I found this site so helpful in the run up to my operation and made a promise that I would add my own experience when the time was right. I had a total abdominal hysterectomy 5 days ago due to a large fibroid and multiple others. Unlike some women, I didn’t have years of agonising over the operation, I saw my Consultant privately in July and was told any other procedure would only bring temporary relief so we made the decision to go straight to a hysterectomy but to leave my ovaries in if they were not diseased. I am 42 years old and have a grown up daughter. Whilst I do not want more children not having the option is something I needed to come to terms with – my amazing daughter summed it up beautifully for me when she said its not that you can’t have them its just that you can’t incubate them yourself. Those words have proven invaluable in moments of doubt.
My Dr referred me back into the NHS for my op, but the money I spent seeing her privately was well worth the investment as it gave me the precious time I needed to talk through all the options rather than rushing. I decided to postpone my op to deal with a heavy workload in the autumn, in hindsight that was wrong but you live and learn! My symptoms worsened. My Dr prescribed Esmya to help shrink my fibroids before surgery but I reacted badly to it – it was like having a huge dose of anxiety, insomnia, night sweats and I couldn’t concentrate on anything so we stopped the treatment immediately. I struggled to find information about the side effects but fortunately my Consultant has been very quick to help me and she recognised immediately what was happening. Once I stopped taking it my symptoms disappeared within days.
I was counting the days until my operation, I used this website to help prepare my hospital bag and read 101 tips in readiness. It’s funny how all of the literature, even that from the hospital, focuses on not doing housework, cooking for your husband and looking after your family! We are independent at home, and it seems odd to me that lots of advice that’s written is from the perspective of home making women, not those of us who hold down busy jobs, work long hours and run our houses jointly with our partners! My hospital run a recovery workshop – it was 2 hours of good information though as my op was still 10 days away there were moments when I felt i had too much information to process. It’s all proved valuable though to help me to understand what was going to happen and what I would experience afterwards.
So it’s now day 5 for me, I spent 3 nights in hospital following my Op, it would have been 2 but I started to develop a mild infection so the Dr kept me in a night longer. I thought it might be helpful to share the things I’d wished I’d known before hand, and the things that really helped me over the past few days.
- I read a lady’s story who said she had a bikini wax beforehand. Wish I’d done that!
- Eye mask and ear plugs are so valuable in hospital. I’ve never used an eye mask before but it was a god send at night when the corridor lights are left on. Ear plugs kept the noise at bay, particularly when the ward gets busy at night with new admissions.
- I bought baggy sweat pants to wear after my Op. I’ve never owned a pair before, and so far I’ve managed to stay out of them! An M&S night shirt was perfect for hospital, plus M&S jeggings in a size bigger than I normally wear. Knickers – well lets just say you could go camping in mine! Again bought M&S full size nick’s in a size bigger than I normally buy and they are perfect. I managed to get dressed on day 1 and took my make up bag in with me so having my clothes on with make up helped to make me feel human again.
- I had a coil in situ before my op, this didn’t need to be removed before the op which was a relief!
- Get pain under control – it was a bit hit and miss for the first 2 days swinging between morphine and paracetomol. The nurses on the ward had different views, the best advice eventually came from my Dr on day 2 who said lets try a drug in the middle and codeine has worked a treat. I’m still taking a lower dose 5 days on with paracetomol and ibuprofen. More than anything, it’s just wind pain.
- Wind pain – there are no words that can describe this really. It can hurt! I took peppermint tea and windeze tablets in with me and got peppermint oil from the nurses. It does ease off, but best to be prepared. I also tried coco cola, whilst the Dr said go easy on the coke, it probably was the best way to relief trapped wind.
- I worried hugely about going to the toilet and having the catheter removed. There really was no need. The catheter coming out was completely painless and my first wee was absolutely fine and there was no pain at all. I made sure I drank as much water and peppermint tea as I could and that helped. It’s funny how we worry about our bodies getting back to their normal functions and whilst I did too, it all happens naturally and is absolutely fine. You just have to be patient.
- It’s good to mobilise – how many times have I heard that! But so true, I was up and about on day 1, short walks along the hospital ward and on day 3 I walked on my own through 2 wards, down the lift and out through the main doors to our car parked up the road. A pillow is essential for the trip home, I never realised there were so many potholes along the way!
- I have banned the ‘H” word at home – the word hysterectomy sounds so big and I’m not dwelling on it. I’ve had troublesome fibroids removed which includes my uterus and that is my way of dealing with the finality of it.
I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been for just how tired I am after the op. Showering and getting dressed isn’t a problem, but I find I’m needing a sleep for a couple of hours each day. Moving around is good and helps to ease wind pain. I have the neatest scar which isn’t at all painful. My tummy looks like it has a balloon inside, but the scales tell me today I’ve lost 3lbs so that was definitely a weighty fibroid.
And finally, to anyone reading this I would say the experience has not been anywhere near as scary as I feared. The pain not as bad as I was expecting, but do prepare for how tired you might feel. I miss laughing, that’s a little painful but we’ve managed a giggle or two in the last few days. My wonderful Consultant summed up the operation in a few words…..”the op went well, it really did need doing….and I must say, that fibroid was the ugliest thing!”.
I’m looking forward to starting my new life without the horrid symptoms fibroids can bring. Thanks to everyone who has posted their stories here, they make such a huge difference when you are preparing for a major operation. x
Now 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.