It’s official, my uterus and I have broken up
On 9th December I had a total hysterectomy, and by total, I mean everything.
I guess with two small boys produced, they’ve served me well. But what do people say?
“They had a good innings.”
“They had such a full life.”
“It was quick, they didn’t suffer.”
“They’ve gone to a better place.”
I could go on but to be honest I like to think of it as death by misadventure. Let’s not dress it up, my poor womb, ovaries and cervix have certainly been through the mill.
Three months later I’m free from pain, discomfort, heavy bleeding and fatigue from my pesky periods but also my problematic cervix. I’ve also waved farewell to my old gang of tranexamic acid, mefenamic acid, codeine, tramadol and antibiotics. I will miss you old friends…
Loads of my clients have asked me to share my hysterectomy experience and although I’m not one for oversharing here goes…
As I’ve explained in a previous post I have an impressive gynaecological CV including…deep breath… PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), endometriosis, adenomyosis, ovarian cysts, infertility, menorrhagia (heavy bleeding), dysmenorrhea (painful periods), dyspareunia (painful intercourse), pelvic congestion (varicose veins in the pelvic area), friable cervix (prone to inflammation, bleeding and tearing) and dyskaryosis (dodgy cervical cells).
Despite my best efforts nothing helped and month by month the problems worsened. I felt pretty hopeless and defeated as the symptoms were affecting just about every aspect of my life and to add insult to injury the drugs I was taking just to get by, triggered digestive upset, headaches, nausea and insomnia. It became the gift that kept on giving!
I shouldn’t have been shocked by the suggestion of a hysterectomy, but I optimistically thought there were other options to consider or bigger hoops to jump through.
Sadly, I’d reached the end of the gynaecological road and fortunately the decision was taken out of my hands. I was offered the option of endometrial ablation and some radical treatment to my cervix but that would have merely delay the inevitable so for once in my life I actually followed the advice of my doctor and booked in for hysterecto-geddon! Too much…?
To me, a hysterectomy is an operation to fix a problem.
Yes, it inevitably causes other problems that need careful management but it’s a decisive step and most women who have this kind of surgery claim it was life changing. However, many of my friends viewed my news like a catastrophic tragedy.
You’d think I’d told them I only had weeks to live! People didn’t seem to believe me, but I really didn’t have any emotional attachment to my reproductive organs, so the pending surgery became known as the ‘major service.’ It was a necessary process I needed to go through in order to get better. Simples…
Due to my business, family, children, health and job with Regenerus Laboratories I was so stretched and only had one month to prepare for surgery.
I was determined to take time off to rest and recover so operation hysterectomy was rolled into action. The freezer was filled with homemade ‘ready meals’, I’d booked time off work and my business was on lockdown until 20th January. Autoresponders were set up, out of office activated and my au pair had more checklists, charts and schedules than you could have shaken a stick at.
Christmas was also planned to the last detail.
The presents were wrapped; lunch was ordered via M&S and the decorations were in place. I’d also organised my smallest’s birthday presents, pizza night, cinema party and goody bags. I was rocking life as an uber organised Surrey Mummy while at the same time spinning half a dozen plates!
I was so busy organising everyone and everything I didn’t have time to think about what was about to happen. It didn’t hit me until I was at the Guildford Nuffield in my surgical gown signing the consent forms and I thought, “Holy f%@k my insides are about to be carved!”
I’m usually annoyingly curious about medical procedures, however, this time I really didn’t want the gory details of how my surgeon, Mr Kent, was going to pull my ovaries, uterus and cervix through three tiny laparoscopic incisions in my abdomen. It’s a bit like childbirth; how the devil does a melon sized baby’s head fit through such a small hole? There are ways and means but it’s best not to think too hard about it.
After watching a few episodes of Vikings (nothing like some sexy, bloodthirsty eye candy to get you in the mood for surgery) and trying my hardest not to crack under the infuriation of nil by mouth, I was eventually whisked down to theatre.
I thoroughly enjoyed the anaesthetic countdown drugs (I mean, who doesn’t?) and before I knew it, I was back in my room with a bum full of anti-inflammatories, whacked out on morphine and talking utter nonsense to the poor nurse caring for me. Oh, and don’t get me started on the random phone calls and selfies to friends…
We agreed never to talk about it again… Nobody and I mean NOBODY needed to see a close up of my catheter!
I’d love to give you a dramatic and graphic tale of horrors and undignified violations however it all went perfectly well. I won’t lie the catheter was bloody annoying to say the least and the hospital sheets were rough enough to chafe my elbows, but my pain was what I’d call ‘moderate’ and believe me I know what acute and chronic pain feels like.
The worst part, and I was warned about this, was the post-surgical bloating, trapped wind and gas. My poor tummy resembled an inner tube with three puncture repairs.
I had some issues with bleeding and oozing from the ‘incision’ in my belly button and I was quite bruised, but it was all very textbook and after two nights I was sent home with a bag of painkillers, anti-emetics, antihistamines and laxatives.
Weirdly straight after surgery, my bowels were rocking and rolling, but normally codeine, tramadol and morphine can really slow down normal digestive function and make me sick as a dog, parrot, or other animal of your choice.
For the next seven days I slept day and night and I started to realise how much of a big deal the operation was.
Yes, I know… I know, it’s major surgery so what on earth did I expect?
But during the preceding weeks I really didn’t have time to process what was about to happen. During the days that followed, I knew immediately that I’d made the right decision because although I was tender and swollen from surgery, I no longer had that relentless, central pain through the core of my body. What a revelation!
At that moment I suddenly realised how unwell I’d actually been and if I hadn’t followed the advice of my gynaecologist Miss Whitcroft and surgeon Mr Kent, things would have undoubtedly gone from bad to worse.