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DEBULKING SURGERY

Hello Ladies its day 11 after my de-bulking surgery, and I have a few questions for you please. How long after your op did you drive your car? and is bloating and tightness of the upper abdomen a normal symptom of the healing process. I am very weepy at the moment, is depression after surgery normal?

Any input greatly appreciated

Lyn xx

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Hi lynn

Bloated ✅ tight ✅

Drove after a couple of weeks from what I remember 🙈

I’m sure you’ll feel very weepy depending on what you’ve had removed it’s probable your hormones are all over the place .... I ha a radical hysterectomy and although I went through the “crash” whilst in ICU (my CNS likened it to when your hormones drop after having a baby) don’t forget your body has been through a huge change and it’s amost a grieving process ....or so they say 🤪 I personally was delighted it was all gone

X

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I am glad its all gone. Lyn x

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Hi lovely, firstly well done on having the surgery, it’s really not as bad as we think it’s going to be is it? It is a bit sore 😬 but that slowly improves.

They usually recommend you don’t drive for a while after any procedure until you are able to do an emergency stop. I’d say 6 weeks ish would be a good time frame before driving but I’m sure you’ll have an appointment with your surgeon soon so best way is to ask them. Don’t forget though that you have lots of sutures you can’t see how they’re healing inside as well as the outside ones and initially you’re at risk of prolapse if you do too much too soon which is why they tell us not to lift anything heavier than a tea cup and slowly increase activities over a reasonable period of time. They should have given you some guidance at the hospital together with some literature to help.

It’s not unusual for ladies to be weepy following a hysterectomy, it’s like a type of mourning for our ‘lady parts’ and can be quite normalto have the blues but if it continues and/or gets any worse speak with your GP. You’ve also been on the rollercoaster of diagnosis and surgery which can play havoc with our minds so it’s hardly surprising you’re shell shocked. I never mourned my bits as they were busy killing me so I was actually really glad to see the back of them.

Speak with your surgeon about the tightness in your abdomen, it’s probably quite normal post op (been over 4 years since mine so it’s a hazy memory) but you need some peace of mind and they really don’t mind you asking as many questions as you need to ask.

Take care, rest and heal nicely, love and gentle hugs ❤️Xx Jane

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Hi Jane - Thank you, I am resting lots and lots, didn't get any advise or literature, I have a follow up appointment on the 30th so will ask then. It is all so overwhelming isn't it, today I feel that if I start crying I will never stop! I have two more chemo as mop up, then I think my oncologist wants to add Avastin, but I am going to ask for December off 0f treatment and try and enjoy Christmas and the New Year and come back fighting in January. Lyn xx

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Hi Lyn

Yes totally fed up after op , definitely tightness , all those stitches inside and out . Baby steps . I was back feeling ok and driving after 4 weeks , and rapidly picked up from then . Didn’t think I would be well enough for chemo after 4 weeks but I was . Take it easy , lots of rest .

Sheila xxx

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Hi Lyn

The recommendation for driving is usually 6 weeks and you have to be able to do an emergency stop. I did wait 6 weeks and I was lucky to be able to do so, i.e. family supported me so that I didnt need to drive.

Post surgery - yes, emotions were up and down. Change in hormones, not being able to exercise, diagnosis, etc. There’s a lot going on.

Tightness - yes, still lots of healing. Bloating - I didn’t get bloating post-surgery but that’s not to say it doesn’t happen as a matter of course.

Aren’t you due a post op meeting with your surgeon at this point where they check how you’re healing? I think mine was around 11 days after surgery as an outpatient where they checked the scar area and answered questions about any sensations or symptoms at that point.

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I have got an appointment made for me to see the surgeon on the 30th which will be 20 days after op. Hopefully I will be feeling much better by then, It is so hard sitting around and not being as active, think I have too much time to mull things over and it makes me morose.

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I know what you mean!! I think I managed to distract myself as it was coming up to Christmas. Everyone got presents that I could buy on the internet. They were probably the nicest wrapped presents I have ever done as I could spend a lot more time on them;)

Also, have you been given advice on very very gentle exercises. I think once the staples come out there are recommended things. Can’t remember the detail so check with your med team on that one. It definitely helped recovery for me.

