TAH Recovery Takes Time – Pauline’s Story

I am at three weeks post operation today, TAH with ovaries preserved. Prior to the operation I thought I would be able to do my job, which is singing, at this stage. I realized a few days ago I was nowhere near being able to do this (I was dreaming). As I can’t cough or laugh without hurting whereas singing really involves all the stomach and centre of my body, its mostly dance music too, so sadly I replaced myself for what would have been my first booking back tonight. I am settling in for the long haul of recovery which is snail slow, I am beginning to realize. Three weeks is very early.

The bulk of the pain is over but the twinges are nasty and change a little each day, sometimes its like a throbbing hot needle for a couple of minutes, that was yesterday, today there is a heavy bruised feeling above the incision plus the odd string of pain which lasts just a few seconds. I hope that is normal. Its very hard to resist a nice cat stretch when I wake up in the morning. But perhaps I did that in my sleep and pulled something, feels like it.

I spend most days in bed, sleeping in the daytime sometimes too. When I first left hospital I was awake for only about 4 hours each day, my body seemed to need so much sleep and I feel that much sleep was really valuable and I got along the road of recovery well with that. It seems progress is slower now, three weeks in.

The swelling above the incision has a life of its own, swelling outwards much more than other times, for no apparent reason, pulling somewhat tightly on the incision when its bigger. It changes slightly every day. The incision feels like a tight elastoplast across my bikini line, it is pale pink though and even white in places, so no problem on the outside anyway.

I guess I just wanted to share that perhaps if expectations of quick recovery are lower, its is perhaps easier to deal with as the weeks crawl by. This six week mark to total recovery now does appear myth- like to me. I am 49 and pretty fit, but it has knocked me for six. Although I spoke to a nurse prior to find out what it would be like, the information was just “you will be uncomfortable and its hard to sit for any length of time in a normal chair”. This is true, but the recovery is indeed really quite debilitating as all movement I am finding is slow and restrictive. Its hard to deal with having been quite active prior.

Perhaps I am having a winge perhaps I have pulled a stitch inside and set myself back, I don’t know. I am looking for what is “normal” I guess.

I know I just have to wait it out – am going a bit stir crazy (in case you can’t tell).

My uterus was 22×40 cms as removed during surgery. Two fibroids inside, one 10cms and one 18 diameter, I also had several polyps. I always wondered why my tummy was so fat when I am not really a fat person.

I had lower back pain too, had been to osteopaths who only looked at the bones. When I saw the x-ray I said “what is all that stuff next to my lower spine” and the doc thought it was just stools. I see now it was swirling fibroids. He seemed to not be aware of such possibilities. So, my lower back pain is gone, that is truly brilliant and no more massive periods causing anaemia. My whole life was based around my menstrual cycle before.

I know I have a lot to look forward to once over this recovery hump. I am interested to know about all the different little pains others experience post operation, and what they possibly indicate. I am hoping these new prickly little pains are a new phase of recovery and healing.

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Linda Parkinson-Hardman

Transformational counsellor, coach and women's health advocate. Professionally I'm an information scientist who specialises in change management, culture change and adoption of digital technologies in large enterprises and organisations. I am a writer and author of nine books to date, and I've edited a further seven; phew what a lot for a Thursday afternoon :-)

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10 Responses

  1. Rebecca says:

    I’m almost at the 6 week stage , I had a total hysterectomy both ovaries removed they also slightly damaged my small bowel which they had to sew. I have a vertical incision it is the third time they’ve used the same incision as I’ve been operated on twice due to bowel obstructions. I don’t really feel tired and can walk around for an hour which I’m doing daily. My stomach is very swollen and feels tender and bruised and I’m getting pulling sensations under the incision. My question is when should I return to work, I’m a teacher in a behaviour unit so on my feet most of the day with some pretty tricky kids. The doctor said anywhere between 6 to 12 week, I don’t want to take the mickey but also don’t want to go back to soon. Advice would be nice from how long others took to return to work

  2. jayne Whittem says:

    Its been three months since i had a radical hysterctomy and still have days where i have a dragging feeling in the stomach ,its when i have had a busy day or walked a lot , even though you may feel back to normal and that you can do everything you have to be careful ,it dose take time to fully recover ,

  3. Hi Jayne, the good news is it will improve – it just takes time and to be honest you have been hit by a bus as you had major surgery 🙂

  4. jayne Whittem says:

    Hello just though i should tell you how suprised i am ,as i had a full Hytrectomy ten days ago and i feel so week and tried and feel pain all the time i really didnt know how big this op was ,my wound is healing well ,its just the pain i feel inside and all over my body like i have been hit by a bus ,Ppeople say it is early days yet ,I had a large dermot cist and a large cist removed i had a ct scan which i was so worried as i thought the worse ,so i shouldnt be moaning as it wasnt anythig nasty though i have to get results of the biobsy in six weeks time ,my friends tell me if they had found something it would be sooner so i am not worried just hate feeling like a old lady ,hope i will feel better soon xx

  5. Linda Parkinson-Hardman says:

    Hi Lucy, I think you might be overly confident about working in a shop such a short time after a hysterectomy. Although you need to do some exercise, standing, walking and serving customers is not the easiest of activities following surgery and short dozes probably won’t help. The worst thing would be to go back to work, only to end up taking far longer off in the long term.

  6. Lucy says:

    Hello, my name’s Lucy and I’ll be 40 on 2nd March. I’m having a party to celebrate on this day and then a total abdominal hysterectomy but keeping both ovaries on the Tuesday 5th. The reason is one large fibroid which is growing fast. Of course I’m wondering how I’ll be after the operation and the message seems to be I’ll feel pretty bad to start and then take a long unspecified time to recover. I’m lucky in that I haven’t had any real periods in years as I have a Mirena in place but I’m wondering what it’ll be like when everything comes out as it were in terms of bleeding/pain. The fibroid is big and I look and feel about 4 months pregnant but it doesn’t cause me any significant pain or discomfort.
    I’m also lucky in that I’ve got two daughters who are 10 and 13 now. My eldest was born after a long and complicated labour and an emergency caesarean section so I’m hoping maybe this operation is similar to a caesarean in terms of recovery. The trouble is I do a lot of manual/physical work (I do a lot of childminding) – so I probably ought to get my head round the idea of getting very slowly back into that. Another one of my jobs is working in a small family run jewellery shop which can involve just sitting down and pottering around – is it totally unrealistic to think I can do one day of this 2 -3 weeks after the operation? There would be an opportunity for a short doze on the job. I’ve got so many questions and I’ll be asking these at my pre-op appointment on Wednesday but just wondering if you ladies had any good advice for me.
    Thanks,
    Lucy x

  7. lisa hughes says:

    i had my op 3 weeks ago and theses storys help lots thanks x

  8. Liz says:

    Slow down ladies! I think you have to convert weeks to months so if ‘they’ tell you it’ll be 6 weeks then it’ll be 6 months plus a few months for good measure. I’m 10 months post op and I am moving well and doing lots BUT I still feel tired and probably need to rest more than I do and if I lift heavy weight and stand all day I feel it in my tum. The absence of painful and dreary periods really helps, though. Now is a good time to be a bit still and take stock of life whilst you are unable to dash around.

  9. Pauline says:

    Hi Amanda 🙂

    You are more game than me! I can only walk a very moderate speed, but I have started driving. Today though, I went to my six week check up with the surgeon and got a good Warrant of Fitness as she called it. Psychologically her giving me that makes me feel better. I told her I still had tightness, stabs and the odd strings of pain. She said all normal and that I would feel better at three months and even better at six months, so there is her realistic time frame – it is quite a long time to complete normality.

    I feel I am turning a corner now. Most of the time I can still feel the wound, but there are times when there is nothing happening there and its great! I don’t think I can face any stomach exercises or pilates/yoga anything like that, for a while.

    New information from my doctor about the “shelf” over the wound. I thought it was puffiness, but she said it was fat which had been redistributed! – yikes – however, she said if I was actually fat I wouldn’t have noticed it next to everything else. So apparently my stomach will not be going down after all!

  10. Amanda says:

    Hi Pauline
    I’m 47 and at 4 1/2 weeks post op (TAH). Like you I was suffering from back pain previously with large fibroids. I am now pain free, which is wonderful!

    Like you, my wound feels tight and tingly, especially in the evening when I am particularly tired. My wound has only just healed properly- a small section was weeping and sore until about 4 weeks. I am doing quite a bit of walking now with rest in between and have started driving. I do get some stabbing pains inside which I hope is the nerves healing. I try not to sleep in the day now and find I am sleeping really well at night now.

    I am hoping to start restorative yoga at week 6- I have a wonderful yoga teacher!

    Best wishes for a continued (speedy?) recovery!

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