Any woman who has a hysterectomy does so for her own reasons. I had a total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy 7 weeks ago, two weeks after celebrating my 40th Birthday.
My specialist first suggested the procedure 3 years ago. I spent around three miserable weeks of the month bleeding and the other one feeling so low everything was black. I suffered terrible migraines and was constantly at the GP complaining of feeling generally unwell. A visit to a different Doctor from my practice spurred me into action as he told me until I had my ovaries removed I would never feel well.
Family commitments and setting up our own business were always a reason not to have the operation, it frightened me not being able to do anything for 6 weeks. I have an autistic son and this was a major concern as he likes routine! I eventually got round to signing the consent form and waited for a date.
My 40th Birthday was coming up as was a new school term. I needed to have these under my belt. Fingers crossed the date would be far enough away but not to close! The call came sooner than expected and I still wobbled at the thought of having it done. What if it wasn’t right? I put all that to one side, enjoyed my birthday and got my son settled into the new term at school.
D Day came. I was a complete mess. If it had not been for a good friend and the support of my family, I would not have gone through with it. It’s such a big decision. I had been having Zoladex implants for 5 months before the operation and they had been successful, I felt great. To know that I was going to make myself not feel great was not an enticing thought! I had felt better than I had in months. I nearly walked out the door that day, out of the ward and back into my miserable life. Instead, with a little help from a little something to calm me down, I got in my gown and waited.
The surgery list had backed up. I was delayed. I chose to have a spinal as I had previously had a bad experience with anaesthetic. What a superb decision. I also had a general, but not such a heavy dose. I am also pretty bad with morphine, so my fabulous anaesthetist laid off that too. To this day I think he is wonderful!
Before I knew it I was in the anaesthetic room. That took a while, longer than I anticipated and the jab in the spine was sore, but not unbearable. The worse bit was when they tore off the covering I had on my back without warning. Free back wax!! I felt a weird burning sensation going down my legs as I heaved them back onto the bed, and that was about all I remember. Next thing I was in the recovery room. That was a new one, have always felt so dreadful in the past I had never seen that room before! No pain. I don’t remember going back to the ward, or seeing my family. I strangely remember my parents had sent some flowers with a card ‘now all you have to do is get better’. That was the perfect thing to say.
That night I slept on and off, probably more on than off, although it didn’t feel like it. I had some foot compression pumps on my feet which helps prevent blood clotting, they were weird, but I guess they were doing a good job, I was however relieved to be free from them! The next day I had some breakfast. I had heard I would fancy some but I didn’t believe anyone. All I had read were complete horror stories! I enjoyed it too.
I didn’t look at what was underneath the dressing. It was uncomfortable, but certainly not unbearable, more sore than anything else, but nothing compared to what I was expecting. I could get out of bed, albeit gingerly, and take myself to the toilet. The nurses recommended a folded towel on my tummy, this was a huge comfort and I took it everywhere with me for the next couple of weeks!I was tired. Very tired. I would have a visitor and have to sleep while they chatted amongst themselves. Don’t under estimate how tired you will feel!
I stayed in hospital for 4 nights and my family were completely amazed at how I could move around. I showered the day after my operation with a little help from a nurse and the next day I managed by myself. I was quite amazed! My stitches came out on the day I came home. I was worried about that but I should have trusted the nurses – there was no need, in fact it was a relief when they came out. I should also have stopped worrying about opening my bowels, as that was OK too. Sure, I would rather have been having a G&T but hey, no pain, no gain!
Coming home was hard. I took to my bed. I had to keep telling myself that life would be there when I was over this and most things can wait. Be selfish. Lay it on thick! You will need support and you will need errands done, but people rally round. I am now 7 weeks post op and apart from two UTI’s, it’s all gone pretty well.
I really wished I had read a story like mine instead of everything else. I went back to work last week and have started driving again. Yes, my days are short. Yes, I am tired. Do I feel better? I think so. It’s probably too early to tell in all honesty. I know I am not bleeding, I know I don’t feel black, I know a migraine isn’t imminent. Even that’s worth something. I truly believe that this ‘new woman’ is ready to emerge like a butterfly, just as soon as she’s finished with her chrysalis! Good luck girls. You can do it. If I can, you can.
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.