Hysterectomy – Its been hard to recover – Suzanne’s story

I was diagnosed with a large fibroid which was described as Galia melon sized in December 2015. I had been having problems with excessive bleeding and incontinence and was experiencing pain during intercourse. Several months and several appointments, blood tests, scans etc. later I was advised to have a full hysterectomy. My consultant explained that one ovary would be left to prevent early onset of menopause and I was offered a surgery date for the 11 August 2016.

I was worried about the surgery, at 47 I felt too young and worried that I would feel less feminine, or that my husband would view me differently. However my quality of life was so affected I didn’t feel that I had a choice, I couldn’t go on the way things were, time off work, anaemia, no sex life, ridiculously bad incontinence, constant tiredness and lethargy were all taking its toll on my mental health. I had also required catheterisation at points and my bowel had blocked causing extreme pain. Surgery had to be a better option than all of that.

The plan was for keyhole surgery and I was admitted to hospital on the day of surgery.

Unfortunately things did not go to plan and I ended up having an abdominal hysterectomy. When the surgeon started the keyhole procedure he found a second huge, melon sized fibroid directly behind the one that he knew about. It was attached to my bladder and therefore required a more delicate procedure. I have a 9in scar from hip to hip, but its low down so cant be seen.

I woke up in no pain, very woozy and feeling a bit sick, but nothing too bad. Later that first night was very difficult as I had a panic attack and felt that I couldn’t breathe. I have never experienced anything like that before and hope never to again, it was terrifying. The doctor on the ward was fantastic, she stayed with me throughout, explained that the trauma of major surgery could cause this, she showed me the machine that was monitoring my vitals, reassuring me that look my oxygen levels were normal, held my hand, stroked my forehead, spoke to me soothingly and instructed a nurse to call my husband in at 2am because I said I wanted him there. I settled about 3.30am and she never left my side for a second.

The following day I got my catheter out which was not a problem. Getting the drain out was horrible, its really painful, but over in seconds. That was actually the worst bit pain wise, but as I said over quickly.

I was discharged from hospital 3 days after surgery. The first week went past in a blur, I was unable to do anything, sitting up is hard going, painful and exhausting. My bowels did not move for the first week and despite taking laxido regularly I required an enema administered from the district nurse. My advise would be to take a stool softening laxative a few days before your surgery is due and continue to take it after you had had your operation. Laxido definitely helped me and once I was able to pass a motion it wasn’t painful at all, uncomfortable but not too bad. I could imagine that constipation would be a nightmare.

I am now 4 weeks on since surgery. Every day has been a struggle, not helped because I have had continued anaemia, a urine infection and an infection in my wound which wont heal. I am now on my 4th course of antibiotics and I think this time the infection has gone. I was told it would be a 6-12 week recovery time, but I think I underestimated how tough it would be, I am still only able to shower and dress before becoming exhausted, I cant go out shopping yet, tried that and managed 10 minutes before feeling extremely ill.

Anyone about to go through this, you will need major support at home, my husband took 2 weeks off work to look after me, but it wasn’t enough, he managed to negotiate with his employed to finish early and work from home once he returned to work as there was no way I could have managed on my own. Allow people to help, I also find that difficult, but people need to make their own tea or coffee when they visit!!

On a positive note the incontinence has completely gone and surgery has been worth it just to be able to say that. I am looking forward to getting my life back in the coming months ahead.

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