenomyosis!  I was fuming. I only had my diagnosis of endometriosis in my early 40’s in a casual throw away remark from a gynaecologist even though I had suffered most of my adult life with this.

It is my body on the operating table, my body that suffers and the very people who are there to diagnose you are the people who do not let you know exactly what is wrong with you and leave you worrying.

About a week after my referral email, I had an appointment letter for Benenden. I saw a lovely man there who was so reassuring and said that I had suffered enough and that a hysterectomy would be the answer. He listened to me, he had read all my notes, he explained the procedure and various options in great detail and I signed the consent form to go ahead. I had some of the pre-op assessments while there and returned for a few more. I asked the gynaecologist  about the pain as I was dreading the next cycle of my period. He wrote to my doctor to advise on an implant, Zoladex that would effectively shut my remaining ovary down and this should ease the symptoms but it would throw me in a medical menopause.

A week later I went to my doctor and had the first implant done while waiting for a date for my operation.  The implant had to be injected one side of my belly button and it felt like I had been skewered! I had to book another appointment for 28 days later in case my date had not come.  I had to have another implant done and then my date came through.  It was for early January. I could have done somersaults …if I had felt able to!

I began making preparations for my surgery.  I tidied the house from top to bottom and threw away loads of stuff I didn’t need. I brought comfortable leisure trousers and tops and night clothes. I showed hubby where everything was in case he needed to get me anything.  I also began to suffer with major hot flushes as the implants had caused me to go fully into menopause.  I could no longer go to sleep and wake up 6-7 hours later. I was awake over and over having major hot flushes, covers on and off all night. I felt like I had a nuclear reactor inside me that kept going into meltdown. I was still in pain daily but not quite as much as before.

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Despite the seriousness of what was to come, I actually was looking forward to the operation and packed my bag eagerly. My husband drove me to the hospital and I was met by lovely staff. I felt really calm which was surprising given that I have white coat syndrome and usually my blood pressure and pulse go through the roof. Amazingly they were slightly raised but okay. I spoke with the Consultant and shortly after changing, I was off to my surgery.

I woke up several hours later, having strange memories of talking to my Consultant in the recovery room and then i was back in my room. I felt okay considering what I had done but I hadn’t tried to move at this point. I did everything the nurses asked of me, I drank plenty of fluid, water initially, then tea then had something to eat. I took the offered pain relief regularly and told the nurse when I was starting to feel pain so they topped me up. Initially I had a catheter in and a drain from the surgery. I had the surgical stockings on and strange tubes around my lower legs which inflate and deflate to prevent DVT’s.

I am not going to give you a blow by blow account of the next ten weeks other than to say, I spent 2 nights in hospital, came home to continue my recovery and followed the chart I was given to help with this and took regular pain relief. There have been highs and lows and lots of emotions and I cry at nothing at the moment but so far, no major complications or infection, just a “swelly belly” which inflates and deflates through the day. My mum came to stay for 2 weeks which helped hugely and my other mum and dad kept popping in to check on me. At this point I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to my mum, my other mum and dad and my hubby for all your love and support during my recovery.

I was told over and over by various medical staff that you only really get one chance to recover properly from this and they are right. I am frightened of doing too much too soon or having a prolapse. In the first 6 weeks, I was on HRT patches and not sleeping well at all due to hot flushes, I went to the doctor to review my progress and discuss this with them. I was given something to help me sleep and told to allow up to 12 weeks before the HRT could be reviewed.

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I brought a gel cool mat for my bed to help with the flushes-although I think I boiled it with the amount I had. I spent the sleepless hours looking on the internet. I found the most amazing site – the Hyster Sisters site- any question I had, I could find the answers here and I had a lot of questions. I started taking sage tablets to try and help with the flushes, it is early days but I think they are helping.

I also brought an abdominal support which made a huge difference when I walked or did gentle housework activities.

Nearly ten weeks on, I can begin to feel the benefits of having had this surgery already, I am no longer in the major pain and discomfort that has plagued me for years. I know that each week I feel better and better and can do more. I was told not to measure my recovery with anyone else’s as everyone recovers  differently and to follow the chart as a guide with the understanding that “if it hurts, ease back and rest and try again in a few days or so”.

This is a personal view of my laprascopic hysterectomy and I do not regret having it done, it is already showing me what impact the endometriosis and adenomyiosis had on my life. coming out the other side, I am feeling stronger and better each week. I feel if I had waited for my NHS appointment, that i would still be waiting for my surgery now and still suffering. I don’t want pity or sympathy. I want to get the word out that it’s okay to talk about women’s issues openly and seek answers, don’t suffer in silence. Xx  

On the upside, my hubby thinks it’s hilarious that I have gone from the one who always felt the cold in our relationship to the one who is now feeling hot and flushed all the time….hurry up HRT and work!

funny hot flushes

 

 

2015 in review

I just came across the email from WordPress with their “Annual Report” for 2015.  Yep, I know it’s a bit late, but one thing is clear….

