Crystal’s Robotic Hysterectomy
daVinci Robotic Hysterectomy
Age at Surgery 25
Location: Minneapolis, MN, USA
My whole life I struggled to have a normal period and figuring out what “normal” was. I typically had a 10-12 day very heavy cycle. When I was in undergrad in college I was diagnosed with PCOS and put on Metformin for a few years, which did help regulate me a little bit. Eventually I started trying birth control around 18 and ended up settling on some pills for a while but ended up abandoning them. Years later I decided to get a Mirena iUD. After having one put in around the age of 20, I started bleeding every day. I went back to my OBGYN and we did an ultrasound and nothing was wrong. This bleeding continued for about a year until I went back in and had her remove it, to put a brand new Mirena in same day. The bleeding continued. Close to a year later I came back and said we needed to do something different, so she removed the Mirena and put in a copper Paragard. A month later I was in the ER for extreme bleeding, and they did an ultrasound and once again nothing was wrong. The next day I went to the doctor’s office and had a different OBGYN remove the Paragard because she was the only one urgently available. I then went back to my original OBGYN soon thereafter and said we have to do something, so she did a Colposcopy and we finally decided on a Hysterscopy to look inside my uterus. I felt like it had been a long time coming and wanted that sooner, but was thankful we were finally taking a look. The Hysteroscopy came and went and there was still nothing wrong with me, yet I was still bleeding daily. At this time I started to occasionally get odd sharp pains sometimes randomly or during certain activities such as sex. I brought up my concerns of Endometriosis and she dismissed them saying “your pain would be worse.” How ignorant. Her conclusion for me ended up being “maybe you just don’t react well to hormonal birth control” and I though that was just crap. So I stopped any type of hormonal birth control, got a Diaphragm fitted, spent 8 months fighting for my money back from my insurance, and after a few months…. my cycle regulated. For the first time in my life I had a 5 day period with light bleeding. It was AMAZING. I got so excited every time I got my period because it was a PERIOD, not daily blood.
Sadly for me though, this lasted about 8 months and in March of 2020, my every day bleeding came back. I was heartbroken and fed up with it, so I went to see the doctor who removed my Paragard instead of my original OBGYN because she wasn’t even trying for me. I sat down in the new OBGYN’s office and told her straight up she had to help me because I kept having my time wasted, and if she couldn’t help me I was going to Mayo or she would give me a Hysterectomy. Obviously she was shocked but after what I’d been through the last 3-4 years, I was frustrated and my quality of life continued to decrease as I continued to bleed daily and have more sharp abdominal pain. I finally felt heard by her and she agreed to do everything she could for me, in the hopes I wouldnt have to have a Hysterectomy. We did more ultrasounds, pap smears, a biopsy of my uterus, Colposcopy, blood work, and all of it was normal, which I expected at that point. My next thought was that I needed a Laparoscopy because if the inside of my uterus was fine and we explored that, my issues may be outside of my uterus. She never dismissed my Endometriosis concerns and after all this testing she agreed to perform the Laparoscopy for me. I was overjoyed and scared to maybe finally have an answer. I had the surgery and she removed a very large cyst off of one of my ovaries (the size of my uterus) which we saw in our most recent ultrasound, and discovered Stage I Endometriosis. She cut it out, but there was nothing else. Neither of those things were the cause of my bleeding, but at lease I knew now what I hadn’t known, and finally got diagnosed with Endo. After all of this, I tried a Progesterone pill for a few weeks and told her that I would make my decision on a Hysterectomy at this time. After all we had done, she understood and she told me that no matter my decision, she supported me. I cried. I tried the pill for a while and it seemed to kind of help, but at that point it was over for me. I didn’t believe it would help forever, even if it only helped a little for a few weeks. I don’t like being on hormones and I don’t like being on a lot of prescriptions because they’ve burned me a lot in the past. So I sent her a message and came in to her office after 6 weeks from our post-op from the Laparoscopy, and we discussed the surgery. She had to ensure I was 100% ready to never have my own children and had to look me in the eye and make sure I was confident in that choice. I came with a set of about 20 questions about the procedure, and the next week we had it scheduled for 6 weeks out. I never got a second opinion because my insurance was going to run out in 3 months and I had already maxed out my Out of Pocket, so my Hysterectomy was going to be free. I didn’t want to listen to another OBGYN to tell me to try yet again another hormonal pill after I’d tried many, who also had no answers. We’d tried everything and nothing pointed to the cause of my 4 day everyday bleeding and as a 25 year old woman I didn’t want to be questioned for my wanting to remove my uterus when it was the right choice for my health and quality of life.
