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Jenny’s Hysterectomy Story

It all started several years ago … fibroids. A wait and see approach was taken by my doctors. Eventually due to bloating, painful nauseous periods (having to take time off work) low iron count and feeling very constantly tired,  I decided to see a gynaecologist.

A total hysterectomy was preformed on me at 51years of age. I had wanted to keep my ovaries and discussed this with my gynaecologist and we came to an agreement – should he find anything nasty while operating he would remove them … there was nothing wrong with them (“unremarkable” was the term used in my medical report) but he took them anyway. I have since learned that even if my ovaries were left in blood supply to them may have been hampered causing them to atrophy so who’s to know if that was a good or not so good thing to do.

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Post operation was a nightmare – 2 weeks after I went into full menopause, dreadful sweats, hot flushes (several an hour!) headaches, foggy head, balance problems … toughed it all out without medication ( I tried over the counter products to no avail)

A complication caused by the actual operation (keyhole) has been peripheral nerve damage  to my upper left thigh which manifests as slight numbness to the touch and occasionally a little weakness – I am only vaguely aware of it now.

Five  months on I feel better especially in the lower back tummy region, have more energy but the head feelings are still a bother … better if I get good sleeps.

Some nights I have had to resort to a sleeping tablet as symptoms have overwhelmed me but I take each day as it comes and pay more attention to my emotional and physical needs.

I am a bit of a nervous nelly and had post- natal depression with my first son (24 years ago but not with my other 2 sons). These symptoms have returned but as I recognise them for what they are (hormonally induced) I can cope better now.

Overall menopause for me (surgically induced) has meant like a kind of death but with sites like yours (which have helped tremendously in verbalising how we all feel) and mentoring with friends, there is life on the other side of it and I can see it as a renewal or perhaps a stock -take of how to move forward.

I was completely naive of menopause and it was like my first period and having my first baby – shocking … but I have gotten used to it like all great changes in our female life!!

Thank you so much for all the information you have provided and to all the women that have shared their experiences.

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in my own words book coverNow available on our online store and all other online book store’s. In My Own Words: Women’s Experience of Hysterectomy is full of many other real-life stories from women the world over.

Other people’s stories help women feel less isolated. They show that they aren’t going mad, missing the point or stupid.

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Linda Parkinson-Hardman

Transformational coach and founder of the Hysterectomy Association. Professionally I'm an information scientist who specialises in the adoption and engagement of digital technologies. I am a writer and author of nine books to date, and I've edited a further seven; phew what a lot for a Thursday afternoon :-)

This Post Has 20 Comments
  1. Hi Tina

    I had a hysterectomy plus one squashed ovary taken three weeks ago. It was due to 3 kilos of fibroid (I’m quite slight – and have got slighter!)

    It is great not to have the draggy tiredness and nausea any more and whilst the first few days were a bit weird with some bloating and bowel and bladder pains, it’s great to get the operation over.

    I’m not taking painkillers anymore (although I will if I need them), am doing loads of walking in the sunshine (I normally do lots of running) – and doing the pelvic floor exercises religiously in the hope I can get back to swimming and running sooner than I might otherwise. I am being very careful about the lifting though and plan to be strict when I go back to work about what I can carry/ lift.

    I’ve been on my own quite a bit as husband is overseas at moment – and came home for 10 days but then had to go back. My daughter is 17 and can help out though – and just having the house to myself quite a lot is restful too. I’m now enjoying my time out from the usual rush of life.

    So don’t worry – there are good stories too 🙂

  2. Hi Tina,
    Had my hysterectomy 12 days ago, was feeling so scared about hearing all the negative things, but Im so pleased how my op went, came out the next day, hardly any pain, since I’ve come out only took a paracitamol now and again, feel really well, But I have to be careful although I look and feel well I think I
    can do house work, some I can and some I shouldnt be doing, so from today going to take it a little bit easier after reading the forum.

