For a couple months now I’ve been meticulously preparing for major surgery – hysterectomy and another excision procedure for endometriosis. As I write this I’m on day 4 post-op and I’m feeling pretty good!
Even though I’ve already had a different surgery for endo four years ago, chronic pain, horrible periods, etc, I never really thought I’d have to do something as “drastic” as have a hysterectomy. I thought that maybe because I was still relatively young (36 this year) it was a little extreme of an intervention. However, after suffering a horrible ovarian cyst rupture in the fall and then finding another cyst on my right ovary this spring, my surgeon and I had a conversation about my options. He suggested that since I wasn’t using my uterus anyway (lol) and that it was causing me such unnecessary suffering, why not get rid of it? Indeed, I replied, indeed.
Fast forward to this past week. Leading up to the surgery and even when I was escorted into the pre-op area, I wasn’t nervous. Hell, I was excited. I’d been in surgery in this particular hospital before and had a great experience, and I trusted my surgeon 100%. I will say I felt a little surge of adrenaline when I realized that yes, this was in fact happening. I was also hella prepared. I closed out everything at work (including resigning, turning in my work laptop, saying “see you later” to students and colleagues) and had my area of convalescence ready to go for when I came home from the hospital.
Surgery went very well, and it took about 2 hours. The surgeon removed my uterus, cervix, right ovary (and endometrioma that had doubled since my last scan!), both tubes, and appendix. He also removed some endometriosis, which had apparently found its way to my appendix, hence the removal. Now my left ovary is all by her lonesome, and I will be depending on her to produce the hormones I need to function properly. It’s very healthy from what the doctor said, so we’ll see how that goes.
From the nurse who inserted the IV to the last nurse I had before I went home, everyone did an amazing job managing my pain and nausea. So well that I felt only the slightest bit of nausea once when I got up to use the bathroom. Then, all I had to say was that I felt nauseous and they administered more zofran through the IV. The highest pain I felt was probably a 5 on a scale of 1-10, and most of the time it lingered around 3-4. After coming home, the most painful thing has been gas pain which is best alleviated by getting up and moving around regularly.
Two functions they want to see soon after surgery are peeing and pooping, and I peed while I was in Recovery 2. (This is also the step post surgery where Aaron got to see me.) I was passing gas in the hospital, and the nursing staff was very pleased to hear that. A friend of mine recommended me to take stool softeners on the regular, and that has been very helpful! It’s always good to know that “all systems are a go”!
I had a pretty solid appetite even on Day 1, and I was in good spirits the majority of the time. However, I was also on some good drugs. But now that I’m home, I’ve not taken any more narcotics for over 48 hours. All systems are a go, and I’ve even gone up and down the stairs unassisted (going sideways though to lighten the load on my abdominal muscles).
Having an acute awareness of my body and its functions has helped immensely so far in my recovery. Because I’ve dealt with 20+ years of chronic pain and also been a student of yoga and lifting, I can tell if my pain is gas pain versus cramping, or soreness versus wow-something’s-wrong pain. This awareness allows me to manage my pain and stay ahead of it so I don’t wake up from a nap or sleep hurting more than necessary.
Each day has been better and better. I know recovery isn’t linear, but I think it’s perfectly normal to expect something to be better every day. Of course, on the first day I woke up without having taken narcotics for awhile I felt more clear-headed. Today I felt more rested since I slept in my own bed last night instead of on the couch.
Some resources I’ve been reliant on pre- and post-surgery:
- Our Time of the Month hysterectomy videos (part 1 | part 2 | part 3)
- The Essential Guide to Hysterectomy book (I read relevant parts of this while in pre-op and overall this book answered all my questions!)
- Grabber tool (perfect for grabbing a blanket or the remote off the floor)
- Giant body pillow
- Heating pad (so good to take the edge off any pain, especially gas pain)
- Michelle Kenway’s PT videos about hysterectomy