2015 was the busiest and had the largest number of views we’ve ever had!!!  Of course those stats wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for those who have visited and read our blog posts and so both Kim and I would like to say a HUGE thank you to you all.

Now that Kim has completed her Mary Berry baking challenge, we really don’t know yet in which direction our blog will take in 2016, but we would both like to do a lot more photography and share our experiences and images with you.

Kim is planning on writing a couple of articles about “women’s issues”, more specifically gynaecological problems so for your ladies out there, please keep an eye out for those…

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 63,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Week One Hundred & Thirty Seven – Mary Berry’s New Year Tipsy Cake & Baked Alaska

I can barely believe it but I am typing my final…..yes FINAL baking challenge blog. Yes this is the final two recipes from Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible and my journey has come to an end.

you can do it too

I saved Mary’s New Year Tipsy cake and her “bingate” of recipes- the baked alaska as my final recipes and hopefully finish on a high note rather than consigning either of these to the bin!!! I began with Mary’s new year tipsy cake.

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Mary asks you to put some of the eggs plus egg yolks and sugar into a large bowl and whisk over hot water until the mix left a trail. I have been guilty of not whisking this type of mix long enough in the past so I made doubly sure that this mix was thick and mousse like. Once you have done this, whisk the egg whites in another bowl until stiff and fold into the mix with the flours and lemon rind, pour into the prepared tin and bake. Once risen, and yes this cake did rise well, allow to cool and then try and follow Mary’s instructions on how to cut into it so it’s like a flan case with a lid…not easy and I read it a few times before attempting it.  Prepare the sugar syrup and add the sweet white wine and brandy and pour some over the sponge, add whipped cream and orange segments, put the top back on, finish the syrup on top, cover with cream and decorate with a few slices of orange. Not the prettiest of cakes but I think I could be tipsy after a slice or two of this!

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The second recipe was the dreaded baked alaska. I had watched the bingate Great British Bake Off episode where Ian’s had gone so dreadfully wrong and hoped I would avoid having to do THIS!

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I began with the sponge. Mary asks you to whisk the eggs and sugar together until think and creamy and left a trail. Again, I kept on going until I was totally sure that this was as Mary asked. I baked it in the oven and then left it to cool. I then prepared the strawberries and piled them up on top and covered these with some strawberry ice cream and no, i didn’t make my own, nor does Mary suggest you do in this recipe. I then put this into the freezer for a few hours.

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After a few hours, I began to prepare the meringue by whisking the egg whites until stiff then began the tedious task of adding the sugar a little at a time until the meringue was thick and glossy. i got my base out of the freezer, smothered the meringue all over it , sprinkled it with some flaked almonds and put it in the pre-heated oven for 4 minutes. I must say, i was amazed with the result and had the chief tasters on standby with their pudding bowls to collect their part. We ate half of this between us and thoroughly enjoyed it but now feel full and a bit icky!

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Well it is with a mixture of happiness and sadness that I have finished this baking adventure, I began it having read Annaliese’s challenge rising to the berry and she was my inspiration. I have also watched and loved the Great British Bake Off challenges especially when they have covered Mary’s recipes and one’s that I have done. I would like to thank you all for popping by, either as a one off as you stumble across this blog or as regular readers and visitors. All of your support has been appreciated on this journey.  I have learned so much over this time and after having a rest from baking for a while, I will continue to bake but not with such frequency.

I would also like to thank my mum and my other mum and dad also known as my chief tasters along with my hubby. Thank you for being brave enough to sample everything even when it didn’t always look very appetising!

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I have had a lot of ups and downs on this journey too and thank you all for bearing with me through thick and thin. I will occasionally pop back to blog about other things and look at the viewing figures which have been amazing.

the end

If you have a dream or fancy a challenge, I would suggest you try it, you never know where it might lead and if you blog about it too, others can join you on your adventures, either as occasional travel companions or some who will be beside you every step of the way.

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I would like to dedicate my final blog to each and every one of my gorgeous dogs, past and present, each a faithful and loving companion who spent time with me in various kitchens “helping” in my creations.

Week One Hundred & Thirty Three – Mary Berry’s American Chocolate Wedding Cake

Week 133 and this week I had to try and see if Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible would come up with a cracking recipe to suit the occasion. It was the Chief Tasters Golden Wedding Anniversary so I found the perfect recipe. Mary’s American Chocolate Wedding Cake.

