Melissa’s Abdominal Hysterectomy
Age at Surgery 42
Location: Warren Ohio USA
I likely suffered endometriosis since my teens and I typically bled heavily. I tried oral birth control for a very short time but became significantly agitated and had to discontinue them. I tried the NuvaRing and that helped regulate my start dates, but did nothing for the heavy bleeding. I developed a complex cyst on one ovary and had the cyst removed laparoscopically (long story short it was removed by an oncological OBGYN because the OB that found it was afraid it was cancerous but it wasn’t). Two years later I developed an endometrial cyst that was removed laparoscopically. Three years (and several pregnancy false alarms) later, I was found to have extensive endometriosis that bound my Fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus together (along with the multiple large fibroids growing in the uterus). My OBGYN and I decided together it was time to remove everything.
The hysterectomy was performed using general anesthesia. A catheter was placed after anesthesia took effect. Prior to surgery I had also signed that I would accept a blood transfusion if necessary because my hemoglobin was an 8 just prior to surgery. The procedure itself was uncomplicated. However something happened to my IV after it was over (likely infiltrated) and I did not receive the initial dose of pain medication immediately following the surgery. I remember excruciating pain as I was moved from recovery to my room and had several visits from administration following this incident. They eventually managed to control the pain. My mother (an RN) stayed with me both nights I was in the hospital. I took my pain meds consistently. I did notice I heard my pulse pounding in my ears and had more intense tinnitus than I normally hear. That all went away by about two months out from surgery. The catheter remove was quick and easy (something I was so afraid of prior to surgery). Getting out of the bed was pretty slow going and painful but that’s to be expected to a point when you’ve been sliced open and gutted! Yikes! When the OBGYN made the round to check the incision, I did experience the worst brief pain I’ve ever had. He likely severed just the wrong nerve in my lower right quadrant and a quarter-sized area was exquisitely tender. It took about a year for me to be able to touch that spot without cringing. It’s no longer noticeable. I didn’t have any problem with using the bathroom. The nurse helped me get into the shower to get cleaned up the second day. I walked the halls with the help of my mom. I was released the morning after the second night stay.
I would say my recovery was pretty standard. I didn’t have any complications at all. My husband bought me a U-shaped body pillow for support. I slept with it on our chaise for several weeks because it was easier to get out of than the bed. I was very uncomfortable for several weeks, and I was probably more active than I should’ve been early on. When they say to rest while recovering, they mean it. I took the pain medicine (I think it was a low dose of oxycodone but can’t remember for sure) for about two weeks, gradually spacing out the timing and switching to ibuprofen. And I kept up on Miralax/applesauce/etc for several weeks after to make things easier there to avoid pushing too hard. It was frustrating to have everyone take care of me, driving and doing housework. I’m so used to being active and independent. It really bothered me but I tried to be gracious towards all who helped. I was released to go back to work after 6 weeks. I wore my binder from the time surgery was over until about 6 months after. It really helped with support and comfort. I open heavy doors and help with some minimal lifting of patients for my job. I did have to ask for help with those patients who couldn’t maneuver themselves. I would tire easily so I tried to do what I could and to rest when I could.
Overall, my health is so much better! I’m not utterly fatigued from anemia. Some of my hair is growing back. I had horrendous mood swings prior to the surgery. For about 6 months after, I was hyper weepy. But over the last few months my overall mood has relaxed a bit. I’m fact, immediately following surgery and for the 6 weeks of recovery I finally had a sense of inner peace. That all went away after returning to work but it was nice while I had it. The biggest issues that frustrate me are memory loss/difficulty with word finding, and complete and utter lack of libido. My libido was incredibly ramped the first few weeks after surgery but you must try to control it if pelvic rest is ordered. My libido issues now are multifactorial and I’m still trying to figure out how to restart it. As I was a late bloomer to everything, I never had the opportunity to try to have kids and by the time I did my body couldn’t. It bothered me to a point to never have that happen but I’m also at peace that it’s how it was going to happen. I have 4 nieces to help with in life. And plenty of social opportunities to help children as well. I never really had much of a mothering instinct to begin with. It’s still sad on occasion but I let that feeling pass and keep going.
If you medically need a hysterectomy, do it. And don’t be afraid of this particular procedure. I was so much more afraid of it leading up to it and for a couple months after. But it was well worth it. If you want to have children, don’t be afraid to look into all of your options before having one. Follow along on here because this website was an absolute Godsend to get through it. My male OBGYN is very kind but other women here were able to fill in the blanks he left out.