Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Life after a Hysterectomy

Close your eyes if you don't want to read this post. I know it's not a topic for everyone. However, the more I tune in, the more I find that it is a topic for more and more people. So be warned.

You can read down my past blog posts to find out more about what life was like for me and why I decided to go through a very traditional medical procedure even though I'm in quite an alternative mind-set in general. 

I agonized about having an operation to remove my uterus. I delayed it by trying alternative options through diet and meditation. I could have had the operation much sooner it turns out.

I asked a lot of people I could get my hands on about having the procedure. And even though there were books about how bad it is to have a hysterectomy and radio programs with people calling in complaining about complications, not one person I spoke to personally had a bad time. I even spoke to my grandmother about her surgery that must have been over 50 years ago. All of these women were happy to have it out so their symptoms were gone.

I confided in my GP that I was so anxious about having the operation and it actually comforted me when he told me that it's such a common surgery now that for a doctor it's like taking your tonsils out. They just go in a tube and pull it back out on itself. Gulp.

Before surgery I did take a controversial drug to shrink the tumour. The side effects were unpleasant and I'm glad I didn't take it for too long. The Lupron did its job though, and the fibroids were small enough to be removed without incisions in my abdomen.

Going into surgery was scary for me. I hardly even go to a doctor's office let alone know how to navigate a hospital recovery room. If I were to do it again, I'd have someone stay overnight with me. The care after surgery left a little to be desired. Not being familiar with being in a hospital left me with a distinct disadvantage as to the protocol after hours. 

Because of the type of procedure I had, I have no visual scars. In order for this to happen, I had my cervix removed as well. I would have preferred to keep it, but in discussions with the doctor beforehand about how it was going to work, it was clear that I would not get to keep most of my cervix. My grandmother told me she was sorry they didn't take hers in the first place because she ended up needing a second surgery to remove her cervix after bleeding continued after the first surgery. I don't really miss mine.

I still have my ovaries, so I still ovulate and I still have a cycle (and I still have pain that I suspect is coming from one of them that I'm getting checked out later this week), but I don't get my period. I don't take any hormones or iron pills (whoohoo!) and there are no side effects that matter to me. I don't feel a hole where my uterus used to be. My organs haven't shifted into new places and my body feels good. I do have more energy in general now because for the first time in years I'm no longer anemic. I don't feel less creative or less of a woman or anything like that. I wasn't that clear before the surgery but I'm clear now that I won't have anymore children, which is really fine with me. 

As I wrote in a previous post, I can wear a bathing suit, or shorts, or white clothes, or go for long walks and bike rides, take car trips and plane rides and not have to worry if I'm going to bleed through in a horrific spectacle.

I looked into the alternatives. I considered what there was available. I think we as a society have to do a better job of understanding what causes fibroid tumours and how to reduce them in some way other than cutting them out. Given what we have available right now, I'm grateful for that option. Although I think it is somehow distasteful to have had a hysterectomy socially, there's still a stigma attached to it, I am grateful that I had the surgery.

Women who are younger who are still planning on having children have other things to consider. Women who are closer to menopause could possibly wait just a few more years and the fibroids and bleeding will stop on their own. But if you're reading this in your 40's and you're faced with the recommendation from your doctor that you have one, I would suggest doing it sooner rather than later.


Unknown said...

Wow - thanks for sharing.

I am entering the insanity of peri-menopause and while I don't have any serious issues that would call for a hysterectomy, I am finding it helpful to hear what other women have gone through and the choices they have made.

Such a journey, eh?!

Jamine Ackert said...

Thanks for reading. It is quite a big, seemingly hidden, topic. I had little clue before my symptoms appeared of just how common this whole mess is.

Joan Price said...

Thank you for this post. I am scheduled for a laparoscopic hysterectomy, and even though I've talked with my doctor, I am still scared. It's reassuring to read your story, and I appreciate it. It has quelled some of my anxiety for the moment.

radrean said...

I had my hysterectomy in August and feel so much better. I had been suffering for years with fibroids and anemia but still thought I might want children. Physically I have done a 180 degree turn and feel wonderful, however it has taken some time to adjust to this new phase in my life. Thanks for writing about your experience.

Stephanie Mccartt said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. After years of agonizing pain, unpredictable and uncontrollable bleeding, I finally scheduled a hysterectomy and am very anxious about it. I'm only 40 and wanted to have kids, but the bottom line is that there is no room in my uterus for a child because of the fibroids, which have grown back after two previous surgeries. I'm reaching out to my yoga studio because I am scared of the recovery time and not being active. But I do look forward to not being anemic, being able to wear whatever I want without worrying about any surprises and, more importantly, feeling better. I never knew that this wasn't normal until it became unbearable.

Theresa Gajecki said...

I had a hysterectomy September 12 2013 and developed an internal bleed sometime post op. It wasn't discovered for several hours into the next day. My hemoglobin was 63 and I had a blood transfusion at 2 am September 14. I was severely bruised and swollen on the left side of my abdomen, lower pelvic area and left upper thigh. This was horrific for me. This occurrence has hindered my healing. I was in so much pain those first 4 days.

Jamine Ackert said...

Thanks for sharing YOUR experiences as well!

Here I am almost 2 years post-surgery and I can report it's all normal and fine. I do wear whatever I want. I don't need to know where the bathrooms are at all times. I have energy.

I still wish I hadn't required surgery, but given the alternatives, I'm so glad it was available.

photo gal said...

thank you for your post! I just had a laparoscopic hysterectomy 4 days ago. I was really nervous about it. But so far so good. =) I feel better already than I thought I would and I'm looking forward to no more periods. =) It's nice to read your post and the other comments.

Shuchi Kapila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
fertilegroundz said...

Thanks for posting your experience
. I had a vaginal hysterectomy 6 days ago. I feel great with lots of energy, what is the waiting time for exercising.

fertilegroundz said...

Thanks for posting your experience
. I had a vaginal hysterectomy 6 days ago. I feel great with lots of energy, what is the waiting time for exercising.

Ashleigh McMahon said...

Thank you thank you thank you so much for this article. Like you, I'd tried every natural method to take care of my fibroids. But things got worse, and then I started to have irregular paps resulting in cervical cancer screenings, I'm 36, with 4 littles,...a cancer screening and scare every six months was not a great idea. So, three weeks ago I had a complete vaginal. I'm recovering, but I'm getting SO bored. I'd like to implement some sort of yoga, and it seems counter-intuitive to me to refrain from yoga. Especially considering that yoga is what I have fallen back on to help me heal any other ailment, ache or pain I've experienced. Sooooo miss yogi- do you have any recommendations???? Three. Ore weeks with no yoga is going to put me in the grave. ��
Ash @sn4g

Jamine Ackert said...

I think it's best to check with your doctor about how long to wait post-surgery before resuming exercise. That being said, I felt pretty good afterwards and was back doing yoga with only a few modifications within a couple of weeks. There are certain things you should be able to do that wouldn't impact the area but might make you feel better - leg stretches or Tree pose for instance. What a great time to listen to your body and see what it recommends!

Internal stitches may be hard to feel though so if you get instructions to avoid lifting or other abdominal stresses, defer to the external guidance as you may not get much from the inside!