I know it’s gone midnight and I’m still recovering from my general anaesthetic, but the one thing that keeps nagging in my head is that I WISHED I’d been able to read a blow by blow account of what happens when going under GA and how I felt after my LLETZ. So this is for anyone, particularly the Jo’s Trust ladies, who have to undergo this.
Obviously I know every person and every hospital and every clinician will be different, but I really hope this is helpful for someone (even if it just puts my friends’ minds at rest!).
Pre Op Screening
For me, as soon as I found out I was going to have to go under GA for the LLETZ, they sent me to the ward where I would go to wait for my operation. After filling in a few questionnaires (do I smoke? how much do I drink? do I have allergies? etc etc) they took my height, weight and tested my lung capacity (this is because I used to smoke quite a bit).
All of this tests ensured I was safe to go under GA and that they administered exactly the right amount of anaesthetic.
After this, I was swabbed in my mouth, nose, ears, armpits and groin for MRSA – I got to do the armpits and groin myself! I also had to wash with this antiseptic Hibiscrub for three days before, including my hair. Also, remove makeup, nail varnish etc for the day.
Pre Op Assesment
Ok, so this happened for me two days before my operation. I met with a nurse who made sure I fully understood what happened. She was brilliant; real layman’s terms. She took my blood pressure and my escort from hospital’s details. Then I met with a 12 year old doctor who checked my heart rate and to see if I had any infection. Doogie Howser also quizzed me on how much I knew about the procedure. I then signed a consent form saying that I knew why I was having LLETZ (I also learned it stood for something like Large Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone) and what the risks are. He also promised they wouldn’t do any other treatment whilst I was under without my consent unless it was to save my life. Then, I dropped off a blood sample or three to check for things like sickle cell etc and that was it.
Day of LLETZ
So, my operation was at noon so I had some toast at 7am and some water about 10am. Got to the hospital and I had to give a urine sample straight away. Not sure why. Then I labelled my bag with my overnight stuff in (just in case) and I met with a doctor. She again explained what was going to happen and made sure I understood it all. I liked her – she said she had a gut feeling I’d be alright! Then I met with the consultant doing the operation, also very nice, just to AGAIN make sure I knew what was happening and to answer any questions. After that, the anaesthetist met with me so…yes…you guessed it…he could make sure I knew what was happening and ask questions. I then changed into a backless gown (not so bad – tied from the waist up) and my dressing gown and slippers. Waited a short while then confirmed my consent and walked to the anaesthetic’s room.
I was greeted by five people who confused the hell out of me! I just did what they all said, to be honest. I removed my glasses, dressing gown and slippers and jumped on the bed. They wired me up to a heart rate monitor and a blood pressure monitor (routine apparently) and tried to put a drip into my left hand – no luck on the vein there (OUCH!) but they had success on the right hand. They put an oxygen mask on me and told me it would all sting a bit. What an understatement! I could feel the anaesthetic crawling up my veins and it stung like hell! I’ve never had anything injected into me, it was so strange. Then, a second later, asleep! Just like that.
The LLETZ Procedure
I won’t say much about this as I wasn’t awake! All I knew was that I was put in stirrups, had a speculum open me, they operated succesfully and removed a decent sized sample from the cells at the top of my cervix. An anaesthetist stays with you the whole time and you don’t remember anything!
I woke up to the sound of my favourite song on the radio “Running up the Hill” by Kate Bush. I was a bit groggy and told the nurse this and said “She lived next door to me once, you know, 48 and I was at 46”. I kept saying this over and over again – I think she just ignored me.
I didn’t have my glasses so was a bit disorientated. They offered me some water and I sipped it slowly as my throat hurt so much. I was cold and had a blanket. Eventually, I was pushed on the trolley to the recovery ward.
Here all my bags were and I was offered more water, a cup of tea and a sandwich. I had really bad period pains and was starving so was grateful for the food. I ate it all quite quickly.
I also had on a massive pad (thankfully not a gauze pack and a catheter) which they just put inbetween my legs for the bleeding. I also got my glasses back finally! As soon as I could walk I went to the loo to put on a more discreet sanitary pad. I also set off the emergency alarm but that’s neither here nor there.
As soon as I’d got out of the operation theatre, they called my boyfriend and told him to pick me up at 5pm. This put his mind at ease because it took 2 hours from going to the anaesthetist’s room to leaving the operating theatre!
I asked the nurse if I could get dressed and go as the doctor had come to see me, told me it all went well and her good gut feeling was still there! So I got dressed and went to the waiting room. Eventually Oliver joined me and they removed my drip and the sticky patches the cables were attached to and she prescribed me co-codamol and another hardcore pain relief drug. Waiting for the taxi, she ran out to greet us – she’d forgotten the antibiotics. I had to take all four of the antibiotics when I got in to keep off infection.
So there it is. I responded well to the GA but I know a lot of people don’t. I was amazed how quickly I went out and how my period pain went away. It really went as good as it could and all the consultancies with the various experts REALLY put my mind at ease. If something had gone wrong, I’d trust that they knew what they were doing.
Next time, I’ll do what to expect at a colposcopy and punch biopsy!