Janelle’s Abdominal Hysterectomy
Age at Surgery 39
Location: Columbus, Ohio
My diagnosis was endometrial hyperplasia, fibroids, and dysfunctional uterine bleeding. I had fibroids previously that were removed in 2005 and had almost a ten year hiatus prior to their return in December of 2014. I was dealing with heavy bleeding, lots of clots, and no clear understanding as to why. I have dealt with heavy bleeding but have never suffered from heavy clots and painful cramping so I knew I had to see what was going on. I decided in November of 2014 that I wanted to schedule an endometrial ablation to help reduce the bleeding after my annual exam. My OB/GYN wanted to schedule the ultrasound first as she felt during the pelvic exam my uterus felt different over the course of 12 months.
The year of 2015 for me was the year of conservative treatment to help the bleeding. I did not feel the fibroids were a concern as it was the bleeding that was causing me so much grief. I did not realize that the fibroids were causing the heavy bleeding I was having constant accidents the first 2 days of my period and changing overnight pads every 45-60min. The endometrial ablation was performed in January. I was placed on Progestin for 3 months to allow the uterine lining time to heal. After the medication was completed I still was having heavy bleeding and clots. I endured until July when I started having cycles more than once a month. At that time I tried Depo-Provera. I took two injections in late July/early August and then again in late October. The shots did not help. I bled consistently everyday anywhere from light to heavy during late November through early January.
I made the decision on Christmas Day 2015 to have the surgery. I did not want to endure any more and my anemia was getting worse as I was tired all the time. I suffered for a little over a year because I did not want to have major surgery. My OB/GYN suggested I see an Intervention Radiologist for uterine fibroid embolization. I scheduled the appointment but did not keep it as after I did my research the chances of needing a hysterectomy after that procedure was too high for me. I needed permanent relief. I had a hysterectomy because I was exhausted and needed a more permanent solution.
My surgery was a supracervical abdominal hysterectomy that was completed on 2/4/16. I was not a candidate for laparoscopic since I had abdominal fibroid removal in 2005, an anatomically large uterus, and a c-section in 2008. I had general anesthesia to have this completed.
I was VERY swollen in the abdominal area after surgery and was retaining quite a bit of fluids but they push you with a A LOT of fluids in the hospital. I had 22 staples and my incision was made slightly longer to aid in removal of the uterus. I had surgery on a Thursday and did not discharge until Sunday (3 night stay). There was active bleeding on the right hand side of my incision on Saturday when I getting up from the bed to use the restroom. I had to receive a compression dressing to help stop the bleeding. It was an unexpected complication of surgery but not uncommon.
As I was recovering my concerns stemmed around my incision and the swelling in my abdomen. I have a high tolerance for pain so it was an easy recovery for me. At my staple removal appointment at post-op day 10, my incision was not healed on the right hand side. It was still open and the decision was made to let it “heal from the inside out”. It leaked everyday over the course of the next 3 weeks. I had to be seen once a week during this time period to ensure no infection and that things were progressing. I had to take antibiotics for 10 days during this time period due to a culture that came back positive for slight bacteria at the incision site. My OB/GYN felt that it wasn’t anything major but she wanted to take precautionary measures.
I did not have concerns about life after hysterectomy. I knew it was the right decision for me. I read a lot of information and tried to ensure that I was informed.
My greatest challenge is the swelling. I am not used to not being able to see my incision and I have a small hang of skin in my abdomen over the incision. My OB/GYN informed me this is because of so much scar tissue it is pulling at the incision inward making it appear that my abdomen is hanging over because of the retraction. I’ve had this incision opened 3 times now. She informed me to massage the incision with cocoa butter to help break up the scar tissue and help the skin to become softer and more pliable. I know that the swelling is normal as I have read from Hystersisters lots of women deal with this and it may take time to subside but it is still difficult to deal with.
I was released to return to regular activities at 8 weeks. It was imperative that my incision was completely healed before I returned to work or did more strenuous exercise. I was able to start walking at 6 weeks but my incision did not close completely until post-op week 8.
My health is great since the hysterectomy! I have my energy back which I missed and I am no longer having to take Iron for chronic anemia. I am able to be more intimate with my husband which was very difficult when I was bleeding so much. My health is improved because my Iron levels are normal and my activities of daily living are able to be maintained.
I am glad that I had the hysterectomy because I needed a permanent solution. My physician was glad that I made the decision as she told me my uterus was in bad shape. I asked my doctor to take pictures of my uterus for me so that I could see what she looked like. I needed to be able to say goodbye and as registered nurse that kind of stuff doesn’t bother me. She was my uterus and I wanted to see what she had to endure as well. I view those pictures ever so often to remind myself I did make the right decision but I can’t lie to you if I didn’t say, I miss her…
The advice that I would give to a woman considering a hysterectomy is to do your research! Don’t jump into such a permanent decision without trying conservative treatments first. Read everything you can and come to this website to gain insight from other women who have gone through. It is always nice to know you aren’t alone and that someone else is/has dealt with what you deal with.
The most important thing a woman should know when faced with a hysterectomy is to truly be prepared emotionally. Ensure that you have support around you as there is a grieving process. This is a part of your body that has been with you ALL of your life. Make sure you are ready and that this is the correct choice for you. Don’t do it just because, do it because you know it is the RIGHT choice for you….no turning back….no regrets….