Hysterectomy, Recovery, and Everything In-between
Several months ago I wrote about the beginning of my hysterectomy journey after been referred to a surgeon from my endometriosis specialist, and then booking the procedure. I booked the surgery, I knew I had 8 weeks between me and saying goodbye to my uterus, tubes, cervix, and that pesky left ovary. I can easily say that I went through every emotion one could think of, and then some.
I was happy, excited, and optimistic. I was sick of living with pain, with horrific periods (when they came), monthly PMS that causes mood swings and hormonal migraines, bloating, sickness, endometriosis, cysts, I was SO over it, all of it. At my initial consult the surgeon told me that he expected after recovery I could be 90% pain free. A number and thought that is still hard to imagine as I've been in pain for as long as I can remember, at least since around age 12, but perhaps earlier.
I was also fearful, anxious, saddened, and full of grief. I was fearful of just about everything having to do with this surgery, though it was my 7th surgery it felt bigger and scarier than the rest. I was anxious about surgery, about recovery, about what would happen or could happen in between. I was sad to need the surgery though I still know, for me, it was what needed to be done for me. The grief... I thought I had worked on my own grief of not being able to get pregnant, and of not having my own biological children, but booking and going through with this surgery made that more final, more real, and a harder pill to swallow.
The two weeks leading up to my hysterectomy I made sure I practiced a little extra self care. I even stepped out of my own comfort zone and rode in a Roping clinic, after only riding Western 3 months, following almost 29 years riding English. I tried to keep up with my daily workouts, thought the week of surgery it was harder to mentally stay with it. I knew what I was about to get myself into, and at the same time, I was clueless.
I had prepared, some might say overprepared, for my own recovery. I bought pjs, underwear, pads, slippers, a new bathrobe, and books for while I was "stuck recovering" which by the way, I still haven't read one page of anything. I had my gluten free snacks, ginger beer, Gatorades, chap stick, and lotion, along with my heat pads.
I am one week post op. This time last week my amazing significant other was encouraging me to eat the gluten free crackers I had brought for recovery so that I could be discharged and go home to my own bed.
The night prior we stayed in a hotel, closer to the hospital, as we live an hour or more away dependent on traffic. I barely slept that night, every sound seemed louder, and surgery was getting closer and closer. I showed up to the hospital crying, I couldn't help it. I was scared, and it was a lot. It took an hour before anyone came to see us, then it went pretty quickly between consents, IV's and poof, out like a light. As someone with needle trauma, the IV was one of the worst parts, they did their best, but my veins don't play nice. I remember waking up from surgery and only being able to say my significant others name, thought it felt more like I was hearing his name in the distance. They called for him, and there he was, as he has continued to be, by my side.
The ride home was mostly a blur as I held onto my stomach and the door as we drove through the bumpy potholes out of Boston back to our home. I remember climbing the stairs and crying in pain the whole way until I was in my own bed. The worst was over after that. I was home. Surgery was over.
The days that followed were hard, most of that first weekend feels like a blur. The first three days for me, were the worst. On day 4 I woke up feeling okay, got up and moved a little, then that afternoon I fainted while sitting in my kitchen, after that things felt worse again, I felt worse again. So many times in the past week I have felt defeated, optimistic, grateful, and grief, sometimes at the same time.
Today I am slightly better, after a very rough early morning not feeling or being well. Though I have decided not to push it, so here I am, still in bed, and I keep thinking to myself that it's a good thing I love our bedroom.
Friends and family have visited throughout the week, my significant other has been amazing. Most of my time has been spent sleeping, as that's what my body seems to want to do. I don't have much of an appetite still, but am doing my best, and that has looked different every day, but that's also okay.
I have moments where it feels surreal, like my reproductive system is still there and there's still a chance, then I pop that bubble and come back to reality. I am by no means recovered, and I understand why they say the recovery is so long for this surgery. I expected a few days and then to be better, however I see now, its a few months for a reason. I am listening to by body, even when my brain tells me I could do this or that, and I know deep down, I can't do much, yet, but I will get there. I can't wait to be back in the saddle, back to workouts, moving around normally, I look forward to life after hysterectomy recovery, and until then, I will continue to rest and recover.
Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY. I had several different types of cysts, endometriosis, and polyps. I used to need the bathroom every 10-15 minutes, and if I wasn't near one it was excruciating. Now, I'm learning the cues of when I need to go, far less frequently, and without the urgency. I can only imagine the additional benefits that I will recognize as I continue to recover.
It's hard. It's emotional. It's exhausting. It's uncomfortable. It's a challenge. It's like nothing I've ever experienced. In the end I still believe it was the right time and the right decision.
Monday I have pre-op, I also will start seeing clients virtually in my private practice. I'm grateful to work for myself and from my home office. I have had moments of feeling defeated, but I continue to push through, there's an amazing new quality of life on the other side of recovery.