Tricia’s Vaginal Hysterectomy
Age at Surgery 41
Location: Tennessee, USA
I have had trouble with my cycles since they began at age 12. They got worse after giving birth. I kept mentioning it to my doctor and he kept ignoring me, or he would blame it on my age or my weight. I KNEW something wasn’t right and eventually stopped even going for my yearly exams (which I do NOT recommend). That office was the only one in our area that accepted our insurance. My cycles began to get heavier and heavier for the week they lasted. I would have to get up a time or two a night to change my pad. I felt like a prisoner in my own home during my period each month. I also had terrible mood swings and cramps to the point I would throw up. If I left my house, I had to wear a tampon and pad and carry a change of clothes.
Fast forward to August of last year. The doctor who ignored me had passed away unexpectedly so I scheduled an appointment for my yearly checkup. My period lasted for two weeks and was heavier than ever. It stopped the day before my appointment. The doctor really listened to my concerns and asked lots of questions and took the time to really talk to me. He scheduled me for an ultrasound and did some bloodwork. Pap test and bloodwork came back normal. Period started again and lasted another two weeks. Stopped the morning of my vaginal ultrasound and began again the next day, for 50 something days it went on. Came back a couple of hours after the ultrasound for the results. Submucosal fibroids, thick uterine lining, and ovarian cysts were the diagnosis. He gave me two options, a biopsy, d&c, ablation, and something else I can’t remember or a hysterectomy. I asked lots of questions and he was very patient and informative. We decided a hysterectomy would be my best option. With the type and location of my fibroids, he felt the other route would be a temporary fix and I would be back in a couple of years for a hysterectomy. He discussed with me the type, risks, recovery, etc and we got it scheduled. I did not seek a second opinion because I was satisfied with the answers and covid made it difficult to schedule appointments. I wanted to get it taken care of as soon as possible.
Surgery was scheduled at the hospital for Oct. 29th. I went the week before and did all my blood work, pre admission testing and paperwork. Had to drink my ERAS (enhanced recovery after surgery) drink on the way to the hospital. That was a first for me, but seemed to helped with my nausea afterwards. I expected to say goodbye to my husband at the door, but they had changed policies and he was allowed to stay until visiting hours were over. They started my IVs, went over the tons of paperwork and the waiting began. The surgery was scheduled for noon and began on time.
It was under general anesthesia. I tend to get really sick afterwards and usually have the patch behind my ear. Having been recently diagnosed with glaucoma, that was no longer an option. I went into the operating room and that is the last thing I remember. Surgery was supposed to take about 90 minutes, but mine took closer to 3 hours. Doctor removed my cervix, uterus, and tubes. Ovaries were left because the cysts were not concerning and ovaries were otherwise healthy. He also performed a cystoscopy to make sure the bladder was intact. I awoke about 2 hours after surgery in my room and in quite a bit of pain. I kept saying I needed to pee but had the catheter in. Had a lot of pressure down below. Turns out my catheter line kept kinking and backing up. Catheter came out about midnight. Told me I had to urinate within 4 hours or it would go back in. I had trouble at first and could not go. Finally got up and paced around my room until I did. That first pee was painful and not what I was expecting. Went home the day after surgery. They came in and checked on me every hour for the first 6 hours and every two hours afterward until I went home. I had IVs and nasal cannula oxygen and the catheter until midnight.
My recovery was definitely challenging, but not as bad as I was expecting. We are a family of 8 so that presented challenges in and of itself. 10 days into my recovery my oldest daughter, husband, and oldest son were all diagnosed with Covid. No one was able to bring food or help out. They stressed to me the importance of moving around and I got up and walked around every hour as long as I wasn’t sleeping. I had to sleep on the couch for a few nights. I have a very high pain tolerance but took the pain meds and ibuprofen like I should. They tend to constipate me, so I took stool softeners too. After about 4 days I was completely off pain meds and taking ibuprofen only. I was still bloated and sore, but nothing terrible. A heating pad was very helpful to me.
By the end of the second week I was able to sit up for a few minutes at a time and prepare meals to throw in the crockpot. It wasn’t easy or ideal, but I was able to make it work. The hardest parts for me were finding stretchy clothes that fit, the lifting restrictions, and making my family understand that just because I was moving around didn’t mean I was completely healed. The doctor cleared me for everything but lifting and sex at 6 weeks. That clearance came 2 weeks later. Also, there was less bleeding than I expected. Maybe one or two days in the beginning and a couple of days here and there. Sitting upright was painful for a bit and made quite a bit of pressure down below. There were some twinges here and there that are finally subsiding. Sex afterwards was a concern. We haven’t tried intercourse yet, just outercourse. I always experienced intense and strong orgasms before. Those are a thing of the past. The first time or two there was some light cramping afterwards but that is all.
My health has been much better since the hysterectomy and I am very glad I made the decision to have it. No more monthly cycles has been great. My sleep was messed up at first and lots of hot flashes that have finally leveled out. The doctor said it might happen as my ovaries kind of reset themselves.
Do lots of research and be prepared. Remember that every case is different and every woman is different. No two recoveries are the same. If you have questions, ask. Take care of yourself. The housework, laundry, etc can wait a few weeks. If you have time to prepare meals and things in advance, do it. Find someone to walk your pet. Find things to do to keep yourself occupied if you have trouble sitting idle. This website was a godsend for me.