By now all of you know that I had a hysterectomy. This is my story, the full story, because I know somewhere out there is another woman awaiting the same surgery, wanting to learn about other womens’ experiences. And you are more than welcome to share this story with other women. I deleted some of my previous posts on this subject and added them to this posting, which makes it a little strange to read because of present-tense, past-tense, etc. Some of it is pasted from emails I sent….it’s a mish-mash of communication.
This is a long post….I’m hoping my paragraph headers might help you navigate the story better.
The nuts and bolts: Why am I considering a hysterectomy? I have a condition called Adenomyosis. Basically I have fibroids in my uterus which are causing some pain and other problems. This has been going on for a couple years now and last year I tried an ablation procedure, which unfortunately didn’t help. The only “real” remedy is to have a hysterectomy. The good news is that I can have a laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy which will leave my ovaries in place and not force me into menopause or require that I take hormones for the rest of my life. So all should be good there. The other good news is that recovery for LSH is much shorter than for a traditional surgical hysterectomy, so I only need to take 2 weeks off work instead of 4-6. I’m looking forward to it. Yes, even the overnighter in the hospital and eating the hospital food. I’m looking at this as a mini-vacation. Peace and quiet in my house, the kids will be in school, I can sleep in, I can take naps, ahhhhhh……
First Pre-Op Appointment: The first pre-op was with my GYN, who is also my surgeon for this procedure, just to go over the details and make sure I know what I’m getting myself into. She commented that sometimes women who have had cesareans cannot complete the surgery laparascopically because of the scar tissue build-up, but she pushed around my abdomen a bit and said she thought my uterus was ‘movable’ enough that it would probably be OK and I probably don’t have a lot of scar tissue. She was not my doctor for my pregnancies, so asked me if I ever heard any comments from my former doctor about scar tissue, but I didn’t recall hearing anything about it. She told me there IS the possibility that they’ll need to open me up and complete the procedure surgically rather than laparoscopically. But overall I left there feeling good about my upcoming surgery.
Second Pre-Op Appointment: The second pre-op was 10 days prior to the surgery, meeting with a surgical nurse at the hospital who gave me my check-in procedures, showed me the waiting room (for Jim) and told me what to expect during the operation. She said assuming my surgery goes as planned, the most uncomfortable part for me will be due to the gas they fill my abdomen with. She said to expect some pain in my upper body / chest area because all my organs will have been pushed up in there and crammed together. And then the bloating due to gas, gas pain, all that good stuff. She said once that is all gone, I should feel pretty good! She reiterated the risk that they’ll need to open me up and do a full surgery, rather than a laparoscopic surgery. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. A full surgery means a longer stay in the hospital and WEEKS of recovery.
A Call from the Doctor 7 days prior: Well today my DOCTOR calls. That’s a little alarming since most of us never get to speak with our doctors on the phone- it’s always a nurse or assistant!! Anyway, she starts in with, “I’ve been thinking about you a lot the past few days.” Great. Moral of the story, she’s not so confident that she can do it laparascopically. She said she will start out with the camera- see what she can see. If visually everything looks like it will work, she’ll start the surgery the way we planned it. But if there’s any signs that there is excessive scar tissue, or any risk that my bladder is attached to my uterus (due to scar tissue), she’s opening me up. She said she doesn’t mess around with that. SOooooooo….. keep your fingers crossed and say your prayers that she can complete the surgery laparascopically. A surgical hysterectomy is a MUCH LONGER recovery- 4-6 weeks and I certainly don’t have that kind of time off!!
Getting Nervous…just a few more days: So I AM a little nervous now. The “what if” and never knowing how my body will react to the anaesthesia. Sometimes I’m in the clear, sometimes I wake up vomiting. Recovery room time is almost always double what they say it will be. Only ONE time did I wake up and feel fine….I’m hoping that the dice rolls in my favor this time, too!
The weeked before surgery: For 7-days prior to the surgery I was to not take ANY medications other than what they approved on my “already taking” list (which was just Vitamin C). And absolutely no Tylenol or Ibuprofen for 7 days. A bowel prep will be done the day prior to the surgery (drinking a bottle of magnesium citrate) and nothing to eat or drink after midnight. Unfortunately, five days prior to the surgery I came down with the flu.
Saturday: I have a nasty cold. My body aches, my head hurts, I’m stuffy, I have a cough, I have a slight fever. This is Saturday night, surgery is in four days.
Sunday: I’m feeling a little better, no fever.
Monday: feeling more stuffy today, plain ‘ol tired, but not as achy, and no fever since Saturday night. I’m going to bed at 6:45 and hoping that I’ll wake up in the morning and be all better.