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When you read this recipe, you realise this is a MONSTER of a recipe and if followed to the letter, the three tiered cake would feed over 100 people. Now I made a decision to scale this down to a realistic level. I chose the middle tier sized cake to make and split the mix between three sized tins to create the tiers. Even making this one mix, involved melting obscene amounts of chocolate ! I followed Mary’s recipe carefully and carefully separated the eggs and beat the yolks with one whole egg and the sugar, then whisked the egg whites until thick and light then added the melted chocolate and ground almonds and a taste of coffee. the mixture did not want to fold into together and it took a little while to wrestle this mix into shape! I then poured it into my tins and waited for them to bake.

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The sponges came out well and I left them to cool. I then melted yet more chocolate and butter for the covering and drenched each sponge in this, smoothed them as much as a I could with a palette knife and stacked them. I was fairly pleased with my miniature version of this enormous cake. i decorated mine with golden edible bits and gave it to the chief tasters as part of their anniversary present…as their main present is still ” in production” and yet to be dispatched. I would like to wish you both a very happy anniversary with much love x

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We enjoyed an amazing meal with them to help them celebrate.

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The 1 1/2 hairy hoolies seem to have settled into a relationship of sorts and he is such a character! He is certainly keeping us on our toes and we are certainly sleeping well at night…in exhaustion!

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The Countdown is now at the heady heights of ….

eight left to go

 

The recipes left to go are:

Mary’s Rich Fruit Cake, Quick Boiled Fruit Cake, Chocolate Mousse Cake, New Year Tipsy Cake, Gateau Saint Honore, Gateau Moka aux Amandes, hot chocolate souffles and….the “bin-gate” of the last Great British Bake Off- the BAKED ALASKA!!!!

Week One Hundred & Thirty Two – Mary Berry’s Walnut & Raisin Loaf & Cranberry & Apricot Fruit Cake

Week 132 and again apologies for the tardiness of the posting but losing our beloved hairy hoolie Bailey, dampened spirits and moral and a lot has happened since then…but more of that later. I delved into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible and surfaced after a brief browse with the last of the bread bakes, the walnut & raisin loaf and the cranberry& apricot fruit cake.

I began with the walnut & raisin loaf as this was going to take a while.I mixed together the flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon, melted butter, water and yeast into a sticky dough and by hand too this time, back to traditional methods for this last yeast recipe. I kneaded it for a while and then put it in an oiled bowl and covered it and left it to rise. While this was doing it’s thing, I weighed out the walnuts  and began the tedious task of chopping them, then weighed out the raisins and when the dough had finished rising, I had to knock it back and add the raisins and walnuts and divide the mixture into two loaves. I placed them on a baking tray and covered them with a bag and left them for a final rise. I then sent them to the chief taster’s to bake as my other bake was in the oven for a long slow cook and these guys needed a hot quicker bake.

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The loaves arrived back hot out of the oven after about 25 minutes and finished their cooling here. I then sent one loaf back to the chief taster with half the other bake.

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The second recipe was the cranberry and apricot fruit loaf. Mary tells you at the beginning of the recipe that this cake is robust enough to pack for a picnic but could also make a great alternative to a christmas cake.  I had to begin by draining a large tin of pineapple , coarsely chopping it and drying it as much as possible which involved lots of kitchen roll. I then had to cut the apricots into pieces and chop the almonds. Finally I was ready to mix all the ingredients together and pour into a tin and level the top. I didn’t decorate the top with whole blanched almonds as suggested- I forgot!!!

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The cake baked for about 2 1/2 hours and finally was ready, I left it cool as Mary suggested before turning it out. I got great compliments from the chief tasters who thought it made a really tasty fruit cake and dropped big hints about it being nice as a christmas cake!

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I have still been following the Great British Bake Off but with a heavier heart than before , and I have been keeping a close eye on Paul, Tamal and Nadiya and would be happy to see them in the top three.

As you may have read in my last blog, we were devastated to lose our beloved Bailey so quickly. The poem, The Rainbow Bridge gives us both comfort and hope that we will be reunited with all our dogs when it’s our time.

rainbow bridge

The day after we lost Bailey, we went to see our friends who had bred both our dogs to tell them about Bailey as they have his mum and his brother. We couldn’t tell them on the phone and there were lots of hugs, tears and tea. It’s funny how things happen. Three months before, they had another litter of puppies that we enjoyed spending time with and helping to socialise and then we waved them off to their new homes. The day we lost Bailey, they had contact from one of the new owners asking them to take back one of the puppies as they were struggling to cope with him. Our friends knew we were still raw and heartbroken about our Bailey but asked if we would consider having him. We went away and spoke lots about it. Our other hoolie was very down and quiet as she had never been an only dog and was missing him lots…as were we. We came to the decision that when they collected the puppy, that they should bring him back via us to see how the two of them got on….and he never left. We now have 1 1/2 hairy hoolies ! He is not a replacement for Bailey- Bailey can never be replaced, he will always hold a special place in our lives. However, the new young hoolie is helping with the heartache as he needs a lot of attention. He is learning about my baking challenge already and has learned that the oven gloves are fair game!

