Alison’s Hysterectomy Story
Type of Hysterectomy: Total Abdominal Hysterectomy (TAH)
Age at Hysterectomy: TAH
Location: Bel Air, MD
I had recently moved to a new state (VA to MD) and needed to find a new GYN. Since I had previously dealt with a male Family Practice doctor, I chose to make the switch to a female GYN recommended by a new friend. I believe this decision was one of the best I could have made. I had been complaining of very painful periods for a few years, yet my Family practice doctor seemed to shrug my complaints off as “typical” of an aging female (I just turned 50 in May) who was worried about menopause. His wording was that as long as I was still having periods, there was no real need to be concerned about menopause…. and to take meds for those “few” days each month as needed. Imagine my surprise when my first appt with the new GYN was followed up with a pelvic ultrasound and major concerns regarding the size of my uterus! I had brought this up to my prior doctor for a few years, but was always told that it was probably “just me”. The pelvic ultrasound found two large fibroids and discovered that my uterus was twice the size it should be… 28 centimeters worth of tissue/organs that needed to be removed, especially since my youngest child was already 22 years old. My meeting with my new GYN was bliss… she listened to my concerns, addressed all issues I had, and actually gave me her personal email for correspondence. I felt comfortable with her (as did my husband) and I never once considered a second or third opinion. While her decision that I needed a TAH (Total Abdominal Hysterectomy) was the most invasive, her defense of that decision made the most sense and I felt no need to question her.
My hospital experience was both pleasant and scary. My original TAH surgery on 1/29 seemed to go smoothly and I felt drained, as to be expected, but everyone involved with my experience was personable and professional. My anethesiologist used a scope and a smaller grade tube so as not to disturb my vocal chords (I sing and was very concerned about the possible problems) and they used an anti-nausea patch as well as meds during and after surgery to keep nausea at bay, which worked perfectly well. The scary part came when my vitals revealed that my BP was dropping throughout the day while my heartrate was increasing… all apparent indicators of internal bleeding. My comfort level with GYN was confirmed when she discussed the options of either trying to stop the bleeding with medication or going back into the OR and stop the bleeding immediately…. we chose to go back in. My GYN was with me throughout the surgery and got my husband back with me as quickly after as possible. She used staples the second time (rather than sutures) and inserted a Jackson Pratt drain (J-P drain) to remove as much of the excess fluid as possible. Coming out of the second surgery was a much better experience… I felt better, my color was better, and I was in better health after the second surgery, which seems weird to say. They removed my foley catheter late on Saturday (1/31) and I was able to get up and move, which was a huge plus. Sunday, they realized that I was becoming anemic (hemo was 19 instead of 35?) so I got two pints of blood over the afternoon and was then able to go home on Monday. I still had the J-P drain, so I kept track of the fluid we drained every few hours until it started to significantly decrease. My GYN had me come into her office on Thursday to remove the staples and drain, then GAVE ME HER CELL NUMBER and asked me to text her as soon as I had my first BM. Honestly, she earned my undying gratitude and appreciation throughout my experience. I had my first BM later that Thursday and things have been relatively calm ever since.
The biggest issue for me to date has been exhaustion. I got up and dressed over the weekend (Feb 7/8) and was just wiped out by Monday (2/9). I’m napping often and slowly feeling better. I’ll have my post-op check up on Friday, 2/13 and hope to hear good news from my doc about pathology and such. My husband has been a Godsend, taking off work and helping with anything around the house, so I really have little about which to complain.
I’ll know more about my health as I get further from my surgery date… but am sure things will be much better.
I would highly suggest finding others who have had the same surgery and asking their opinions. The support I received from friends and from the HysterSIsters.org site was invaluable. I would be most interested in sharing my story with anyone who is planning to have a TAH…. paying it forward would be a wonderful thing to do, in my opinion.
Extra note: get a Netflix account…. even if it’s just for 3 months… and watch movies or sitcoms in the hospital to pass the time, I also found that reaching out to friends on FB was exceptionally helpful for support. My husband kept my friends updated over my surgery dates and seeing the sheer number of people who were praying for my successful surgeries was so uplifting. It meant the world to see people share their support and love, especially since we have yet to make many local friends in our new home state.