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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.

26 comments:

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
Http://shabbynot4gotten.blogspot.com

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!

Veronique Morency said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Your story resembles mine in many ways. It's always comforting to know you are not alone and that you can pull through the physical and emotional whirlwind a hysterectomy brings.


Love.

Veronique.

The Noles Life said...

Thank you for writing this I just had a vaginal hysterectomy 2 weeks ago and im only 27. I suffered from fiboirds and have been miserable since my last child was born. i was very scared to have this done but i feel amazing now and cannot wait to get back into the swing of things

Heather Danis said...

Thank you for sharing your story, it sounds so similar to mine. I am 6 weeks post op and overall doing well. I do get random pains in my sacrum that when they come last for hours...it scares me. In the past I have always used yoga to help heal. Now that I have been cleared for excercise I want to join a local studio. Is there anything you suggest doing/ or avoiding pertaining to yoga. It's such an isolated feeling because there is this social stigma that goes along with it...it was nice to hear from someone who believes in a more holistic approach but reasonable enough to recognize sometimes surgery is needed.

Ranj Heer said...

Thank you for sharing. Much like you, I have always opted for holistic options for my care. However, my ordeal with the tumor started in 2012; and after numerous doctors visits without any resolution or answers to all of the illnesses my body was feeling. I fired my GP, found one that would listen and I was finally referred to a specialist. I am only 14 days post op; abdominal hysterectomy, the doctor left both my ovaries in tact. So far I feel great!! I feel better than I have over the past 2 years. The best thing I could have done for my health, given there are no alternatives. I could have carried it on for 10 years waiting on menopause. But as a fellow Yoga Instructor/ Personal Fitness Trainer, it was affecting my life greatly. We have 3 beautiful daughters. I did not need it for carrying any more babies. I'm happy it's gone. And I look forward to coming back stronger and healthier. Again thank you for sharing.are. am only 14 days post op; abdominal hysterectomy, left both my ovaries. These far I feel great!! I feel better than I have over the past 2 years. The best thing I could have ever given there are no alternatives. I know I'll be back healthier and stronger. Once again thank you for sharing; we are no position to judge another's journey. Walk a mile in their shoes before judging.

Kelsey Higgins said...

Thank you for sharing your experience! My sister has been advised to get a hysterectomy by her doctor and is unsure about it. It's good to know that it is such a common procedure though. She had her tonsils out when she was a kid so maybe I should make that comparison for her to try and calm her nerves! http://www.parkcitygynecology.com/park-city-ob-gyn-services.asp

Jessica Suther said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story, it has put my mind at ease for my upcoming surgery!

Jamine Ackert said...

Jamine here - it's been a few years now since I underwent the surgery and I'm still so glad I did it. When I think of how normal it seemed to me to have to be near a bathroom, and need a nap everyday, and change the sheets every night, I am so glad a doctor got through to me to let me know it wasn't normal! I'm happy to say I feel great and feminine and have loads of energy and do yoga and travel and continue to be grateful.

mayuri kadu said...

hi Jamine,almost seven years back my mother had hysterectomy done,I didn't have complete idea about how much this surgery can affect you emotionally.After reading this post I realized how she must be feeling after the surgery.I wish I had known this then so that I could have been more supportive and could have dealt with her mood swings more patiently.Well I can't change the past.Still, thanks for sharing this with us.My mother has recently started doing yoga and I want to know if there are some specific aasanas and exercises which she should not do.
I would really appreciate your advice on this.Thanks again for wonderful post.

Jenn said...

This is EXACTLY what I needed to read. I have a large fibroid right in the cavity and am having lots of problems (for 4 years now) and am agonizing over a hysterectomy(don't care about losing the uterus- just scared of surgery!) I, too, have heard positive things in real life, but have read lots of negative things online. I am going to print this out and keep it with me for encouragement. I assume you are still glad you had it done and feeling better than before?

Melinda Houstina said...

I had vaginal hysterectomy almost 2 weeks ago. I'm a RN and see many post op patients for different types of surgeries but healing time no different. First few days pain wise was rougher than anticipated. My doctor only gave me 24 pain pills of which I had to stretch out over a week. That was my hardest struggle due to pain. I called for more and she wouldn't give me more unless I came to her office. I didnt feel well enough To have someone drive me an hour one way to do that. Pain is better now over a week later Motrin helps overall. My problem now is new onset of vertigo. Never has happened before and it's crippling me. Has anyone had this happen to them after this surgery? Blood work is fine so not anemic.

Jamine Ackert said...

Here's another update. I am still very glad I had the surgery!

Melinda, I'm not sure about vertigo and what might be causing that. I didn't have those symptoms after surgery. Keep getting it checked out. That being said, I've heard that hormonal changes can cause strange sensations so if you've had your ovaries removed as well, you might want to have hormones checked.

Jenn, I'm sorry I didn't see your comment earlier. Keep talking to your physician about it. I found that the most comforting - I had three doctors recommend it and their confidence about the procedure helped. One thing they said was if I were older at the time, they might have just waited because possibly it would have cleared up on its own after menopause. So maybe check into that.

One thing that did happen for me is over time, was that I developed some arthritis in my hip. I worked with a physiotherapist and came to the understanding that due to the surgery, there was some pelvic floor weakness, which pulled my hip out of alignment, causing the irritation. Over the past year I have been diligent about core strengthening and signed up for classes at the gym to work on that and I am pleased to report I am hip-pain free.

My life now is way freer without having to look for restroom locations all of the time and feel tired and worried. I did not want to do a surgical procedure at all and tried many ways to treat it naturally. I'm glad I made the choice I did and I hope we make advances in women's health so that this could have been prevented early on through other means.

Malathi Bhaskaran said...

Madam, I did my abdominal hysterectomy 8 years back-- due to fibroids, polyps,& unhealthy cervix . I used to do all yoga poses except " sirasaasana". Due to official stress, I almost left yoga. Now iam 60. Started doing yoga again& walking also. Since thro' ur blog I came to know u r a yoga instructor-- I want to know, which a hysterectomy done person should not do. For weight loss& general health I started doing it and feel rejuvenated. I mild pain comes, where the uterus was there. Madam, can u please suggest the do-s and don't-s. I am worried about hernia also.

Malathi Bhaskaran said...

Madam, I did my abdominal hysterectomy 8 years back-- due to fibroids, polyps,& unhealthy cervix . I used to do all yoga poses except " sirasaasana". Due to official stress, I almost left yoga. Now iam 60. Started doing yoga again& walking also. Since thro' ur blog I came to know u r a yoga instructor-- I want to know, which a hysterectomy done person should not do. For weight loss& general health I started doing it and feel rejuvenated. I mild pain comes, where the uterus was there. Madam, can u please suggest the do-s and don't-s. I am worried about hernia also.