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Hi. I was told not to drive for six weeks and I think that's good advice. Once you are acting "back to normal" people will ease off with offers of help. You shouldn't be carrying shopping, and I needed a pillow to cushion the seat belt when friends took me out, for quite a few weeks. Also, don't jump to conclusions re feeling depressed. A major op takes months to get over, so don't rush things and go easy on your poor body.

Jenny

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Hi Lyn. Is 1987 your birth year? My oncologists told me that the younger you are when going through surgical menopause, the more likely you are to experience symptoms like depression. It's because of the huge drop in hormones compared to, say, a 52 year old going through the same thing. If the depression continues, please talk to your doctors, and they can prescribe something to help you. I hope you feel better soon. Kitty xx

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I wish! no its just a memorable number, I am very old and the menopause is a distant memory! I will talk to my CNS nurse next week, she is very understanding, overworked and I dare say underpaid, so don't like to bother her too much. Lyn xx

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Please don’t wait to talk to your nurse if you feel the need to. She sounds lovely, and I’m sure she wouldn’t want you to suffer unnecessarily.

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I agree with the above. If you are going through a surgical menapause, your CNS should really have helped you with this, but if not, you just ask us.

We all posted pre-op, trying to find out what to expect.

Although each of us is different.

I was well past 50, so no problems with mood, just happy that the op wasn’t as painful as I had feared

I was still too weak to contemplate driving until my entire course of Chemo was over.

In fact, I did not drive until the Chemo fog had definitely lifted!

Best of luck,

Laura

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Thank you xx

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I had the most dreadful depression after surgery - my CNS said it would get better and it did. I went for counselling and was prescribed antidepressants which I decided not to take. I think it just got better on its own eventually. Maybe it is a physical thing - feeling so weak and helpless. I think I drove my car after 6 weeks but it was a while ago and I'm not sure. I definately had pains and terrible back ache but the palliative care nurse gave me some tiny exercises to do which really worked.

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Thank you. xx

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Hi Lyn , Great advice as usual from our lovely ladies, I just would like to add I did not drive for 6 weeks it was hard as I'm so use to being independent when it comes to driving,

You have just had major surgery only 11 days ago so give your body time to heal , if you feel like a cry then cry,😭 then wipe the tears away, in a couple of weeks you will feel a lot better😀.

Take care keep in touch Lorraine xx

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Thank you Lorraine - still feeling weepy and slightly stupid cos I don't know why, but am trying to get back to upbeat. My Son is staying with us next week on a business trip from the US so that will lift my spirits, he is a wonderful cook and has promised to make me dinner.

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Hi Lyn I can’t advise on driving as I didn’t. But please avoid lifting anything heavy eg a full kettle etc. Your abdominal walls are weak and you do not want to strain them. No hoovering carrying shopping lifting children or pets. I have dogs and would sit with a pillow over my tummy to remind myself not let let them jump on me. The mood swings are natural I was told the operation is the equivalent of running a marathon which takes its toll physically & mentally. So please don’t beat yourself up just try to go with it and take small steps literally and son you will feel better xx

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Hi Lyn. I was told to wait with driving until 2 (second laparotomy) - 4 (first debulking surgery) weeks after surgery, if I remember correctly. But with chemo brain going on, I'm actually not sure anymore. If in doubt, you could check with your CNS.

And yes, I blame the surgical menopause for general post-op weepies, although (growing?) pain in a specific site would probably warrant getting it checked out at the hospital, just to be safe. Feel better soon. Xx. Maus

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Hi Lyn

I was told 6 weeks as well. Just a pointer- if you drive sooner your insurance may be invalid. Some companies use any excuse to avoid a payout in the case of an accident.

When the Taxol took my balance I decided not to drive for about 8 months till I felt I could do an emergency stop. I hated being dependent on my other half while not driving but the time does pass.

No weepies for me. Just glad it was found when it was.

It’s hard to slow down but do pamper yourself and try and enjoy the healing time.

