Now Reading
Recovery After Laparoscopy Part Two: 6 More Things I Wish I’d Known

Recovery After Laparoscopy Part Two: 6 More Things I Wish I’d Known

Search bar on pink background

If you’ve had laparoscopic surgery, you might have some questions. In this article, our Post-Op Feels columnist Emily Thorpe explains what recovery after laparoscopy is really like. 

A couple of years ago I wrote this post. Then, I was only a month and some change out from my first laparoscopic surgery. I was still incredibly raw and I hadn’t even started physical therapy yet, but I wrote about the immediate aftermath of my first major surgery. After receiving hundreds of comments of praise for delving into what recovery really means, here are six more things I’ve learned about recovery after laparoscopy.

1. Rewiring your brain is a must.

The first time I heard this, I thought I hadn’t had enough coffee. But no, my physical therapist said this to me at 7 a.m. one balmy summer morning. What was she talking about? My incisions were still angry and hurting (more on that later), and she wanted me to “rewire” my brain? This was our first concern?

The gist of what she was saying was this: I had trained my brain, for over 14 years, to be on the lookout for pain. Mostly, my response (to the pain), was to ignore it. But, in those rare moments when I acknowledged it, I stressed myself out. I constantly wondered: What the fuck is wrong with me? Because I couldn’t get an actual black-and-white diagnosis.

I soon found that willful ignorance combined with an overwhelming amount of stress and anxiety wasn’t a good look. It was detrimental for my mind and my body. So, I had to work on better assessing my physical situation. What is actually happening at this moment? Mindfulness to the nth degree. I had to learn what certain muscles are and what they’re *supposed* to do. This way, I’d be able to tell if something was actually wrong. It’s still a process, but it’s helped so much.

2. Endometriosis never really goes away.

Following my surgery, I posted a picture immediately after my two-week checkup. I was so excited my surgeon got all of the Endometriosis-ridden tissue. I was so excited to get my life back and I did! But, then I remembered, Endometriosis never really goes away.

Endometriosis can be excised, but its ghost can and may continue wreaking havoc on your body even after surgery. After the (horrible) first three cycles immediately following my surgery, I found myself nearly pain-free for nine months. Then, the crippling exhaustion and my unrelenting Endo-belly returned. That night, I missed circus training. Instead of flying through the air careless and happy, I cried. Oh my God, everything is coming back! Clearly, it took a while for what my PT said about not immediately panicking to sink in.

Katy Perry is right, y’all: It’s never really over. My body will always make that tissue, my organs will always have scars, and there’s always the potential for a flare-up. Instead of looking at it as a failure or as evidence that I’m broken, (and instead of constantly freaking out), I’m rewiring my brain to acknowledge that I have a chronic illness. It sucks and it’s unfair, but it’s manageable.

Now I can recognize what does and doesn’t work for me and try to choose the kinder response for my body, whatever it may be at that moment. If that means taking extra ibuprofen or eating a salad instead of the burger, so be it. If I need to make an appointment to see my doctor or call in sick, that’s just what I’m doing that day. And that’s OK.

3. Your scars may be itchy, angry, and irritated for a while.

I did something really damaging for my mental health right after laparoscopy: I scrolled through Instagram to see how others who’d also had this surgery were recovering. I wanted to know what to expect. Instead, I created an idea of what recovery “has to be” and when I didn’t hit that mark, I used it as evidence that I had messed up.

I found one woman who was able to run errands and get her nails done the day after surgery. Then, there was the woman who was touting about her ability to work out (not high intensity, but still making the effort) four days after her excision. A month later, I found another user who was wearing a bikini while swimming in the ocean with her fiancé. You see where this is going, right?

None of the images conveyed what I was going through. None of it was even close to my experience. One month post-op and my scars were still red and angry. I also had a bit of a rash — a rash that wouldn’t go away. When my PT saw my stomach (almost two months after surgery), she called my doctor. I was then rushed in to hear: “Oh! You’re just allergic to the glue. Use this prescription of Cortisone and you’ll be fine.”

Thanks, guys.

4. You may experience a bout of rage and that’s OK.

Eventually, I came to terms with my illness. Surgery gave me the power to say YES. Yes, something was going on inside of me. (I’m not crazy). Yes, every doctor who told me I simply had a low pain tolerance (HAHAHA) was incorrect. That validation was truly amazing and fucking awful at the same time.

As grateful as I was to get the treatment I needed, I found myself getting bitter and hateful. I realized how resentful I’d become towards the people in my personal and professional life, including former co-workers and “friends.” Those who hadn’t believed me and who talked behind my back. My mind started replaying the comments I’d heard from others. They said that I whined too much and suggested that there was no way my pain was as bad as I said it was because I was still able to function.

I found myself going into my therapists’ office raging mad. So, if you plan on keeping your sanity, I highly recommend getting a therapist to cope with the aftermath of getting laparoscopic surgery. It was invaluable for me to have someone to talk to. My therapist helped me find productive ways to let go.

5. You may change as a person.

Going to therapy, receiving the validation I longed for, writing my feelings, and participating in unconventional physical therapy enabled me to find my voice and understand my worth. For the first time in my life, I know what I have to offer. (Even though I know that there’s still a lot more for me to discover, I’m OK with where I’m at now.)

Now, I hold others accountable for how they treat me. And, because I’m not constantly sick, I can handle and commit to more at work. I can roll on the floor with my nieces and nephews without worrying about throwing my back out. I can fling myself around a gym for two hours a week. (I not only feel healthier from it, but I also feel sexier.)

I’m having a blast learning about myself. I now have the ability and drive to put time and energy into situations I wouldn’t have even thought to do a year (and some change) ago. I’m smarter than I ever gave myself credit for, and funnier, too.

Now that I’m able to see these traits in myself, I can better recognize all of the amazing qualities in those around me, too. Although I still struggle (I have good and bad days), I now know that I’m capable of so much more.

What's Your Reaction?
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll To Top