The Pain Diaries: What Surgery Taught Me About My Rheumatoid Arthritis

I may not have had a joint replacement as my first surgery since my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis but my bilateral laparoscopic salpingectomy taught me lot about my rheumatoid arthritis and even myself.

The recovery time is supposed to be 4-6 weeks. I knew going in with an autoimmune disease that I would be taking the longer route to recovery. October 5th and I still don’t feel fully recovered enough to get back into exercise like I was before surgery.

1. How important my biologics are for my health

To have surgery I had to stop my biologic because it does weaken my immune system, I would have a harder time fighting off infection and healing would be even more difficult. Without my biologic I quickly became tireder, I couldn’t handle as much in day as I could with them. I experienced more pain in my joints. Without them I started to count the days it would be until I got have my IV infusion of actemra again.

2. How important exercise and movement is when living with arthritis

The healing process definitely made me feel like I fell back in my physical goals, before I was exercising and strength training quite regularly. It was quite difficult for me to accept I would have to stop my exercise routine. Multiple healthcare professionals commented how my regular exercise routine would make the surgery and recovery easier for me, I believe this was definitely true. For several months I was preparing myself not for my summer body but my before surgery bod.

Without my regular exercise I felt soft and weak in areas I want to feel strong, for my compromised joints. I could see it with my balance and what I could do in a day, especially with what time I need to go to bed.

When I was able to get back into exercise I had to do it slowly but it wasn’t long before my body started to once again crave it, about two weeks. The more I exercised the later I could stay up and handle more in a day.

3. Always be prepared

Before my surgery I planned the next two weeks out with informing people I would probably be out of commission, childcare, meal prep, house cleaned, help to come over with chores I couldn’t do. I found being so prepared let me relax and focus on recovery and painting. Dealing with fatigue can leave me always feeling guilty about not being able to do enough and struggle while doing everything I do but surgery showed me I’ve gotten quite good at my routine of being a chronically ill single mom and I try my hardest.

4. Yes, it’s ok to feel nervous and be scared about any surgery.

Going under, risks, healing, being cut open, all kind of very intimidating.

5. Closing down the babymaker comes with an emotional roller coaster.

Being 33 and unable to have another child, even though it wasn’t what I pictured in my life, still comes with heart break. Disease did this. I do not know my future, just like when I was the 26 year old girl finding out she was pregnant, never wanting kids in the first place but grew up in a short period of time and opened her heart to a little boy named Jacob.

6. I have mild endometriosis

When you go digging, you tend to find things. During my surgery they discovered I have mild endometriosis. At least that’s what the surgeon said, mild, it doesn’t feel very mild. That diagnosis answered so many questions I have been having about my angry uterus.