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Carole’s Hysterectomy Story

I had my hysterectomy on Feb. 13 of this year. The procedure was done robotically, by the da Vinci method. This meant my body was slanted almost straight up and down and a complete hysterectomy was done. The da Vinci robot magnifies everything inside 10 – 12 times so it is easier for the surgeon to see and to make sure he/she doesn’t nick or cut things other than what is to be removed. In my hysterectomy everything was removed, uterus, cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes, etc. Thankfully, no cancer was found as the doctors I had seen (and I!) were concerned there would be.

I am at the sixth week in recovery today, Monday, March 26. Tomorrow, March 27 I go back to the Gynecologist/Oncologist surgeon to see if my internal sutures are healing as they need to.

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My hysterectomy was done to see if there was cancer and if there was none, to prevent cancer, as I had to have a D & C and Hysteroscopy Nov. 2009 and Jan. 2010, respectively, due to bleeding after menopause. The bleeding had begun again this past Nov. 2011 and was heavier and was still continuing each month including Feb. just before my surgery.

The surgery was a 3 hour operation and I have five incisions in my abdomen, the largest one being above my naval, but all have healed well. I have had lots of fears and apprehensions, beginning while in the hospital with my bladder not working on its own and needing to come home with a catheter. Thankfully, the catheter was able to be removed five days later and my bladder has been working fine on its own since then!

Your website has been the greatest help to me that I have been able to find, as my surgeon did not have printed information for me prior to or after the surgery (I did not think to ask for any prior to the surgery – I was so afraid of cancer I could not think of anything besides making sure whether or not I had it and if not, preventing it) and the hospital did not have any printed information for me either.

As a 68 year old mother of 6 now grown children, who was a farm wife while raising my children, being told after my surgery at the time of my dismissal from the hospital “do not lift for two weeks” and then on the day the catheter was removed that I was to “do nothing for six to eight weeks,” but having no other instructions left me in the dark information-wise much more than I realized and phone calls to the surgeon’s nurse and the hospital did not result in being given any printed information. In fact they each gave gave me information that was very different from what the doctor had told my husband and me. The instructions from the surgeon’s nurse and from the nurse on the surgical floor at the hospital when I called those places a few weeks after my surgery to try to find information to help me was very depressing as well as disturbing because of the confusion in their instructions that was so different from the surgeon’s.

The forums and other information on this website have been and are a godsend to me and I thank you so much. I know I will continue looking through this website and gathering information from other women’s experiences that will help me to continue to know I am not alone and I will make it through this safer than I might have otherwise.

My bowels are still a concern to me, as in order to not have a painful movement and to get the movement started I have to raise my shoulders up toward my ears, pulling my body as upright as possible. Also, because of having an operation on the sphincter muscle in my rectum, it is necessary almost daily to put toilet tissue on my hand and push on the right outside area of my rectum. I can feel the bowel movement sitting there and as I push until that mass of bm is gone I am able to get the bowel movement started and then my body continues to relieve itself on its own. I am hoping this will not be a permanent situation or at least the fear of the pain if I strain will soon be gone. I can deal with the rest, as I have had that problem off and on since having the rectal surgery in 1993.

Drinking prune juice or eating prunes is very helpful, but it is hard to find the “happy medium” or “right balance” and not end up with having my stools too loose and then having my sphincter muscle unable to hold and I don’t want to have an accident in my underwear!

I’m sorry to have written such a lengthy message, but I know how much the stories of others have been and are of help to me and I hope something in what I have written will be of help to someone else who is struggling with knowing what to do and what they need to know before and/or after their surgery. Thank you for enduring!

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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 2 Comments
  1. Marilyn,

    Thank you so much for your comment to my “story.” It has been a time in my life that I had never dreamed I would ever need to experience, but each day things get better and I am thankful to have my hysterectomy nearly 8 weeks behind me. Thankfully, I am retired, but my husband is 15 years older than I am and he has a bad hip, so it has been a challenging time for both of us. I don’t know what I would have done without his help and without this website!

    I hope all has gone well for you as you returned to work. In light of what we have put our bodies through, 12 weeks does not seem like a very long amount of time to recover and hearing of those who go back to work makes me even more thankful I am old enough to be retired! Take good care of yourself and don’t overdo!

  2. Hi Carole,
    How well you have described your experience. Your emotions are so plain to read and I think many of us who have lived with fear of cancer and have endured not only the surgery, pain and discomfort but also the embarrassment indeed humiliation of it all. I am 61, had a vaginal hysterectomy and repair in Jan this year due to prolapse. Had problems with my bladder, but that has recovered quite a lot. Similar prob with my bowel movements, I think it’s normal but I’m suddenly realising that I have reached the age when I want to discuss prunes with people! 17 years ago I had a mastectomy because of breast cancer. I now feel I am a one breasted, womb less woman! that is in the moments when I feel a bit sorry for myself. I have to keep telling myself that I am a child of these sixties and will continue to dye my hair blonde and wear probably unsuitable clothes for my age! I go back to work tomorrow after 12 weeks. I’m quite dreading it, but I suppose after a few days I will again back to normal and hopefully this “episode” in my life, will fade eventually and I will continue to moan about the mundane things in life. One or two good things to come out of it is that I have survived, didn’t let myself down and have learnt, from this website, how brave and amazing we are. Take care and wishing you a good recovery.

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