What to Expect When You’re Expecting – a Hysterectomy

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Today’s post is being brought to you by the Letter ‘S’

Surgery

Hello, hello, everyone!!  How I have missed you all – I cannot even begin to describe.  Surgery was exactly one week ago today.  Let me tell you, it has been quite a week. I am so glad to be sharing this post with you, as it shows that I am slowly but surely on the mend.

 

Republished with permission from Jerry King Cartoons

Symptoms

Note** Please do not let the following description of my abdominal hysterectomy dissuade you from having this surgery should you need one. Every woman’s experience is different; please talk with your doctor should you have any concerns.

 

I am going to share my experience for those of you who ever need surgery of this kind or any abdominal surgery, for that matter. It’s helpful to realize that what you are experiencing is normal and will pass with time.  I myself, was unaware of the things that happens to your body during and after surgery which can affect your recovery. 

The surgery itself went smoothly.  No cancer was found and there was minimal bleeding.  However, the morning after surgery I began having severe pain from the CO2 gas that was used to inflate my stomach during surgery. Its job is to relax the tissues in the area being worked on and allows instruments to move around more freely.   I was told that this gas gets trapped inside the body cavity and takes time to work its way out.  The air is absorbed through tissue and cells and much of it is exhaled through the mouth (learn something new every day!) and doesn’t happen right away; it can take a long time.  Like, many days.  Mine seemed to ‘sit’ in my back, right below my shoulder blade and no matter which way I tried to lay, it felt like I was resting on a bowling ball. It hurts to breathe deeply and no matter what, I just couldn’t get comfortable.  The nurses said that the quickest form of relief was to move.  So Wednesday and Thursday for about 9 hours each day, you could find me shuffling my way up and down the halls, dragging my IV unit on one side and my husband on the other.  Unfortunately, the pain wouldn’t subside.  It just moved from place to place until finally it decided to camp out near my incision site.  Finally on Sunday, I felt some relief.

Anesthesia is nothing short than a miracle compared to when doctors used to operate without it (can you imagine??) You don’t remember anything and you don’t feel anything. However, anesthesia slows down the function of your body including your bowels.  Bowels tend to like to be left alone to do their thing, so when they become disturbed, they can get a little angry.  That anger comes to you with a big red bow and wrapped in the form of intestinal and colon gas.  Waking those areas up can be a daunting task.  In addition to this, the narcotics used to help control the pain also carry the side effect of constipation – thus the making of the Perfect Storm. So, my first order of business after I arrived home was to stop the Percocet altogether and just function on Ibuprofen.  Let me tell you, never in my life has my bowels been the talk of the town than during the course of this past week. Family and friends were notified when stool softener was swallowed, suppositories were inserted and Milk of Magnesia flowed.  Everyone near and far held silent vigils while praying for poop.

Sunday – a fitting day, don’t you think? – their prayers were answered.  lol

The last thing that surprised me was my inability to eat.  I had to fast the day before surgery, and two days later couldn’t eat anything other than a few Saltine crackers before each dose of pain medication.  With my stomach so full of air and gas, there was literally no room for food, and any that I tried to eat made me sick to my stomach almost immediately.  On Sunday I had my first meal: one piece of toast and 1 scrambled egg; it sat fairly well.  Success in that department sent Craig and I over the moon!  We were so happy.  Finally, I had turned a corner. 

Special

That’s what You are.  And that’s what I felt when Craig read me every comment/email each of you wrote before surgery and after my husband’s post-surgery update.  He was pretty nervous knowing that he had to write something which he knew would be read by others, but the response you gave to his post was so touching to me and to him. It was actually a nice distraction for him; at first he was amazed when he received a response.  Then, when several started coming in that was very exciting for him.  I’ve always told him that I have the best readers out there.  Now, he understands why. 

Sustaining Support

That’s what my husband has been giving me since my operation.  He has been the best caregiver I could ever ask for (and as a caregiver by profession, that says a lot!).  He rubbed my back when it hurt; he matched my every step in the hospital, and he’s been tending to my every need since I arrived home from the hospital. 

