Kinda personal: what's recovery like after a hysterectomy?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by trinityroyal, May 24, 2010.

  1. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    *****too much information Warning*****
    Sorry to be graphic, but my little Aspie brain won't let me rest until I can plan, plan, plan and ask enough questions that I feel at least somewhat informed about this.

    *****too much information starts here*****

    Well, it's come to that time. Every woman on my side of the family has had fibroids, cysts, and other tumerous growths with all the nasty side-effects--pain, float-away heavy periods, etc. To a woman, they all ended up having hysterectomies in their mid-forties.

    I had previous surgery for extra-large (watermelon sized) fibroids in my early 30s, and my GYN-doctor and I agree that, rather than waiting for the rest of the nasty side-effects to kick in, best to deal with it now before things get too icky.

    I'm scheduled for a hysterectomy first thing Wednesday morning, and I'm trying to get a feel for what I can expect.

    My doctor has walked me through the surgery and all the possible complications. I'm comfortable with that. I've been through general anaesthetic before, I know the doctor who's doing the anaesthetic, so I'm comfortable with that too. What I'm not so comfortable with is the recovery period. I don't really know what I can expect from that, and I'm obsessing a bit.

    They've given me the standard speech about "no heavy lifting", and "no fill-in-the-blanks for six to eight weeks", but that doesn't really tell me much.

    Will it hurt like billy-o? Is it something like recovering from a c-section? Any regrets?

    Honestly, with 5 children between the 2 of us, the youngest not yet a year old, I'm not too worried about not having any more children, but I don't know if it will change the way I feel about myself. I just don't know.

    My grannie is gone, my aunties are all far away (and I haven't told any of them, because I don't want them to worry), and I'm not on speaking terms with my mother, so I can't ask any of them.

    Feel free to PM if you're not comfortable posting "out loud"

    Thank you!

  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh trinity...Im sorry you are having to deal with this too.

    There is a great site called hyster-sisters which can answer a ton of questions for you but I will try to help here.

    I had mine because of fibroids. Really bad ones. I had mine done vaginally and while it was a bit painful initially, I didnt have the scar outside to deal with. I did make a drastic mistake with the lifting one time and learned what they meant. I attempted to put some groceries in the car that I really thought werent that heavy but boy was I wrong! I thought I was going to pass out right in the parking

    Recovery wasnt too bad but then again I didnt have twins under a year old. You are definitely going to need help at home for at least 3 weeks or more depending on the type of surgery you have. You need to have easy to prepare meals on hand, be prepared to stay in bed for at least a week, no lifting those babies for at least a month. No heavy housework, yada yada.

    Now onto those feelings. Yeah you will have those feelings. Are you having a partial or a full? I had the partial so I still have my ovaries but after the surgery my ovaries went into shock and didnt work for about six weeks. I felt like I was in full on menopause for that time. Hot flashes, mood swings, it was crazy. Oh...and one thing no one will tell you...while they say you cant have the "censor" you will want nothing more than to have the "censor" because...well I have no idea why! My theory is two fold. One you are told no and another is that they mess with all that down there so the blood is pooling down there which makes it more sensitive and you feel it more.

    You will still feel like you, you will still feel like a woman, things will still "work". That was a major concern of You will also still feel the same to your husband...or so Tony is kind enough to tell me!

    Heck Trinity...I thought I could still have babies after having a hysterectomy so it cant be all that bad!!!!!
  3. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Trinity, are you having your ovaries removed, too?

  4. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Thankfully, no. The plan is to do a partial, and leave all the non-uterine bits intact, if all goes as it should.

    Goodness Janet. Thanks for telling me that. My doctor has really been under-selling the recovery. I have my regular AND backup babysitters scheduled to come in for the day of surgery and the next several days after that, and husband will be home too, so there will be lots of adults around to hoist babies and do the heavy lifting. That said, I have such trouble sitting still I don't know if I'll be able to rest for that long without going bonkers. I think I'll have to make provisions for a bed-table and a laptop set up in my room or something. Gosh!

    Whew! I was very worried about this too. I've only ever had c-sections, so everything even after 3 children. I was concerned that all that was going to change.
  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    When they tell you to rest, rest, rest....sleep, sleep, sleep....avoid lifting, avoid lifting, avoid lifting it's in your best interest to listen, listen, listen. LOL!It's really tempting to start doing chores, lifting "just a little" etc. Fight the urge and do only what absolutely has to be done. The recovery will be quicker and you'll be your old self in a matter of weeks. Everyone I know who rushed their recovery ended up feeling draggy for months. So my been there done that advice is to make sure that your family fully understands that you are not allowed to do "Mom work" until the Doctor says so. It's the closest thing to a mini vacation most Moms every get. Good luck. DDD
  6. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    My situation was a bit different from Janet's and yours will probably be different from both of ours.

