My LAVH – I really shouldn’t have worried so much – Joanne’s story

After months of excruciating pain every time I peed, worsening constipation and a continuous stabbing pain in the lower left hand side of my pelvic region, a diagnostic laparoscopy eventually uncovered the root of my problems. I had developed severe adenomyosis as a result of two previous CSs. I needed a hysterectomy.

Initially relieved that at last a diagnosis had been made, my jubilation was short lived when I began to research more about the operation and how it may be carried out. I watched the videos , read the forums, sat on my laptop for hours, becoming obsessed with the whole thing. By the time I went back to my consultant to discuss the procedure, I was mortified by the thought of all of that happening to me.

Having never given birth vaginally, I was hoping for a TLH with morcellation as I was terrified by the prospect of anything being done or coming out down below but I knew it was a long shot. My consultant flatly refused, saying that he had witnessed a bowel being morcellated once during such a procedure. I was having a LAVH.

The eleven weeks of waiting were awful. I didn’t sleep; I’d wake up with this image of me lying naked on an operating table with my legs in stirrups. I angst about having a vaginal pack removed, again envisaging another ‘all on show down below’ scene. I didn’t care about any of the rational stuff – what the recovery might be like, if sex would ever be the same again. I just couldn’t get passed the thought of the constant state of semi-nudity that I would find myself in throughout my entire hospital stay.

On the day of my operation I signed the consent form but then asked hubby to take me home – I was in such a state. He quite plainly asked me what I thought was so special about what I’d got for everyone to see and reluctantly I put the gown on.

The nurse who walked me down to theatre was lovely – she obviously sensed my mood. When she asked me to undo the back of my gown before I lay down on the bed, I plucked up the courage to ask her if it was going to be totally removed. She assured me that it wouldn’t be – just pulled up to my ribcage then only the surgeon and his assistant would see my down below bits. This was a little consolation.

Next thing that I knew, I was waking up in the recovery room. I expected to feel some pain but was surprised to feel none. I was amazingly comfortable.

Nurses came to check my dressings. Of course I had no underwear on, just a sanitary pad wedged between my legs so when they picked my gown up everything was on show but they were very discreet. I came back from surgery at lunchtime and remained really comfortable for the rest of the day and most of the night. The only real problem was that I constantly felt like I desperately needed to wee despite having a catheter in. One nurse told me that this was because of the vaginal pack placing pressure down there. By 6am the next morning I must admit that I was so desperate to get it out that I didn’t care about the lack of dignity associated with it.

But it really was not as bad as I had worked myself up to imagine. The nurse explained that she was going to expose me – she pulled the blankets up on the bed and my gown up also. I just had to bring my knees up and open my legs a little – nothing like when you have a smear test. She pulled at the dressing gently, constantly asking if I was OK. I just wanted it over and done with but it didn’t hurt, it was just a strange sensation. The catheter then actually came out by itself and that was it – knickers back on.

I had my operation on Thursday, came out of hospital on Friday and am sat typing this on Saturday. I have no pain (the worst pain has been from the trapped wind that occurs from the air that they pump into your tummy during the laparoscopic procedure) and am walking about, able to lie down properly in bed and was able to get up and shower this morning completely unaided. I can bend down to put my own knickers on and have been doing little bits around the house such as washing-up. I have even been for a ten minute walk.

My reason for writing this is to try and put your mind at rest if you are feeling like I was three days ago. The thought of having this hysterectomy has overtaken my life for the past eleven weeks. I have made my own and poor hubby’s life a misery agonising and worrying over what it would really be like. I don’t know what I actually looked like in the operating theatre but it is already a distant reflection and everything else was nowhere near as bad as I thought that it would be. Once the pack and catheter were out, I was able to go to the bathroom and wash myself and put my own pyjamas on. That was it. You will be fine. Already I am in less pain than I have been for the previous eighteen months. Don’t agonise over it like I did, not for the same silly reasons anyway.

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