The Day Before Surgery: Great. It has to be the flu. Oh, and I have two new symptoms: my wrists are super itchy, and my ears are red and puffy. Either way, there’s a very good chance that my surgery will be canceled. Today was THE worst day, with a constant fever, 100% congestion, severe body aches, head ache, cough, etc. I called my doctor and she said to come anyway, that if I didn’t have a fever they would go ahead and operate. The anasthesiologist also called that night, and he also said to come in anyway, that if I was too congested or too sick, they would postpone it.
Bowel Prep: Yes, you read that correctly. At 5pm the night before I was to drink a bottle of magnesium citrate and after midnight I was not to eat or drink anything. That bottle of stuff wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, although I chugged it for fear if I didn’t get it all down I wouldn’t be able to finish what I left behind! It reminded me of a very very fizzy soda- with a very sour salty taste. Drink it chilled!! (And the resulting experience wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be either.)
The Morning of the Surgery: I of course was quite anxious. Surprisingly, I woke up fever-free, and I could finally breathe. My congestion was down considerably, although it was still there. Overall I felt good and was glad that the surgery wasn’t canceled over the phone the day before! My mom came over to care for Brooke before school, the older kids headed out for the bus, and shortly after they left for school, Jim and I headed to the hospital.
Surgery Prep Room: I had an amazing nurse, his name was Kim. He was so funny and really kept things light and comfortable for me. Jim was able to wait with me in the prep room the entire time. My surgical nurse came in for a brief visit, and of course the anasthesiologist stopped by as well. We started some anti-nausea meds hoping for a better recovery. At 10:00 they came in and said the operating room was running late and that there would be about a 40-minute delay. Next thing I knew, it was time!
The Operating Room: Obviously I don’t remember much of this experience. Other than being extremely tired due to the sedatives and them strapping my legs down to the table! Then I was out.
The Recovery Room: I woke up to them telling me they were able to complete the procedure laparoscopically. Whew! Nausea was mild, I was grateful. I have no idea how long I was in there, nor do I remember much about my time in that room. I guess I was in there for well over an hour though. The nurse gave me ice-chips which I loved. My mouth and throat were so dry. The only other thing I remember is them saying it was time to move me up to the 8th floor to my overnight room and that Jim would be meeting me there.
Post-Surgery…the rest of the day: I was tired. Very tired. I remember it being 4:00, and I remember them giving me an injection of toradol which pretty much knocked me out. Poor Jim was sitting there with me while I was sleeping much of the time. By the time I was awake again it was almost time for him to leave and pick up the kids. He left about 6:30, I think. I was able to order some jello and chicken broth for dinner. My nurse had asked me to call her when I was ready to get up and use the bathroom, that either she or the CNA would come help me. I knew the nurse change happened at 7pm, so I waited until after that point. I made the call, and to my surprise a male nurse came in! Just wasn’t expecting THAT for some reason!? Anyway, success. I was able to keep food down, use the bathroom when needed, my time was spent watching the clock- managing pain with various injections or pills, and the hourly visit to check my vitals. 10pm marked the last hourly vital check, they would be every 2 hours thereafter. At that point the pain was really starting to hit and wasn’t under control again until almost 2am. And by then I was able to sleep pretty well. Prior to that point every little noise out in the hallway would wake me up. I even asked for ear plugs! But they didn’t have any, and I didn’t bring my overnight bag, so I went for the next best thing: a white-noise app on my cell phone! I turned the volume up on that and put the phone up by my head, cozied up with a blanket on my belly and fell fast asleep. Slept until 5am (vitals check), then back to sleep until 7am.
First day of Recovery- at the hospital: When I woke up that morning I thought there was no way I was going to be able to go home. I was tired. I was in pain. It hurt to get up and move around and I hadn’t been moving around. I knew walking was going to be my key to recovery, but I didn’t know how I was going to start doing that! I asked my night nurse, Joseph, when I should expect the shoulder and chest pain that everyone keeps warning me of. He tells me if I’m not feeling it by then, I probably won’t. YAY! But I was starting to feel a bit nauseous, and wasn’t sure if it was due to the meds or simply due to my lack of nutrition- I really hadn’t eaten anything in over 24 hours! I ordered a muffin, sausage patty and applesauce for breakfast. And a cup of orange juice and hot water. I could only eat a couple bites of each thing. The new nurse, Sue, came in and starts in with, “you shouldn’t be eating that…you need to be up walking around or you are going to have some serious pain and get all backed up.” She runs off to find me a robe and comes back and says “No robes. You can wear another hospital gown backwards though. Or you can put your own clothes on.” And she hands me my clothes. No fuss here. She means business! She asks me if I want a shower, I say no. I’ll take one at home later. She tells me the importance of me walking around and being active, and that I can go home whenever, so to get ready and call my husband. So I do. Jim says he’ll be here around 10:00am. In the meantime I’m walking around my room talking on the phone to my mom and Kelli, and trying to feel “normal”. By the time Jim shows up, I’m out walking the hospital corridor. And then he takes me home!