    I had a complete hysterectomy, ovaries and all. My doctor even took out my appendix while he was in there. lol

    I had surgery on Thursday and was home on Sunday. I could go downstairs in the morning and back up at night for the first week. I sat on the couch and watched tv and did hand work but I was not bedridden. I was able to move around to use the bathroom, take a shower, make simple meals, etc. I had my staples removed the Tuesday after I got home, 5 days after surgery.

    Two weeks after my surgery I attended my then-husband's Christmas party- stockings and heels and all. I didn't dance of course, but I was so stir crazy that I needed to get out of the house.

    I had the tell-tale bent over posture for about 3 weeks.

    I won't kid you- it hurt. Keep a pillow nearby for coughing, sneezing, and laughing. Interestingly, my insides hurt from him maneuvering my insides around but my incision was numb for probably the first year so there was no pain at all at the site ever. The clamp to keep my belly open pinched a nerve so I had periodic pain and a feeling of itchiness in my left thigh for years. Very strange and no doubt an exception as I've never heard of anyone else who had that.

    Rob was in elementary school so he was gone during the day. You will definitely need help for the kids. Having meals prepared ahead is a huge help. You won't be doing laundry for probably 3 weeks (YAY!)...or grocery shopping. I went back to work half time after 4 weeks and did that for 2 weeks before going back fulltime at the 6 week mark.

    The worst of it for me was the "surgical menopause" aspect of it. It took years to get the right hormone dose so that I could sleep through the night without night sweats and the horrendous hot flashes I'd have during the day. Since you are keeping your ovaries, you shouldn't go through that part- lucky you!

  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I was 33 when I had a total hysterectomy. BEST thing I had ever done for myself. I had the fibroids, my ovaries looked more like raspberries from all the cysts, every period felt like an ovary was twisting, I had heavy bleeding for two weeks every month, and more. The whole works was also starting to fall out. The night before my surgery my cervix was less than 1 inch from the opening. (Talk about a doctor freaking out - my amazing doctor could NOT believe I had been walking around with it like that and that it wasn't causing major pain. THAT part of it wasn't painful at all. )

    They did mine vaginally because with the prolapse it would have been harder to do it the other way.

    You will need to rest and sleep as much as you can, esp the first week to 10 days. Following the instructions to the letter will mean a shorter recovery.

    It hurt a lot. Mostly a deep ache inside, with some sharp pains if I moved wrong. They pump you full of air so be prepared for that to be pretty painful and you will have lots of interesting belches. (My niece was almost a year old and she was incredibly entertained by trying to belch with me. The only problem was that she was so cute and it was so funny I kept laughing - and laughing hurt!)

    Be prepared for other parts of your gut to be upset. For some reason my bladder started to spasm after the surgery. My body NEVER behaves in a predictable way. It literally feels like it is being pinched. It doesn't make me have to use the bathroom, it just hurts. Like being pinched with fingernails. My doctor said this was NOT typical but probably happened because everything gets jostled during the surgery and then things have to find new places because there is empty space where the uterus and ovaries used to be.

    My doctor did recommend that when I used the toilet I have a squirt bottle filled with warm water to rinse with. It keeps the area down there a bit cleaner. The nurse at the hospital recommended adding a little betadine to that, just a bit. As I have a lousy immune system I did. It not only kept things a bit cleaner, it was VERY soothing.

    Between now and then concentrate on getting some fiber into your system. That first bowel movement will NOT be fun. They will problem give you a stool softener in the hospital to help, but if you can get some extra fiber between now and then it should also help.

    From talking to a friend who had the vag hysterectomy after having 2 c-section babies, the c-section is harder physically.

    Some women have a hard time emotionally. My friend did. She kept thinking that she wasn't a "real" woman anymore. I didn't have those problems. I felt much more human after the surgery because I wasn't so miserable and I wasn't on that hormone roller coaster that was SO bad for me. I had really extreme PMDD. My doctor called it PMS on steroids and crack. You may want to see a therapist if you find you are thinking that you are less of a woman. Cause no body part's presence or absence makes you more or less of a woman. Well, of the parts women are born with.

    I will keep you in my prayers that things go well.

    Oh, almost forgot. My doctor told me that for women who are keeping their ovaries it is not uncommon for their ovaries to stop working for a few months. You need to pay attention to your body and if you are seeming very dry down there and in your other mucus membranes, or you have hot flashes or other symptoms of menopause, call the doctor and ask for short term hormone therapy to help your body adjust.

  8. Momslittleangels

    Momslittleangels New Member

    I had a partial hysterectomy (left the ovaries) when I was 30 years old, due to excessive bleeding (15-22 days per month). They also performed mine vaginally, which was so easy in the recovery department (compared to a mini laparotomy I had a few years earlier and they had to cut my stomach). They took me off work for 6 weeks and it was like a vacation for me. I don't recall having much pain at all. They told me not to lift anything heavy, including my kids, and to not vaccuum...LOL. Sounds like a plan to me - no problem doctor.....