His only problem?  He’s given away his little secret (I’m witnessing with my own eyes just how capable he is of doing things around the house – which he previously claimed to be uneducated about). All of his male friends tell him jokingly, ‘You’re screwed now, buddy!’ 

Seriously though, I couldn’t have made it through the past couple of months without him. It’s times like these when the vows, for better or for worse can challenge a marriage, but we made it through the worse with my employer and friend’s death last month and then this surgery.  SO looking forward to the better parts to come. 

I hope you’ve all been well and enjoying your summer so far.  I look forward to reconnecting with each of you as I continue to make slow but steady progress.  Have a great Tuesday.  Appreciate your bowels!   ;)

XO,

~Ellen

44 thoughts on “What to Expect When You’re Expecting – a Hysterectomy

  1. Jill

    I am so happy to hear from you Ellen. You must feel such a sense of relief now that the surgery is over and behind you. You have been in my thoughts everyday with each sip of tea. I hope you continue to heal well with minimal discomfort!! Love and hugs coming your way! xoxoxox

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Jill, it feels good to just have some familiarity back in my life. Things have been so upside down for so long now (it feels like, anyway) that this is comforting. I shouldn’t be telling you about things feeling upside down, should I? Though, you are certainly handling things with grace. Any good teas over there? ;)

      Reply
  2. Sharon

    Oh Ellen, how happy I am to see this post. One thing is obvious – the dreaded surgery did nothing to dampen your wonderful sense of humor. Thank goodness, it’s still totally intact! As for the poop, this is what I remember most from my mom’s knee replacement a few years ago. (Thankfully, this is our most recent personal experience with surgery) She was absolutely miserable and seems we tried everything for DAYS before finally getting her bowels to move again. The combination of anesthesia/pain meds just make it so difficult!

    Now that the surgery is over, from my experience with friends, the best advice I can give is DO NOT TRY TO DO TOO MUCH TOO SOON! You are going to have to be patient!

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Sharon – so good to hear from you. I’ve been enjoying your trek across parts of the states that I’ve never been to. Living vicariously through you right now, so keep the pics coming, please :)
      My husband is not allowing me to do ANYTHING that resembles work. Easy right now, but when he goes back to work – then I will need a distraction that is NOT work related. I think that will be the time I begin working on my art!

      Reply
  3. Connie

    I’m so happy to hear that you’re doing good! Congratulations on the poop – what great progress!!! Your husband sounds wonderful and is apparently taking very good care of you.

    Keep up the great progress!

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Connie, thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment. I’m happy to hear from you!
      I’m taking things one day at a time and just glad things are ‘flowing smoothly’ again!

      Reply
  4. Pj geek

    I’ve been meaning to really investigate this with your blog. I’m glad you are well. My post today might seem familiar for you as I’m goingdown this path, it seems. not that I want to.

    Reply
  5. KCLAnderson (Karen)

    What a nice surprise!! One week out and you’re writing :-) This bodes well.

    I have to say I was laughing and nodding my head in regards to the poop issue. Although I haven’t had a hysterectomy, I did have my gall bladder removed (laproscopically) and went through a similar period. But surgery aside, if either my hubs or I get “backed up” in that department, our lives become consumed with it! There’s a visceral (literally) fear of constipation!

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Oh, I have heard of the stories that go along with gall bladder surgery. You certainly can relate, I’m sure. We don’t appreciate our bodies NEAR enough when things are going along well. I’m learning this – which is a GOOD thing. Everything, including just being able to go up and down a flight of stairs won’t be taken for granted ever again. SO good to hear from you, Karen. Thank you for always sending goodness and kindness over my way.

      Reply
  6. Karen@WaistingTime

    Glad to hear you are on the road to recovery. I can identify with the poop story! When I had my umbilical hernia repair, I asked the doctor about what, if anything, I should be doing to avoid “stoppages” because I knew that constipation is actually one of the potential causes of such hernias! It kind of bothered me that I had to ask, rather than him thinking to tell me, because he then went on to share all the stuff he wanted me to take to help move things along. I was so relieved when I was finally, ahem, relieved, post surgery.

