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Tag Archives: hysterectomy

Update on getting gutted

About two months ago, I went in for a hysterectomy.  At 43 (at the time) I was on the younger side for this surgery (at least I would like to think so!).  Since that time, women have been asking me often how it went, my opinion of the surgery, how painful it was, and whether it was worth it.  I figured I’d post my update to my last post on the surgery so I could answer some of those questions for those who were curious.  If you’re easily queasy, you may want to pass over this post.

The why.  As a woman with fibroids, VERY heavy bleeding, and pretty bad PMS, my doctor recommended the surgery, especially after a polyp appeared.  Originally, I was surprised when the dr. mentioned the idea.  It seemed so drastic.    Also, I was concerned about being out of commission for what she said could be 6-8 weeks.  How would I cope with 2 kids, a husband with an opposite schedule, and my own job? She said the alternative was to try meds to alleviate the symptoms I was having.  The meds lasted all of one round.  I was so miserable and cramped on them I immediately called the Doctor and said “let’s move forward with surgery”.

Surgery was scheduled for January 10th.  I was battling on getting my insurance situated until about 2 days before.  It was a tad stressful.  At the last minute, everything fell into place.  I arrived at the hospital anxious and kept getting teary.  My first worry was my kids.  I think once you’re a parent, any type of surgery makes you a bit anxious because now you have other people to be responsible for. I was also anxious about sharing a room.  I HATE sharing hospital rooms.  I did it once and it was such a bad experience that I ended up getting moved to a private room.  Luckily the dr soothed my fears by letting me know I would be on the women’s floor (aka childbirth and ladybit floor) and would have my own room. The women’s floor is probably the best floor to stay on.  The nurses are SPECTACULAR.  The dr warned me to take it easy after surgery, and not to put anything “up there” for at least 6 weeks.  She then proceeded to tell me that if I ignored that advice, I could have vaginal or INTESTINAL PROLAPSE.  In other words, my intestines could fall out of my snootch.  Talk about instilling fear into a girl.  I swear I had nightmares about that conversation for DAYS.

After surgery, I was a bit sore, but nothing too bad.  I was up and walking around the ward the next afternoon.  Mostly I got tired super quick.  I was released the day after surgery and came home to be a potato for a week.  I lived the potato life for a week and watched all the Downton Abbey.  Yep, every episode of every season. I walked around the house every hour or so, but otherwise took it super easy.  (It’s a rare day when I get to do absolutely nothing.)  After week two, I went back to work.  Everyone, including me, was a bit surprised, but a girl has to make that money, and frankly, the short term disability I could get wasn’t going to cover all the bills.  I am super fortunate that I can work from home and that my company is so supportive.  I started back on a full time work from home basis until I was about 4 weeks post op.  Then I went back to the office.

Since the surgery, I feel GREAT.  No longer am I taken down for 3-4 days each month.  No longer do I worry about bleeding through my clothes.  I no longer feel so stressed each month.  My PMS has subsided quite a bit.  I still have my ovaries, so luckily I am not going through menopause. I no longer get that awful bloating.   I feel like myself only way better. The surgery for me has been life changing in so many small ways.  I feel….awesome.

They say some women go through periods of depression after the surgery.  I didn’t, but I can see why some would.  I briefly went through a stage where I would see babies and think “I can’t have another now” and got sad for a moment.  Never mind the fact I am not prepared financially or even emotionally for another child, nor the fact that when I had my daughter almost 8 years ago I was considered high risk for “advanced maternal age”.  I know I wasn’t going to ever have another baby by choice, but perhaps knowing that I simply now could not physically do so even if I wanted to was a small shock to the senses.  For those women who wanted children and had no choice but to have the hysterectomy, I can see depression as being completely normal and somewhat devastating. I also know that there were days I felt a bit crappy and sore after surgery but realized I looked totally fine on the outside.  I had a laparoscopic hysterectomy.  This means that I had a few small incisions on my stomach, but otherwise looked totally fine.  My insides looked a bit like a dumpster fire, I’m sure.  Cut and stitched and repositioned.  There were sore days, but nothing I found unmanageable.  One odd feeling was that I sometimes got what felt like ligament pain from when I was pregnant.  It was the same sensation.  Lastly, my skin stuck together from one of the steri-strips and almost got infected at the incision.  Because I couldn’t see that well, I almost missed the issue. At first I thought it was the incision itself that looked like that, but instead it was my skin.  It was gross, y’all.

For those women considering the surgery….I can tell you it’s one of the best decisions I have made.  I feel great, aside from some lingering fatigue.  Yes, you will get tired easily.  There will be some soreness.  You might get a bit sad about the loss of the parts.  But at the end of the day, I feel good.  There is a lot of cancer in my family, and while I had the genetic testing and came back fine, it’s one less organ to worry about, if that makes sense.  The pros outweigh the cons for me.  2 months in and I feel so much better.  It’s not for everyone, but for those worrying, I can say my experience was a good one!

