Having a laparoscopy is no joke.
Just because you’re not being “cut open” doesn’t mean that it’s a piece of cake or that you’ll be good to go in a week. Recovery was a lot harder than I thought I would be, mostly because it was so downplayed to me. So, I wanted to make this video with some tips on what to expect (to set more realistic expectations) and tips to help you through the worst of recovery!
Hope this helps and as always, feel free to let me know if there’s anything else you’d add to this list in the comments.
Things I didn’t expect
1. Waking up from anesthesia
Surgery is a form of physical trauma.
It’s life saving and necessary at times, but your body is being cut into, which under any other circumstance is a no-no to your primal brain (thank you anesthesia, am I right?)
It’s super normal for your body to go into shock when you wake up from surgery. I was shaking like CRAZY because my body was catching up to what had just happened to it. This was something no one really told me about or that I didn’t really hear. Thankfully, the nurse with me in recovery told me it was completely normal and a side effect of the anesthesia as well.
2. The intensity of the gas pain
If you suspect you have endometriosis, you are likely familiar with pain.
So, when you hear about how you’re filled with gas during surgery and said gas remains in your body, which may cause some shoulder pain, it sounds like a joke. You’re like… “what’s a little shoulder pain?”
The gas pain was infinitely worse than any incision pain or soreness I felt. This was honestly the worst part of the whole surgery. It doesn’t just remain in your shoulders but your clavicle, your ribs (so breathing is painful), your upper tummy, etc.
It was such a weird sensation, I didn’t even realize it was gas pain – which made me panic until the nurse told me what was going on.
As much as it sucks, the best thing you can do to get through this is probably first sitting up in bed (which is hell, but just go slow) and then when you’re up to it, start peeing, walking, etc. as soon as you can. I cried the first few times I had to get up, but every time got easier and easier and the more you push through the discomfort, the sooner you’ll come out on the other side.
The majority of my gas pain was gone by the time I left the hospital the next morning.
Also, Peppermint Tea is a LIFE. SAVER. I can’t recommend this enough.
If your gas pain isn’t going away, you can ask your doctor about taking Activated Charcoal a few hours away from your meds. This will bind the gas to the charcoal and help you eliminate it.
3. Walking, moving, and existing is so hard
Again, when your body has just been pumped full of anesthesia, pain meds, and you’ve been cut into… it’s a lot! (If you don’t believe me, read your operative report whenever you get it back. It’s crazy what they do in there!)
So, it’s totally normal if even sitting up feels super hard.
I couldn’t do ANYTHING on my own (walking, showering, peeing, pooping, etc.) for the first 9 days after surgery.
That’s completely normal.
For some, it may be longer. For some, it may be less.
We’re all different, but you just had your insides scraped out, so take all the time you need to go slow and heal. It’s okay if you don’t feel comfortable walking every single hour or if you’ve lost your appetite and need to stick to soups and smoothies.
Give yourself grace to not feel like you need to be farther along and give your body what it needs (which is mostly REST!)
I’m hardcore emetephobic, so I was struggling with a lot of elements of getting this surgery done.
The 2 big concerns for me were the bowel prep (because many, many people I know threw up during this) and nausea/vomiting from general anesthesia (which is extremely common).
Thankfully, I only ended up needing to do an enema before surgery, but I let my doctor know about my concerns with anesthesia related nausea and he gave me plenty of anti-emetics prior to and after surgery. So, don’t be afraid to ask for those!
(I will say Phenergan orally made me hallucinate/hear things that weren’t there. So use with caution. 😉)
I felt great nausea-wise waking up from surgery, but there was a miscommunication and I ended up taking narcotics for pain without fully realizing it, which can really mess with your tummy and make you super sick. That’s where the majority of my nausea came from and it was a rough first 4 days post op.
Here’s what I did to get through that period.
- Activated Charcoal. I used this to bind to the Percocet I had taken at the hospital and get any of it out of my system.
- Sea Bands. These are like $5 on Amazon and use acupressure to hit a pressure point that will alleviate nausea. I lived with these on.
- Nux Vomica. A homeopath that is extremely effective at alleviating nausea. Here’s more on homeopathy and what it is.
- Peppermint Essential Oil. I put this under my nose to alleviate any nausea. It’s pretty effective!
- Zofran. This wasn’t super effective at subsiding the nausea, but kept me from actually throwing up.
- IV Therapy. Most IV centers have mobile options, so a nurse will come to your home and hook you up to fluids, anti-nausea meds, etc. This is usually 10x cheaper than heading to an ER too. This is who we used in Atlanta, GA. She was amazing + I’d highly recommend her to keep you going post op if you’re in the area!
Everyone’s pain levels are completely different.
In my case, my doctor put in a nerve block that reduced any pain for 4-5 days post op. Once I went home, I didn’t take any pain meds mostly because I was so nauseous. I mostly took high doses of CBD Oil (this is the CBD Oil I use – you can use code ‘STEPH10’ for 10% off).