    Reply
  7. Caron

    So nice to hear from you directly although we did appreciate your husband letting us know you got through surgery just fine. Hopefully, each day from now will be a little better and you will be able to enjoy the summer. :)

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Thank you, Caron. So very sweet of you to keep in touch. I am reminding myself like that of a turtle. Slow going. But, hopefully come July I will feel much better. I hope you’re enjoying YOUR summer so far :)

      Reply
  8. Vickie

    If there is anesthesia and pain meds involved then no matter what the location, GI is THE issue, especially for smaller weight women, so teenage girls having surgery are often deeply impacted.

    So glad you posted, glad to hear things are going well.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      I’ve been thinking about you, Vickie. I hope Mayo went well and that you are all back home, safe and sound. How is your foot doing? Here’s to hoping both of us are up and moving in short order!

      Reply
      1. Vickie

        At 3 week mark with foot and back in to ortho doc this afternoon for re-X-ray and re-check. I have been Counting Down in my blog post titles each day. Today is day 23/56 foot debacle.

        Mayo went well, we were only there a week this time. No further heart issues were found, further treatment can be done at home. Honestly I went thinking – am I going to have my 14 year old needing heart surgery – so that was good. Did college orientation with my middle kid this week (mayo was the week before last). So finally home.

        Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Hi, Jill! Thank you for reading, and for your kind thoughts. I am certainly ‘moving’ in the right direction all right. One hurdle down!! lol

      Reply
  9. Joan

    And here I thought the gas was a result of the CO2! So great to read your post and to see that you are feeling better with each passing day. Please remember to pace yourself, it’s lovely that you have such a kind and competent helpmate.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Hi, Joan~
      Thank you so much for your comment, and for your well-wishes. I need as many as I can get :)
      Pacing myself has been a challenge. I don’t know the difference between doing too little or too much until it’s too late. Living and learning. Take care and have a great weekend.

      Reply
  10. Jan

    It’s so great to hear from you! I’m so sorry you had such an ordeal with the pain/pressure of the CO2 hanging around. Ugh! I’m glad that has now passed and you are on your way to recovering. Continuing to pray for you.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Thinking of you, Jan. I know your world is topsy-turvy right now. Hoping things settle down enough for you to ‘breathe’ and have a quiet moment to yourself. Let me know when you get settled, will you? XO

      Reply
  11. Val

    I know you want to hear all about today’s patient: a 7-yr old multiparous Yorkie! I think we did her as much good w/the dentistry we performed (like a lot of toy dogs, her mouth was FOUL & we have to do multiple extractions) as warding off future problems w/the hysterectomy…
    (Yesterday was a yawn: a 2 yr old Scottish terrier X & Pit Bull puppy. No worries – not that I don’t appreciate relaxing uncomplicated routine surgery! ;-)

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      My dear Val. Always one to make me laugh. Glad to hear you saved the day with the Yorkie. Reminds me that I need to go and brush my teeth yet this morning. Thanks!

      Reply
  12. E. Jane

    I’m so glad that you are on the mend and have gotten past all of the Co2 and other unpleasant things about having that type of surgery. It sounds like you have a great husband, and they don’t grow on trees. Take good care of yourself!

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Jane, I am slowly but surely on the crawl (on the ‘move’ sounds too fast paced for some reason! lol) I do appreciate my husband. Maybe too much. When he goes back to work I’m going to actually start having to do some of these things on my OWN again. Doesn’t take long to get spoiled.

      Reply
  13. Cindy

    Seeing your post this evening made my day! So happy to hear you are doing well. I had similar issues with the Co2 during my surgery, as well as the other ummmm, stuff you mention. Amazing part is that I can’t really remember the pain itself, just that it was. I wonder if this is how our wonderful brains help us heal from these things. Take care and may the healing continue!

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Hi, Cindy. Your comment made MY day :)
      I look forward to this pain being a distant memory. I had my first sneeze just moments ago and WOW! I had to check and make sure everything was still in tact! Thank you for reading and thinking of me.

