This coming Wednesday will mark four weeks since my hysterectomy. It has been a long journey coming – this hysterectomy and with all the ailments that I had experienced over the last 20 years, including low grade cervical cancer, I could not have been happier seeing my uterus ripped out and put in the bin.
That said, I am grateful that these organs allowed me to birth my two sons. They are the joys and absolute headaches of my life. I would (like most mothers I am sure) take a bullet for them and they always know that sanctuary of any sort will always be home for them.
But a hysterectomy at 37 you say? Yes, I do admit that Google will tell you that this surgery is quite early in my life, but after two decades of agony, constant pain, bloating to the size of looking like I am six months pregnant and the fact that I had finished have all the children that I desired, it really was a no brainer.
We live in rural Victoria. Our main town, Mildura has a hospital, and I was aware that given the current global climate (insert Covid) that having elective surgery could take a long, long time. I visited my GP back in November 2020. She popped me on the waiting list for a referral to the local Gynecologists' in the area. I was pleasantly surprised as in January 2021 I received a call with an appointment time. To me, coming from Melbourne, a couple of months wait was really good.
My appointment went extremely well. Shout out to the doctors and specialist that pay attention to their conduct and patient manner. I applaud the ones that take note of how they are making their patients feel, plus conducting their consult with empathy and ACTUALLY listening to their patient.
Every question that was asked of me I had answers. My symptoms and struggle had been ongoing for such a long time that I could describe to my doctor at what time of the month to the day these were occurring.
- Sweats – Day and Night
- Pain in the ovaries
- Bleeding like Niagara Falls
- The heaviest clots (I know, gross) where I felt like I had to bear down on the toilet to give birth.
- Bleeding through a tampon or pad in an hour
- Bloating – a week prior, during and after (some months I look 6 months pregnant)
- Unexplained 10 kg weight gain
- Dry, dry skin
- Memory loss
- Diarrhoea right before and during my period
These main symptoms I had every single month since I was at least 16 years of age. My only respite was when I was pregnant with either of my sons.
My doctor listened, made notes, and recommended a full hysterectomy with the hope to leave at least one ovary as to not enter the other goddamn curse of early menopause.
My scans showed that my uterus was the size of a lemon – whereas the usual size of a uterus unused is about the size of a walnut. I had a 4cm size cyst on my right ovary as well.
Operation D Day came and due to Covid, my beloved literally drove into the drop off circle of the hospital and out I went. I’m a anxiety ridden person at the best of times so heading into the surgery ward by myself was a little daunting. The nurses, anaesthesiologist was amazing, getting me settled and doped up a little to settle the nerve.
The operation took three hours, which I believe is a longer time than usual. They found that my bladder had attached to my uterus since my last birth which was a c-section, the biggy uterus had to be removed, plus fallopian tubes, the rest of my cervix which had not been cut off with the cancer, plus some ovary drilling was done. The surgery was all through keyhole and I can say, so far was successful.
The next 48 hours were a blur. I was totally and epically off my face on all the drugs that the hospital provided through my IV. I had a special button that I could press at any time I felt pain. Apparently, the surgeon visited me a few hours after the operation and gave me the run down how it all went. I remember nothing of that conversation. The morphine and oxycodone were my friends during that time.
I packed everything and the kitchen sink for the hospital. To be honest, I used none of it except my pillow (had to have my own pillow), phone, headphones plus a change a nightie. I had a catheter in for three days so getting out of bed was not an issue.
I didn’t even watch the shows I had downloaded thinking that I would be bored. My eyes couldn’t focus very long at anything.
Day two, my blood pressure dropped to a point where the nurses and doctors were concerned. I remember crying to my sister on the phone as they had told me they were wheeling me down to get an urgent CT Scan to see whether I was internally bleeding, operating room on standby. At that point, I was scared, emotional and hoping that I didn’t have to go and have further surgery. The CT scan showed no internal bleeding with was a relief and I was monitored for the next 30 hours on the ward.
The things that you need to know when heading home.
- Constipation is REAL. It took me taking 7 senna tablets and two days at home before I could go to the toilet and do a poo. The fear of doing a poo is real as you think your insides will pop out. They do not.
- REST!!!! Everyone who I had spoken to who had a hysterectomy stressed this to me. I felt completely fine at two weeks post op, but I totally get why everyone was saying rest. You get so so so tired after this operation. My bed, Netflix, Binge, Stan and Hayu became my best friends. DO NOT LIFT anything heavier than a 1 litre bottle of milk. THIS IS TRUE. Not even a pot of hot water. You have so many internal stiches inside, they need to heal.
- NO SEX for 6 weeks. NO NOTHING up there at all. When you go under anaesthetic for your operation, they disinfect your vagina thoroughly and to prevent infection and good healing – NOTHING TO GO IN THERE.
- Get that H20 in you. All the after-pain meds, anti-inflammation meds with deplete your body of hydration so have that fancy stainless steel drink bottle on your bedside table and sip away.
- SAY YES TO HELP. Any help offered, SAY YES. There are not many times in our lives where we really need to surrender to the love and offered love of your friends and family.
- PASS ON your stack of tampons and or pads. You will no longer need them baby!
Apparently, some people feel a period of grieving for the uterus. Melancholy for losing a part of them that makes them feel like a woman.
I had none of those feelings. I told my surgeon that once all the bits were out to sing while disposing them.
Swing back to nearly four-weeks post op, I’m feeling fabulous, free of pain, free of bloating and all those horrid, horrid symptoms I dealt with for so many years.
All I need to do now is delete the period tracker app off my phone and sigh a relief and welcoming to the next chapter of my life – hysterectomy success.