Robotic Left Adrenalectomy

Posted by Lizzy Armentrout on June 1, 2013 at 7:35 AM

                Surgery for the removal of the adrenal myelolipoma and left adrenal gland was set forTuesday, May 7th, 2013, at noon. This type of surgery is an adrenalectomy and I was fortunate that it could be done laproscopically and also that my surgeon was one who uses robotics to perform it. Now here are some health issues I had going on at time of surgery:

  • Crazy blood pressure readings after a life of normal to low blood pressure
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Throbbing and pain on my left side, especially at night when I was on my back
  • On my arms I had these oozing sores that would never heal and go away. Had them for about 7 months.
  • Hypothyroid
  • Sinus problems
  • Chronic UTI’s
  • Bone spur in right heel that had gotten VERY hard to walk on even w/anti –  inflammatories

                God gave me total and complete peace about moving ahead with the surgery which is saying a lot when you consider all the risks and complications that could’ve resulted.  (The surgeon told me that there was a very real possibility that the blood supply to the left kidney could get damaged and therefore the kidney would be taken. ) The surgeon told us that from the start to the finish of the surgery would be approximately 5 hours.   Now, I had a lapro hysterectomy done about 7 years earlier and did awesome with it, so I was thinking that the recovery would be about the same since they were both lapro’s. HA—boy was I ever wrong! 

                Due to all the prayers my sweet friends were praying for me, the surgery went REALLY well---only took THREE hours!   The day of surgery I was told to take just one blood pressure medication.  All day after surgery my blood pressure was 90/60;in fact, when I finally was allowed to try and stand I got dizzy.    The anesthesia made me a bit sick on my stomach so I wasn’t even able to eat jello until about midnight.  From then on my stomach was fine.  (Nurse was bringing me a turkey sandwich at 2 a.m.!)   The next morning they checked my bp and it was 115/75 so I told them that I was not going to take my bp medicine until it was high again.  The surgeon came by and took the catheter off and said I would be discharged once I could walk the floor, sit in a chair, and pee.  At the time I was just having some mild pain in my chest from the CO2 that they pump in you.   About an hour after the surgeon had left the pain drastically increased.  Honestly, it was awful!! It had gotten up under my rib cage, and I felt like I couldn’t even breathe.  The nurse brought me two percocets but they didn’t do a thing for it.  An hour later it was even worse so she had to give me tramadol thru an IV.  THAT did help thank goodness!!  They came by with my bp medicines and checked my bp which was still just 112/72 so I refused the meds.   I finally met all the conditions for discharge and was sent home at 1:30 on Wed the 8th.

                I was expecting to be back on my feet in 1 week and chomping at the bit to get back to work after two weeks.  Again, I was TOTALLY off base! That first week all I did was SLEEP! I could NOT stay awake for anything.   The pain from the CO2 lasted about 2 more days so I was taking Percocet AND ultram for pain.  When the gas FINALLY dissipated the pain was just localized to the incisions.  I had 3 incisions going down the left side of my stomach.  One small one right at my rib cage area; a 2-inch incision midway down; and a small one at my hip bone.  The 2 inch incision was the spot where the tumor was brought through.  That incision is the one that caused the most pain.  It took almost a whole month before I wasn’t noticing it pulling or hurting.   My blood pressure stayed normal!

                I took my last pain pill on Thurs night a week and a half after surgery.  The following  Monday I was starting to feel like myself and was able to drive to the library about 5 minutes from here.  Well, that Monday night I broke out in HIVES!I had burning, itching, and mild swelling and it would go from my hands to my feet to my scalp to my ears and then back around again. The next day, 2 weeks from surgery, I was on the phone with my surgeon’s office about the horrible hives.  It was miserable! They recommended taking 2 benedryl every 4-6 hours and if it didn’t improve to call my regular dr.  Well, it would help for the first hour after I took it but it never got the hives and itching under control.  So on Wednesday I was at my regular dr’s office.  My bp was 130/80(even though I was in HUGE duress from the itching and burning!).  The dr gave me a prednisone shot; put me on a week of prednisone; told me to continue the benedryl; put me on zantac 2x a day(has antihistamines in it?); and told me to take my Zyrtec 2x a day.   We both felt that the Percocet is probably what caused the hives since I had never taken it before this surgery.   Well, I expected the hives to disappear since I had the prednisone shot but NOPE! The next day I was back on the phone w/the dr’s office asking if there was something other than benedryl because I was still miserable.   The dr called in some Doxeprin for me.  THAT worked! But it also knocked me OUT! So back to bed I went! I was able to quit the doxeprin the following Monday and go back to Benedryl, but as of today, 1 month after surgery, I still have very small flare ups of the hives first thing in the morning and again around 5 pm.   Honestly, that allergic reaction was  right up there w/the CO2 pain and made my recovery that much worse!

I didn’t have any problems at all w/the incisions healing.  The top incision did get a bubble on it that felt like fluid but it never burst and was never red.  Went for my 3 week post op appt and surgeon told me that the myelolipoma was actually in one arm of the adrenal gland; it was benign; it was non- functioning.   Even though it was non- functioning I believe it was putting pressure on my kidney which was affecting my blood pressure.  He wanted me to take 2 more weeks off of work but due to End of Grade testing we compromised that I would take 1 full week and the 2nd week would be ½ days.  So I will start back to teaching on Monday and am a bit hesitant about how I will have the energy to get through even ½ a day.

                3 ½ weeks out from surgery:

  • blood pressure is still in normal ranges w/o anyblood pressure medications
  • bone spur on right heel---I haven’t noticed ANY pain from it (Strange??  Will be curious to see how that does after returning to work on Mon)
  • The oozing sores on my arm went COMPLETELY away for the first time since last summer! Just have the brown scars to deal with now.
  • Incisions are healing nicely.  The 2 inch incision occasionally twinges or hurts but surgeon said that is completely normal and will happen for another month at least
  • Am still low on energy.  Not allowed to do housework for 1 more week.  Small jobs make me short of breath. 
  • Prednisone has given me the jitters and made me HUNGRY all the time so have no idea if the surgery affected hypoglycemia.  Won’t know until I get off this tapering round of the prednisone in about a week. 
  • Flank pain and throbbing is gone

I’ll try to remember to do another update in about a month or two.  I just can’t thank the Lord enough for how He has watched over me through this and for all the sweet friends that He has given me. They have been so good to me and my family during my recovery.





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