Recovering- at Home: As soon as we get home, we go for a short walk, just up and down our cul-de-sac. Two laps. One lap too many I think. I spent the rest of the day on the couch watching the Olympics. A couple short naps, bedtime around 9pm. I slept great.
Post-Surgery Day Two: I’m a little off most of the time right now, thanks to oxycodone. It’s Friday morning. I got up about 8:15 after sleeping very well at home (yay!). Jim woke me up for my middle-of-the-night meds so I wouldn’t get behind on my pain management. For now I’m alternating between Ibuprofen and Oxycodone every 4 hours. I don’t care for the side effects of the Oxycodone- makes me really tired and I can’t see well, so don’t want to do any reading or anything visually productive! I did take a shower this morning, then my reflexologist came over and spent an hour rubbing my feet- primarily focusing on areas that would improve healing from the surgery, including my digestive tract, lungs and sinuses (from my cold/flu earlier this week). The rest of the day I pretty much slept, or watched TV. Didn’t do any walking or moving around. Didn’t feel like writing or reading or internet surfing. I don’t feel like “ME”!
Post-Surgery Day Three: Jim is at work today, the kids are at Kelli’s. I’m really enjoying the peace and quiet. I didn’t get up until after 9:00. I made myself some breakfast, checked emails, made some coffee. Still not feeling well enough to sit at the computer (or even put my laptop on my lap) and process thoughts into complete sentences and transfer those sentences to my fingertips. I’m definitely not a fan of oxycodone. I decided to stick with it though, overnight, and this morning I’m switching to just the Ibuprofen. The only pain I really have is from the incision sites. My belly button particularly hurts. Then there is general discomfort, from all the CO2 they filled me with. It’s more “nuisance” than “pain” I suppose. I try to walk around the house as much as I can when I am up, but its hard to not DO something when I’m doing that. I’ve done a good job though of leaving dishes out, not putting things away, etc. I told myself I would take it easy today. Keep napping, resting on the couch watching the Olympics. =o)
(Another bonus to the recovery of this surgery…no bleeding!)
Post-Surgery Day Four: Trying to resume some normalcy. I slept solid again last night. Holding a small pillow on my belly sure helps so I can lay on my side in a comfortable positition. My abdomen is still pretty swollen (leftover CO2 I’m guessing)- it feels heavy and big, so makes it uncomfortable to lay on my side. I didn’t take any oxycodone yesterday, just the Ibuprofen. I’ve also started backing off the frequency. The precription bottle says to take every 6 hours, but the doctor wanted me to take it every 4. I’m taking it every 5 hours now. I took a shower this morning, did my hair, light make-up. Still wearing fleece pants and a tank-top though, keeping the clothing comfortable. We plan to spend a bunch of time outside today, and I plan to spend a bunch of time on my feet. No worries, no yardwork for me, but I do want to keep upright and moving. Enjoy some vitamin D! I’m not sure if my altered mental state is due to the prescription ibuprofen, or my head cold which is STILL lingering. I don’t feel “normal” yet. And I don’t like it! I might need Mom to drive Brooke to and from preschool on Monday….I don’t think I should be operating heavy machinery yet. =o)
I think my head-cold is bothering me more than my surgery! I’m still quite achy in the belly. Taking my ibuprofen every 5 hours. I can feel it about 4.5 hours after my last dose, so I think the 5-hour plan is a good one to stay on. I spent much of the day outside. Sometimes just sitting on the park bench on our front porch, sometimes walking around the cul-de-sac, I followed Jim around the yard a few times while he trimmed trees- pointing out branches that should go, or should stay in some cases! About 3:00 I had enough and came inside for the remainder of the day, pretty much just lounging on the couch watching the Olympics.
Post-Surgery Day Five: Feeling pretty-much back to normal. Pain is minimal, although still being managed with ibuprofen. Swelling has gone down. Bloating has gone down. I’m not as tired as I was the first few days of recovery. I was quite surprised how long anasthesia and prescription pain meds can stay in one’s system!! WOW. I plan to spend my day getting caught up on my computer to-do’s. Brooke and I might take a short walk to enjoy the sunny weather before it disappears, too.