  3. Hi this Tina i will behaving a HYSTERECTOMY in two weeks i would like to know is there anything good about a hysterectomy so far i have been hearing negative things

  4. Hi Julia, it is possible to prolapse again and one thing that seems to help prevent it is doing the kegel exercises regularly after the op, once the physio gives you the go ahead of course. These are the pelvic floor exerices and the physio could also make sure you are doing them correctly. Other things that help to strengthen the whole region are yoga and pilates too.

  5. Hi I am looking for reassurance, please! I am getting more and more anxious as time passes, my Hysterectomy (leaving ovaries) is on the 21st May. I am 37 with two lovely children of 4 and 7, I have a prolapse of the bladder and uterus which is causing me problems with my bowels and bladder, I am on anti-depressants for post natal depression after my son was born, I am so worried I am not going to cope emotionally with this op, and its going to make things worse rather than better as I am having an anterior repair, I have heard that repairs don’t really work and you can prolapse again and it can be worse, sex can be painful ect, I am half inclined to leave my prolapse as it is and put up with my problems. But all my friends and family think I should do it now whilst I am young and fit and healthy, I have a very good support network around me who are going to rally round. I wuld love to hear some encouraging stories or statistics.

  6. I found Jenny’s story very helpful. I am currently on day 13 post op, full hysterectomy by keyhole surgery, I am 51 years old (after a period that lasted 15 months this was the last option – I wish it had been the first!). So far I havent had any menopause symptoms despite my ovaries having gone, I have decided to wait till they start before deciding on HRT. I seem to have nerve damage to the front of both of my thighs, with numb patches on both but this is a small price to pay. I was discharged from hospital 24 hours after my op and didnt need any pain relief after that either, the recovery has been really great.

    I have done very small bits of housework but nothing that involves lifting etc, I find it impossible to just sit and watch other people!

  7. H Sandra, firstly it is normal to be feeling nervous especially with changes being made at this stage. I’d recommend you have a chat with your doctor to find out more about why it is being suggested. As for travel, you will need to check with the airline and your travel insurance company to find out what their policies are.

  8. Hi
    I have been reading your comments and am looking for some reassurance! After two cancellations I am due to have a total hysterectomy on 27 March. I am 63 and have no actual physical problems. The decision has been made due to abnormal smear cells over the last few years. other investigations have not found any cancerous cells but the doctors have suggested the hysterectomy for safety. It was agreed to do the procedure via keyhole but now I have received a phonecall advising the doctor does not want to do this! Am feeling very upset but would like to know has anyone else any feelings on which procedure is “easier”. My partner and I are due to fly to Portugal on 16 May, will I really be fit to travel then? A very anxious Sandra

  9. Just to reassure some of the ladies above who are apprehensive…I am on Day 20 after total hysterectomy, ovary removal etc. and vertical incision. Co-incidentally, I started regular swimming and aquafit classes a few weeks before my op – I am overweight and not fit, but I felt even those few weeks pre-op have helped my recovery a great deal. I experienced extremely good care in NHS hospital (well, discounting the food!), and have had much less pain than predicted, and almost no nausea, despite being under anaesthetic for 4 hours. The best tip I received was to press a rolled-up towel over my tummy when I felt I wanted to be sick/cough /sneeze (also effective when laughing, and when wanting to shift position in bed, and for travelling home in the car). I was also warned by my gynaecologist to keep on top of the pain by taking paracetamol and ibuprofen regularly, not waiting for the pain to hit first. I have accepted that some days feel better than others – I might feel great one day, and then pain hits in a different place the next. Resting, rest and rest some more seems to help most. I go for a ten minute walk, then come home and sleep for an hour.

