Oh my goodness I am so sorry for the delay in writing my Operation recovery entry as I know a few of you have been really eager to know what to expect! I had a bit of a blip with my health, a holiday in France and I applied for and got a new dream job so it’s not all bad news! I am also not going to lie, the operation didn’t completely fix my problems and so I am still bouncing backwards and forwards to various different hospitals and consultants. In the end I guess I decided, rather selfishly, that I would leave the blog alone for a bit so I didn’t dwell on the Vulvodynia and let it ruin my life more than it does. Amazingly though I have had so many people contacting me asking how the operation was and how I am now that I realised that this blog may actually be useful to people and is clearly providing information to someone out there and so I’ve decided to get back at it.
Without further delay, what happened directly after my operation.
I remember getting gingerly into the car for the short ride home worried that at some point the pain was really going to catch up with me, especially when the meds wore off. I also recall that form the moment I came round from the anesthetic I had more pain on the left hand side. This is important later.
I honestly think the recovery would’ve been so much worse without my SO who was just fab. He had prepared the settee for my arrival by putting towels down and readying pillows, quilts, blanket and my nightie. He had also got pain meds ready on the coffee table and had bought two bags of frozen peas that were ready to go.
He made me slouch on the settee and refused to let me move! He fetched drinks, food, meds and whatever else I wanted. I managed to make a few phonecalls to family and skyped people before the pain started to become more obvious. In fact throughout the recovery the hardest part, other than keeping still, was getting off the settee to go to the toilet as this did trigger quite a bit of pain. Again, my SO was wonderful and helped me up and supported me the whole way. Because I am a greedy sod I also found that my appetite was as strong as normal and that I had no obvious lasting effects from the anesthetic and that the pain was never so bad as to put me off my food.
I can’t remember how long it was before I removed the padding the day of the operation, but it was definitely before I went to bed the first night. I put on a large, old pair of knickers and a normal period pad to manage the bleeding. My SO helped me into bed and I was nervous that I would have a bad night. I actually found that lying down took the pressure off the area and compared with when I had my wisdom teeth removed my night and the pain were fine. I woke up once for more painkillers but otherwise it was uneventful.
Throughout the first week my SO did everything for me so I didn’t have to move too much. We watched lots of films (including a star wars-athon) and I slept on and off when I felt like it.
My mum came to visit after a couple of days and I noticed that I felt incredibly sick and dizzy when I was trying to talk to her. She suggested that it might be the co-codomal so I decided to stop taking it. The dizziness stopped fairly quickly and I found I could manage with just paracetamol, ibruprofen and frozen peas.
The hospital recommended I take shallow baths every couple of days and I had to make sure I kept soap away from the area for a few weeks. My SO helped me with the baths and washed my hair when it became so greasy I couldn’t stand it. The bleeding was generally very light and lasted a little over 2 weeks but was mainly like period spotting. I was terrified to look at the area for quite a while and I will honestly say that when I did it knocked me a little sick. It was purple and bruised with these horrid black stitches. A real Frankenvagina! Maybe I am remembering it worse than it was but I definitely felt like I would never look normal again! I did though so the worry was unwarranted.
From my own personal experience there are there were three main issues I would like to mention for recovering from the Vestibulectomy for anyone who may have the operation:
1) The first bowel movement (sorry!) Even with drinking juice, eating prunes and taking a mild laxative I was still fairly constipated from the painkillers. This meant that I was terrified to go to the toilet and often ended up painfully straining, worried I would burst a stitch. One such occasion actually lead to….
2) Blood/clot release. As the swelling had started to subside, I ended up having a scary large bleed, worse than a heavy period. Again my SO was fab and he calmed me down and ran me a bath. Unfortunately when I got in the bath it turned pink with blood quite quickly and I could see I was still bleeding quite heavily. By this time I was really panicking and was imagining emergency operations and hospital visits. Luckily the bleeding did stop after around 10minutes or so however this was easily the scariest part of the whole recovery.
3) That familiar burning sensation. I found that whilst healing, the burning sensation I had already lived with for over 12 months still appeared to be there. In particular the left hand side, which I mentioned previously, was extremely sensitive and I would often get shooting pains there when I moved awkwardly or sat down wrong. This continued throughout the entire healing process and unfortunately is still there today but that’s for another entry.
I went back to the hospital after 3 weeks and they cut out some of the remaining stitches. By this point I was hardly in any discomfort anymore and was practically back to normal. I even went out with a friend for her birthday and to get me out of the house. After just over 4 weeks I went back to work, with some stitches still in place. A couple of these stitches I ended up getting removed after 6 weeks as they were poking in a bit.
I will go into more detail about what has happened since the operation in my next blog but just incase anyone is wondering I am now finally able to have sex a bit easier. Halleluja! Not going to lie, we are a bit limited due to the area still being a bit sensitive and through me now having a mild, understandable phobia but at least we now have the choice. I am still having issues on the inside, possibly due to inflammation in my muscles but I have managed to wear tampons successfully on a few different occasions. This is again something I never managed before.
Unfortunately the constant burning sensation is still there, as are the shooting pains from the left hand area. Apparently I may have allodynia, general nerve pain, which is supposedly separate from my operation as well as the muscles on the left being swollen and inflamed. This being unrelated to my operation is something I am not convinced about. Subsequently I am still having to live in skirts and find sitting a constant chore. I am not as bad as I was but life is still a bit of a drag. I originally was taking amitryptaline for the pain but found this made me drowsy. I am now taking Lyrica instead which isn’t really solving the problem but at least the side effects are minimal. Lidocaine also helps a bit so I can’t complain too much.
Even though I am not totally fixed and have other ongoing issues I would like to point out that I don’t regret having the operation. The recovery for me was fairly straight forward and I am now able to at least explore a normal sex life as well as not having to worry if I am on a period when I want to go swimming. I still believe that cutting off the area that hurts really isn’t a good cure but it is one of the few options currently available to suffers of VVS and if it gives people even a small % of relief then I guess it’s better than nothing.
I will also add that if you are considering having this operation, please make sure you go into it fully prepared for it to not work 100%. I really wasn’t prepared and that caused me to be quite depressed for a while. Also make sure your consultant has tested you to ensure the Operation will actually help and that they have experience of performing it. There is so much more I could write about my opinions on the various treatments I am trying however I think this post is long enough. If you have any questions about the surgery then get in touch J