 

 

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Gutted Like a Fish…The Aftermath

So, I needed some parts removed.

(WARNING: this may be a bit TMI for some!) To catch you up if you haven’t read that post, I have suffered with bad periods my whole life.  I even started on birth control pills at a young age to try to curb my periods and make them more manageable.  After having my two kids, I decided I wanted to stay off the pills, and went back to a life of periods.  I soon realized that it was going to be a pretty miserable time for me.

Every month, my periods would show up nice and light for a day or so.  “No biggie” I would think to myself. Oh, how wrong I was.  Within 3 days, I was a walking crime scene.  I began buying ultra Tampax and giant pads.  Have you seen an Ultra Tampax?  That thing is NO JOKE.  This is the biggest size they have and I would go through them in under a half an hour.  It was HORRIBLE.  I was told I have fibroids, and combined with an already heavy period, the situation wasn’t going to improve.  I also notice my PMS was getting worse.  I would become RAGE-Y.  Like, all out rage would consume me every month.  I have yet to determine if this was in fact PMS or just dealing with idiots.  I suspect perhaps my tolerance levels for stupidity were just lower.  Either way, I wasn’t feeling like myself anymore.  Off to the doctor I went.  I had a biopsy, and another test, where they found I also have a polyp.  My uterus must have been a magic garden for growing babies, fibroids, polyps, etc.  After all was said and done, my doctor walked into my follow up appointment and asked me “so how do you feel about a hysterectomy?”

At first, I was surprised.  I had expected her to mention a different type of procedure, or other options. What, exactly, I wasn’t sure.  What I wasn’t expecting was dismantling my insides.  I asked her about the recovery time.  “4-6 weeks” was her response.  Now look, if any of you are parents, you know that being down for 4-6 weeks is about the least optimal idea possible.  Not to mention my husband works opposite hours than I do, so I am basically alone with the kids every afternoon and night.  My husband is also self employed, meaning if he doesn’t go to work, he doesn’t get paid.  This would present a major issue.  How would we manage?  I must have looked dismayed, because she said “we could also try managing the issues with meds”.  So that was what we decided to do.

One month later, I was curled in a ball with such bad cramping I thought I might have to go to the hospital.  I had never felt anything like it.  The idea of going through that every month was not an option.  “Time to take out the parts” was my battle cry.  My Dr sent me for genetic testing.  Effectively, I have cancer throughout my family on both sides, and if I had a genetic issue for cancer, the doctor said she would take my ovaries.  Without, she wanted to leave them, as they help prevent against things like dementia, which also runs in my family.  “So I can get cancer or forget who I am?  Those are my options?” I said.  “pretty much.” she responded with a laugh.  Luckily, my genes are in good shape, so I got cleared for surgery.

I booked my surgery for the new year, so I would have some sick time to use.  My company has short term disability insurance, but it doesn’t kick in until the 8th day, so I would need some sick or paid time off to manage.  I booked it for January 10th.  I tried to make myself look forward to it.  All hell broke lose when my company switched insurance companies for the new year.  I was in a frantic panic trying to get an ID card from the new company and they were slow to get me into their system.  Luckily, at the 11th hour, all was set, and off to the hospital we went.

When I was waiting to go in, my dr came in and went over the procedure.  It would be a laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy, taking my uterus and fallopian tubes, but leaving everything else. I got stern warnings not to have sex or put anything into the vagina for 6 weeks.  She mentioned that it can cause vaginal prolapse and mentioned something about the intestines coming out through the vagina.  Now I don’t know about you, but I heard about intestines falling out and must have looked HORRIFIED.  She tried to calm my fears but because I have a touch of OCD, that image and thought was burned into my brain.

Off to surgery I went.  I woke up (Yay!) after it was all over, not too sore, and not in more pain (post meds) than I could handle.  I even got a private room, which I was SUPER hoping for.  Now, full disclosure, I know that during this surgery, they put air in you to extend things, and what air goes in, must come out.  This means that it can leave you super farty, and no way in hell was I going to be comfortable blowing foghorn farts in front of  stranger.  I told my Dr these and she about fell over laughing.  “That’s what’s worrying you?” she asked.  My response “I have poop and fart shame.”  My husband looked at me with that “you don’t seem to be shameful at farting at home” look.

I stayed one night in the hospital.  Once I got into the room I slept a LOT.  I kept dozing in and out, and had super vivid dreams.  The next morning, I felt a bit better, and came home.  Once I got home, I spent about a week living the potato life.  I got up and walked around quite a bit, but I spent much of it in bed.  I watched the entire Downtown Abbey season in a week (marathon achievement unlocked!) I had a couple of days where I felt inexplicably weepy.  I know that some women feel depressed about hysterectomies.  This can be especially difficult for women who wanted children still, or those who mourned their loss of ability to have children suddenly.  For me, I had a few moments of questioning my decision.  Had I done wrong by removing and organ to stop the bleeding?

