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Hysterectomy, it’s not all bad .. honest! – Sarah’s Story

I was told I needed a hysterectomy 2 years ago but I felt scared and concerned about how I would cope being a single mum – also how it would affect me as a woman, so instead I opted, against my consultants wishes for an ablation.  As he predicted, things did not improve and after much procrastination on my part, I was booked in for a vaginal hysterectomy and repair on the Tuesday 18th of March.

My time leading up to the op was spent trying to organise my work load (I am self employed, single mum), stock the freezer and try to be as organised as possible for my recovery.  I read endless posts and stories and therefore was expecting quite a rough time.

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The morning of the Op, I was dropped at the hospital.  I went in and was told I was 2nd on the list so not much time to worry.  My main fear at that point was how I react to the anaesthetic, as previous ops, including the ablation, had seen me go into shock, shake and vomit continually anaesthetic.  The anaesthetist as amazing and said he would work with me to ensure I was going to be ok.

I woke in recovery, I did not feel any discomfort but started to shake – I was given a dose of something so it soon wore off and I was back in the ward.  I was not as tired as I thought and not in much pain.  Within an hour or so I was sitting up in bed chatting to my bed neighbours and drinking – they actually told me to stop drinking so much!  I stayed awake all afternoon and into the evening, when visitors arrived – sleeping about 11pm.  I was a little bit nauseous so given anti-sickness, and on the first day I had 2 doses of morphine (orally), codeine and paracetamol.  I had no real discomfort and could move around on the bed easily.  The vaginal pack was uncomfortable and a bit burning towards the evening, and I was worried I was reacting to the pack as I am sensitive to dressings but they said it had to stay in until the following morning.  The catheter was not causing any problems (apart from being emptied more regularly as I was drinking well!).

The following morning, we were all up at 6.30 awaiting our morning cuppa.  I felt ok, tired but not uncomfortable.  The nurses came to remove the pack late morning – on examination they said I might not have one – after assuring them that yes, it really was there as I could feel it – they eventually found the tail end of the pack (it had moved – ouch!).  In my naivety I thought the pack was like a large tampon – but no, it is ribbons of bandage like dressing.  Pulling this out was the worst thing, but really it only lasted a few minutes – it just seemed to be going on and on!

I was by now off the oral morph and just taking paracetomol and anti-sickness medication.  I could eat but felt very nauseous most of the time.

The morning of the 2nd day, I had the catheter removed – completely painless.  I had to pee twice and then have a bladder scan after each pee to see if my bladder was emptying correctly.  It wasn’t, so it looked like I would have to go home with a catheter – No way!!  I drank a little more and under the advice of the nurse, waited until I was really full before going for a wee again.  I sat on the loo and wiggled a lot – which seemed to work!  Bladder empty and home mid afternoon on the Thursday 20th March.

My parents helped me with shopping etc so my house was all ready for me.  My son was home with me, and at 10 he was a great help.  I felt fine, was being nagged not to keep getting up and doing things.  Stairs were no problem and I felt pretty ok apart from lacking in energy and tummy a bit tender – nothing more than feeling of period pain really.

Friday I got my son up for school, was dressed and did a little work on my computer.  Had about a 2 hour nap in the afternoon but all was fine.  Was very nauseous though, which was a worry.  I passed a bowel movement which was scary but ok.  I had ensured that I drank lots and also was taking a probiotic before and after the op which helped to keep my bowel movements working ok.  I think giving up the codeine was also a good move as this can make you constipated.

On the Saturday morning I was feeling even more nauseous and dizzy,  i thought I might have been doing too much but I also had a feeling of a swelling in my urethra area, and a little stinging when I went for a wee.  I called the hospital to see if this was normal and they told me to call the doctor.  The 111 operator went through a series of questions and I explained what I had just had done etc – the final question – was I pregnant, did make me laugh!  The doctor then called and told me I had to drive 17 miles to the nearest treatment room – by this time I was barely able to get out of bed.  My parents came over and drove me to the hospital treatment room – I was sick and extremely nauseous the whole journey and could barely stand up.  We were put in a waiting area with lots of other people and told there was a 2 hour wait.  By this time I was worrying that I could not sit upright in the chair.  Mum spoke to the receptionist and finally they agreed for me to jump the queue.  I was diagnosed with a bladder infection – who knew they could make you feel so peculiar!

