I thought it might be helpful to post a positive news story on this forum, to perhaps relieve any anxieties that you have, if you are awaiting surgery. I hope this story is not insensitive if you had a rough time in recovery. We are all different and there are so many factors involved. I am 39 and a fit person generally (my work is pretty physical). I know many women have had tough times with this surgery, and I'm so sorry if that's the case for you. Here is my story.
I waited for 10 months for surgery on the NHS waiting list and eventually used savings to go private. I felt like I was dying some months with the bleeding and during COVID, the hospital said I was unlikely to get seen this year. I stood to lose much more than money could buy, including my relationship, home, quality of life, work and so on, so I paid for an operation that I felt I didn't want, but had run out of choices. I now know that was worth every penny and I hope that once I get better, I can recoup the money through more work (I was only able to work 2 days a week pre-op, due to my worsening condition).
I had a subtotal abdominal hysterectomy just under two weeks ago. My uterus was the size of an 18 week pregnancy and weighed 1.1kg when removed, so they did a vertical incision. They also found undiagnosed endometriosis, which they burnt out during the procedure.
The moment I woke up, I felt completely elated that it had gone and overall, despite the tiredness and soreness, I have felt lighter and more healthy ever since. This beats heavy periods any day, because I know that I am getting better now and building all the time. I am making sure I take lots of rests each day and walking well. I read and heard masses of horror stories before I went in, so I was terrified and was in floods of tears, right up until I went 'under'. I researched it well and put lots in place to help. Here is a list of 10 things that helped me. I hope they might help you have a yummy, nourishing recovery, as mine has been.
1. I took a lot of advice from '101 tips for a happy hysterectomy' – there's loads of great tips in that book - most notably, I took arnica and I have NO bruising! I also drank peppermint tea immediately in hospital and when I got home – my 'swelly belly' and bowels calmed within a week. My partner also read the book, so he was prepared for how much I would be out of action afterwards.
2. I joined this forum! You have all been so kind and amazing, thank you for writing!
3. I took some homeopathic tinctures for anxiety and feelings of invasion. I shared my vulnerabilities with the medics, especially the surgeon, and it helped me to view the team as helping and healing my body, rather than 'being done to'.
4. I kept as fit as I could pre-op and began walking the day after the op – very short tentative walks initially. I wear an abdominal support band to help my posture.
5. We did a lot of prep at home – set up a raised bed downstairs, sorted out a comode (!) next to my bed and I borrowed a 'grabber' to pick things up off the floor and a shoe horn. I set up a 'convalescence corner' next to my bed, with nourishing teas, creams, books, colouring and a pin board full of inspiring images and quotes.
6. I wrote a list of things I needed and called on friends and family to borrow things – a recovery cushion, big knickers, nighties, bio-oil, calendula cream, rescue remedy and so on. Friends and family, particularly women, responded so positively to this and were so kind and thoughtful in their gifts and offers of support. Most people are only too happy to help. It has been a big lesson for me to feel comfortable with receiving so much, as I am normally most comfortable when giving.
7. I had masses of therapy pre-op and cried most days about what was to come and what I thought I would lose. I had frequent anxiety dreams and struggled to be sociable. I feel I grieved pre-op (I don't have children) and then released a lot with the surgery. It depends on what you believe in, but I believe that I 'cleansed' a whole load of negative history when they took out the uterus and the endo.
8. I treated myself to a new tankini and some nice new underwear pre-op. I wanted to feel really feminine and yummy afterwards. I have been trying to wear loose, bright clothing post-op and embracing big knickers. I'm very lucky to be convalescing in the spring.
9. I have really engaged with the scar – I look at it twice a day, wash it with tea tree and lavender water and put calendula cream on it. I decided to nurture that area as much as possible and it has helped me a lot.
10. In the last few weeks pre-op, I decided to see my hysterectomy as a 'gateway' into a new beginning. I did a lot of meditation and breath work and I was able to use some of these techniques in the hospital, just before and after the surgery. As soon as I woke up, I began wiggling my fingers and toes and visualised a brighter future.
We are all different and it's early days for me, but I am optimistic. My recovery has been attuned to my interests and life-beliefs, but I hope that you too will have a wonderful recovery.