Melanie’s Laparoscopic Hysterectomy
Age at Surgery 36
Location: Helena, MT USA
When I turned 11 the greatest time of my life began – menstruation. I’ve had a leg amputation, multiple knee dislocations, and Lyme Disease, and none of these compared to the misery of menstruation. Every month I would be bedridden, screaming in pain, bleeding out, for an entire week. I would sleep sitting up in a chair so that I didn’t bleed all down my back, and nearly pass out from pain. Even in my mid-30s I had to wear OVERNIGHT pads day and night for the first four days. (Using tampons with my flow was laughable.) My life schedule revolved around that week from hell, then the pain and PMS symptoms started occurring the entire second half of the month. It interfered with every aspect of my life. Birth control did nothing but screw me up further, and I have health issues that prevented me taking it. I have never wanted to have kids (or sex – I’m asexual), so all this excruciating suffering was pointless. I begged my gyno (who is fantastic) to perform a hysterectomy when I was 25 but she kept thinking I would change my mind about having kids. No. She suspected endometriosis, and we explored the options of an ablation or IUDs, but the horror stories I heard and read about both turned me off – short-term solutions leading to long-term problems. When I turned 36 I said enough is enough, and demanded a hysterectomy. My gyno finally said yes!
I planned to take the entire month of December off from work to have my surgery and four weeks of recovery, but I ended up going through a month of pneumonia, and they had to delay the surgery three times because of my hacking cough. I knew I wouldn’t have any insurance coverage after December, so I was desperate to have the surgery. Finally, the middle of December, my surgery was on. I scrubbed down and fasted the night before, was prepped, then had the LAVH surgery.
My gyno was surprised to hardly see any trace of endometriosis, and everything internally looked fine, no cysts – hard to say why my lifelong pain and bleeding were so bad, though I know it was genetic on both sides of the family. She had to tear my opening a bit to get my uterus out since I was a virgin, but everything else went smoothly. She also removed the cervix and fallopian tubes to prevent all bleeding and cervical cancer, but left the ovaries. I wasn’t in too much pain when I woke up, and I stayed overnight for monitoring (didn’t sleep at all but that’s normal for me in hospitals). Peed just fine, so they released me mid-morning. The hour-long bumpy car ride home hurt, but not too bad. My gyno said it was the easiest hysterectomy she’s ever done. And I could have cried, I was so happy!
My post-surgery pain was manageable with prescription-strength Ibuprofen – internally didn’t hurt, but the largest laparoscopic incision and the vaginal cut hurt the most. I was so glad I had bought large granny underwear prior to the surgery so they didn’t pull on the incisions. I had bought the Post-Op Panty but didn’t end up using it – that pressure would have hurt. I was really surprised that I only had to wear light pads for about 24 hours – hardly any post-op bleeding. Yay! The gas and bloating were definitely painful (including shoulder/neck pain), and unfortunately I lost the ability to pass gas for nearly three days. Was in a bit of a panic about this, but I finally started to be able to fart again. I’ve had a partially paralyzed colon since 2005 so I knew constipation would be a major issue. I was on an all-liquid diet for five days post-op – very glad I did this, and I lost over 10 pounds! I had to walk very carefully and not pick anything up for the first week, but I was back to work in two weeks, and after a month I couldn’t even tell I had surgery, apart from the few laparoscopic scars and a bit of tenderness internally if I overextended myself. The bad news was the Oxycodone my gyno prescribed – I knew it was bad stuff so I tried to wean myself off after just three days, but I was already addicted! I went from feeling happy and whole for the first time in years to major depression and flu-like symptoms. Beware opioids! It was completely unnecessary, as the prescription Ibuprofen worked just as well for the pain. Took me weeks to mentally and emotionally recover from the Oxycodone.
I cry tears of joy every month! I have no pain, bleeding, pads, no trying to work around that week. Five months out, I still can’t believe I am finally free of that monster inside me. 25 years of unbelievable suffering, finally over. I have just the slightest twinge around that time of the month, and I still have a bit of PMS symptoms, but even those are greatly reduced. I lost 13 pounds after surgery (the 5 days of a liquid diet probably contributed), and I’ve kept the weight off and feel fantastic. I dropped two pant sizes! I walk past the feminine hygiene aisles in stores and laugh. No more for me!
I had my hormones tested by my naturopath several months prior to surgery, and because of massive, prolonged work stress and Lyme Disease all three hormones were rock bottom. I started taking progesterone cream (with a bit of testosterone and estrogen) several weeks prior to surgery to help my ovaries cope with the trauma of surgery. I originally had a bit of testosterone and DHEA in my compounded progesterone cream to help with my Lyme chronic fatigue but it screwed me up badly – aggression, depression, acne, hair loss, body odor, awful. My mood swings were terrible the first several months post-op and I was definitely not myself. Hard to say whether it was the surgery or the testosterone cream or both. After four months I feel my body is finally saturated with progesterone (it was definitely starved at first) and my hormone levels have stabilized, so I’ve reduced my use of the cream. My ovaries seem to be working just fine now.
– Don’t have surgery if you have the slightest cough! You’ll feel like you are blowing your insides out! Thankfully I postponed mine until my post-pneumonia cough was mostly done, but it still was too soon. Yeowch!
– Plan on a liquid diet for the first three days until your bowels wake up again. They really do get paralyzed from the anesthesia! And yes, painful gas is a thing – if your shoulder hurts, this is what is going on. Get Gas-X!
– Get your hormones tested prior to the surgery and have a naturopath compound you a natural hormone cream to take post-surgery until your hormones stabilize. Keep your ovaries if you are still young like me and don’t have ovarian issues.
– Avoid the opioids! They bring further emotional and mental turmoil and you run the risk of a really bad addiction. I barely escaped being an addict myself.
– Plan on lying around for the first week, walking carefully, lifting lightly and sitting briefly the first 10 days, and some soreness for a month. But LAVH is definitely a quick recovery! I was back to full-time desk work in 3 weeks.