    I almost felt guilty hanging around the house that long and could have worked without any pain, but I took advantage of the time off anyway. I was really nervous about "doing the deed" the first time, because I was thinking that there was this huge cavern in there where my uterus and cervix used to be. My husband said her couldn't tell the difference, which made me feel better.

    Are they going through the stomach or vaginally for your surgery?
  9. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Funny, with all the questions I DID think to ask the doctor, that's the one I forgot. With the previous uterine surgery plus the 2 c-sections I already have a "zipper", so they may just reuse the same incision.
  10. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    I had my hysterectomy in 1989. Jana was 1, difficult child was 2, pcson was 8. I kept one ovary. I was battling cervical cancer at the time. It was not easy. I had help with the children for several weeks. But by 4 weeks, I was good to go.
  11. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    (too much information contents)

    I just had a hysterectomy the week before Christmas. I knew in advance that it was going to be abdominal because my uterus was so large. I had a spinal with something to help put me out, plus an epidural for pain afterwards.

    Hopefully your doctor has you on iron already. I was severely anemic when I showed up for surgery, despite being on iron. Stool softner and plenty of fiber will help get the bowels moving after surgery.

    HysterSisters is a great site. You'll need to register there to fully benefit from the info there. One area has a What to Expect at day X, week X, etc. One suggestion is to bring an ipod along because it's so noisy in the hospital. I really needed it to block out the noise to be able to sleep.

    If you're having abdominal, bring a pillow for the ride home to avoid the jiggling around stomach pain. Also bring very roomy sweat pants to wear home. What is sooooo not fair is that I lost a huge uterus and left the hospital with a belly that was larger than when I went in.

    Recovery was harder for me than a C-section. The pain was worse--I'm sure I was getting out of chairs and bed by myself after my C-section but I did seriously need help for a few days. I'd been told by friends that recovery would go much better if I didn't do anything for 2 weeks and I pretty much stuck to that. I have teens so that was do-able for me. When I started back to doing things, I did it in increments ie do loads of laundry but have the kids carry the baskets up and down for me, load/unload the top of the dishwasher but have someone else do the bottom so I didn't have to bend over.

    My doctor said that the biggest problem he has with patients who have it done vaginally is keeping them down for the week because they feel so good.

    Stock up on paper plates, cups, bowls, and plastic silverware and use them for a few weeks. It will seriously save a lot of work.

    One thing to mention is you're having a partial and leaving at least one ovary is that you may still have periods. I hope your doctor addressed that.

    I don't have any regrets. My periods were so heavy for three years even when on hormones, that it was severely impacting my life. After surgery I started sleeping through the nights for the first time in years.

    I'm glad your doctor is being proactive since you already know what's in store (my problems didn't start until perimenopause). I hope things go well for you--keep us posted!
  12. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I will give you 3 pieces of advice:

    1.) truly listen to the directions of not lifting or doing anything strenuous - it can lead to a lifetime of pain if you do not follow these directions.
    2.) try to get a 'belly band' from the doctor. It was such a relief to have that on. It relieves the heaviness in front that causes what Suz mentions as the bent over posture - I did not have this issue.
    3.) just because you feel good - do not assume you are ready for anything excessive. If you think you can walk through Target, think again. You might get to thet back of the store and realize you can not make it back to the front, let alone get home again.

    My friend had a psychic party 4 weeks after my surgery. I went for the fun of it. She drew a picture of what she was envisioning about my life. She kept going over this one item that I could not tell what it was, until she turned the paper to me. It was a vacuum cleaner! LOL! I had vacuumed that day for the frist time even though I was not supposed to. Obviously, I was worried about it because it came out in the psychic session loud and clear! LOL!
  13. Mom2oddson

    Mom2oddson Active Member

    I had a parial in 2003. Don't regret it at all!! But, please, TAKE IT EASY! I didn't lift anything heavy or do anything too physical. But I didn't rest like I was supposed to and ended up with an infection. 2 days in the hospital and 1 week at home with husband doing IV anti-biotics every 4 hours. (He was a great guy, didn't complain once about the lack of sleep taking care of me.) So, no over-doing it in anyway.
  14. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Thank you so much everyone!

    I think I have a much clearer idea of what to expect, and I'm not obsessing anymore. I feel like I at least have a clue as to what I'll be getting myself into.
    Some things, like internal organs having to resettle and find new spots, had never even occurred to me.

    I WILL take your advice to take things easy. I have help lined up at home all next week, and husband will be home the whole time as well.

    Many hugs to all of you.
  15. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Good luck, lady!
  16. janie

    janie New Zealand

    Best of luck for your surgery.
    Everyone has given you such great advice.
    The Hystersisters site IS a great help too.
    I had a hysterectomy January 2009, but they left the ovaries in.
    It was a mixed recovery due to a very nasty post op infection 2 weeks after the surgery - but the surgery was "oh so worth it"!!!
    You will be fine :)