Shawna’s Laparoscopic Hysterectomy
Age at Surgery 40
Location: Portland OR
My diagnoses included ovarian cysts and four uterine fibroids. I chose to have everything removed despite them wanting to leave the ovaries. Those are what gave me the most pain for the longest amount of time. I suffered for 16 years with ovarian cysts.
Once they got in there, they realize there was far more wrong than they thought. Both ovaries, both fallopian tubes, and the cervix were all covered with cysts. The left ovary had a large cyst rubbing up against an outer uterine fibroid, which explained why that side had much more pain. I also found a fifth fibroid under the uterus that was huge. It never showed up on imaging.
I retrieved my surgery notes and learned that I had had that kind of surgery where they tip you basically upside down to move the bowel out of the way. I’m glad I didn’t know this in advance!
I had recommendations from my GYN, the surgeon, and my family doctor. But only the family doctor was against the surgery. Initially I felt like the surgeon was trying to scare me out of having the surgery. Afterwards, once she had seen just how many issues were in there, she said to me “you are going to be feeling so much better soon!!” (No joke!)
There were no other treatments available for me because of the size of the fibroids as well as the amount. I did have to argue my case for the ovaries – I told them everything or nothing.
My surgery went great, no complications and I stayed one night in the hospital but did have to have a catheter put in when I still could not urinate 10 hours later. I did not go straight home but went to a care facility due to other health complications.
I spent two weeks at home with several visits back to the GYN and surgeon as well as the ER for various issues and to spend another week in a facility because my healing wasn’t going well.
I don’t know what kind of anesthesia, but the gal was great. She called me the night before to ask me how things could go best for me. She even included how to keep me from panicking and how to set things up in the best possible way. She made sure when I got there that I had a stuffed animal, that music was playing for me, that I got to speak with a chaplain, and that I support team was there. She even had music playing for me as we rolled into the OR and had set it up that high be put under before getting transferred to the operating table. This went so much better than my gallbladder surgery. I also appreciated that I woke up to all my incisions being bandaged up rather than glued together like my gallbladder.
I can’t say I remember much about that first month or two… I know I did have concerns and they seemed to be frequent but now they are a hazy memory. Mainly I needed to be able to be self-sufficient sense I live alone and that did take a while. I needed help with House care and food prep. I would not say my recovery was easy, but compared to other people’s experiences mine went pretty well. I think I was deceived a little about the timeframe for healing. The doctors would say “three days and you’ll be up and walking… A week later you’ll be fine… Give it a month and you’ll be feeling great… Oh it can take six months to 18 months for full healing…”
It took four months for me to really feel better. I am at six months today. I am bummed out that just as I was getting more movement into my life I ended up with another injury. I hope one day to be pain-free all around. Now my job is to navigate eating better, sleeping better, and keep working with this hormone balance. I think I would say I am 90% glad that I had the surgery. The difficulties for me include mainly the hormones but also the weight gain and the acne. The hormones have reduced efficacy in my other medications so that has been a huge challenge. One of the ways they fixed that was to have me wear a patch, but I have an adhesive allergy so I have to choose between the weekly rash or the medications working.
This kind of surgery is such a personal choice depending on all kinds of factors. For me, I had been hoping to have a hysterectomy for probably a decade but I kept being told no because I was still of childbearing age. I was told I would change my mind afterward and it would be too late, I was told that I was making a bigger deal out of my pain than it was. Once I finally got the OK about having a hysterectomy I jumped on the chance. I’m glad I did because after my second ultrasound, my gyn and my main doctor decided I didn’t really need one …probably… unless I wanted one.
As I mentioned before, once they got in and saw that there really were severe problems and realized I wasn’t making this up, they kept reiterating how much better I would feel. The irony is that they wouldn’t let me have one earlier because I was of childbearing age, yet ultimately the surgery showed I could not have carried children. My uterus was deemed a four month weight uterus.
Ultimately, trust your gut. If you are suffering you might want to take the chance that things could be better. For me, I already knew my pain and what to expect if I didn’t have surgery. But I took the chance that things might improve. I’m glad I did.