Carol’s Vaginal Hysterectomy
Age at Surgery 39
Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA, USA
I had a radical hysterectomy along with the removal of my fallopian tubes via vaginal laparoscopy. I kept my ovaries so I wouldn’t get thrown into menopause by their removal. I had the hysterectomy done because I had been having severe pain and bleeding every time I had my cycle for about 5 years at least. The bleeding was so severe that I would have to use a super tampon along with a feminine napkin and change the tampon every hour the first two days then it would only have to be changed every few hours. The pain was so severe that I was on prescription pain medication to deal with it. I did consider having the lining of my uterus burned but when I read up on it it said it didn’t always work and I wanted to take care of it once and for all. Since my mother had to have a hysterectomy early on I figured I should look into it since I had gotten to the point where I wasn’t able to function for almost 3 weeks out of the month due to the pain, bleeding, spotting, mood swings, etc. Towards the end I was bleeding heavily for about a week then spot for two weeks. So I went to see my doctor to ask for the hysterectomy and explained what I had been experiencing and she agreed that that would be the best course of action for me. I didn’t ask for a second opinion as I already knew that’s what I wanted and because of my family history. I had two vaginal ultrasounds and found that my uterus was almost double the size of what it should be. This was later confirmed to be adenomyosis, meaning that I had endometriosis but in the lining of my uterus. I also had a couple of benign growths in the lining too.
My surgery was done as a same day appointment. I was scheduled to be the first surgery of the day. I had told my doctor that I had never been put under and that I was afraid but she assured me that they would do a 3 step process to get me to the point of being complete under for the surgery. First they gave me a pill, then they put something in my IV, last they put the mask on me in the OR. I remember going into the OR and all of a sudden I started to tremble and then I fell asleep. I believe I got really scared and that is why I was trembling. But I was scared of not waking up. The next thing I remember is waking up and seeing the nurse. She quickly called my husband and mother as they were in the waiting room. They came as I was coming out of the anesthesia. They walked me to the restroom because I had to pee before they would release me to go home. On the ride home I was still groggy and in pain as the anesthesia was starting to wear off so I took one of the pain pills they prescribed me and went to sleep.
The important issues during my recovery were making sure I followed all directions not to lift anything or do anything that would be detrimental to my recovery. My mother came to stay with me the first 7 days to help with my recovery. She did all the cooking, cleaning and helped me with making sure I was walking and drinking water to help speed the recovery. I was doing well the first week. My bleeding stopped within a couple of days of the surgery and my mother told me that should be it. Then about 5 days later I started to have some spotting. I called the doctor and she said that was normal. I also asked her if there was a chance of me tearing a stitch (she put a couple of stitched on my bladder to help support it) because I had been having a lot of coughing spells. She said no that it would take a lot of force to do that. Well a few days after that the spotting looked like dark (old) blood and it had a fowl smell. I had made a few calls to my dr. and the nurse always assured me that this was normal that as long as I didn’t have a fever I was ok. Then a few days later I got the chills and I just couldn’t warm up. I had my husband get a thermometer as I was sure that I had a fever and I did. I ended up going back to my dr almost two weeks later and found that I had a hematoma where my uterus used to be that was the size of my uterus and that it was infected. I got hospitalized for 3 days and put on 5 different antibiotics to combat the infection. After the 3 days I was released to go home again. Originally I was only going to be off work for 4 weeks but due to the complication I had it added another 2 weeks. So I didn’t go back to work until about 6 weeks later. This was scary as well as reading some of the post of other women having complications regarding being intimate with their husbands. I was so afraid of tearing something that we had to wait 3 months after the surgery to make sure everything was ok before we were “active”. Once we were I was so relieved that everything worked properly and it was just like before.
The only thing that I now have to deal with is that I suffer from pelvic floor prolapse. The doctor told me to do some exercises and that it would take about 6 months to see a difference. My body also doesn’t create the same amount of lubrication it once did but that just means I buy products to assist with that. But other than that my health is great. I sometimes wonder why I didn’t have the surgery years before. My mother has always said that if she knew she was going to feel this good she would have done it a lot earlier and now I say that same thing. I don’t have to worry about what I wear, or that I always have to have my feminine supplies at hand along with my pain meds. I now can go and do whatever I want without trying to schedule things around that time of the month. I love it. My husband thinks it’s funny that when we pass by the feminine produce isle I laugh and say no more for me. All in all I’m very glad that I did it even in light of me dealing with the pelvic floor prolapse.
I would tell her to make sure that is what she wants. I knew I didn’t want any more children and I was secure in knowing that without my uterus I was still a feminine woman. As some women struggle with that afterwards. This surgery is not just a small procedure, it is major surgery and shouldn’t be taken lightly. I would tell her to read up on the different procedures, the success rates and the complications that can arise out of having the surgery. Is she willing to face the complications that may arise. Also, make sure that she has a good support system, especially if she has small children. (Luckily my youngest is 14 so I didn’t have to do much for him and he helped out a lot.) That way you don’t have to worry about anything else but healing. My husband was so supportive and attentive. He made sure I had everything I needed to make my healing easier. Our bed is a high bed and he even took out our box spring and put a wood sheet to lower the mattress so that I could get in and out of bed without straining myself. He put a tv tray table right next to my bedside to hold all my medications, water, tissue, anything I needed was there accessible to me. My mom flew in to be with me the first week too so I was blessed to have her for that time. So a good support system is a crucial part of your healing process.
HysterSisters was a godsend, the women I met here and the support I found was incredible. We cried together, laughed together and most importantly prayed for each other. I couldn’t have done it without all of you my HysterSisters!