My Hysterectomy Journey of Recovery – Debbie’s Story

I had my surgery full abdominal hysterectomy at West Suffolk Hospital. My experience was not great Instead of recovering on the gynaecology ward I was put on the short stay surgical ward, staff were very junior and the experience was very impersonal. I had previously undergone a gynae operation two years ago where things had not gone so well where I ended up in the intensive care so was worried about my care already.

I went down for surgery at 13.30pm and remember being in recovery where stabilizing my pain seemed to take some time. I went back to the short stay surgical ward at 18.40pm – there were 5 other people on the ward – no other person with gynae problems. My husband visited at visiting time 19.00pm for an hour, I was a bit spaced out but remember being pleased to see him.

At about 9.00pm felt in a lot of pain, given paracetamol and ibuprofen. which had little effect but tried to rest, the beds emptied leaving me and one other lady in the bay. In lots of pain and remember being in tears for sometime, eventually an anaesthesist was sent for and I was given some morphine injections. what a relief managed to sleep.

Woke up to lots of noise, people were being admitted to the other beds for day surgery that day, I asked what was the time to be told 7.30am. A little bit annoyed that I was not feeling too well and was in a bay trying to recover with new people coming in with their relatives waiting for their slot in surgery. The staff were focused on getting people prepped for day surgery.

I might as well have not been there. About 8.30am a lady came round with tea trolly and I got my first hot drink since arriving Sunday night this was lovely. About half an hour later breakfast arrived, I was given orange juice and a weetabix, ate a little but pain was back again. Another hour went by I think, a student nurse took my blood pressure and I asked if anyone was coming to see me, she said a doctor would be up sometime today. I asked could I have some pain relief she said she would ask

The anaesthetist from last night arrived and prescribed me some morphine – thank goodness this helps!!! The ward continued to be busy with patients being taken up and down to surgery and nursing staff helping these patients. Not a lot happened to me.

Late afternoon a lady from the surgical team who had operated on me came to see me, said everything went well and that I could go home if i wanted. HORROR here I was on drips, catheters, feeling quite poorly to be told ok to go home! I explained that when I came for my pre op I was told I would be in two to three days at least. I explained that I had no-one to look after me until earliest Wednesday evening. This was Tuesday about 3pm. That is ok she said you can stay till tomorrow!

I was in shock in what i had been told, I know they try to get people home early but this was unbelievable this was less than 24 hours after the surgery. If felt very impersonal and like being in a cattle market. Wow, after the assistant left a NURSE came to see me who was really good, and she was able to assure me that I would not be going home until all the drips, catheters and pain relief was managed, plus needed to see a physio and get some prescriptions ready for me to take home.

The day continued with surgical patients coming and going My husband visited again at 19.00pm for the hour visit on the ward I was so pleased to see him. All the beds were now full of patients most waiting to be picked up to be taken home from day surgery. The Morphine pump helped me a lot throughout the day.

The night staff came on and advised that they were to give me additional saline throughout the night in preparation for me going home tomorrow. I had managed to get in and out of bed my catheter was removed about tea time but I still had a couple of drips where I needed to wheel the apparatus with the cables and drips around when visiting the toilet. Feeling very tired now just hope I can sleep.

By about 21.00pm only me and one other lady on the ward. Within the next two hours 3 other people came into the beds and there was lots of activity, one lady was very distressed in particular. Because I was on the saline drip I was continually wanting to go to the toilet this was going to be a busy night. I was feeling in quite a bit of pain due to having to visit the toilet so often and the lady next to me seemed to be very anxious. I managed to calm her down give her some water as no one was helping her, poor lady!!

So pleased when it started to get light as this had been a long night. More people coming onto the ward for surgery again. Here we go again, cannot wait to go home later today.

What I witnessed while in the ward has been shocking! Considering I have worked for the NHS for 27 years I was shocked at the lack of compassion and quality of care! The day goes by I have my morphine drip taken off me I was told I could take a shower, with no help of course, just get on with it. My stomach is really swollen so cannot see my scar but manage to take my dressings off and clean what i think is my scar. Feels good.

Only few more hours and I can go home. The patients continue to come into the beds today these are medical assessment patients where GP’s have made referrals – lots of confusion about why, what is expected etc. Staff not very good at communicating what is going on. One lady has been referred by a GP because she has had diarrhea and sickness for 4 days, I was not happy that she was sent to the ward, I did not want to catch anything!

