Diana’s Abdominal Hysterectomy
Age at Surgery 44
I had a hysterectomy because I had some odd cramping. I went to my dr who referred me for an ultrasound. The ultrasound came back with huge fibroids and a uterus the size of a 4 month pregnancy. I was referred to an OB/GYN who recommended a hysterectomy since I was a ways out from menopause and they’d just keep growing back if I did an alternate surgery like myomectomy. I didn’t want to have kids so I was in agreement even though I didn’t really have any symptoms.I did get a 2nd ob/gyn opinion and also an opinion from my primary care doctor who agreed with the solution.
I’d always had heavy periods and pretty bad cramping so the fibroids weren’t causing that. The only thing I didn’t like was that I wasn’t eligible for anything but the abdominal route. My doctor was very experienced and knew DaVinci but he said the size of my uterus wouldn’t allow for DaVinci. I was just scared of having a huge cut in my stomach.
I waited a few months to time it better for work and had my surgery on 7/1. This forum really helped alleviate my worries. I bought a bunch of stuff that I didn’t end up using in preparation for recovery. My advice there is buy what your doctor tells you to and if you want optional stuff, buy it close to your surgery so you can return it later if you don’t use it. I also wish I’d bought Milk of Magnesia since that was the only thing that seemed to help with constipation on day 5.
The night before surgery I took it easy, saw my sister and her family and went to bed. I woke up early for the surgery and was oddly not very nervous. I got to the hospital and checked in and the nurse put in my IV for later. The doctor came in to see us and then the anesthesiologist came in to walk me to the OR which was just odd. I’d expected to be wheeled in. Well on the walk to the OR, I started bawling. I got on the table and the nurses helped me calm down. I got the mask and fell asleep.
I woke up in a recovery pod pretty out of it. Pain was about a 6, I have a hard time describing it, like a sort of painful scratch in my abdomen. The nurse monitored me until they could find me a bed. That was kind of annoying, I was moved around a couple of times, into two different beds which was difficult since you kind of have to inch over to the bed in a laying down position. Once I was settled I felt better. I had a catheter which I hadn’t planned on but my doctor said the cut was larger than anticipated and he thought it would be best to just let me rest and not have to deal with going to the bathroom. I felt ok, just uncomfortable and the nurses came in often to check vitals or do whatever. I slept on and off.
The next day, they took the catheter out which I couldn’t feel that at all, and they let me go to the bathroom. It was difficult getting out of bed, so I just did everything slowly. I did some laps in the afternoon around the floor. By evening I was feeling a little more like myself, I’d gone to the bathroom (just peeing) a few times and walked around. My doctor had said during my preop that I’d probably leave the night after the day of surgery, which absolutely shocked me, I was like but this major surgery?? Around 6pm he came by and said I could stay another night but I asked to go home so I guess he was right! He was fine with releasing me and said I was probably better off at home, infection wise.
My boyfriend took me home, I only live about 2 miles from the hospital so that was fine, except going over speed bumps. I got home and rested and went to bed. Getting in and out of bed was very difficult and I kind of wish I’d rigged up one of those sheet ropes to pull myself up but I managed to kind of roll to side and use arms to sit up. Just do it slowly, one time I tried to rush it and had searing pain on my side. It didn’t last but was enough to tell me to STOP and try a different way.
The first few days were just rest on the couch. My biggest complaint was just feeling a little uncomfortable and having to do everything slowly. I walked around the house a lot and drank a lot of water. Around the 4th or 5th day, I’d have very small bowel movements and it felt like it hadn’t come out all the way. This part was pretty uncomfortable. After a day of trying stool softeners and lots of water, and some walking, I ordered some milk of magnesia. That helped a lot!!! It didn’t happen right away but when it did I felt relief. The 2nd week was better, just rest, water, and trying to learn crochet and relearn knitting. This was my favorite thing to do during recovery and I still do it as a hobby 3 months later. I watched all of the Handmaid’s tale and a bunch of other shows. I ordered a lot from amazon and prime now to help my boyfriend with shopping.
I think it was in week 3 I had my staples taken out. It was my first time out of the house and first time driving. I just went really slow. The staple removal was fine, small pinches but nothing bad. I didn’t look at the wound at all in the first two weeks and the bandage didn’t fall off until about 10 days after surgery. I still couldn’t look at it yet. My scar is well placed and the staples aren’t that noticeable.
I was never given a release to work, and only had the 2 week appointment to have the staples removed. My surgeon actually retired a month after my surgery. I think I was ok without any followups.
I took short trips in the remaining 4 weeks of my recovery but some days I’d overdo it by sitting up for too long and ending up with pain and needing bedrest so try not to do too much at once in at least first four weeks. By week five and six, I felt pretty normal. I didn’t have much fatigue, I think I only napped once during the whole six weeks.
I returned to work after 6 weeks and that was tough, even with working from home and a desk job. I just felt TIRED and wanting to take a nap around 1pm. But I made it. I did have some abdominal pain in weeks 7 and 8 but very manageable.
I’m almost 4 weeks out and I feel like nothing ever happened, other than not having to deal with periods!!! I do find myself a little weird when I walk down the pad/tampon aisle and I sometimes think about what it would have been like to have kids which I didn’t think about before. I still don’t want kids but get a little wistful about it now. I kept my ovaries but my emotions were kind of weepy in the first week but I was also feeling a little frustrated by the constant resting around day 4 or 5. Weeks 3-6 were much better since I could take short trips and move around more. I haven’t had any other worries from the surgery.
I don’t regret my surgery at all and I think I’m better off for it. I’m happy to answer any questions. Before my surgery I was trying to find as many abdominal surgery experiences as possible and they just aren’t as common anymore compared to the others. I don’t regret reading the stories, but some scared me. I also read a lot of positive info like hysterectomy is one of the most common surgeries done and I read a lot on this site which helped. Anytime I had a worry, I’d post it and get tons of ideas/feedback. So thank you HysterSisters, current and future ones!
I think I have fewer back pains and I feel less full/bloated now. I didn’t really have any symptoms before that were that debilitating that I hadn’t had all my life, like fairly heavy periods and bad cramps. I am glad I had the hysterectomy.
Ask your doctor a TON of questions. I realized by reading stuff on here that he wouldn’t tell me everything I probably should know. I felt pretty confident in my doctor’s diagnosis but getting a 2nd opinion helped me feel more firm with it.
My advice would be to read up on this site if you’re like me and want to be really prepared. I think nothing would have changed health wise if I hadn’t read it but it helped calm me down when I’d start to panic before the surgery. If you tend to worry, this forum can help find answers/allay your fears. And use your recovery forum!!!! It was really nice to go through this with a group of women who’d gone through it at the same time as I did. That was really neat!