15 Hot Topics for Hysterectomy Recovery – Part 1

No one knows better than a HysterSister the ups and downs, ins and outs of hysterectomy recovery. What’s normal? What’s allowed? When will I feel better? What questions should I ask?

All these questions and more are answered in the HysterSisters Hysterectomy Recovery Forum, but here is a collection of helpful, non-medical advice for 15 of the most common concerns during hysterectomy recovery.

Be sure to visit Part 2 and Part 3, too!

Dealing with Pain

  • Keep a pencil and paper next to your pain medications, and always write down the times you take them. Foggy memories can lead to mistakes.
  • All narcotics cause constipation and, sometimes, weird dreams.
  • If you have spinal anesthesia and start having severe headaches (even if they are not postural), make sure to mention that it could be a “post-dural puncture headache (PDPH).” These can be cured by replenishing some of the spinal fluid. Don’t suffer for a week like some have!

Gas Pains and “Movement” of a Different Kind

  • Don’t drink carbonated drinks for a day or two after surgery. They tend to contribute to a gassy stomach. Actually, if you can give them up for good, your bones will thank you—sodas leach calcium from your bones.
  • If your medicine makes you sick, call your doctor. S/he can prescribe something different for you to try. And remind your doctor if you’re allergic to codeine so s/he doesn’t prescribe a pain reliever related to the codeine family.
  • Never, ever mix your Metamucil with prune juice unless you have no other plans for the rest of the day.
  • Don’t allow yourself to get constipated!
  • Keep taking those stool softeners even after your first good bowel movement—your intestines may still not be in proper working order.

The Dreaded “Swelly Belly” and Your Incision

  • Swelly belly is not so bad—it keeps you from seeing the scale.
  • If you have a cat or dog, keep a pillow on your tummy at all times, especially when you’re sleeping on your back. They don’t realize that stepping on “mom” will send her into shock. Cats can make great tummy pillows, but only if you clip their claws first.
  • Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you will be able to wear the same clothes you wore before surgery (at least comfortably). The combination of the incision pain and swelly belly makes it nearly impossible.
  • If you take antihistamines, stick with them when you get home. Hayfever is unbelievably miserable with an abdominal incision.
  • Getting the staples out doesn’t hurt much, and your insides really don’t fall out when you get up afterwards.
  • Don’t have a “last period” party and ceremoniously throw away all your remaining pads. A stubborn little blood vessel and a slow-healing inside incision can make for a final long “period.”
  • If you have a baby, or small child, always hold baby on top of a pillow. If he accidentally kicks his little foot into the incision, BOY DOES THAT HURT! Have a pillow over your tummy to make sure the “wiggles” don’t hit your incision.
  • Watch those big kid hugs when you are lying down in your bed. All it takes is one carelessly flung hand to send you through the roof.
  • Steri-strips hold things together pretty well for something that looks so flimsy.
  • If you freeze a bottle of water and slip it into a long thin sock, it feels good to roll on your stomach when you have a hot flash. A hot water bottle, filled with ice and cold water, is also really good on the tummy. These work like a soft pillow, “de-sweller,” and pain killer.
  • Comedy shows like “Whose Line is it Anyway,” “Designing Women,” “Golden Girls” or whatever your personal favorites are, need to be viewed no matter how bad your tummy hurts. Clutch a pillow while watching, or have a hand ready to support your belly. Laughter is good for the depressed and lonely soul.

Body Mechanics

  • Listen to the doctor when s/he says do not pick things up. Don’t pick up anything heavier than a frying pan, and don’t even pick that up for 6 weeks. Ignore this advice at your own risk!
  • Don’t move heavy items with your legs or lower body because that’s just as bad as lifting. Don’t think pushing the furniture is OK just because it’s not “lifting”!
  • Look to be sure the toilet seat is in the “down” position before sitting.
  • Don’t sit at the computer for very long. Your “backend” starts to hurt and burn!
  • Also, resting means in a reclined position, not just sitting. Sitting can actually hurt more than standing.
  • If you drive an SUV, it really is painful to get in and out of the driver’s seat. Same goes for low-slung sports cars.
  • Twisting quickly the wrong way can hurt too—no ping pong or badminton.
  • Watch that first stretch in the morning, the one you always do before you’re really awake. It’s a killer for those first few weeks.


  • Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’ll never get bored with “Lifetime for Women” movies.
  • Being bored is far better than being in pain
  • All of the Australian ladies are on HysterSisters at 4 a.m., so when you have insomnia, you’ll at least have someone to chat with.
  • Bob Barker is totally grey!!
  • When you get bored, have your husband move the family room furniture around. The next day you won’t like it, and he can put it back.
  • Fight your children for the good TV with the DVD player; DON’T BUDGE!

This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.Reprinted with permission: 15 Hot Topics for Hysterectomy Recovery – Part 1


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