Diary of FAB (Full abdominal) Hysterectomy – Carmen’s Story

First of all let me explain how this came about. I had been suffering with numbness in my toes for quite some time and was getting quite concerned that I might have something neurologically wrong which may be causing these symptoms. After visiting a chiropodist and a physiotherapist I went back to my doctor and requested referral to a hospital. I got my referral and this resulted in an MRI scan.

The MRI scan was on the lower lumber region as well as neck, the lower lumber region scan showed up a large mass in my pelvis area which sort sent my original issue to the back burner as the mass took priority and had to be investigated further.

I then went to a different hospital and had another MRI scan, along with ultrasound and a physical internal examination.

The consultant then told me I had what she believed to be a dermoid cyst, she explained that when she gave me the internal examination she felt bone!

I was horrified when she told me that a dermoid is a sort of growth of what could be components of a human being. It could contain the following

Mature skin complete with hair follicles and sweat glands, sometimes clumps of long hair, and often pockets of sebumbloodfatbonenailsteetheyescartilage, and thyroid tissue.

I was in much distress having had this news, I actually said to the nurse when dressing I have a monster inside me !  I had no idea this thing lurked within me over god knows how many years. I had suffered bouts of tenderness in the left ovary region and also when having sex I could feel pain if my partner went in a too deep.  I put it down to perhaps a bit of IBS?

My consultant contacted me and confirmed it was a dermoid and then gave me an option to go for the removal with a full abdominal Hysterectomy along with removal of the ovaries to avoid further issues.

I must admit I didn’t give it a great deal of thought , being 55 I had gone past wanting any children , these organs weren’t any use to me really , they may as well all come out . So I agreed to the FAB with a bikini cut.

I found after I made the decision the closer the operation was getting the more emotional I was becoming, the fear that things can go wrong and I may not survive this , even though statistically the odds of me not surviving were low I still worried about it. I guess as you get older these things are more to the forefront.

These thoughts really did challenge me I was pretty low and wept many times. I was so convinced of the possibility of not coming back that I actually pinned down a solicitor the day before my operation and made a will. I wrote letters to my loved ones, which was really difficult, it was like staring at your past and having to revisit painful places saying sorry to those you may have hurt .I got my documents in order contacted pension companies to verify my next of kin and basically left instructions. It all sounds very morbid now but me being Miss Organized it was my natural path.

The day of the operation I took myself to the hospital and faced it head on, to my amazement I was no sooner checking in to being on a surgery trolley, it was so fast I was the first operation of the afternoon. I expected to be taken to the ward first and be prepared from there? That’s not how it works anymore.

The nurse’s that looked after me were brilliant we had a few jokes and they put me at ease. I was given an injection in my spine and also the full on aesthetic that takes you out totally.

I was in surgery two hours. I recall coming round and not being able to feel my legs which did alarm me because the guy that was wheeled in after me was moving his feet. I said to the angel that was watching over me ( the post op nurse) I can’t feel my legs ? He reassured me and said its fine Carmen they will come back, this is normal. I am glad to say they did eventually. I was wheeled back on ward by 7pm. I had no ill effects from the anaesthetic, in fact by 8pm I was hungry! but I wasn’t allowed to eat until the following day.

I also found I was wide awake for most of the night , I had a morphine button which I tried not to use too often , I tried to restrict the use to six hour gaps , afterwards I realized it was drip feeding into me all the time , the button was just for when the pain was worse.

I took my laptop into hospital so that I could watch DVD’s and listen to my music otherwise the boredom would have driven me nuts, and no way was I paying 10.00 a day for the use of a TV.

It was very hard to sleep in hospital because our ward served as an A&E ward, the lights were on all of time, and it could get noisy so I would advise anyone going in to take an eye mask and earplugs. Having said that I think I had a wide awake reaction to the morphine. I couldn’t believe it I am a sleepy person generally; I usually doze off by 9pm on my sofa at home.

I was advised that I had slight bleeding, a trickle on the inner wall of the vagina so they inserted some packing to help this wound to clot.

On day one post op I was given a bed bath and also the packing that was inserted into my vagina needed to be removed.  Nothing prepared me for this. I was expecting maybe at best a 6inch swab, it turned out to feel like 2o inches. I said to the nurse are you going to pull out some coloured scarves and a rabbit? It felt very odd to say the least.

On day two I rose out of bed and had my first wee which was followed by three number two’s?

I think the frequency of the number two’s was a as result of the hospital food, which was awful I wouldn’t have given the first meal I was served to a dog, after that I stuck to salads.

Believe me having a poo felt like a milestone the whole ward got to know about it. AT the time you are so worried about straining, because you can’t push for fear of damaging yourself.

Day three I managed to have a shower which was heaven, being able to wash my hair and feel sort of self-sufficient again. The walk to and from the bathroom was a long shuffle but the reward at the end of it was worth it.

On the morning of day four I was discharged, it felt wonderful putting some clothes on and shuffling to some fresh air. I will say standing up felt very odd. I felt and still feel a weightiness in my tummy, I guess what has been left behind is still swollen.

It was lovely to get home and to climb into my big soft comfy bed, the tranquility of the silence in my little flat was so comforting.

My disappointment seven days on was that I have gone on the scales and my weight is exactly the same?  I would have thought the removal of a dermoid the size of a tennis ball two ovaries and a womb would at least weight 4ibs ?

My shame is that I can’t bring myself to look at the wound, it feels fine and I was told it was healing perfectly, in fact the duty ward doctor asked whose work was it like it was a painting. I just can’t bring myself to look at it.

Day eight I start to see some light coloured pinky blood and a brown discharge which alarmed me so I searched for information on the internet and found this lovely support group. I also contacted my doctor and made an appointment for this coming Wednesday for a check-up.

Yesterday which was day eleven post-surgery I changed the bedding on my bed.It exhausted me. I was told off for doing this by many of my friends on Facebook.  I also took a short walk which felt very liberating, it was such a lovely day it was wasted being indoors.

There is no doubt post op is a long haul thank god for the internet which is proved to being  my healing buddy.


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.

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