From Mom to Mom: Abdominal Surgery is No Walk in the Park


Why is Kate Middleton’s extended stay and recovery following abdominal surgery so newsworthy?

Well, obviously, she’s KATE.

She’s also young and a very active and visible member of the Royal Family. I think it’s safe to say we were all surprised by the news, and perhaps more so by the lengthy period of time that she would be out of the public eye due to her recovery.

But as someone who has gone through a similar recuperation process after abdominal surgery at age 37, I will tell you that it is no walk in the park.

I’m not saying her case is the same as mine, but we are both moms who have people who depend on us, and abdominal surgery is NO JOKE…

a black and white phot of a woman standing in front of the bathroom mirror with an abdominal scar. The photo is a selfie and her head is flung back. In December 2019, my OBGYN, Dr. Ana Antonetti from The Women’s Group, was concerned about some abnormal symptoms that regularly happened during my monthly cycles. Before drawing any conclusions, she booked me for an ultrasound on the same day of my appointment and noticed a large mass in one of my ovaries.

With even greater concern, she referred me to Dr. Steven DeCesare, Gynecology Oncology specialist at Ascension Sacred Heart.

A few days later, after multiple tests and screenings, Dr. Decesare had to have “the talk” with me.

When you are sitting alone in a meeting room facing an oncologist while listening to him outline everything from the worst-case scenarios of your diagnosis to the best, you feel the world flipping upside down and swallowing you whole.

The “best case” scenario would entail a small incision in my abdomen and the removal of the affected ovary, leading to a swift recovery without impacting my female hormonal state.

The “worst case” scenario was cancer and losing the ability to bear children. This surgery, called a total hysterectomy, would involve a wider incision that would go from the belly button south six to eight inches in order to remove all of my reproductive organs. We would then pray that all labs and pathology would come back negative for cancer.

The mystery of it all was that my surgeon didn’t know how deep he would have to go until he saw everything up close in the operating room. He wanted me to have the procedure done immediately, but I had a trip to Europe planned that Christmas. With his blessing, he scheduled my surgery for after my trip with strict orders of no strenuous physical activities.

I mean, if my life ahead didn’t look promising, I needed to have one last adventure.

In January 2020, I gave my kids a teary and emotional farewell from my hospital bed before surgery and thanked my husband and my mom for being there for me and the kids regardless of the outcome.

a woman sitting upright in a hospital bed with an iv in her hand, preparing for surgery. The Surgery

Dr. Decesare, unfortunately, had to dig in deeper than anticipated and remove all of my reproductive organs. He found two softball-sized masses between my ovaries and uterus and a bunch of smaller ones spread throughout. “It did not look good in there, but we only need to hope that the results come out negative.”

Fortunately, our prayers were answered, and there no trace of cancer was found…AMEN!

The Recovery

a woman lying on her back with her shirt slightly pulled up to show an long abdominal scarMy incision stretched eight inches from the belly button downwards, cutting through skin, muscles, and tissues. Despite the brief three-day hospital stay, I still required ongoing care at home, all while praying for no complications.

Getting out of bed, walking, or sitting was a struggle for about a week. And I won’t go into detail about the pain every time I had to use the toilet…

Even as my mobility slowly improved, tasks like lifting a plate or driving were still very difficult. However, with my mom having to return to Puerto Rico, I pushed myself to at least pick up my kids from school. This routine continued for eight weeks, and I couldn’t work out for six months. It took a year before I could start lifting weights.

A slow but necessary recovery.

Then came the aftermath…

Hormone Deficiency

Menopause at age 37 is hell on earth!

Experimenting through multiple hormone therapies has been a treacherous journey until now, FOUR years later. For my husband and my kids’ sake, I needed something to work.

Extreme tiredness, excessive weight gain, and volatile mood swings were only a few of my symptoms. I was miserable, and I felt like my entire sense of being was left in the operating room on the day of my surgery.

Pills didn’t help, hormone creams even less, and finally, I experimented with hormone pellets. My savior!

It took me three years to begin to mentally feel closer to my original self.

Physically, I can’t say the same because my whole body has changed, and my athletic flat tummy doesn’t exist anymore, as the scaring and the muscle tears never regained their original state. Also, my energy levels deplete easily.

On the bright side, despite the long road to recovery, I am cancer-free and get to enjoy life with my family, hopefully for many, many years to come.

So, Princess Catherine, from one MOM to another, I hope you get all the time and privacy you need to heal, recover, and recuperate.

{*PSA*:: Never miss your annual visit to your preferred OBGYN!}


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