When our home nurse came, she put Toradol in my IV 2x which helped as well, but even then, it was mostly to stay on top of pain. I never felt like I really needed it or my pain got bad.
I mostly just felt sore where my tummy incisions were.
Many women I’ve spoken to with stomach issues like me have been fine on a higher dose of ibuprofen and/or acetaminophen, but I didn’t even really need that.
Talk to your doctor about what feels right for you. If your surgery is more extensive, I imagine you may want more than just CBD oil.
Constipation after surgery, even for very regular people, is pretty much guaranteed to happen.
The anesthesia slows everything in your body down. So, I’m telling you right now, you’re going to want to get on a stool softener as soon as you can tolerate it.
Both my surgeon and my naturopath recommended these as gentle stool softener options:
- Colace. These are gel pills, so if you can’t swallow pills, don’t get them because it’s not safe to cut these open.
- Dulcolax Liquid. I used less than recommended and this still got things moving. It was really gentle and I tolerated it pretty well (even though I’m sensitive to EVERYTHING).
- Miralax. This is tricky. Some people do really well with Miralax and it makes others sick to their stomach. My doctor didn’t want me on it having leaky gut and just being more sensitive, but I’ve taken it in the past (when less sensitive) and tolerated it fine.
- Lactulose. This is what you need to ask for when nothing else is working. It WILL work. Every. Time.
Before resorting to Lactulose, here are some more natural home remedies you can do to support your motility:
- Magnesium. Most people are magnesium deficient, which is bad because magnesium does a lot for us, one being going to the bathroom. I like Magnesium Glycinate as a gentler option, but you can always take Magnesium Citrate for more acute constipation (a capsule version won’t give you the squirts like the liquid does).
- A Probiotic. Probiotics are good bacteria our gut needs to create a healthy, balanced gut microbiome. This is important because our immune system is in our gut and a healthy gut means healthy poops! Most probiotics are total crap though. You need one that can make it past the highly acidic environment of the stomach. One of my favorites that does this (and is backed by clinical research) is Just Thrive’s Probiotic! It’s very gentle and effective. If you’d like to try it, you can use STEPH10 for 10% off. It’s my highest recommended probiotic aside from Megasporebiotic (which you need a prescription for).
- Digestive Enzymes. If you have a compromised gut, sometimes you may not be producing enough enzymes, which help your body break down your food. When you can break down food, it absorbs more easily into the intestines, which means you can get going to the bathroom more easily. There are a few good ones out there. I use this one because it has a pretty high count and helps digest those tougher foods like beans and vegetables.
- Triphala. Triphala is a gentle colon cleanser. It’s basically a blend of fruits that helps get things moving. It’s SUPER gentle. Nothing like a laxative, but just helps you go to the bathroom a little easier.
- Pomegranate, Apple, and/or Prune Juice. All of these support motility. I was real constipated, so I drank them ALL! I like to mix apple and prune juice so it tastes better and I’d drink the pomegranate juice separately. You can mix them or drink them individually. Keep drinking daily to get things moving!
- Drink as much as possible. You have to keep things hydrated so your stool isn’t super hard. If it’s soft, you’ll go to the bathroom easier.
- King Coffee. This coffee is infused with Ganoderma Lucidum (Reishi), which modulates your immune system and negates a lot of those negative side effects of caffeine (jitters, nausea, etc.) It’s the ONLY coffee I can drink and can help got those bowels moving! I have multiple BMs a day on this stuff.
- Walking. I know it may be difficult, but walking as much as you can gets things moving. Once I came out of the nausea period, I was up every 1-2 hours walking a couple of laps around the house. This is so important to get things moving in your tummy.
- Eating. I wasn’t really eating much when I was super nauseous, so there was nothing to poop out. You won’t go to the bathroom, typically, until you start eating. Start with soups, smoothies, apple sauce, baby food, and crackers if nothing else sounds good.
- Heat on your lower back. Put a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower back, take a hot shower. Heat helps things flow. Cold constricts.
Random things you might need
- Compression socks. My hospital didn’t send me home with compression, so I ended up ordering these last minute (how cool are they?). Compression socks apply pressure to your lower legs to help maintain bloodflow and reduce discomfort and swelling. They’re a cheap way to help avoid any post op complications.
- Blood pressure monitor. If you typically have blood pressure issues (low or high), it may be worth having a blood pressure monitor. Mine got a little bit dangerously low and they wanted us to monitor this from home, so we grabbed this digital one off of Amazon.
- Thermometer. It’s probably a good rule of thumb to keep a thermometer with you to track your temperature. My doctor told me it wasn’t abnormal to develop a low grade fever afterwards, but you don’t want it to get higher because that could be a sign of infection. It’s good to grab this stuff before surgery if you can, but if not, that’s what online shopping is for (or see if your caregiver can grab one for you).
- Sit up pillow. The best position for you post op is typically sitting up and this goes for sleeping too. This sit up pillow from Target has been a LIFE SAVER to help me sleep and feel comfortable. I’m telling you, your regular pillows won’t do it. Just grab it.