Within 48 hours, I was feeling much better.  I was pretty much back to normal – very little discomfort.  I was back to working on the computer for 5 hours a day, with an hour nap, cooking and cleaning (apart from hoovering  or bed making which my son or mum did for me).  2 weeks after the op I was going a bit stir crazy, so decided to try to drive around the block.  It was fine, no discomfort at all, so was back to driving.

I am now 3 weeks after the op.  I went to the gym yesterday, only fast walking on the treadmill, but felt ok.  I no longer have a sleep in the day but I do get very tired by bedtime.  I am pretty much back to normal without any problems so absolutely thrilled.  The only thing that is a bit weird is the nausea – it still plagues me occasionally and I can’t tolerate my green tea since I had the bladder infection.  I don’t know if this is related to the hysterectomy or just the after affects of the antibiotics.

I know this might not be everyone’s experience but everything I read before going in was pretty scary and quite negative.  I expected this journey to be a really downer in my life.  It hasn’t been at all. I just wanted to share this so people can see that it doesn’t have to be such a bad thing – if you have a good positive outlook, you can get on with your life.  I think having to be there for my son made me stronger to overcome things.  I did not want to be an invalid for 6 weeks but at the same time I was aware of my body.  I listened to the do’s and don’ts but I also pushed myself a little bit, but never enough to cause discomfort.  Getting up and walking as quickly as possible is really the right thing to do.  It helps your bowel movements, relieves the build up of gas in your tummy and also keeps you from getting too down.  I also think it is really important to drink plenty of fluids – it will keep you bladder working and your bowels softer.

I hope this helps – it is not all bad, honestly!

Sarah

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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 6 Comments
  1. Thank you!!!! Your advise about waiting to pee till you really have to might help me!!! I have a recovered L1 fracture and have to power push to pee and that’s what I’m most worried about after surgery!!! I’m dreaming about it!!!! Don’t want to blast out my stitches! Probably self cath for a while. Yuck! But your post is sooo relieving! Have a Happy life everyone! :0)

  2. I too am wondering what all the fuss about recovery is! 2 days after a vaginal hysterectomy, am doing a lot the things I did before. I was in a lot of pain 12 to 24 hours after op, but as soon as the pack and catheter were out, I started feeling lots better. As a single parent, you just tend to get on with things anyway. Had the op on Thurs and was home Saturday lunchtime and doing the first load of washing, and made dinner that night too. Now 3 days post op, and feels like a bad period pain, done more washing, made lunch, looked after poorly pet, helped son with homework, cleaned the bathroom and sitting here wondering what all the fuss is about!! Ok, it may take me a little longer to do stuff, but at 48 with a teenager and a 10 year old, stuff just doesn’t get done by itself. Luckily, pre-op I was reasonably fit and well, non smoker and non drinker, so I guess all that does help with how quick I will recover. Everyone is different, and not everyone will be able to do things as quick as me, but I am so glad I don’t have to rely on other people.

  3. I am glad your operation went so well for you. I would just comment that I hope this story is not misleading for some. It seems that recovery from a vaginal hysterectomy is a lot quicker than from an abdominal hysterectomy. So those women having the latter need to be very careful not to expect to get back to normal life too fast or they will only do themselves damage.

  4. Thank you Sarah for this postive post. I had my vaginal hysterctomy at the end of Feb. The hospital staff and surgeon were fantastic. I woke from the surgery and like Sarah was sat up eating and drinking within a few hours. After one night in hospital I was allowed to go home. My family were really supportive and all the frozen meals i’d popped into the freezer really helped!
    I have slowy increased the amount of walking and last week I started some gentle swimming. I still feel quite tired late afternoon and do get some niggles if I’ve done a little to much.
    I think a positve attitude , listening your body while recoverying and allowing time for your body to heal are really imporant.
    I do get a little frustrated that I can’t do quite as much as I would like but am really looking forward to when my body is completey healed and I am enjoying life without fibroids!

  5. Thank you for writing this I go in on Monday and I keep reading negative experiences and I have been really worried so thank you your story has helped x

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