Hi Linda, I have found your words of wisdom invaluable during my convalescence. I know from your emails that the experience and knowledge you impart is of great value to me. This is shown by sending pertinent emails at exactly the right time I need to hear the information, whether it is an affirmation of what I am feeling or a sound piece of advice, I have been amazed at the depth and value of that advice.
I most certainly will donate to your valid cause and have shared your site not only with friends but my local doctor’s surgery. I too like many others felt a little abandoned by the medical professionals after my surgery, and only found your site whilst searching for an answer to a worry I had. Your site has proved invaluable.
I have had a subtotal hysterectomy 3 weeks ago and have been on a roller coaster of emotions and physical extremes. I am a fit, active 47-year-old. With a very supportive family and friend network. Thank heavens!
I am normally exceedingly busy with work, family and various projects or a plethora of children around me. The hardest thing to endure is my lack of activity and ability, including the pain.
During my convalescence (which is still ongoing) I have learnt many things, not only about myself but others.
1. The world does not stop spinning on its axis, if I am not captain of the ship with work, home, duties and life in general. My family has learnt to do many tasks, and at the end of the day when they say they are tired, I merely comment yes I am normally tired when I achieve all those chores everyday/weekend. This has brought about positive change, in the fact they now know they need to help out more or alternatively, I need to care less about these chores. There is nothing like leading by example!
2. For someone who loves being busy, useful and needed, I have learnt I am surprisingly good at being lazy, doing nothing except healing. In fact, I am waiting for my diploma in the post!
The first week was hard having to sit around and take it easy. I came out of hospital 48hrs after my surgery. I wanted to be home in my own bed and my own clean sheets with a peaceful nights sleep. What benefit this is when you are on the road to recovery. Washing in your own house and fresh bedclothes! Taking a shower was a Herculean task, that involved a fit ball (large inflatable exercise ball) in the shower to sit on whilst showering was a Godsend and a great idea of my husband’s.
Asking my husband to help me wash my hair was an eye-opener. He had no idea how to wash long hair, and it was not until I asked what he was trying to do did I understand his lack of technique. “I am bald what would I know about washing hair”! Quite understandable really. So my poor 21year old son with his thick mop of hair volunteered to do the duty, with his naked swollen bellied mother in the shower. Oh, how we laughed!?
3. There are many games and past times you can re-enact. Like hoola hooping your knickers over your feet! Until you realise that maxi dresses are the best way forward, no knickers required and modesty intact, or covered at least. Plus no rubbing from the waistband on the scar area. Who needs knickers at home anyway?
Re-watching every weepy sentimental movie with no interruptions, and feeling purged of all those hormonal and post-op blues tears with no feelings of guilt. That suggestion of watching sad movies was from a good friend, also going through the same post-operative recovery. These films showed me, there is always someone worse off than myself.
4. Friends, family and my sisterhood. I am very grateful for all of them and their kindness. I am particularly grateful for those I do not know, including the hysterectomy association and all those lovely ladies who shared their stories, worries, tips and pain on the blogs and website.
We belong to a fantastic club, not just those women who have gone through these operations, but all women who communicate, share and have compassion for others in need. Even now I am glad I was born a woman! We all have fantastic qualities and strengths that we share willingly to help others.
My family, I adore and am very grateful to them for all their support. I have learnt a few gems in life, like the first year of marriage (no matter how long you have been together) is the hardest but stick with it!
Also with a hysterectomy, I have learnt the first year is hard, but most women say, after one year they felt they were back to their old selves. Energy levels up and tummy back to what it was prior to their op, in my case rounded. This 1-year target is now my goal. Stick with it!
5. Those blooming adverts! Yes, all those adverts show how we women will be able to skydive, rollerblade, bungee jump and swim in shark-infested waters, if we use their sanitary products. Well news to you advertisers, I no longer need to buy your products and yes I will be doing all of those things now (well maybe not) and I won’t need to contribute to your profits!
I did have great delight last night with my family around me, having a ceremonial disposing of all the sanitary products. With our usual twisted humour, I asked them all to say something. My husband “I am grateful I will no longer have to stand in the local supermarket with a large pack of sanitary towels under my arm“. One of my Sons “I will not miss the pleading call from the downstairs toilet, please can someone pass me another sanitary towel?“. Myself “thank heavens there will no longer be any occasions marred by the dreaded period, holidays with half the suitcase filled with sanity towels rather than little bikinis, my wedding day, in a white dress and not so sexy wedding lingerie, as large period pants required. Now I will be able to skydive, rollerblade, bungee jump and swim in shark-infested waters.”
6. Shocking. I have been lucky to have two lovely Sons, I know some of the women on the website are not so blessed and for that I am sorry. Still, though I knew, and neither did I want any more children, reading it in black and white, that I would no longer be able to have any more children made me cry for quite a few hours. I felt I had really lost a part of my identity or womanliness.
I know a lot of women grieve for this part of themselves and was expecting it, but when it came to me I was overcome with emotion. Strange really but it shook me, then I realised I would now be able to skydive, rollerblade, bungee jump and swim in shark-infested waters instead!
7. No sex please we are British. It’s not just me as I read it on many blogs across many continents, but what is it that in the first few weeks I was desperate for sex? Please do not say hormones, as I know this is the real answer, and not our fantastic brains trying to compensate for the loss of our “womanliness” just trying to re-establish those feelings. Jeez did loads of women say how desperate they were for sex with their partners, knowing full well they were not able physically or medically. Some of the horror stories of those who did try were enough to put me off for sure.
My poor husband was pestered hourly for a while and he gave the same answer of denial every time. He told me it has been very difficult this, as to him I am just the same he sees no difference (oh except a bit of a swollen belly and scars) we need to remember this, others do not see or feel what we do, so sometimes remember that when we are at our lowest. They see us as we are whole, sometimes in pain, but loved. Funny enough my six weeks of abstinence are up on the day of our wedding anniversary. I will think about it? see blooming hormones!
8. This operation is life-changing! You are not joking! I have never sworn so much in that first week as I have in my whole life. Swear words that I would never consider saying, and would make my mother and father dis-inherited me immediately if they were in earshot. My goodness, it was good though letting it out. I have curbed my language now though you’ll will be pleased to hear.
Having read this back to myself I sound like I am one of those people who are annoyingly optimistic, I assure you at times I am not. I have found that all of the post-operative women list what they had done how difficult it was and how many weeks of recovery. This did make me smile sometimes as they seem to wear it as a badge of honour. It is an honour to be a woman, no matter what your level of problems or surgery was. I just want to remember the compassion and advice, tears and hysterical laughter I have shared and will continue to share with my Sisterhood, friends & family.
I may even throw a party one year from now obviously, that party will be at an airfield as all my friends will be sky diving with me!
Many many kind thoughts & thanks to you all. x
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.