Eventually all my paperwork is complete so I phone up my husband to come and get me. At 17.00pm on Wednesday I leave the ward. – Hopefully I never have to go in hospital again – what a nightmare! Lots of other things I have observed but all negative. My questions are why was I not on the gynae war? Where were the qualified staff? Where was my surgeon? Who is accountable for my care? Is this too much to ask?

Since I have been home things are a lot better, my husband has been great. First day husband gave me a shower washed my hair and cleaned my wound. I slept and watched TV, this is my second day little bit more pain today, but I have not emptied my bowels yet.
Will keep you all up to date with my progress which I hope will be more positive now.

Hope you find my accounts useful. Sorry that I have had to report such a negative hospital experience, my husband thinks I should make a complaint!

***************************************************************

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.

5 comments

  1. So sorry to hear about your awful stores. I first explored the idea of op 4 years ago but felt so let down by the service I was receiving from the hospital that I couldnt go through with it. Finally I decided that enough was enough and went back to Doctors. I was so fortunate that I joined a private medical company through work and was able to use the services of our local private hospital. It was such a wonderful experience and it is shameful that the treatment we receive on the NHS is so far removed from what I experienced. I never once needed to use my call bell as there was a constant stream of medical staff attending to me. There was no wait for pain relief, no restrictions on visiting hours so my partner was able to stay with me. I was treated with respect and dignity at all times. I know this option is not available to all but in my opinion it should be.

  2. Hi Jayne
    It is six weeks today and i am alot better and getting about easier. Outpatient appointment today – I did to much to quick and ended up seeing the doctor who told me off and i caught a bad stomach infection as was suffering pains in the stomach – my advise is to take it easier, enjoy the relaxing time and start to push at 56 weeks plus. this last week i have felt stronger and have had no set backs. 3 mile walk yesterday plus i did all the housework tomorrow with the permission from the consultant i will start to drive and i am hoping to be back at work 27 December 2012 initially 3 days.

    Hope verything goes ok with your recovery and please be assured although i had a rough begiinning things have improved now – Debbie

  3. Hi Debbie
    I had a total hysterectomy in October, I went in on Thursday and home on Saturday !! I was also on short stay surgical ward but have to say the staff were fantastic.
    I felt so alone and bewildered as I didn’t really know what to expect and found myself going on the Internet to get information. I was given no info re menopause so felt I was left to muddle through. I went to my gp and asked him some questions re my stomach and menopause and he told me to discuss it with my consultant when I see her this month.
    I’m now 7 weeks post op and feel pretty good, I walk about 2 miles every day with my dog and can almost do everything I was before. I’m just struggling with hot flushes and night sweats which in turn make me tired and short tempered !!!!

  4. Hi Debbie

    I just read your account and felt it reflected my experience of sub hysterectomy done on 28th at Cambridge. I did however get pain relief and excellent care during the day but the night staff were very uncaring esp on my first night. I was also told less than twenty four hours after having op I would be sent home when I was still on drip and not even sat up. it is all wrong and I am pleased to hear I am not the only one feeling this way. although of course would rather no one had to endure this way of being treated at such a vulnerable time. I felt deeply shocked but had had a bad experience after surgery on the same ward three years previously and was very anxious about returning. despite my efforts to ensure they understood this before I went in I felt no one read my notes of understood why I was upset about being sent home so early.I also had no care waiting until the Sat. I bad been told three days minimum stay. I do not have a partner that can care for me. am now recovering at home able to take my pain relief when I need it through the night and feel glad to be away from the place. no follow up care and had to self inject myself for four days after!

  5. Hi Debbie

    I too have had the same operation as you on the 23rd November and am now 2 weeks into recovery. I was on the right ward which was noisy depending on the staff that were on but I did pack my earplugs which helped and I did receive good care along with the morphine, paracetamol and ibrufen but I have to agree with you that once you leave hospital you are in effect on your own, I would have thought that an operation as evasive as this would at least warrant a weekly visit from a district nurse who could answer any queries that you have..I too have a wonderful husband who has looked after me but am now finding myself trawling through the internet as I am concerned about the best course of action for a quick recovery. I have has a slight discharge which has now turned dark ad some bloggs say that it is normal and that it is the internal stiches dissolving and others say it is an infection?? I am walking around a bit better although am still in pain but have not ventured too far as get tired. Hubby is looking forward to wheeling me round Asda in one of those wheelchair contraptions! God luck with your recovery.

    Ps – I was not allowed to leave hospital until I had had bowel movement and the hospital have given me lactulose syrup which is marvelous

    Jayne – Manchester

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: