Shelley’s Hysterectomy Story

Type of Hysterectomy: Radical Hysterectomy
Age at Hysterectomy:  35
Location:  Springfield, MO

I decided to have a Radical hysterectomy after 3 years of experiencing severe pain from recurring Endometriosis & ovarian cysts as well as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.

During these three years, we were stationed in Pearl Harbor, HI. I saw multiple military doctors and made many trips to the emergency room due to severe lower left abdominal pain. Each time I saw a Doctor, they would just give me pain medication and send me home. It was taking its toll on not only me, but my family too.

When I finally saw an Obstetrician, she diagnosed me with PMDD and put me on ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone for treatment. I thought now I would finally get some relief. I was very depressed and exhausted from this debilitating situation I was in. Little did I know I would not get relief. The side effects were just too much. I started getting frequent yeast infections, nausea and vomiting, awful headaches and become even more depressed than I already was.

I decided to see another Obstetrician for a second opinion. She agreed that I did indeed have PMDD, but she actually listened to me when I told her all my symptoms. She wanted to go in and explore laparoscopically to see what was going on. After the surgery, she told me that I was plagued with Endometriosis and that she had removed it almost all of it. Six months later, history was starting to repeat itself. At this time, my husband was retiring from the military and we were in the middle of moving to Missouri.

As soon as we got there I found a great OB, gave him my records, that were extremely thick, and I told him I wanted a hysterectomy. We discussed the options of partial and total but, I wanted it all gone. A little over a month later I had the surgery. My doctor told me that there was a very large cyst under my left ovary, that was on the verge of bursting. THIS is why I was experiencing lower left abdominal pain and the military doctor in Hawaii didn’t see that while she was “exploring”?

My surgery was performed abdominally with an incision along the bikini line under general anesthesia. I remained in the hospital for hospital for 5 days after the surgery.

I had to blow into an Incentive Spirometer to keep my lungs healthy and prevent getting pneumonia. Even though I did that, I kept a fever of 101 each day I was there. I also had an extremely difficult time getting out of the bed and walking around. The nurses and my family encouraged and helped me each day to get up and walk. I was in so much pain and cried with each step, but with the support I had from the wonderful nurses and my family, I did it.

On the 4th day, they removed the catheter to see if could use the bathroom and I could not. I was disappointed and afraid they were going to send me home with a catheter and have to stay in the hospital longer. They decided to put the catheter back in, but they wanted a few residents to do it for the experience. I reluctantly agreed and for good reason. It took them a while to do it.

There were 2 men and 1 female and they were strangely excited and fascinated by this performing this procedure. It turned out that none of them could do it correctly. Not only was I embarrassed showing total strangers everything I had, but they ended up causing a small tear near my urethra. I was already in enough pain as it was from the surgery. My nurse was the one who finally got it back in correctly. I didn’t have any problems from the tear, but it was very uncomfortable and only added to what I was going through.

On the 5th day, I was finally able to urinate. I had a low grade fever, but they went ahead and discharged me.

The important issues to me was having the support I needed and help getting around while I recovered.  I am very blessed to have an amazing husband and kids that tended to my every need, yet encouraged me to do the things I needed to do to speed up the healing process. It was important for me to heal properly so I could get back to living life the way it was meant to be. My recovery wasn’t easy, but the support I had really helped me get through it.

My greatest challenge was trying not to rip my staples out by doing things I shouldn’t be doing. I was impatient and wanted my life back. I had a fever every day for about three weeks and I ended up getting pneumonia. That was partly my fault because I wasn’t diligent about using the breathing equipment that was supposed to help.

I worried a lot about how life would be after the surgery. I was eager to know if I had made the right decision and if the pain I had experienced almost every day for three years would be gone. I hoped that I could finally be intimate without being in pain. I was only 35 and I had concerns about being forced straight into menopause. I didn’t know what to expect. I think I may have worried about that particular subject too much. My husband went out and bought me a book called “Menopause for Dummies.” Hah! I thought it was cute and funny at the time ,but it was brilliant and calmed some of the anxiety I had.

It was a full six weeks before my doctor let me go back to work. By then I finally felt human again and was very happy with my decision to have everything removed. I wasn’t in any pain at all and my quality of life sky rocketed.

The hysterectomy did take away the pain and suffering I endured for such a long time, but I believe it has caused other issues over the years. For one year post-op life was grand. My sex life was back to normal and I could do things with my kids and be the mother and wife I wanted and needed to be. The one day, my life took a different turn.

I started having all these strange symptoms over time. Bladder and bowel issues. I couldn’t urinate at all and ended up in the hospital to be catheterized. My urologist told me that I have the bladder of a 60 year old MAN. I’m constipated or have diarrhea all the time. I couldn’t concentrate or think properly. I woke up almost every day with my muscles feeling stiff. My legs felt like pins and needles. I get so fatigued and my body just feels exhausted. I have back and neck pain. Sometimes pain all over.. Headaches. The list goes on.

In 2012, after seeing many specialists, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, IBS and Chronic Fatigue syndrome. I am now on medications that help, but it took almost 2 years to get the help I needed. I’m not saying that having this procedure done is the result of having Fibromyalgia or CFS. But I do know that it can cause problems with your bladder.

Even though I have these health issues, I am very happy with my decision to have the hysterectomy. The pain I was in constantly was debilitating and I would not with that on anyone in this entire world.

My advice would be that if you are suffering from constant debilitating pain and your quality of life has diminished significantly, definitely consider the option. If you’re having everything taken out, don’t be afraid of menopause like I was. I will take menopause over suffering any day!

The most important thing you should know is research, research and more research. If you’re doing it online, go to websites that have proper information about the surgery. Not yahoo answers or anything like that. Sites like this with great articles and resources and other informational websites.

When you see your doctor, make sure you have a list of questions on anything you are concerned about. Any good doctor will satisfy any concerns you may have about having the surgery.

When you read or hear about someone’s bad experience, it’s just that particular person’s experience. It doesn’t mean the same thing will happen in your case.

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