After almost 12 years of troubles with my, well, lady parts, I’m proud to say that I’m on a new path to recovery! On Tuesday morning, 11/27/12, I arrived at the Androscoggin Valley Hospital at 6:30 am. An hour later I was oblivious and I finally woke up in my hospital room at around 3pm that afternoon. I had been semi-conscious a few times throughout the day but was in a lot of pain and very drowsy and don’t remember much. I experienced a fever and had some minor complications with my lungs from being on the ventilator during surgery. But, I did pretty well according to my doctor and the assisting doctor whom I’d never met prior to surgery.
One of the things that I found most ironic was that when I woke up, I was in a rather familiar place, the room where I delivered my daughter almost 12 years ago! I was in the “Women’s Services” wing, aka, the maternity ward. At least I didn’t have a baby to feed every two hours! I did catch a glimpse of some extremely adorably twin baby boys though!
I’ve had a few procedures over the last 11 years in an effort to avoid this hysterectomy. Turns out that they were really just a waste of time for me. But, because Of my age, 29 (ok! 33), the longer I could go with a uterus, I suppose they (the medical professionals) thought, the better. The last procedure, a Uterine Ablation was a short but painful recovery with literally just two months of relief. Afterwards, my symptoms actually became worse and my pain was near constant. What was left of my uterus became ischemic, the blood supply was being cut off at random (and not so random) intervals. I dealt with this for about a year and a half and that was more than enough!
Because I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and often have painful cysts developing and literally “exploding”, more than once sending my to the emergency room in fear for my appendix, there was talk about this hysterectomy becoming a radical hysterectomy during surgery. The good news is, that I may still occasionally suffer from these symptoms but, the benefits of keeping my ovaries outweighed removing them! So, no hormone therapy for this daughter and granddaughter of some amazing breast cancer survivors! (Hormone therapy is linked to an increase in the risks for breast cancer).
If you found this post because you are about to have or may need to have a hysterectomy (or are recovering from one and looking for info), I highly recommend that you finish reading this post and then head on over to a WONDERFUL online community, Hyster Sisters. Although your doctor should be your primary source of information, the ladies here are full of personal experiences, tips and love and support! They even have a mobile app that you can download with your surgery date specific tips for before, during and after. Also, there is a daily diary section where you can check off various symptoms that you are experiencing.
I’m home and actually got home a day early because I did a little walking around and was able to tolerate eating. That being said, I spent all day on my couch yesterday and plan to spend most of it there today. I have a lot of pressure in my abdomen and my back has been extremely painful since the surgery. Because my lungs began filling I am also dealing with a cough that never fails to make me cry! From what I’m reading, this pain should start to break down over the next couple of days. Just waiting for the edge to come off! Mornings and nights have been my hardest times, thus far!
Late morning/early afternoon yesterday I was able to move a little easier and sit up with a little less discomfort. I’m looking forward to more of that, hopefully today! I would strongly encourage you, if you are getting prepared for your own hysterectomy, to have a plan in place and what the Hyster Sisters call a “recovery nest” in place ahead of time. Have your pain meds close by and take them on a regular schedule BEFORE the pain build up. Alternate Ibuprofen and Acetiminophen based products for the first few days home. And, lesson learned, if the doctor gives you a script for pain meds, don’t be a hero! Take them!
Do get up to stretch your legs as the pain tolerates. Even if its just bathroom trips, take a moment to breathe in some fresh air on the porch if you can. I have been spending the days downstairs on the couch and come upstairs at night when the kids do. I’m not overly mobile but I don’t want to stay hidden away in my room all alone! The stairs, in all fairness, are evil but I’m only doing them when I have to since I have a bathroom on both floors!
Drink lots of fluids and get as much rest as your body says it needs. Have someone around to help with the kids, do the cooking and cleaning. Maybe for the first week if possible.
A note on mental/emotional recovery. You may be feeling so many different things at once right now depending on what stage of life you are in and why you had to or will have to have a hysterectomy. Overall, I feel relief. I have a slight sadness that I can’t really explain. I’ve been done with the idea of having more children for a very LONG time but, in some ways, I feel like my body failed me? I’m not sure really, but this area does need a bit more reflection! What I do know is that my feelings are all within normal range!!
I am also struggling a lot with guilt because I am normally on top of everything at home…the kids, the chores, the way my family runs!! But, I can’t be right now and although I’ve accepted it, I feel so badly asking for help and/or accepting help! Luckily, I have a few wonderful people in my life that would tell me to shut up if I refused their help and I really am truly thankful for them!!!
Today is my first day back to really doing any writing so, I thought, why not share my personal story. If I can help on lady in these shoes, I’m happy to do it!! I hope you enjoyed and I will be posting a few updates as I make my way through this recovery!