UPDATED 7:45PM: I did get caught up on a few of my miscellanous computer-type tasks. I kept forgetting to take my pain meds, so the pain must not be too bad anymore. I usually remember about an hour after the dose was due. They want me to stay on the ibuprofen for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. I’ll stick with it for another couple days at least.
Post-Surgery Day Six: Wow, almost a full week. Still a bit tender in the belly, jeans are NOT very comfortable to wear unless they are super low rise. I think once I get off the Ibuprofen that will help with the swelling and bloating. But I’m not ready to stop them yet! I’m most uncomfortable when I’m sitting up straight- the pressure it puts on my incisions I guess. Reclined is perfect, standing is great, just not sitting straight. This morning Brooke and I went out for coffee and donuts, then ran a couple errands (went to the bank, bought lunchmeat for Jim, bought bandages for me, stopped by the Orthodontist to make our March payment). Visited a friend for about a 1/2 hour, now we’re home getting ready to lounge on the couch and watch a movie!
Post-Surgery Day Seven – One Full Week: One week ago today, I was on my way to the hospital to have this surgery! I talked to my doctor’s assistant yesterday, they gave me the all clear to stop taking the Ibuprofen. They originally told me the Ibuprofen was more important for inflammation than pain control, so I kept taking it even though my pain levels were tolerable. For the past two days, I’ve found myself looking at the clock, realizing it had been 1-2 hours since I was supposed to take my next dose. A definite indication that I don’t need it anymore. So as of yesterday morning, I have been med-free. I am sore, but the swelling has gone down considerably in the past 2 days.
UPDATED 7:30 PM: I was too active today. After I took Brooke to school, I came back home with the intent of working on calm and low-activity projects. Instead I took Trevor’s TV off his wall (defective- needed to exchange it) so had to go up in the attic to get the box and accessories. Then I figured if I was exchanging that, I should also exchange Riley’s DVD player (the component input was defective). So untangled all those cables and went back up in the attic to find that box. Back down and sorting through receipts to find the right ones. Then I started cleaning our office. And listing things on eBay and Craigslist (which means taking a picture of it in appropriate lighting, finding a box to ship it in, weighing it, etc.). Then I went through clothing that Brooke has outgrown and started sorting it out, then going through Riley’s too smalls and putting those in boxes for Brooke and putting those in our 14′ tall closet- on the top shelf nonetheless.
Too much bending, stretching, pulling, pushing, moving, dang it! I had overdone it. And that was all within the 2 hours Brooke was at school! After I picked her up, we did go exchange the TV and DVD player, then went out to lunch, then came home and I sat on the couch the rest of the day! Got caught up on about 3 days of recorded TV!
I promise that tomorrow will be more restful. No sorting through boxes, carrying things throughout the house, no organizing anything or going up into the attic!
Post-Surgery Day Eight: I did take it easy yesterday and I’m feeling great!
Post-Surgery Day Nine: Today I am feeling great, although I am still under orders to take it easy through NEXT Friday. I’m slowly adding to my activity level. With the exception of mopping, vacuuming, cleaning floors, unloading the dishwasher or carrying loads of laundry through the house, I have resumed most of my household duties. So glad to have helpful kids!
I’ll admit I’d love to have some more days off to get caught up on things around here, and enjoy more “me” time….but on the other hand I’d love to get back to “normal life”. I miss all my kids. I miss the routine of the day. I miss having responsibility. So I am a bit anxious to get back to work, get back to life.
Post-Surgery Two Weeks: Well it has almost been 2 complete weeks. My belly button area is still quite tender and sore when I press on it. Otherwise there is no pain or discomfort. It just feels like my insides are bruised. The surgery is not impacting my day-to-day activities or energy levels anymore. I’ve resumed house cleaning and going for walks and such. Just haven’t resumed my workouts. I have my post-op appointment this Friday. I’ll find out then if I can resume my workout routine. Summer is just around the corner you know! I would like to be in swimsuit shape before our first trip (May). The incisions are healing nicely and I was pleased to see that they are only about 1/2″ long! I’m a firm believer in using paper-tape to heal scars. I’ve had fresh scars that were so fine and thin, barely noticeable, and after 3-4 weeks I stopped using the paper tape and they stretched out and became thick. I’ve read it’s best to use paper tape for 2-3 months, so that’s what I’m going to do this time around! I’m hoping for “invisible” scars when all is said and done.
I won’t be posting any additional surgery updates, with the exception of my Friday appointment findings…and maybe my paper-tape experience 3 months from now!