Kate’s Vaginal Hysterectomy
Age at Surgery 36
Location: Perth, Western Australia
I had multiple health issues over the past 10 years – mainly related to hormone imbalances as a result of hyperprolactinaemia (a pituitary tumor which creates an over-production of prolectin resulting in milk production, fertility issues, periods varying from heavy to absent for longer periods of time).
As part of the management of the hyperprolactinaemia symptoms I had regular pelvic exam scans – to keep an eye on cysts that were developing.
In May 2014 (aged 35) less than 24 hrs after I had a scan I had a call from my local GP / doctor to come in that day – it was urgent, and she would stay back beyond her normal appointment times to make time for me. I had a cyst that was producing it’s own blood supply (an indicator of potential cancer). As a result of that – I had my right ovary, my appendix and the tumour fully removed. The operation was a success and they said that there was no trace of pre-cancer remaining. They suggested at this time however that I have a hysterectomy within 5 years to prevent re-currence of ovarian cancer.
Towards the end of 2015 I had a very heavy period that didn’t seem to stop. I ended up having the period for nearly 5 months straight and the pain was becoming unmanageable. I went to the doctor and was referred to a gynaecologist who then referred me to Perth hospital for specialist advice and surgery. The whole referral process took a few months, however once I had an appointment in Perth – the surgery was scheduled within 3 weeks of my appointment date.
I was scheduled for surgery the day before my 37th birthday. To make light of the situation, I joked that I was “getting my bits out for my birthday”. The fact was, I was very scared. In the weeks prior to the surgery I was doing a lot of research about what I could do to aid in my recovery process as I remembered how tired, sore and dehydrated I had been with the surgery less than 2 years ago.
I was allowed to drink clear fluids up until a couple hours prior to surgery, including juice without pulp, tea / coffee (with no milk), water etc. I drank a lot of coconut water and peppermint tea prior to the surgery to ensure I was well hydrated and that I would not have problems with gas pains. It really seemed to work.
I had surgery at 1pm that afternoon.
Like any surgery – the waiting was the worst.
I remember lying on the table and them trying to get the needles in as they began to prepare me for surgery. The nurses were very nice and chatty – distracting me from the fear I was feeling. At some point as we chatted I “went under” (fell asleep) from the anesthesia.
I woke a few hours later very drowsy and dopey and kept falling back to sleep. That part was horrible – I still felt the effects of the medications. My husband was there waiting for me and I kept trying to stay awake so I could say hello to him, and he simply told me to sleep if I needed to.
At about 1am in the morning I woke up properly and was hungry and thirsty. I began eating the toast and orange that had been left by my bedside from the dinner I couldn’t previously eat (I must have been asleep at that time) and drank the full glass of water that was there.
By 6am in the morning I was so alert that the nurses told me that provided I ate a good breakfast and was able to go to the toilet at least 3 times properly I could go home. They removed my catheter after breakfast and then in my mind the count was on. I went to the toilet the three times by 10am and then was discharged.
I only stayed in the hospital the one night.
I pushed myself a fair bit in my recovery to do things.
I took the advice from the recovery booklet that I had from the hospital that stated “if it hurts, stop. Try that activity again in 3 days”.
I started with exercise / basic walking 5 minutes every hour from the day I got out of hospital – even if it were just to go and feed the animals in the backyard.
Within 1 week I was walking to the shop and back.
Within 2 weeks I was up most of the day and began to drive again. I also was able to lift about 4kg.
Each week I increased slightly the exercise I did and the amount I could lift.
Within 4 weeks of the operation I was out in the paddock on the tractor ploughing a field – just having a cushion for extra support. It felt good to do something.
It took 6 weeks before I could return to work (as I have a very manual job), and the first week back I was extremely tired. I am now back 4 weeks at work and am back to lifting about 15kg, and walking 15 – 20 km per day as part of the job.
The doctor liaised with my regarding my recovery over the phone as I live nearly 6 hrs drive from the hospital. He released me to go back to work whenever I felt ready but not to have sex again until 10 weeks to ensure that the internal scarring had fully healed.
The hysterectomy was a blessing in disguise.
All the back pain I had had for many years disappeared overnight with the surgery. I had more energy than I have ever had and was waiting for my healing to catch up to the process so that I could get back and do things again.
Sexually – it did hurt a bit at first, but now I am enjoying sex more than I ever did, I have a higher sex drive and get a greater amount of pleasure from it.
I haven’t taken HRT at all. I waited to see if I would get many menopause symptoms as I had heard a lot of women don’t. I hardly got any and the few I did are managed through Soy and Maca. I am glad I had my hysterectomy now and also glad that I did my own research into what I could do to manage the processes involved.
When considering a hysterectomy I would recommend that people prepare for their recovery beforehand.
– Pre-cook a number of meals
– Clean the house and give yourself permission for it to be “let go” a bit during your recovery period.
– Organise people who can help you out a bit or check in on you each week.
– Make sure there is something for you to do – a small project that you can work towards bit by bit and that you aim to complete during your recovery period. (This keeps both your mind and body active)
– Be positive. There is a reason you are having this operation and it may have more benefits than you realise.