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The count down continues as is now….9 recipes left to bake!

Week One Hundred & Thirty One – Mary Berry’s Buche De Noel & Old Fashioned Seed Cake

Week 131 and I apologize, I know that is has been longer than usual for either a bake or blog or both and I will explain why further at the end of this blog.

I delved into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible with less than my usual gusto and came out the the old fashioned seed cake and the Buche de Noel. I began with te Buche de Noel which involved making the swiss roll recipe again

Buche De Noel

. Not an easy bake to make/roll and I had an issue in that I wasn’t keen on making a christmas log in August…..so I took the recipe and decided to give it a Kim twist and created a Buche D’ete or a summer log. I made a plain sponge swiss roll, filled it with lemon curd and cream.

kim's swiss roll

I covered it with freshly whipped double cream and decorated it with mini lemon and orange sweet slices. I loved how refreshing it was and I was pleased with it.

Kim's Buche d'ete

The second recipe was Mary’s old fashioned seed cake. This was a sponge cake recipe with caraway seeds and mixed peel. It was one of Mary’s all in one cakes and the caraway seeds revived memories of my Nan baking cakes with this seed and the unique smell and taste of caraway.

Mary Berry's Old Fashioned Seed Cake

Once baked, it was a light sponge with a unique taste. A bit like marmite, you will either love it or hate it, there is no in between!

Kim's old fashioned seed cake

I have been avidly watching The Great British Bake Off and have been predicting the person who leaves with good accuracy, as the numbers begin to dwindle I like to place my bet on the winner!

Now it is with a heavy heart where I need to share some sad news. I have frequently mentioned my two hairy hoolies and how they watch me bake each weekend. Well my big boy had a sudden illness that he was unable to recover from and we sadly had to say goodbye and let him cross the rainbow bridge to join Rosie, Tai and my Dad to await us to join them. We are devastated and heartbroken and all thoughts of baking went out of the window as we nursed him through his final time. Many tears have been shed as he was more than a pet- he was part of our family and leaves a  huge hole in our lives. xx

pawprints on our hearts

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The countdown has now reached….11

Week One Hundred & Eighteen – Mary Berry’s Death By Chocolate Cake & Swiss Roll

Week 118 and when I delved into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible this week I was looking for appropriate birthday cake for my other mum and one of my chief tasters. Death by Chocolate definitely seemed to fit the bill!

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This is a seriously chocolatey cake and the first step Mary asks you to do is grease and line 2 sandwich tins. The sponge mix has a lot of cocoa powder in it as well as golden syrup and vegetable oil. I followed the step by step instructions for mixing and poured the mix into the tins and put them in the oven. When the pinger went, I took out 2 beautiful chocolate sponges and put them on the airing racks to cool. Mary then asks you to cut each sponge in half so this cake will have 4 layers….gulp.

Next step was to tackle the icing. This is where the “death” bit comes in. Mary asks you to melt 450 g or 1 lb of dark chocolate! I have said before that I really am not a fan of dark chocolate but most of my tasters are so I compromised with 3/4 dark chocolate and 1/4 milk chocolate to try and take the bitterness of the dark chocolate away. Once the chocolate has been melted, Mary then asks you to add the 200g of butter to it and allow it to melt into the chocolate…… ( cholesterol comes to mind….lol) . Mary then asks you to sandwich each layer of the cake together with this icing and then stand the cake on a wire rack and use the rest of the icing over the top and sides of the cake! I gave it a liberal covering but still had some icing left over. Mary asks you to leave it to set then decorate with coarsely grated plain and white chocolate. I must admit I ” cheated” here by buying a pot of ready mixed chocolate curls!

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The cake went down well and I would like to take this opportunity again to wish my other mum and one of the chief tasters a happy birthday!

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The second recipe was Mary’s swiss roll recipe. I have tackled some of the swiss roll recipes before with varied success. The baking part isn’t the issue it’s the rolling!

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The sponge is a fatless sponge and easy to make. I whisked it all together and poured it into the prepared swiss roll tin. I put it in the oven for ten minutes and while it was baking put a sheet of greaseproof paper on the side with caster sugar sprinkled on it.  Soon enough the sponge was done and I tipped it onto the prepared paper. Mary asks you to allow to cool “slightly” and then spread with jam. Slight hiccup here, my jam had grown a lovely mold on it so I quickly made some buttercream and used this instead. I rolled the cake into the roll and again , it split to my dismay but not all the way through. I sprinkled it liberally with caster sugar and took the photograph!

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Well the countdown has now reached 38….. so near yet so far!

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