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Hysterectomy Words of Wisdom – Sandra’s Story

Hi Linda, I have found your words of wisdom invaluable during my convalescence. I know from your emails that the experience and knowledge you impart is of great value to me. This is shown by sending pertinent emails at exactly the right time I need to hear the information, whether it is an affirmation of what I am feeling or sound piece of advice, I have been amazed with the depth and value of that advice.

I most certainly will donate to your valid cause and have shared your site not only with friends but my local doctors surgery. I too like many others felt a little abandoned by the medical professionals after my surgery, and only found your site whilst searching for an answer to a worry I had. Your site has proved invaluable.

I have had a sub total hysterectomy 3 weeks ago and have been on a roller coaster of emotions and physical extremes. I am a fit, active 47 year old. With a very supportive family and friend network. Thank heavens!

I am normally exceedingly busy with work, family and various projects or a plethora of children around me. The hardest thing to endure is my lack of activity and ability, including the pain.

During my convalescence (which is still on going) I have learnt many things, not only about myself but others.

1. The world does not stop spinning on its axis, if I am not captain of the ship with work, home, duties and life in general. My family has learnt to do many tasks, and at the end of the day when they say they are tired, I merely comment yes I am normally tired when I achieve all those chores everyday/weekend. This has brought about positive change, in the fact they now know they need to help out more, or alternatively I need to care less about these chores. There is nothing like leading by example!

2. For someone who loves being busy, useful and needed, I have learnt I am surprisingly good at being lazy, doing nothing except heal. In fact I am waiting for my diploma in the post!

The first week was hard having to sit around and take it easy. I came out of hospital 48hrs after my surgery. I wanted to be home in my own bed and my own clean sheets with a peaceful nights sleep. What benefit this is when you are on the road to recovery. Washing yourself in your own house and fresh bed clothes! Taking a shower was a Herculean task, that involved a fit ball (large inflatable exercise ball) in the shower to sit on whilst showering was a God send, and a great idea of my husband’s.

Asking my husband to help me wash my hair was an eye opener. He had no idea how to wash long hair, and it was not until I asked what he was trying to do did I understand his lack of technique. “I am bald what would I know about washing hair”! Quite understandable really. So my poor 21year old son with his thick mop of hair, volunteered to do the duty, with his naked swollen bellied mother in the shower. Oh how we laughed!?

3. There are many games and past times you can re-enact. Like hoola hooping your knickers over your feet! Until you realise that maxi dresses are the best way forward, no knickers required and modesty intact, or covered at least. Plus no rubbing from the waist band on the scar area.Who needs knickers at home any way?

Re-watching every weepy sentimental movie with no interruptions, and feeling purged of all those hormonal and post op blues tears with no feelings of guilt. That suggestion of watching sad movies was from a good friend, also going through the same post operative recovery. These films showed me, there is always someone worse off than myself.

4. Friends, family and my sisterhood. I am very grateful for all of them and their kindness. I am particularly grateful for those I do not know, including the hysterectomy association and all those lovely ladies who shared their stories, worries, tips and pain on the blogs and website.

We belong to a fantastic club, not just those women who have gone through these operations, but all women who communicate, share and have compassion for others in need. Even now I am glad I was born a woman! We all have fantastic qualities and strengths that we share willingly to help others.

My family, I adore, and am very grateful to them for all their support. I have learnt a few gems in life, like the first year of marriage (no matter how long you have been together) is the hardest but stick with it!

Also with a hysterectomy I have learnt the first year is hard, but most women say, after 1year they felt they were back to their old selves. Energy levels up and tummy back to what it was prior to their op, in my case rounded. This 1 year target is now my goal. Stick with it!

5. Those blooming adverts! Yes all those adverts showing how us women will be able to sky dive, roller blade, bungie jump and swim in shark infested waters, if we use their sanitary products. Well news to you advertisers, I no longer need to buy your products and yes I will be doing all of those things now (well maybe not) and I won’t need to contribute to your profits!

I did have great delight last night with my family around me, having a ceremonial disposing of all the sanitary products. With our usual twisted humour I asked them all to say something. My husband “I am grateful I will no longer have to stand in the local super market with a large pack of sanitary towels under my arm“. One of my Sons “I will not miss the pleading call from the downstairs toilet, please can someone pass me another sanitary towel?“. Myself “thank heavens there will no longer be any occasions marred by the dreaded period, holidays with half the suitcase filled with sanity towels rather than little bikinis, my wedding day, in a white dress and not so sexy wedding lingerie, as large period pants required. Now I will be able to sky dive, roller blade, bungie jump and swim in shark infested waters.

6. Shocking. I have been lucky to have two lovely Sons, I know some of the women on the website are not so blessed and for that I am sorry. Still though I knew, and neither did I want any more children, but reading it in black and white, that I would no longer be able to have any more children made me cry for quite a few hours. I felt I had really lost a part of my identity or womanliness.

I know a lot of women grieve for this part of themselves and was expecting it, but when it came to me I was over come with emotion. Strange really but it shook me, then I realised I would now be able to sky dive, roller blade, bungie jump and swim in shark infested waters instead!

7. No sex please we are British. It’s not just me as I read it on many blogs across many continents, but what is it that in the first few weeks I was desperate for sex? Please do not say hormones, as I know this is the real answer, and not our fantastic brains trying to compensate for the loss of our “womanliness” just trying to re-establish those feelings. Jeez did loads of women say how desperate they were for sex with theirs partners, knowing full well they were not able physically or medically. Some of the horror stories of those who did try were enough to put me off for sure.