Best wishes

Fay

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Hi Fay - hadn't considered the insurance aspect. Are you supposed to tell your insurance company if you have surgery?

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I know some do tell insurance company. I didn’t as I knew I would not drive earlier than advised. I suppose the thing to do is see what the surgeon advises and contact the insurance to see what their rules are. It may even be in the small print which of course we all read 😂

Worth checking if you wish to drive sooner.

Best wishes

Fay

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Hello Lyn I had debulking surgery done 4 weeks ago and I'm going to drive today. I have listened to my body which is what the surgeon advised me to do. I started walking my dogs from 2 weeks post op (before staples came out) and stopped as soon as I was tired. Lifting things is a no no but walking doesn't put strain on the sutures etc. I have definitely been weepy and as the girls say probably hormonal (no matter how long ago menopause was) as well as emotional because cancer is not for sissies and of course the op and the chemo takes its toll on one's body. I focus on joy and gratitude that I'm tumour free and I've filled my days with a myrrhiad of things I love to do (with definite rest periods inbetween). Get well soon x

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Thank you for the sound advise, I am going to try and enjoy the convalescing, honest! Lyn xx

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Hi Lyn

I am sorry I can’t help with your question, but really wanted to wish you all the very best and a speedy recovery, xxx

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Thank you xx

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Hi I see lots of people have responded already but just wanted to share my experience. Please be careful about driving. I started driving about 4 weeks after as my scar looked ok! How silly of me. I was in such pain afterwards and when I told my oncologist he said that I should definitely not have been driving. I needed to remember the scar I could see was the least of my worries. I have nany internal stitches and scars that also needed to heal. I know it’s tempting to drive but if you can I woukd give yourself as much time as poss. Turning that wheel and twisting will take its toll. I wish you all the best ⭐️

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Oh thank you, I was just contemplating popping out. I really am climbing the walls, which I think allows the depression to creep in, too much time to sit and think and go to dark places. My husband has been off for a week but has had to go back to work for a few days this week. I am going to get him to take me out on Wednesday...…...anywhere!

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I think being weepy is quite understandable and we're all different so I wouldn't worry about that.

I can't remember how long it was before I started driving but I'm sure it would have been when I felt like it but check you're insured to drive.

The bloating and tightness is normal. It's part of the healing process. Five years on I still get the bloating and the odd pains all over my abdomen. I think you'll find you'll get all sorts of symptoms. I put everything down to cancer and chemo brain whatever it is these days.

I'm sure you'll be fine after a few days and be on your way up. Good luck and best wishes, Zena xx

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Thank you xx

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I must admit I was driving after 2 weeks, though was told to wait 6, I’ve never been one to do as I’m told 😁. 20 days after operation, I went to a weekend folk festival, admittedly, I wasn’t up dancing, but stayed in a campervan 2 nights, even with hubby having to inject me daily.

12 weeks after operation I did a zip wire which was great.

Do what you can without overdoing it and fill your time with things to keep your mind occupied, I started doing puzzles, drawing, reading etc.

The more you do the quicker the time goes

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I was told not to drive for 3 months after debulking. Its six weeks of no driving after a normal hysterectomy, as it is after a caesarian, but for debulking, its a lot longer. It probably is also dependent on quite how much 'debulking' they carried out - the amount of stuff they cut out does vary somewhat, depending on what they found. They told me it was safest to wait three months, but I could try after 2 months if I felt I could manage it, but I didn't risk it - too tender. As for the upper abdomen, I had a strange sort of pyramid there which stuck out, not sure it was bloated, more swollen. It began to flatten out after about 6 weeks, but unfortunately I then got a hernia.

I wasn't weepy and depressed after surgery actually, too thrilled that it was all over and hugely delighted to be out of hospital and in my own home, but then I was 67 when it was done, so my ovaries weren't producing any hormones (by and large) anyway, so I wouldn't have had the sudden drop younger women experience which can cause upset. The other thing is, we all react differently to whatever drugs they use during the surgery and afterwards, and they take a long time to clear your system, at least six weeks, so some of your emotional state could be attributed to those.