    Apart from pain management, I would say the most important thing is to set up support systems before your op… husband/partner, family and friends etc. Be prepared to do very little around the house for a while, but also do the little you can to help out – from day 4 I washed the coffee cups – that was all, but my husband appreciated it, and it made me feel better and caused me no harm. Staying in my nightie half the day helped hubby to have realistic expectations. I am now able to cook dinner, but hubby gets everything out on the side ready, and lifts the full pans etc. I have had a ‘grabber tool’ in the house since breaking an ankle years ago – extremely useful following this op, has saved no end of stretching and bending. Using Skype meant my elderly parents could see me and be reassured, without us having to accommodate a visit. My grown-up children have taken in turns to visit and help, despite being all of them being 2-3 hours drive away. My neighbour has helped with shopping, and my church offered to provide cooked meals for a fortnight, although we didn’t need this in the end. For each of our different friendship and family groups, we arranged a central point of contact, so that my husband didn’t get overwhelmed with kindly-meant phone calls – this was really helpful.

    I am fortunate: I have had children, and at 57 have completed the menopause, and I don’t have anyone dependent on me for their care; my husband is willing and able to take care of me. But the things I feared most were the pain and discomfort of surgery, and these have not been anything like as bad as I expected. I did have a minor complication and had to put up with coming home with a catheter, but much as I hated it, it was manageable, and only needed for a few days. I needed the operation due to a large ovarian cyst, fibroids and multiple adhesions. Almost straight after the operation I felt I was able to move much better than for years – it may be my imagination, but I think I am feeling the benefit of things not being stuck together that shouldn’t be! It was wonderful to wake up and find, despite the pain from surgery, that the pain from the cyst had gone.

    Incidentally, it was my osteopath who first identified I might have a gynae problem… I wish osteopaths were better-respected in some parts of the NHS… but that is another story.

    I hope some of you find this helpful and reassuring… good luck with your up-and-coming surgeries.

  10. Hi Jacqui
    I too was extremely anxious about my surgery which was done 4 weeks ago today-it’s only natural but I’m up and about and definitely on the mend and feeling sooooooo much better.
    I’m 42 and had fibroids ,severe bleeding needing several blood transfusions and felt so tired and drained. The fibroids were so big (rugby ball size and weighed over 2 kilos) keyhole surgery wasn’t possible so had to have a vertical abdominal cut which I didn’t want but choice wasn’t an option. I have been left with my ovaries so luckily HRT isn’t a problem.
    Taking it very easy is the key to recovering just listen to your body and when you feel like you need a rest or a snooze do it!!!! Don’t try to do too much too soon- the most I lifted the first week was a cup of tea! Four weeks on and I’m pottering about in the house and getting out for short walks to build my muscles back up.
    It’s a major operation and a daunting experience but a few weeks on from your op and you will notice a huge difference-lots of luck and let me know it goes

    Kind Regards
    Sharon

  11. Thanks for that Linda,as i am really scared,i have been looking after my mum with altzhiemers for the past 15 years as well as caring for my family so i have been putting this hysterectomy off for quite some time now,my prolapse has got quite a lot worse now plus excess bleeding from a large fibroid plus i had the first stages of simple hyperplasia last year so although i am frightened a know i have to have this op done!!!kind regards J

  12. The vast majority of women (well over 80%) who have completed our research survey into their post-hysterectomy experience say that they would do it again if they had to … !

  13. Hi,i hope you are feeling lot better now.I am due to have a total hysterectomy and repair on March 27th and i am very scared!!!I have two daughters aged 27 and 16 after two high forceps deliveries i have a prolapse and also heavy bleeding due to a fibroid the size of a small cauliflower!!I am 56 years of age.I would be very grateful of any reasssurance Kind regards Jacqui pepper

  14. I am getting tense reading the after math of surgery. I am due to have operation in two weeks time. I feel now I can discuss with the surgeon before operation some of these valuable information I am getting and reading the life stories. I am hoping that it will make me feel better. Thanks Jenny.

  15. I am getting tense reading the after math of surgery. I am due to have operation in two weeks time. I feel now I can discuss with the surgeon before operation some of these valuable information I am getting and reading the life stories. I am hoping that it will make me feel better.

  16. I suffer with fibroids and my uterus is like a 16 week pregnancy. |I am now in the process of opting to have a hysterectomy at nearly 52, previous history of fibroids and two myemectomies I now feel this is my only option to stop the fibroids returning and having an enlarged stomach. Appreciate any advice, and help. Thank you.

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