Questions after Total Abdominal Hysterectomy – Echoe’s Story

I had a T.A.H. (total abdominal hysterectomy – ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and cervix- as well as removal of 4cm cyst) via robotic laparoscopic procedure on the 17th of October – 4 small incisions in belly, discharged from hospital on the 18th. The spot that has been noticeably painful is the incision in my belly button. Due to lack of help at home, there have been several occasions where I bent down (didn’t use legs – didn’t think of it) to pick up something small from the floor, look under the bed, or load the dishwasher

I’ve mostly stayed down since arriving home. Since coming home, the pain has been much less than I expected, except when sitting up or lying down or standing or using the bathroom. My pain has been much worse today than it has since I’ve come home. I have several concerns. The hospital told me to take stool softeners until I got diarrhea and once that happens to stop taking them. That happened on Saturday (Oct 19th), and I stopped taking them. I didn’t have another bowel movement until this morning. It was much more solid, but painful to pass. My vaginal area has felt swollen and sore/tender since-all day since bowel movement.

Prior to surgery, I would get severe sharp stabbing pain through vaginal area whenever a cyst would burst. I am experiencing these same pains off and on during my recovery. I am currently using cold packs, which seem to help so long as the pack stays cold. I am also experiencing severe sharp stabbing pain on my lower right side (similar to pain due to appendicitis-which was removed in 1995) where my thigh meets my groin area. Also, this pain is severe even with my pain pills (roxicet) and ibuprofen in my system. Are these symptoms normal, or should I go to the hospital or my PCP?

I am now day 5 into recovery. I am 40, almost 41 (next month), mother of 2 older teens. I had a T.A.H. through robotic laparoscopy 5 days ago (10/17). I’ve been reading through this site, which has been helpful with a few of my concerns. I thought I would share my experience post-hysterectomy so far, as well as a few tips & tricks, and hopefully there are others who are experiencing what I am so I won’t feel quite so alone or scared.

Since coming home, I have felt very little discomfort from my incision areas (total of 4) – though definitely experiencing pain and tenderness in my belly button (another incision point) especially when sitting up, standing up, lying down, or rolling over. My belly is swollen and bloated. I’m still passing a lot of gas (during laparoscopic surgery they pump you up with gas so that they can reach and see the organs they are performing surgery on better, which results in excess gas you will need to “fart” out or “belch” out). Feeling gas bubbles in my belly needing release remind me of the feeling when I was pregnant and feeling one of my babies moving around inside my womb. Cramping from this feels like sharp pains in the abdomen area (just below diaphragm but above pelvic area). I experienced similar sensations when I underwent my appendectomy in ’95. My surgeon then, and now, recommended an anti-gas OTC that contains a high amount of Simethicone. This stuff works amazingly for these problems, relieving the cramping, as well as helping you to both belch and fart.

I have also been experiencing constipation, which is normal after major surgery as well as when you are on pain killers. The Dr prescribed a stool softener, and they told me to quit taking it once I had diarrhea. This arrived my 2nd night (10/19) home from the hospital, so I quit taking them. I wasn’t able to have another bowel movement until this morning (10/21), which was definitely more solid. Just feeling the internal need to expel it, I wanted to strain, but didn’t dare for fear of causing myself injury. The pain upon passing the bowel movement felt like a bruising type tenderness. Since passing the bowel movement, my vaginal area has been feeling like it is swollen and tender.

One trick I learned due to my IBS and the constipation I occasionally experience due to this, I found a method to help encourage a bowel movement and make it easier to pass with less strain and difficulty. Find a small step stool, block of wood, or even a stack of books. When you are sitting on the toilet constipated, put this under your feet. This will elevate your knees above your hips. I have applied this method to my current recovery, and it is definitely helping. BTW- it also helps to do this if you feel like you need to pass gas but are having difficulty doing so. You need to be patient, its not going to immediately come out (bowel movement or gas), and you make need to sit there for a few minutes. It also helps if you take deep cleansing breaths (such as during Lamaze) to help you relax your body while you are on the toilet.

I’ve been pre-menopausal for a couple years prior to my hysterectomy, including hot flashes and night sweats (which have definitely gotten worse since the surgery!). I am not able to take HRT due to the fact that I smoke, and the high risk of breast cancer in my family. I’ve found that Black Cohosh works WONDERFULLY to help with these two symptoms. I’ve also discovered through my research for “after hysterectomy” that two of my regular medications also help with these symptoms- neurontin (aka Gabapentin) and my SSRI anti-depressant.

One of the reasons for my hysterectomy is due to large fibroids and cysts on my ovaries that tended to burst causing severe sharp stabbing pains. For whatever reason, I’ve been feeling similar severe pain in my vaginal/pelvic area- even with NSAID and narcotic pain reliever. The other pain, which is much worse today, is a sharp stabbing pain in my lower right side- similar to where you would experience pain due to appendicitis (which was removed in 95) below the abdomen area, right in the crease where the thigh and groin area join/meet. This, also, is pretty constant today even with NSAID & narcotic pain reliever in my system. I don’t know if these symptoms are normal, or if I should go to the ER or make an appointment with my PCP. Any suggestions/advice is welcome.

Also, I don’t know if it is true or not, but I’ve been told by several people that if you experience hot flashes and night sweats and have a high sugar intake in your diet, that those symptoms will greatly increase in severity and duration. Reduction in your sugar intake is also supposed to help reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of hot flashes and night sweats.

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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.

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