Surgery day went by pretty fast, they always seem to. I got checked in quickly and began all the prep work for IVs etc, then it was time. Due to COVID I had to go in completely alone, which was hard, but I knew I was keeping my loved ones safe. I asked for the “I don’t care” medicine right before we starting walking to the OR, got on the operating table, and then I woke up. My surgery took a little bit longer because I had some adhesions on my intestines from the Laparoscopy. My intestines had stuck to each other a bit, as well as to one of my ovaries. The surgery went well though, and I got to go home the same day with some gnarly pictures of my insides before and after the procedure. I remained there for only a few hours in recovery, and thankfully a good friend from highschool was a nurse at that hospital, so I got to see a familiar face in Recovery and just cried and was a mess because all of my nurses had an attitude and seemed rude to me. Plus the drugs. I do not know the specific type of anesthesia I had, and I did make sure the person who was inserting my breathing tube did so differently than was done during my Laparoscopy, because after that surgery it completely wrecked my throat and I was coughing constantly and hurting myself, so they used a different method this time.
The first week of recovery was pretty bad. I think day 3 or 4 I was in so much pain from the gas buildup and buildup of stool inside that I was screaming and writhing in pain on my bed while crying but not trying to cry because that movement in my abdomen hurt so bad I was screaming. I had to beg my boyfriend to go get me Miralax at Target at 10pm because I needed the pressure out of my abdomen. Immediately after surgery I started taking a stool softener (Colace) 3x a day with GasX, and then after day 3-4 when I got Miralax, I took that on top of it. After surgery I was able to pee just fine, but it took me 2 days to pass my first bowel movement. I took my pain pills (Oxycodone) for probably the first 5 days, and then didn’t need them much anymore and tried to stop taking them so my bowels would wake up faster. For the first 1-2 weeks I had a lot of clear liquid-y discharge, just like water. I laid in bed most of the time but spent probably 20-35 min a day walking laps around my small apartment and making sure I was standing occasionally for that first 1-2 weeks. After that, things started to feel a bit better. I slept and laid in bed mostly sitting up for the first 4 weeks with pillows under my knees, because then I didn’t have to strain my abs to get up out of bed and could just swing my legs over. I also iced 1-3 times a day in bed as well. At the hospital they put an abdominal binder on me and I kept that on 24/7 for the first 2-4 days, but then started removing it when laying down. Weeks 3 and 4 didn’t seem like much really happened, but I kept having pressure and the feeling like I had a UTI when I peed, so I got a bit panicky and thought I might have a fistula because I kept leaking clear liquid and wasn’t sure if it was urine. I went to the OBGYN to see anyone I could and she checked my stitches, did a urine culture, and ultrasound. I was fine and she figured the catheter they put in during surgery had irritated by urethra and just to keep watching it. My issues ended up subsiding about 1-2 days later and my culture came back normal. Around week 5-6 I really started to feel more like myself and self-sufficient again. Weeks 6-8 were great and I could do so much more again. I finally got to sleep laying down flat! I continued to take Miralax through 10 weeks to ensure there was no straining to pass a bowel movement, as I had issues with that after my Laparoscopy. My nurses confirmed this was all okay with me and I called them many times to make sure what I was experiencing was normal.
My worries for life after Hysterectomy was ensuring I didn’t push myself too hard afterward, and not to jump back into things and hurt myself. I tend to go way too hard at everything I do so I wanted to make sure I took it easy. I definitely worry about how I will heal long term and hope it all is successful and healthy, and I also sometimes worry about more ovarian cysts coming back, or my Endo, but I’m gonna worry about that later instead of right now.
My biggest challenge was getting to the surgery, and recovery. I spent most of 2020 in conversation with my mom and all of the women on my mother’s side of the family who all suffered from either PCOS, Fibroids, Endo, or rare Uterine Cancer. Every woman but about 3 have had a Hysterectomy on my mother’s side. I listened to them and wanted to hear their experiences and that helped me in making my decision. My boyfriend and I had countless talks about our future and if there are children or biological children in them. It was a year filled with tears for me, and finally getting to the point where enough was enough and I wanted to make a decision was very emotional.
After surgery I was cleared to go back to work after 2 weeks full time. My job is sitting at a desk all day so I’m not really doing much. No lifting over 15 lbs for 6 weeks, and no sex for 8 weeks. None of this was difficult for me, and going back to work after 2 weeks I was tired and it took me 1-2 weeks to fully be able to sit up in my chair all day, but I started with my binder and switched over to the Post-Op panty, and went between my couch and office chair when I needed. Pretty soon I felt fine sitting for 8 hours a day and going for walks here and there.
My mental health has improved greatly now that I have a 100% cure to my every day bleeding. I get to finally wear the underwear I want, feel sexy again, have my confidence back, never have to wear a pad again and feel like I’m always having diaper rash, and always fearing blood when I go to the bathroom. That is now all over and I’m so thankful.
In terms of physical health I feel exactly the same as I did before surgery. My Laparoscopy really changed my physical health as the Endo got removed and my pain subsided, as well as the removal of the really large cyst, which was causing me some pain as well.
All being said, I’m glad I did it. There are days where I still cry over never being able to carry my own child, but I know that I get to live the rest of my long life never having to fear again and that I’m past that chapter. It was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make but I knew that it was the right one for me and my health and for the rest of my life.
My advice to women considering a hysterectomy is to:
#1. Ask questions, #2. Be educated and prepared, #3. Advocate for yourself, #4 Buy Miralax, GasX, and a Squatty Potty, and #5, Trust and be patient with yourself. #1, there are many ways doctors can go about this surgery and every doctor is different. Make sure you come prepared with questions about catheters, recovery, stool softeners, GasX, sleeping, sex, future pap smears, hormones, etc. The more you know, the better you’ll feel and the more ready you’ll feel. #2, do your research and explore here and on other sites. I got more questions to ask when I learned more about what to expect. #3, there is so much to learn about women’s health still and unfortunately we as women are not heard and our pain and health is invalidated constantly. I fought to find someone who listened and wish I didn’t have to do that for 4 years while I was in pain. Stand up for yourself. You are your biggest advocate and be assertive when you need to be, your doctors are there to help you, and if they don’t want to help you, move on. If you ever want a particular test or procedure you think may be valuable to your diagnosis and your doctor declines it, make sure you ask them to document that they refused you in your chart. #4, in my experience, passing urine and bowel movements was one of the toughest parts of recovery. Make sure you are equipped with drugs if you doctor gives you the OK, and start taking them either before or immediately after your procedure. I bought a squatty potty to help me pass my bowel movements with less strain and feel like that also helped me a lot. Lastly, #5. This is your journey. We as women know when there is something wrong with our bodies. Trust yourself and be honest with yourself. It is not always an easy task. Recovery will go quickly but feel slow as it starts, but you need to be patient with your body and appreciate it for what it’s done for you. Long term healing takes quite a while and as eager as we all are to jump back into life, life can wait while we heal for ourselves.