Jayne’s Abdominal Hysterectomy
Age at Surgery 49
I’d had heavy periods all my life, but 5 years ago they became twice as bad. I saw a GYN who diagnosed me with fibroids and offered me every option, including a hysterectomy. I chose to use tranexamic acid to reduce the bleeding, and managed with this for another 4+ years, but it was not easy, and I was always dealing with anemia. About a year ago, I noticed unexplained weight gain (higher up than usual – the fibroids had pushed all my organs up), developed heart burn, and needed to pee all the time. It took me awhile to realize that it was probably because the fibroids had grown. I went back to the GYN, who confirmed it was the fibroids. I decided to have surgery, and also to go on Fibristal (I was just on it for 1-2 months), as the bleeding had become totally unmanageable by that point. Fibristal stopped the bleeding after two days, and made it possible for me to get my iron count up before the surgery. I didn’t get a second opinion, as I wanted the surgery done as soon as possible.
I had a supracervical abdominal hysterectomy, with fallopian tubes and both ovaries removed. My hospital experienced was excellent, I feel fortunate to have had such compassionate care. I had a general anesthetic, and a TAP block. While I did experience nausea, and some vomiting shortly after waking up, I had little to no pain most of the time, which still amazes me. The nurses were very attentive to the nausea and would immediately give me medication to control it. I slept well at the hospital, despite having to be woken every four hours for medication and to have vitals checked. My fibroids were even bigger than anticipated, so a vertical incision was necessary. The incision didn’t hurt, and the bandage was removed before I went home. I was out of bed on the second day, and by the third day, I was walking the hallways (slowly), had a shower and went home.
My greatest challenge when I got home was how to get in and out of bed without hurting myself. I wish I’d watched a video about it beforehand. I also wish I’d gotten a recliner for that first week. I developed a UTI after about a week, but that was effectively taken care of with antibiotics. I started walking outside as soon as I got home; just a little bit the first week, increasing the time by a couple of minutes every day. I started driving short distances at 5 weeks, and went back to work after 6 weeks. At the follow-up appointment (7 weeks), my doctor said that there were no restrictions, but recommended gentle types of exercise to start, and said that I could do physiotherapy after 12 weeks, since I still had some fascia discomfort.
There has been a huge improvement in my health since the hysterectomy. I am no longer anemic, and all the other issues I was having disappeared. No more pressure/bloating, heart burn or having to pee constantly, which means I can sleep through the night. I have a lot more energy than before; I walk an hour a day now, and would walk further if I had time! I do wish that I’d done it earlier, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had anticipated.
I found it helpful to bring my partner with me to all the appointments with the GYN, to ask questions and be a second set of ears. There were many times that I was grateful for this, and it made me feel like I wasn’t alone in the process. I had some friends who had been through a hysterectomy before, and hearing their positive stories helped a lot (in addition to reading posts on hystersisters). There was a lot of scary information on the internet, and I eventually decided, for my own peace of mind, that I needed to focus on the positive. I collected the stories that made me feel confident about my decision, and used guided visualization, meditation, and exercise to keep me from worrying too much about the surgery. Looking back, I think the surgery and recovery were easier for me than making the decision and waiting for the surgery date to arrive. Make sure you have some help at home, especially for the first two weeks, and do a gradual return to work if you can.