This troubled me for a day or so.  Then I began thinking of the day I was at the pediatricians office with my daughter, coughed, and realized that my jeans were suddenly soaked with blood.  Tons of blood. It was mortifying.  I remembered all the days I had needed to stay home because of the problematic periods.  I thought about the fibroids and now a polyp I was dealing with.  It seemed like things would only get worse.  I have decided for my quality of life, I made the right decision.

2 weeks in, I feel pretty good.  The incision sites are a bit sore.  I had what felt like a ligament pain the other day on the right hand side.  I literally rolled over in bed and yelped in pain.  (It’s a sad state of affairs when you hurt yourself rolling over).  I was a bit concerned at first but I have my two week follow up appointment in two days, so I’ll ask the dr about it.  I can walk and move.  If I do too much, I get sore, and sometimes I get the dreaded “swelly belly” where my stomach gets bloated and I look a lil pregnant.  I think that’s one of the things I hate the most, is the bloated feeling.  I can’t eat as much as I used to, which hey, could be a great thing!  The first few days I felt a lot of pressure, probably as my organs shifted around and found their new spots.  One delightful new aspect is that my bladder seems bigger than before.  I’ve always had a “little tank” and it’s a bit of a joke I always had to pee constantly, but now I feel like I don’t have to go nearly as much, despite drinking a TON of fluids the past 2 weeks.

My husband took the first few days off to look after me, but since he went back on the 6th day after surgery, I have managed well.  He did leave work to pick the kids up from school, so I only just drove for the first time the other day.  I know, I know, I’m not supposed to drive yet, but I only drive a couple of blocks to get the kids or to the store in a pinch.

So there you have it.  I made it through, and honestly, it wasn’t too bad!

Going Out With Fewer Parts Than I Started With

“How do you feel about a hysterectomy?” the Dr asked me.

I blinked quickly a few times, surprised by the question.  Sure, I had some severely heavy bleeding during my periods.  I knew I had fibroids, and they had just found a polyp.  My PMS was getting worse by the month, causing me severe cramping, which I’d never had before, and rage filled mood swings that made me feel unlike myself.  I was done having children, as I’m already of “advanced maternal age”, as I had sadly seen written on my last maternity chart.  But a hysterectomy?  That hadn’t been something that had crossed my mind.  I thought maybe they would do a D&C, or take the polyp out.  No, they wanted to take the whole kit and kaboodle out too.

Actually, that’s not entirely true.  Initially, the Dr said “we’d leave your ovaries, as they will help prevent things like dementia.  I nodded.  Both of my grandmothers had dementia, and it always frightened me a bit that I might get it too.  My memory is pretty awful as it is, never mind when I grow old!  Keeping the ovaries might help prevent it. Thumbs up to that!

“Oh, wait,” she said, looking at my chart again, “your family history shows a lot of cancer.  Are there really this many people who had cancer?” I nodded.  Both parents, three out of 4 grandparents, a semi estranged uncle who mentioned he had a tumor,  a great aunt.  The odds are working against me.  “We may need to take the ovaries too”, she said.  “Oh great, so it looks like I will possibly get cancer or forget who I am!” I laughed.  I must have looked nervous because she also offered to try to treat the issues I am having with meds for now.

A week in, I hate the meds.  They are some sort of birth control/hormone thing that I struggle to remember taking.  I feel slightly “off” on them and I don’t think they will be a good fit for me long term.  Surgery looks like it may be in the cards.  The only issue is, how does a full time working mom of 2 kids with a husband who is self employed working opposite hours take that kind of time off?  The Drs have said it could be 2-6 weeks.  I think I’ll be on the shorter end of it, as I tend to heal well and have had 2 c-sections before.  After the C sections I was walking and cleaning up (yes, CLEANING!) in no time.  Even still, I am scared of taking that kind of time off.

Not to too my own horn too much, but I am the scheduler, the planner, and the hub of the family.  I manage where everyone needs to be, how they get there, and what they need.  I plan the minutia of the day, keeping everyone in the loop, and calling for help from family when I get stuck.  With my husband’s schedule, most transportation and execution of tasks falls to me.  One of the ways I scare the kids to get stuff done like cleaning their rooms is to tell them I may go on strike.  If Mommy goes on strike, they know things will be chaos.  Taking myself out of the loop for even 2 weeks is going to be a strain on the family.  My husband is awesome and will step up to help. I have also had family offer to help in however they are needed.  I am super lucky to have them.

So there it is.  First there will be genetic counseling to try to get a handle on my genetic risk for cancer.  Based on that, the dr’s will make a recommendation about how much to remove.  I guess the nice thing will be no more heavy bleeding, and also I might even lose a pound or so..lol.

More to come.