Polly’s Robotic Assisted Vaginal Hysterectomy
Type of Hysterectomy: RAVH/BSO
Age at surgery: 54
I had my hysterectomy because of post-menopausal spotting/bleeding that was eventually diagnosed as endometrial hyperplasia. My GP had me go for an ultrasound and then recommended a biopsy from the gyn that comes to our local hospital. Due to my never having children, it was difficult and painful. He couldn’t get enough tissue for a good reading so I was scheduled for a hysteroscopy with d&c to do a biopsy. We had discussed hysterectomy right away as I have a really strong family history of cancer–Mom, endometrial, Dad, colon, plus several others. My periods were always a bit uncertain as to when, how long and how heavy, but never bad enough to worry about. It was because I’d been menopausal for two years when the spotting started and it was happening more days than not for two months. My gyn consulted with his colleague who is the surgeon and they decided we should get this done as soon as possible for my sake and because my insurance was going away. I didn’t get a second opinion as I felt this was the right way for me to go. The hysterectomy was scheduled for the week following the d&c so that the hospital would be ready to go. In all, I went to my gp Oct. 29th and had the hysterectomy on Dec. 9th so not a lot of time to worry.
I had general anesthesia for the surgery which was DaVinci assisted vaginal hysterectomy. My surgeon was one who the nurses all told me had done more of these robotic assist surgeries than anyone in the country, so I felt I was in good hands. I had four tiny incisions in my belly and then the rest of the work was all inside. It was quick, as I was in surgery for only about an hour. When I woke up in recovery, the pain meds had NOT kicked in yet so it felt like the worst cramps I’d ever had, including lower back pain. It was great when the pain meds got going. I slept for much of the afternoon and didn’t get up until about 5. The nurses (who were wonderful!) pulled the catheter so I could walk and try to pee. I managed a little pee but then couldn’t do it again. As I was staying the night anyway, they ended up putting in another catheter for overnight. My surgeon stopped by before 6 the next morning and told me that if I couldn’t pee, I could still go home but would have a catheter for a few days to rest my bladder. We tried pulling the catheter and then tried everything under the sun to make me pee, but nothing worked. I went home that afternoon with the catheter back in, where it stayed for five days. When it was pulled, I had no more problems.
I took my pain pills for the first 5 days before backing down to Tylenol. I wanted to keep ahead of the pain, but didn’t want to take more than I needed. I found that I got really tired very easily, my belly was swollen more than I expected, and I felt slightly crampy for the first few weeks. It was nothing I couldn’t manage, just an annoyance. My recovery went very well and really was quicker than it felt at the time. I had no spotting/staining at all after I left the hospital and have never lost any stitches.
The biggest surprise to me was the emotional impact; I’d never had children and was menopausal so I didn’t think it would bother me much. It really floored me when I realized about a week out that my entire reproductive system was gone and had never been used for the purpose for which it was intended and never would be. There was more grief than I would have thought possible, considering everything. I haven’t had any worries to speak of about life after hysterectomy; I’ve had Mom as an example. She had hers twenty years ago and has never looked back. My surgeon saw me for a two week check and then wanted me to come in for an eight week check, but was out of the office so it ended up being nine weeks. He released me with no restrictions of any kind and felt things were healed well.
My health is getting back to what it was before the hysterectomy, which is good. I can’t say “glad” describes my feelings about the surgery–it was something that needed to be taken care of before it became a major problem. The general consensus was that it would become a problem if we didn’t do the surgery. I’d rather be done with it than waiting and hoping that nothing would happen.
If you’re considering a hysterectomy, be sure to consider all the sides of the issue – health, children, mental considerations. This surgery is completely, totally irreversible so be very sure that it’s the right decision for you.
I’m glad that mine is done and that I didn’t have any complications, but I also know that a piece of my life is now missing forever.