      Reply
  14. Munchberry

    Never have I been so happy to hear that someone has pooped or eaten eggs!

    You know you are getting better when your loving fella does a chore and you get crabby that he is not doing it right.

    I hope people who are looking up the afters of a hysterectomy can google their way here. Nobody ever talks openly about what to expect afterwards. My SIL said her gas was from anesthesia and moving her guts around. When I told her that they pumped CO2 into you and you had that too I had to calm down her hyperventilating. Apparently it is pretty darn bad without that added little trick. They should tell you. I would have panicked.

    Bright side: UNlike Val’s patients you did not have to get a stem and stern extraction. Or is it that the stem extraction prevented the stern extraction? I think I have been pumped with CO2. Brain fart. That will be my new secret way to tell you I have been farty. Shh. : ) Glad you’re feelin better chicky pie.

    Reply
  15. debby

    So glad to hear from you Ellen! That CO2 sounds like a terrible thing. I would think they could invent a way to get rid of it before the patient woke up!

    And yes, I agree with whoever told you not to do too much too soon!

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Hi, Debby!
      Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment. No worries about me doing too much today, that’s for sure. Onward and upward, though!

      Reply
  16. Hanlie

    It’s great to hear from you!

    I guess not eating for a few days contributed to the constipation. That gas feeling is awful – I’ve had laparoscopic abdominal surgery four times, so I’m very familiar with the after-effects. You should be fine from now on – mending, but past the unpleasant side effects.

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Hanlie~
      It’s great to hear from YOU :)
      You are absolutely right about the eating part contributing to the constipation. A vicious cycle. Many thanks for your update to my Craig on his post. You are a dear.

      Reply
  17. Beth

    So glad you are doing better Ellen, and that Craig is being so good to you! As for Bowel talk…that has been many a main topic of conversation in our house over the past 7 years. That’s what happens when your husband has Ulcerative Colitis and has had many an accident before having his entire large intestine removed! Hope you continue to recover quickly! Love you!

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Love you, too!! Thank you for the get-well card. It was wonderful hearing from you.
      My sympathies to Mark. My heart goes out to the guy. I hope he’s doing well these days. Always thinking of you with love. XO

      Reply
  18. Roz@weightingfor50

    Ellen!!!! So great to hear from you. Glad you are on the mend!!!! The “symptom” section was especially “moving”. Ah, ha, ha…omg, that was a terrible joke. Sending healing hugs your way!!!!

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Hi, Roz~
      Thank you for your witty comment – good one ;) I need to work those tummy muscles!! Hope you are enjoying your summer so far. Looking forward to catching up on your blog and seeing your always engaging photos :)

      Reply
  19. Goodnuff

    CO2 pain is bad. Moving around and heat probably help the most.
    Did you try my trick of taking stool softeners a few days before surgery? Of three surgeries the one where I started the softeners the day before was when I was able to go quickest. Then I forgot to do it for my last surgery and blah, what a terrible feeling.
    I’m glad you are feeling better and that you are in good hands. Keep on healing!

    Reply
    1. Ellen Post author

      Many, many thanks for the advice. Heat sounds like a good idea. Ice packs were given at the hospital but that was for my incision site. Still SO swollen. I can’t get into ANY of my pants. Loose dresses are my clothing of choice these days. As far as the day before surgery, my doc handed me a sheet, ordering me to purchase and use TWO Fleet Enemas. One in the morning; one at night. Whew.

      Reply
  20. Lynn ~Learning Curves

    I’m so happy to hear that the surgery and recovery (so far) went well!! And yes, it’s amazing what the body really goes through during a surgical procedure and even more amazing to find out what muscles you use (and no longer can) after surgery. I had an tubal pregnancy which (as if that wasn’t bad enough) took a turn for the worse and I ended up having major surgery to remove the tube. It left me with a ‘c-section’ scar and, although it occurred more than 10 years ago, I still have numbness around the surgical site!

    Wishing you a speedy recovery and quick return to yoga!!

    Reply
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