Hi, sweet friends. I’m coming at you one week post-hysterectomy. Phew. I promised that once I was able I would share a post with all of the details of my hysterectomy and I would answer your questions, so here we are!
Also, I have to thank you SO much for your messages of support! They really have brightened my recovery.
(I took the above photo a few days post-op. I’ve been living in comfy sweats!)
WHY DID I GET A HYSTERECTOMY?
I’ve lived with horrendous cramps since I was 23 years old. I know I’m not alone in this – chances are if you have a uterus, you’ve also had pelvic pain. I mean, the babies are most definitely worth it, but still. Geez.
My pain always confounded doctors. I remember going to the Gynecologist in my 20’s and trying to describe my pain, and they’d always shrug it off. Even after multiple ultrasounds, I was always left with the explanation that I had fibroids and would have to live with the pain. There was nothing they could do.
My cramps were different from “regular” uterus pain. I had pain 3+ weeks out of the month, and the only time I was pain-free was when I had my period. And, my period was usually very short and light – it lasted about 3 days at the most.
To make it worse, my cramps didn’t feel like “normal” period cramps (if there even is such a thing). Now that I’ve given birth 3 times, I can tell you that they felt more like pre-birth contractions. They would come on strong and fierce, like clockwork.
I would cramp one mile into a run. Yes, exactly at one mile. I mean, it was almost comical. My husband and I would run outside and I would start cramping. I would have to stop and let the cramps do their thing. The pain brought me to my knees and left me writhing on the ground, hoping they would pass soon. After 10 minutes, I would be ready to run again, even though it felt like I’d just run a marathon. I could run the rest of the way – whether it was another mile or 15 miles – without another cramp.
I would cramp after going to the bathroom and after sex, and anytime I exerted any sort of energy or had an elevated heartbeat.
It was always the same. 10 minutes of feeling like someone was wringing out my insides, and then I was as good as new. Kind of. The cramps took so much out of me physically, I would often feel defeated and so damn frustrated.
I couldn’t take Midol or any meds for the cramps, since they came on so furiously and only lasted 10 minutes. Nothing would help. I could only offer the fetal position and an attempt to breathe through them.
When I was done having babies, I knew I wanted to get a hysterectomy. I had learned to live with the pain, but I was getting tired of it. I wanted to know what life without pain was like. I was ready.
WAS A HYSTERECTOMY MY DECISION? OR DID MY DR RECOMMEND IT?
I talked with my OBGYN, Dr. Stephanie Heraty, early on about having a hysterectomy. We had a good relationship – she delivered my last 2 babies and I trusted her implicitly. She knew about my pain and listened to me when I told her I wanted a hysterectomy. I can’t thank her enough.
She referred me to a Pelvic Pain surgeon, who was actually in the same practice as the surgeon who removed my fibroids before I had my first baby almost 8 years ago. My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for over a year when I decided to get help, and Dr. Frank Tu suggested a myomectomy to see if I had endometriosis and to removed any fibroids. I didn’t have Endo, and he removed 6 very small fibroids. I got pregnant with Harper that next cycle.
I met with Dr. Sanapati and told her I wanted a Hysterectomy. She was skeptical it would help my pain, since my symptoms were so different than “normal” period pain.
I told her that my grandma, mom, and two of my cousins had gone through similar pain. My mom, actually, had the exact same symptoms I had. Yes, one mile into her run, my mom would cramp just like I did.
She examined me and declared that a hysterectomy was “reasonable.” That struck me as funny and I took it as acknowledgement that I did, in fact, know my body and what was best for it.
DID I KEEP MY OVARIES?
We decided she would take out my uterus, fallopian tubes and cervix. We would leave my ovaries and let them do their hormone thing until I go into menopause. I don’t have a history of ovarian cancer, so that made the most sense.
HOW IS THE RECOVERY?
I had a total hysterectomy (laparoscopic) on April 5th. The surgery took a few hours, and I was home and in my bed by that afternoon.
I expected the recovery to be similar to my myomectomy, but honestly it’s been a bit harder. Most of my pain was caused by the trapped gas they put in my cavity for the surgery. It’s different than normal gas because it’s in my cavity – a lot of it has escaped out of my right shoulder and that’s super painful.
I chose to forego the stronger pain meds and just alternate between Tylenol and Ibuprofen. I hate how pain meds make me feel – I’d really rather feel pain than feel dizzy and nauseous.
I mostly stayed in bed for the first 2 days at home, getting up to walk around the house a little bit throughout the day, but that’s it. I was fine to sleep and read and watch the last season of Real Housewives of New Jersey. 🙂
On the third day, I started feeling better physically, but still took it easy.
Now a week post-surgery, I’m feeling much better. I keep hearing not to overdo it, though, and not to forgot I just had major surgery.
WHAT ARE THE RESTRICTIONS?
I can’t lift more than 10 pounds, which is almost impossible with a toddler running around. I’m getting creative and having him climb into his car seat and my 5 year old helps me get him out of his crib. (It’s hilarious to see.)
I have my follow up appointment on the 20th and hopefully will be cleared for light exercise. I’ve shared how important movement is to my mental health, so I’m counting down.
I’ll be sure to share updates, as well as my must haves for hysterectomy recovery! Stay tuned…