I had my daughter by C-section in Jan 2000 and I never recovered my energy levels. It got so bad that I went to the doctor in summer 2001 and had a range of blood tests, none of which were out of the normal ranges. However I just got more and more tired and then in 2004, when I was swimming, I started getting cramping pains in my chest that lasted 24 hours. Again I went to the doctor and I was advised not to swim so hard. At Christmas 2006 I got a cough that I couldn’t shift for months and still I was getting increasing tired and weaker. I stopped doing anything fun and just went to work and slept. In August 2007, while on a camping holiday, I got very bad cramping pains in my chest late at night that lasted about 6 hours. The following morning my ribs felt bruised and as soon as I started walking around, the cramping pains came back. I went to the on-site doctor, who listened to my chest and then made a phone call. He returned and said that he had spoken to A&E at the local hospital and they were expecting me.
In A&E an x-ray showed a shadow on my lungs but the doctors didn’t know what it was. They decided to assume it was pneumonia and sent me away with strong antibiotics. Back home and 2 weeks later nothing had changed except that I was finding it increasing difficult to breathe. Another x-ray showed that the shadow was still there and I was referred to the respiratory section of my local hospital. While waiting for an appointment, I collapsed several times and was admitted to hospital. I was in hospital for 4 weeks but despite numerous tests, including a PET scan, no diagnosis was reached. The chest pain by now was continuous and getting worse.
Finally in February 2008 I was referred to the Royal Brompton Hospital and was operated on 16 days after my first appointment. The surgeon found cancer of the heart lining and had to remove part of the heart lining and half of my left lung. Luckily the cancer had spread out into my lung and not into my heart so the operation removed all the cancer and I didn’t need either chemotherapy or radiotherapy. A week after the operation I was walking around and feeling better than I had for years.
However 3 weeks later I was back in hospital as an emergency with a pulmonary embolism. From then on I started going downhill, with difficult, painful breathing, back pain, chronic fatigue, dizziness and unable to walk more than a few steps without losing my balance.
In autumn 2010 I started having difficulty urinating and defecating and was taught to self-catheterise and had to take large amounts of laxatives in order to move my bowels. My periods became increasingly heavy and I was bleeding most days. In September 2011 an ultrasound scan showed that my womb was much enlarged with multiple fibroids and that I had a large fibroid attached to the outside of my womb. My gynaecologist recommended a hysterectomy and in March 2012 I had an abdominal hysterectomy under epidural.
I’m now 4 weeks post surgery and I am a new woman. My breathing is normal, I can walk, the chronic fatigue has gone and so has most of the back pain. My bladder and bowels are improving daily and I hope that in time they will return to normal. I still tire quickly and have little stamina but I am now able to do 10 minutes aerobic exercise daily and I take a walk a couple of times a day. I’ve even started to do a little belly dancing using a DVD as suggested in ‘101 handy hints for a happy hysterectomy’.
I wear a support girdle all day because I find this removes the dragging feeling that I get when I stand up for any length of time. (I tried the abdominal support band but it stops right on my scar.)
My hysterectomy was done to try to stop my general physical condition from deteriorating further but the weight and size of the fibroids both inside the womb and out were obviously the cause of all of my symptoms.
I have gone from merely existing to living again. I am very grateful to live in a country where excellent medical services exist, even though it took nearly 11 years to get to the bottom of what was wrong with me. I know everyone is different but for me, my hysterectomy has been a life-saver!
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.