Saturday, June 11, 2016
I got a Facebook message from an old friend who is facing a hysterectomy next week and asked if I had any tips. I started responding and as it grew into a longer and longer paragraph I realized it might make a good blog post for those who wanted more info to prepare for their own...and for folks who wanted to know more about how mine went. So here's my response to my friend...
So... tips... do you know what kind you're having? I had a robotic hysterectomy which is much like a laproscopic one but the doctor is using a video game set up to control the instruments around the corner from your body instead of being right there with you. My doctor said he found that particular surgical method gave him more control over things than any other surgical method and it was preferred for me because I'm thinner higher up and thicker around the hips...
I have three incisions, one in my belly button and one to each side of it. The incisions hurt more now than they did originally... just that healing phase where they're itchy and the glue that they use (instead of stitches) is peeling off. My waistbands all catch right in that area so... annoying but not terrible. Maybe plan for higher/lower waistbands or none at all if you can.
My greatest fear was the position they use for surgery - they tilt your head down lower than your belly and sort of hang you by your legs. If you're not having a robotic hysterectomy this won't apply but for me... and anyone who has migraines.... that is a scary thing. I talked about it to my anesthesiologist and he promised me he knew how to make it so that I was comfortable and honestly, it was fine. I haven't had a migraine since the surgery and I usually have them 2 or 3 times a week so that's huge. I have heard that the head down position can be bothersome for people who wear contacts because the extra pressure dries out your eyes so maybe take some eyedrops with you if that could be a problem.
I was worried about being nauseous from the surgery and I wasn't... until about the third or fourth day home which coincided with when my anti-nausea patch came off. So if you're prone to nausea, ask for one of those. I did have to take anti-nausea stuff for a week or so to help with that. It may not be an issue for you but I have sort of a fickle stomach even on good days.
Because I'm a chronic pain sufferer my doctor worried that pain control would be a problem. Initially waking up from surgery, I was in horrible pain and they gave me morphine and I was golden... until they moved me to my room and then they gave me... demerol which was also great... I was all sunshine and unicorns until later that evening when they switched me to a percocet / hydrocodone rotation which only worked when it was given on time and it wasn't.
The night nurses sucked. I was by myself because there wasn't anyone who could easily stay with me and I tend to introvert when I don't feel well so I didn't want to have to feel like I had to entertain anyone. As it turned out, I had a catheter and couldn't move to get even the basic things...like tissues when I was bawling because the nurse was an hour late with the pain meds... so if someone can stay with you, I think it would make it easier.
My surgery was at 1pm and they kept me overnight, which I was prepared for. I wasn't prepared to stay awake all night but that's what happened. Originally when they moved me to my room they said they were going to take out my catheter and let me start walking around at 7pm that night and then shift change happened and the new nurse was not down with that plan and honestly, I think life would have been so much easier if they had stuck to that plan. It was a long night. I didn't sleep one tiny bit, despite being given sleeping meds because... I've been on sleeping meds for years and the ones I normally take are much stronger than what they gave me because my blood pressure was low and they were afraid to give me anything strong. Seriously, that night sucked. I prayed a lot that night and most of it was asking God to get that lazy $%^& nurse to my room with my pain meds!
The next morning I was chomping at the bit to get out...my doctor came by and said I just had to be able to pee and I could go. So... I texted my dad and he headed right down to pick me up. Big mistake. The whole "need to pee" thing was greatly understated. They wanted me to produce 200ml of pee to be able to go. After four hours and two entire liters of water, I was still at 100ml and that was after splashing a little water into the pot to add to it. My dad was sitting there missing his tee time and growing more aggravated by the minute. I finally said to the nurse, "I'm sure my bladder is empty, is there a way to check?" and there was, so she did and it was... completely empty. I was major swollen because my body absorbs a lot of water and narcotics make that worse so... if making pee is one of your conditions for release, make sure you keep that whole bladder scan thing in your box of tricks in case you need it.
