Diane’s Robotic Hysterectomy Story
Type of Hysterectomy: DaVinci Robot, kept ovaries
Age at surgery: 50
Location: Miami, FL
I was told I had small fibroids about 5 years ago. No symptoms back then but my doctor wanted me to get an annual ultrasound just to monitor. Over the last 3 years, my bleeding got much heavier, and my periods just weren’t the same. More cramping and my cycle shortened, bleeding every 21 to 23 days. It began to really affect me professionally, always concerned about having “accidents” at work and wearing black most of the time. I was a good patient and every year during my annual check-up I would tell my doctor about my symptoms. After every visit she would schedule another ultrasound and then tell me that basically, the fibroids are just slightly bigger than the previous year and that when I reach menopause my uterus will automatically shrink. She reassured me it was not cancer and that fibroids were benign, so I shouldn’t worry. No options or alternatives were offered…just to return in one year to be checked again. I trusted this physician…she was my doctor for nearly 8 years. About 18 months ago, I noticed that I could actually take my hands and feel the fibroids when I would lay down on my back. My abdomen was huge. At my next visit, I thought for sure my doctor would notice this new finding and offer some solution, but once again..she said it will all shrink when I hit menopause. I knew the risk was low for cancer…but I just didn’t like the idea of something growing inside me, year after year. This was my breaking point that led me to seek a second opinion.
The second physician heard my story, examined me and for the first time I heard about alternative treatments for fibroids. She did an ultrasound in her office after the exam and once she saw the results informed me that my uterus was the biggest she had ever seen, and that alternative treatments may no longer be her first recommendation. We began to discuss a hysterectomy. My uterus was the size of a 6 1/2 month pregnancy. The largest fibroid was 9 cm. and there were 4 in total. We discussed surgical options and I wanted to go with robotic surgery because of the better recovery period. She called the surgeon from her cell phone and set me up with an appointment, making no promises that this could be done robotically. So 5 years after first hearing I had fibroids….I was off to see a surgeon.
I went in to the OR at about 1:30pm. I consented to the total robotic hysterectomy and removal of fallopian tubes, possible removal of ovaries, possible open hysterectomy. They have you consent to everything…just in case. They don’t want to wake you up to sign other consents in case they can’t do it robotically or see something wrong with your ovaries and decide to remove them. I had general anesthesia and was back in the post-op area about 4 hours later. They were able to do it robotically. I was not in any pain at all. I had a catheter in my bladder and IV fluids. I was a bit groggy and tired but able to speak to my family members and tell them I was feeling OK. The catheter was removed by 10:30pm and I was walking in the hallways of the hospital by 11pm.
There really wasn’t ever any real pain. The discomfort was more like a sore belly from doing too many sit ups the day before. Discomfort was well controlled with meds….which I took regularly throughout the night because I really wanted to walk around. Walking makes the recovery even better. I walked two more times during the night when I got up to use the bathroom. I was discharged at 10:30am. I walked out of the hospital at my normal walking pace and didn’t wait for the wheelchair!
I never had any severe pain or discomfort and it was great to rest at home. I had very strict restrictions on my activity (couldn’t lift more than 5 pounds) so I was forced to rest. I felt so well the first week that I had to keep reminding myself to take it easy. I was not even bleeding. I wanted to clean out my closet, sweep the pet hair and get to those house chores that had been neglected….but I couldn’t even though I felt very good. That became a bit frustrating since I am typically always on the move. It did seem like my insides were reshifting and my insides were trying to settle. I did bleed by day 3 but very little, it lasted a couple of weeks. I do think there were times I may have exerted myself a bit…which I believe led to some increased bleeding, but never very heavy. I had a lot of trouble trying to have a bowel movement and had to call the doctor. After no BM after a full week, I needed to increase my dosage of stool softeners, use enemas and suppositories. I only used them for about 3 days, then focused on retraining my bowels back to their normal pattern. This was not related to taking pain meds…I stopped taking Percocet day 3 after surgery and only took them at bedtime. Constipation was my biggest challenge but happy to say that things in that department are better than ever. I am in week 9 and still have not been completely released by my doctor. I have an appointment next week and am hopeful.
My health is great. I’ve had some hot/cold flashes early on…but that has gone away. I do still get very tired and can’t wait to be able to exercise fully to get my energy levels up. I haven’t seen my tummy this flat in years…My physical appearance is better and I feel very good. I returned to work week 5 and I feel great…still not overdoing it.
Educate yourself regarding different options. Your physician should be your advocate and if not, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion…it’s YOUR health. If you decide to have robotic surgery…it’s worth your time to research who the best surgeon is. I was fortunate to have the best in town. It makes a difference…talk to people and get recommendations…you want a good surgeon. This is a great site to get good information on the experience.