Tye’s Hysterectomy Story

Type of Hysterectomy: Total Abdominal Hysterectomy
Age at Hysterectomy: 39
Location: Minneapolis, MN

I had a hysterectomy because of fibroids. I went in for my annual exam in November of 2014 and was told that my uterus was enlarged. I didn’t understand what that meant. My first thought was cancer, but the doctor informed me that she thought it was fibroids, but needed me to have an ultrasound to get an accurate diagnosis. I had the ultrasound, and could clearly see 7 fibroids, each the size of oranges. It looked like heads of babies, and it freaked me out. The doctor at that point recommended a hysterectomy. I didn’t like the sound of that, so I thought about it for about a month before getting a second opinion. At my second opinion, I was asked about my symptoms which up until that appointment I thought were normal. They asked if I peed a lot, and how heavy my periods were, and about trouble with bowel movements. I answered yes to nearly every question. My periods were heavy, but they had always been heavy, so for me they were normal. I peed a lot, but I was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure so I thought it was from the BP medicine. I had trouble with bowel movements, but again, had an excuse – I eat a lot of cheese. The one thing I didn’t have an excuse for was the weight gain, and the protruding belly. I eat pretty healthy, so I thought it just came with age. This doctor recommended a total abdominal hysterectomy with a vertical incision. I really didn’t like the sound of that, but scheduled my preop for the 28th of December.

After that appointment, I sought out another opinion. I thought if 3 doctors told me that I would need a hysterectomy, I’ll do it. My preop was already scheduled, but I wanted to give it another shot. At my third opinion, the doctor told me exactly what the other two doctors said – I need a hysterectomy. I cannot try any other options because my fibroids were so large, that shrinking them will do very little, and having just the fibroids removed won’t guarantee that they won’t return. He told me that he could do a bikini line cut instead of a vertical one. I liked the sound of that, but still hated the idea a hysterectomy. Not because I wanted kids, but because I was scared. I chose my third opinion doctor to do the procedure.

I woke up, nervous. So nervous that I thought my heart, which was already in my throat, will beat out of my mouth. I had all types of thoughts in my head, most of them not good. Most of the thoughts were worst case scenario thoughts.   I get to the hospital and check in. What I didn’t know is that I would have to do this part alone, without anyone holding my hand. I’m such a big baby, and really wanted one of my loved ones with me, but they couldn’t be.

During check in, they ask you the same questions multiple times while taking your vitals. Then, you have to change. The entire time, I’m crying because I’m so scared, and all I could think was I’m giving these people permission to gut me like a fish. It sounds so dramatic, but that’s how I felt.  Once I was changed into a very comfortable surgery gown, socks and hair wrap…. No, seriously, it was comfortable. I wish they would have gave me another one of those gowns after surgery because the one I had for my hospital stay wasn’t half as comfy. Anyway, once I was clothed, the anesthesiologist came in. The tears started to flow once more. He was very nice, and asked me about my fears. He promised me that I wouldn’t die. And for that moment, I believed him. He told me the stats, and it’s actually a less than 1% chance that I wouldn’t wake up. Then my doctor came in. He tried to calm me as well. I was pretty calm considering what was about to happen, and once my family came back to see me. Then I was whisked away again to get an epidural and IV. This part was really difficult. I got off the table and told everyone in the room that the surgery is canceled. There were 2 nurses and 2 anesthesiologists. I told them all that I couldn’t do it. A very nice nurse talked me down, and got me back on the table. I know it doesn’t sound dramatic, but it was. That whole scene took about 20 minutes.

The anesthesiologist put in the epidural, and the iv, and then said that he would give me something to relax and I would feel it instantly. Boy, did I feel it!? It was great! My family came in. My mom and brother prayed for me, but I have no recollection of it. I have no memory of being rolled into the OR. No memory of counting backward (not sure if I did or not). I just remember waking up wondering if the surgery had even happened. LOL! It seemed instantaneous. I saw my family come in the room, and then I woke up. The anestesiologist used general anesthesia for the surgery.

I woke up to 0 pain because of the epidural. Was transferred to my room 30 minutes later. I don’t recall how I was transferred into my bed though. Still a little loopy at that point. My family was there, and I fell asleep for most of the day. The hospital was very good about keeping my pain very low or non existent. I was in the hospital for three days.

My recovery was pretty easy. I didn’t have any major complications. I did have a seroma which scared me a bit. I woke up one morning to the front of my pajama bottoms covered in fluid. I called the doctor immediately, and went in. They tested it and informed me that it wasn’t infected. It was a seroma and they wanted the fluid out of me, so it was a good thing that it’s out.

My must have’s for recovery were my body pillow, a bed tray, and netflix. Reading was too difficult to concentrate with all of the drugs, but watching movies and television was very enjoyable.   I think my biggest challenge in recovery and still even now is the fatigue. I tire out pretty quickly, and notice if I’ve done too much. I still get swelly belly after a few hours of activity.  My doctor released me for full activities on week 10. I was released to go back to work on week 8.

My health has been great since the hysterectomy. My hemoglobin is where it should be, so that’s a definite improvement. I’m happy I did the surgery because once they got in there they found endometriosis, and that I had 2 dozen fibroids, not 7. I also had multiple cysts on each ovary which I was still able to keep. Getting the surgery was a good idea. I questioned it for a while, all the way up until the pre-op room. But learning what was inside me afterwards made me realize it was the right choice.

You can do it, and you’ll be happy that you did. It’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay to question it. But do what’s best for your health. If you’re anemic, do it. If your belly is protruding making you look pregnant, do it. If you have painful, heavy periods, do it. You’ll regain your energy. You’ll get your life back. And for some of us, like me, who thought it was normal to feel sluggish, or to have horrid periods, you’ll actually begin your life anew. You’ll become the person you’ve always wanted to be and not plan your life around your period.

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