This past Thursday I had a hysterectomy. Single. 36. One kid. I spoke briefly about my diagnosis with adenomyosis here. Through all of this, from listening to other women and their suffering, I know how incredibly fortunate I am. I had my uterus, cervix, and tubes removed, and kept my ovaries.
While I have been dealing with issues relating to this for years (undiagnosed), my troubles have not always been so bad. From diagnosis to hysterectomy for me was 6 months. I know this is not the case for many women.
This was not an easy decision for me to make. In fact, even now, I am still dealing with the emotional aspects of giving up a tremendous part of womanhood. It’s done. There is no changing it. And yes, I’m still a woman. I overall don’t regret it. I am already relieved from the pain I was constantly in.
At six days post operation, I am feeling pretty good! The strong pain medicines (oxycodone and morphine) didn’t help with the initial “I got an organ removed” pains. I stayed overnight in the hospital and was released with Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Colace, and Gabapentin. My chief complaint was not being able to sleep. I was prescribed with a muscle relaxer that helped with that a little.
Having to stay in the hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic was rough! My mom was able to stay with me until they wheeled me back for surgery. My surgery was supposed to start at 9:30am...I don't think it started until after 1pm. The next time I saw my mom was when she picked me up the next morning. I wish I could say that my experience was as pleasant as it could be, but it wasn’t. I was glad to leave and get to the comfort of my own bed.
I woke up from the anesthesia trembling (this is not unusual) and crying in pain. The nurse that was with me was past the end of her shift. She did everything she could for me in the time she was there. Apparently, I did not have a care plan in the system and it took a while for them to get that figured out. This is where I learned that my body is practically immune to narcotics. NOTHING eased my pain. There also wasn’t a room ready for me so I also had to wait for a room to be cleaned. My mom was supposed to receive a call when I was out of surgery. This didn’t happen. She called around the hospital until she was finally transferred to the recovery area and I’ll just say that I knew when she reached them. Don’t play with Margaret’s babies. The nurse was leaving and told me that another nurse would be looking out for me until I was transported to a room. That never happened. The other nurse never came to even check on me. She barely shot a glance in my direction.
Once I was placed in a room on the maternity ward, the level of care improved DRASTICALLY. My nurse (Shannon) was amazing. She did everything she could to help me and I will forever be grateful to her for that! I was released early the next morning, so I didn’t get to know the nurses after the shift change. After surgery, I was on a liquid diet. The cafeteria was closed, so the nurse tracked down some broth and gave me tons of juice. I requested to have the catheter removed because it was so uncomfortable and was obliged. While I was a little weak, I was able to get myself back and forth from the bathroom without any issues. I guess this is when my superwoman powers kicked in. I was also given a belly binder because I felt like I had soup sloshing around in my belly. I was not interested in a prolonged stay in the hospital. I’m sure the absence of abdominal incisions contributed to how well I was able to get moving. My entire surgery was done vaginally –which apparently doesn’t happen all that often.
I am in several Facebook groups relating to adenomyosis and hysterectomies. From those groups I compiled things that were useful to other women having a hysterectomy. I wanted to make sure I was prepared since I wouldn’t be able to drive or do much for myself for a little while. This information was invaluable to me! I’ll post the list of things that were helpful for me below. I am not a medical professional. Be sure to talk to your healthcare team before using any of this information. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any conditions. Also, remember that every person is different and what works for me may not work for you.
The biggest tip that I can give you is to make sure you are moving! During surgery you are pumped with gas so the surgeon can have a clearer view. This gas must escape. If you don’t move, this gas will feel like it’s trying to kill you! The nurses’ exact advice was to move with a purpose and not just back and forth from the bathroom. I get up several times a day and take a walk outside. I started with up and down my driveway and have started going a little down the street and back. Today I feel good, but I’m not overdoing it. I’m staying mindful that there is still a lot of healing that needs to happen internally and I don’t want to disrupt that process.
To my AMAZING village of supporters, I cannot say THANK YOU enough! I would not have been able to do this without you! It was very short notice that I would be having this surgery and you all showed up and showed out! I love you!
To all of my sisters in the struggle, I see you and my heart and prayers are with you always!
Helpful Items After Hysterectomy
Heating pad – for pain and trapped gas (pay attention to that shoulder pain)
Abdominal binder – I was given one from the hospital, but had already purchased one from Amazon. The hospital binder started to fray pretty quickly so I was glad I purchased one. Check with your doctor before using.
Stool Softener – I was prescribed one, but it can also be purchased over the counter. A few women recommend starting them prior to surgery.
A pillow for the ride home – for support on the ride
Body pillow for home – it was difficult for me to lie flat the first couple of days. A big body pillow made sleeping upright more comfortable
Loads of comfortable, easy to wear clothes (sundresses are the best)
Prior to surgery
I cleaned my entire house. You won’t be able to vacuum or sweep for a while. Do your laundry and put it away!
Clean out the fridge. This deserves its own line. If you have people bringing food, you will need space to store it.
I went grocery shopping for easy to eat foods. If I had more time to prepare, I would have prepped food and put it in the freezer.
Arranged childcare for a few days
Arranged for someone to be with me for a few days
Picked up necessities for a few weeks (RX medicines, hygiene items)
Downloaded meal/grocery delivery services apps