Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hysterectomy Recovery 101

Having a platinum non-reward points card at our surrounding hospitals from all of the surgeries over the past few years you would think I would be ready for this one. I mean it is kinda a big deal getting a hysterectomy right?  I found the comments that I would get leading up to Uterus Dooms Day was interesting and a tad depressing.  I was preparing to go on short-term leave and had to tie up some loose ends professionally and personally.  Here is how many of the conversations would go:

Me: Hey just wanted to let you know I will be out on short-term leave do to an upcoming surgery.

Person 1: Everything ok?

Me: Yes, I am having a hysterectomy because my plumbing is broken, diseased and hates me.

Person 1: Oh, yeah my mom had one.

Me: Repeat to the next person

Person 2: Oh, yeah my grandmother had a hysterectomy

Person 3:  Yep, know all about that my Mom and Grandmother had one

Person 4: My grandmother and all of her Wednesday night Bingo friends had one.

See where I am going with this? I am 30 {cough} something and I am having a surgery that I should not be having at my age.  I should be in my womb prime, doing wombly things. Such as having periods and babies and stuff. OK,  so I know what you are probably going to say. “Hey Miss-ungrateful, periods suck as does child birth, kankles and stretch marks.” The grass seems greener though doesn’t it? I guess is it fair to say I am 50/50 in my feelings of letting go of my lady bits. Crazy huh? Most women who do get hysterectomies are excited because it will improve their quality of life. This non-functional organ would have certainly shortened my life but yet I am sad that I am letting go of any chance of conception, immaculate or otherwise.  Don’t get me wrong here, throwing away boxes of tampons and Midol is a pretty sweet deal, but for some reason I feel as though I am less of a woman.  My right of women-hood is being ripped from my body.

Normally I am very planned out, this time however, not so much. Thank God for good friends both electronic and personal.  We bloggers, have blogger friends. Grey Fox, From Fox in the Hen House blog is literally on the same path as me. For different reasons medically,  but she had her hysterectomy before mine and  I started my surrogacy process before her. So naturally we swap advice. I was lucky to have the low down on what to expect as it relates to my body and a good heads up mentally as well.  I also, have a pretty kick-ass friend that did some serious internet reconnaissance and made me a care package that I used every day of the beginning stages of my recovery.

This care package included the following:
  1. Paper Plates and Cups- Genius I say. Chris was busy being an awesome stay at home man-nurse and this way he can cook without having to wash dishes.  Little did my thoughtful friend know he hates dish pan hands.  My man-nurse was very appreciative.
  2. Drinks with electrolytes- You have to pump those fluids. When I first came out of surgery I could not pee. I was in more pain because I had to pee then from actual surgery at that time. To the point that I almost asked the nurse to re-catheterize me. Desperate times folks, desperate times.  Finally, after sitting and staring at the bathroom wall for 25+ minutes the pee Gods opened up the flood gates. 
  3. Flushable wipes- I will spare the gory details as Halloween is a long way from now, but wipes are a good thing to keep on hand. They clean things when you don’t have the dexterity to do so.
  4. Gas Relief- When you have a laparoscopic surgery anywhere in the abdomen, the doctors fill it with gas so it will expand and they have ample room to poke and prod and play operation in there.  As a result the gas collects in strange places in your body. For most, it is in the shoulders. It also leads to some lower region gas pains as well.  This helped me tremendously, along with making sure you walk around to help work out the remaining squeakers. HAHA I called them squeakers. Moving on.
  5. Pads- These are the last ones you will need. Ever. But nevertheless, you will need them a few days following the surgery.
  6. Non-Slippy Socks- Is that what they are called? I walked around like baby Bambi for a few days so this was just simple home safety prevention.
  7. Stool Softener- This is TMI but hey if you are reading this far into my blog and posts this is just normal conversation. Pain medications make most people constipated post-surgery. I try to wean myself off of them as soon as I can stand it so I can do my other business.  I freak out if I cannot go and the first few times you have to go after this type of surgery is utterly terrifying. I am talking obsess about it. So I pop these things like M&Ms the first chance I get.
  8. A Handled Plastic Bottle- I saved this for last. You know how Linus has a blanket he carries everywhere? Well this was my blanket equivalent, or water bottle blanket ah, you know what I mean.  It has a handle and is sealed so you can clumsily grab it and drink till your heart is content without spilling half of the contents on you. You can purchase one of these amazing items at the dollar store. It is a must.
One thing is certain, I have the best oncologist. Seriously, all doctors can learn something from his bedside manner. Out of all of the doctors I have ever encountered, he is my favorite.  This has been a frightening experience and he has somehow made this easier and hopeful for us.  When I recently saw him for a post op visit, he told me that it was a very smart decision we made because although the last biopsy before my surgery did not yield those sneaky pre-cancerous cells, the after surgery biopsy did.  Sometimes it is hard closing doors and releasing those deep desires, as impossible as they may seem. But I let go, and it was the best decision I have made.
Chris:   Proud, proud, proud of Candace.  She was such a trooper and put up with my sometimes mediocre cooking.  I did work my ass off though and can definitely relate to everything she did for me during my brain surgeries.  From helping her change to helping her shower to being crop-dusted by her squeakers I was so amazed by how much she fought to recover ... and fought with me to make her recover.  When I had my surgery, all you had to do was say, "Chris, no _____, no pain meds," and I would do whatever was in the blank.   I had to argue with Candace to take naps, rest, and in general act like she actually had a major surgery.  There were some scary moments but overall it was just time and patience that helped her recover most.  Alright Candace, rest is over.  Besta git to cleanin' the house and cooking again ... Ouch ... she did just punch me.  See what I mean, she really is recovering quickly!
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  1. Unfortunately hysterectomy is all too common in my family. So far at my age of 44 I have passed all the women in my family who have had one in their mid 30's. Hoping that you heal quickly.

  2. I'm having my hysterical on Valentine's day go figure that one out. Thanks for reminding me about gas problems and thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Thank you for this. I just started following. I'll be getting my radical hysterectomy in March at 29. I'll be passing this list on to my hubby :)

    1. Good luck Lisa. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids afterwards. Candace had a water bottle with handle and treated it like her security blanket for a while after her surgery. Please let us know how everything goes afterwards.

  4. Hope you're doing fine, Lisa. Keep writing, you're a true inspiration. Wishing you all the strength.