I am 63 years old and had been putting up with a cystocele for the past 5 years following a rectocele repair (when the surgeon had told me the cystocele was not bad enough to repair at the time).
Finally it got the better of me and I went for a consultation only to be told that my uterus had prolapsed as well.
On 4th December I had a hysterectomy and cystocele repair.
I had prepared well for it having bought Linda’s 101 handy hints book (I can recommend it). I had been attending Pilates class for the past few months. I had been eating and drinking healthily for quite a while beforehand, was a reasonable weight and reasonably fit. I cleaned my home thoroughly beforehand so that I would not be tempted to do anything rash or lumber my children with loads of chores on top of Christmas. I had done everything for Christmas in terms of shopping, wrapping presents (not my style normally) and even left ready a pile of pillows on my bed and the sofa.
I was very fortunate to be treated in a private hospital as the NHS was trying to reduce its waiting list. The care was excellent including the food and how it was presented. I was in hospital for three nights and on, variously, oramorph, codeine and paracetamol but on discharge I only needed paracetamol. Within 4 days of being at home I had even stopped taking paracetamol. Apart from wind and discomfort of constipation (a long term problem for me) I had absolutely no pain, soreness or bruising as far as I could tell – just a small discharge which was not even red. So much so that when I saw the surgeon two weeks later (not the one who had done the rectocele repair in 2009) I asked him if he really had performed any surgery on me at all. He smiled and told me there were two parts to my success story.
The first is that he treats all his patients as if they were porcelain and takes his time how he makes any incisions. He had performed complex surgery on me including cutting around the uterus and cervix, tying up the pelvic floor ligaments, making an incision the length of my vagina to repair the bladder prolapse and placing scaffolding in there to support the bladder. He had minimised the bleeding (there are evidently several places around the uterus that could easily bleed if care is not taken with incisions) and he explained that the more care taken by the surgeon the less bleeding there is and, therefore, the less cauterising and thus making the healing process much more efficient and effective. Taking care reduces bruising too. So that was why I could barely feel anything at all and still can’t.
The second part to my success story the surgeon said was that I had looked after myself, was a good weight and was fit and had a positive attitude to the surgery and the healing process. He said he can tell within ten seconds when he walks onto a women’s ward which women would have problems following surgery.
So here I am feeling a bit of a fraud as I had expected to feel so much worse. I feel good and ready to build up my exercise but trying to do so slowly. I am doing daily pelvic floor exercises and trying really hard to avoid straining on the loo (not easy for me). I am avoiding lifting anything remotely heavy (e.g. I lift clothes one or two at a time rather than the whole pile) and I have already decided that I won’t be moving furniture around ever again without help. I am telling myself that just because it doesn’t hurt it doesn’t mean I can immediately get back to doing what I was before. I am putting off cleaning the house but have superficially cleaned the toilets and bathroom. I can boil the kettle but I don’t fill it. I have a freezer full of meals that I had made ready so I have to do little cooking. I will let my children help me with shopping for the time being. It is four weeks this Thursday since the op and I am hoping to try driving at the weekend – subject to no pain on trying an emergency stop.
I feel I am one of the most fortunate ones who didn’t have terrible pain before or after surgery – just discomfort and I have been so fortunate to have good support around me too form family and friends.
I appreciate everybody’s story is different and I really do feel for those that have had such a rough time with their medical conditions or haven’t got the support.
I just wanted to share my positive story to help keep the balance but I also wanted to say a big thank you to Linda and the Hysterectomy Association and all the women for all the info they have shared which has been a great source of help to me.
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.