My poor husband was pestered hourly for a while and he gave the same answer of denial every time. He told me it has been very difficult this, as to him I am just the same he sees no difference (oh except a bit of a swollen belly and scars) we need to remember this, others do not see or feel what we do, so sometimes remember that when we are at our lowest. They see us as we are whole, sometimes in pain, but loved. Funny enough my six weeks of abstinence are up on the day of our wedding anniversary. I will think about it? see blooming hormones!

8. This operation is life changing! You are not joking! I have never sworn so much in that first week as I have in my whole life. Swear words that I would never consider saying, and would make my mother and father dis-inherited me immediately, if they were in earshot. By goodness it was good though letting it out. I have curbed my language now though you’ll will be pleased to hear.

Having read this back to myself I sound like I am one of those people who are annoyingly optimistic, I assure you at times I am not. I have found that all of post operative women list what they had done and how difficult it was and how many weeks recovery. This did make me smile sometimes as they seem to wear it as a badge of honour.  It is an honour to be a woman, no matter what your level of problems or surgery was. I just want to remember the compassion and advice, tears and hysterical laughter I have shared and will continue to share with my Sisterhood, friends & family.

I may even throw a party one year from now, obviously that party will be at an air field as all my friends will be sky diving with me!

Many many kind thoughts & thanks to you all. x

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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 7 Comments
  1. Ladies,
    Thank you so much for your reassuring words of wisdom!
    I am 41 years old had a laparoscopic assisted hysterectomy 1 ovary and both fallopian tubes removed due to endommetriosis, adenemyosis, fibriods and cysts – i have one gorgeous son.
    Had my op 5 days ago and I have never cried so much in all my life as i have in these last few days am actually dreading these emotions getting worse and wonder how long before they balance or I get HRT??

  2. I am due to have a total vaginal hysterectomy and posterior repair on Sept 30th. I am more worried about the anaesthetic than anything else. I’m glad to be having it and I don’t feel sad about not having more children (I have one son). I am sad and weepy that my needs were not diagnosed sooner and I have struggled with my symptoms for 11 years. I don’t how i will feel on op day or during my recovery. I am worried about returning to work. I am so glad you are here and thank you for sharing your experiences, ladies. best wishes to you all x

  3. Hi,
    I am due to have a total hysterectomy in November. I am 51 years old and ever since I left my husband in May 2012, after 31 years, I have continually bled. Not always heavy. The urologist couldn’t find where the blood was coming from and neither could the gyni. However, I have 2 fibroids and have had several iffy smear tests but not cancerous. So my consultant suggested a hysterectomy. He told me to go away and think about it.
    I have a wonderful new partner who is totally the opposite to my ex, kind, considerate, understanding, loving, listens to me, I could go on but he is the best thing that could have ever happened to me. We went away last week and discussed the op. (I also bleed after intercourse)
    I have decided to go ahead and phoned the consultant yesterday who said he could get me in in 2 weeks!!! I asked if it could be November as I have 2 holidays booked, only long weekends, but they had been paid for. I also thought about work and getting organised.
    He said no problem another month wouldn’t hurt.
    After reading alot of your stories I feel quite positive, thank you.
    Jayne

  4. Sandra, to put it lovingly, that was one hell of a wonderful story! I too hated the thought of “when is the bleeding going to start?” as I hardly had symptoms before my surgery, simply because of all the damn medication I was on to (apparently) help prevent the bleeding! Even now I wonder when it’ll start, and then think to myself, “hang on, you have no womb…” I also struggled to find clothes that fitted me, as belly was swollen like I was pregnant (that would be a ruddy miracle!), and although I was recovering over that lovely hot weather we had in July, I couldn’t find a maxi dress that I liked! With your sunny attitude, you’ll recover a lot quicker than you think, and good on your family for getting on with things and helping you when you needed it 🙂 I had my total hysterectomy back in June, and will be glad when I’m able to get out and do the things I loved doing before the fibroids and associated problems kicked in and ruined my life. Good luck and get better soon, and that’s to anyone else out there due to have whatever hysterectomy they’re having done xxx

  5. Hi Linda I am due to have a full hysterectomy including the removel of the cervix in a few weeks. I have many worries and concerns, but like your self the main worry is being at home and unable to do things and being able to get out and work..oh did I just say work I must be sick Ha Ha. I also have a beautiful dog who is a big part of my life I love going for long walks with her so I am going to miss this I really enjoyed reading your comments and I laughed through out, you have a good sense of humour which people say I have, so hopefully this will help me get through. You take care and wishing you a quick recovery

  6. I had a full hysterectomy was supposed to have been key hole , but I ended up having keyhole and vaginal hysterectomy and a bladder repair , I was supposed have been in theatre for 1 hour and 30minutes but ended up over 3hours due to complications , and had even more complications when they brought back to the ward 10 hours later, but I know it was all done for best , my two surgeons where fantastic they both came to see several times over the week I was in , I am in my 8th week home still got a very swollen tummy , I should have had this done 20years ago , but it’s done now I am 54 and looking forward to life without carrying a bag of st every where I go , just doing little bits extra every day .

  7. Good on you Sandra … stay optimistic even when the going gets tough, it really is the best medicine. I’m now 14 weeks post op and am still waiting for the ‘crash’ everyone keeps talking about … my life has changed so much for the better now that any low points will never be as bad as they were before. Your recovery echoes mine in so many ways and I wish you well for the future. As for the skydiving … that’s on my ‘to do’ list too xxx

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