Once I got home I stayed on top of the pain med rotation and just slept. Because of my back I sleep in a big cozy recliner and that's where I
camped out am still camping out here at Day 17. After about a week I was down to one dose or two of pain meds a day (keep in mind that I take a normal daily dose of ultram/tramadol for my everyday pain needs which means that I'm technically still taking pain meds but also means that you're going to probably need far less, for less time, fingers crossed!)
After about ten days I felt well enough to hold Cosette and Oliver who are around 18 pounds each. NOOOOO... of course I haven't held Cosette and Oliver yet.... *wink*... not for long, anyways. Honestly, I can hold them for a minute without being uncomfortable and have played on the floor with both of them with no problem at all. Well, other than getting up but that's always a problem! Still totally worth it!
It took me a good two weeks to get my appetite back, which is what I experienced before with abdominal surgery. I think it's just because your innards are moved around. I was eating but not really much at a time and then all of a sudden I was STARVING. I weighed after one week and was down seven pounds even with the extra bloating/gas so either my uterus was a big old rock or I really cut back on what I was eating.
I had stocked up on the big giant post-birth type pads which (sorry for the TMI folks) I really didn't need except for the first day, truly.
One thing that helped me a lot during the first few days was the standard, over the counter Azo Standard pills - the ones that make your pee orange - because the pain I had was more crampy than pain and it felt more bladder-ish than anything. The Azo-standards helped enormously.
Also... gas is a real issue because if they do anything laproscopically they pump you full of gas to give them more room to work so... that gas must go somewhere... so... gas-x is your friend. Don't be embarrassed to toot. They may make you do that before leaving the hospital too. My dr asked if I had but didn't require proof, fortunately.
Also, pain meds make you terribly constipated so you want to be on some kind of fiber stuff. I love the fiber gummies. The first poop feels like your insides are being ripped out but it passes. Also, for a little added fun I got really pukey sick at day ten-ish and let me tell you, throwing up when your belly is glued together is not for the weak. It hurt a lot.
I am fortunate to live with my parents who do all the cooking... and I have a stair lift because of my back so I don't have to climb stairs. Both things helped me a lot. IF there's a way for you to just take it easy and not do stairs, that will help.
I started driving again on day 13 and honestly, it did hurt a little bit. You don't realize how much you use your gut muscles when you drive.
I went to the grocery store on day 14 which... would have been better if I wasn't in White County because I got cornered in the dairy section by a lady who had asked Austin for some help with locating things in the store and she wanted to ask me a lot of extra questions about things like, "is the organic produce here any good?" and things that I didn't know/didn't care to talk about, especially if it meant standing for extra minutes. Just because my kids works in the meat department doesn't mean I know all about the produce section but... whatever. The point is... I was ok to be out and about a little bit but standing for a long time got uncomfortable and still, probably here at day 17 is still true.
I know there are sometimes hormonal issues even if they leave your ovaries. They say they can be sort of shocked by parting company with your uterus and just not work for a bit. They left me one but weren't sure how much "juice" (doctor's word) it has left in it. I don't think I've been any more hormonal than usual but I did have a good cry on my dad the other day that threw him for a loop, so maybe.
I didn't have any concern about future fertility because... I'm nearly 50 and single and all of that but then the check out girl at Ingles the other day gave me a coupon for baby formula and said, "maybe this means you'll have another baby!" and for the first time I thought... hmm... nope. No possible way. But really, there's been no possible way since my tubes were tied in 1995 and then since my uterine ablation in 2008 and definitely since I'm like... single and celibate... but. It was weird.
Anyways... I pray that all goes well with you and I hope this has been helpful in some way. If you have any questions, I'm glad to share from my experience. Don't watch Youtube videos of hysterectomies. I promise, that will not make you feel any better about things! I am truly glad it's over and I do feel better every day but still kind of have to remind myself that I'm not ten feet tall and bullet proof when I get a little boost of energy.
Love and hugs!
Posted by Heather at 4:22 PM