I was told by the surgeon that he wanted me to go up and down the three flights of stairs outside my flat at least once every single day - so I did, very carefully at first! Also walked outdoors, just in our communal grounds and up and down the Lane I live on as time went on. Twinkle63 points out something very important - that scar you can see on the outside is only the outside - you've been cut all the way through, through every single layer of muscle, fat and fascia for them to access the pelvic region. And that is what takes time to mend properly, so I recommend treating your body with respect, not stressing it by driving or lifting anything too heavy, doing whatever gentle exercise you can manage without causing actual pain rather than a little discomfort, and giving yourself plenty of rest when you need to; this will allow your internal army of repair 'mechanics' in the body to do all the repair work they need to do, rather than taking energy away doing things that will stress that process. And try not to worry - things will settle down, both emotionally and physically.

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I had quite an extensive de-bulking, not much left! I hadn't realised I would feel so down but as you say it could be medication used. I am pleased I had it done and that it is all over with, fingers crossed they got it all. I am not used to sitting and laying down so much, it is playing havoc with my back, which doesn't help my state of mind. My appetite is good so the hopefully the blues are temporary. Lyn x

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Ah yes, back problems - I found that difficult too. It was painful to get up from laying flat, marginally better if I was propped up, but that made my back hurt. But nowhere near as much as my back hurt in that damned hospital bed, lord, my back hurt more than the wound did in hospital. Try alternating between laying down, sitting down for a while, walking about and generally moving around, and use a walking stick if you have to. I ordered myself a litter picker and a stick once I got home (thank god for Amazon) and they were invaluable at times. Also ordered more pain relief magnets for my back, which I've used for years, but couldn't use in hospital - they help enormously with back pain. But be fully aware - this too shall pass! Good luck...

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Yes I found the hospital bed unbearable, the pain was worse than the surgery! Couldn't wait to get out. I will investigate pain relief magnets. Lyn x

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Let me know if you want more information about which pain relief magnets ...

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Yes Please...…..Lyn x

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Send you a private message...

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Zip wire! you are the best! Lyn x

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I waited about six weeks before driving. I was told sit in the car and press brake hard, if it doesn't hurt then you are fit to drive. It is natural to feel weepy as your body has been through a lot and you are probably quite weak. Just rest and take care of yourself , you will recover. Best wishes for your recovery xx

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Thank you. I was wondering if there was a test. Lyn x

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I’m so glad I read this thread. I will hopefully be having my debulking surgery in about a month, and this gave me a lot to think about. I hope I don’t have to wait ages to be able to walk my dogs!

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I was advised via other ladies on here to take in a small cushion, I bought one cheaply on Amazon. It was invaluable at holding next to the incision when coughing or sneezing, it also came in very handy on the drive home under the seatbelt. Good Luck with your surgery. Lyn x

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Thank you. That's great advice! A lady I met whilst having chemo had a teddy bear her grandson had given her after surgery. She used the bear instead of a cushion, and I thought it was so sweet. She didn't care if she looked a bit silly, because the bear made her think about her grandson and that made her happy. Kitty xx

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Hi Lyn. Alot of great advice has been said, but just wanted to say thinking of you and hope you heal quickly. I was told not to drive for 6 weeks, no lifting anything, no housework! I was in alot of pain and on serious painkillers for a while, so didn't want to do much, but we are all different. Crying is totally normal. Its a big operation, hormones etc. One thing that I learnt the hard way! is to put vitamin E cream or aloe vera gel on the scar very gently, morning and evening, after a few weeks when it has healed. It stops itchiness later on! Big hugs from Oz.

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My scar itches already but I have got a waterproof tape over the top - hoping it’s a sign of healing

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Bio oil is really good and they now do it in a handy gel. I find it really nice and cooling on my scar⭐️

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My sister had to wait 4 weeks before she could drive again. The bloating came from the fluids pumped into her and the swelling from the surgery which will go down. Eat your protein, move around and walk to help aid in the recovery. Wishing you all the best. Nancy

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Thank you Nancy have been for a short walk this morning as the sun is shining, it does help lift the spirits, I love all the Autumn colours.

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