Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Aug 24

Hysterectomy Blues and Self Acceptance

Alternate title:  Patience, Patience! PATIENCE!!!!!


Let’s face it: since my surgery I’ve not been the most patient of patients. Maybe you’ve noticed that I’ve been off my game lately.  Certainly not posting quite as often; responding to emails seems to be taking a wee bit longer than usual.  Catching up on the blogs I love has been daunting (Google Reader reminded me today that I am more than 100 posts behind).  It’s certainly been no secret to me that I’m stuck somewhere between ‘Here’ and ‘How in the hell did I get way over there?’  

I have made every attempt to avoid turning this blog into a post-operative complaint log for hysterectomy ramblings, but I still find myself dotting posts with bits and pieces of information that refer to the obvious frustration, fatigue, swollen tummy and just plain ole’ blahness that I’m feeling. 

Blahness: Friday’s Word of the Day.

The things I want to write about  – that this week has been especially difficult; that I am having trouble coming to terms with the fact that I am no longer woman that I was before my surgery; that I don’t know if or when she is coming back – all boils down to one sentence:   I am totally sucking at practicing self-acceptance. 

I didn’t really comprehend how bad my mental attitude was until reading the last couple of posts by the lovely Karen at Before and After where she has been discussing this very subject.  I realized that I have been at war with my body over the past few weeks and I’ve been losing, big time. 

My expectations going into this operation had me thinking that once the surgery was over, that would be the endpoint.  When I was told that I could resume normal activity as tolerated after six weeks, I thought that meant I’d be feeling markedly better and just continue to improve from that point forward.  I was so ignorant confident that I made plans for all the great things I wanted to do from mid-summer on. 

The reality, however, was something completely different.  Once the surgery was over the real work was just beginning:  healing.  When I was released from care after 6 weeks it wasn’t because I was free to resume my old life.  I was simply graduating from being a patient at risk for infection and complications to a patient that was now ‘in the clear’, meaning there wasn’t much that my doc could do for me beyond that point.  The rest was up to me.  It’s been two and a half months since my surgery and I’ve been trying to force my body into complying with how I think I should be feeling and behaving.   Instead of accepting what is happening, I’ve been busy with the why of it all.  As in, Why am I still so tired all of the time?  Why is my stomach still terribly swollen?  Why am I still experiencing pain?  Why, why why? 

The days of me running around like clockwork mastering yoga,  gardening, bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan – are gone.   Now, my day looks something like this:  At 7:15 AM I literally peel my body out of bed because I’m determined to maintain some kind of schedule.  The rest of my day is pretty much made up of me trying to force myself into doing anything other than shuffling around and wanting to take a nap.  Earlier this week I got wild and crazy and decided to take the dogs on a short walk AND go grocery shopping for a few items.  By 9 PM that night my belly was so swollen my stretchy shorts felt like a tourniquet.  I had gained 5.2 pounds since stepping on the scale that morning.   Not kidding.  I looked like I was carrying a watermelon under my t-shirt. 

The next day I had to make the difficult decision of suspending my yoga account for the second time.  My body is simply not going to be rushed regardless of what I have to say about it.

I just recently learned that I won’t be quite 80% healed until six months post-surgery.  That puts me into December.  My body won’t be considered completely healed for almost 12 months. 

It is easy to get down in the dumps after a major surgery. It’s also easy to have doubts and all kinds of negative energy if you don’t know when you’re going to get better.  I was sharing my frustrations with my sister and when I was done she said, ‘Now, I want you to tell me all of the things you’re grateful for.  For every bad feeling, give me an equal reason why you are thankful.’   As soon as she said that, I started laughing. I can’t believe I’ve become the kind of person that has to be reminded to be thankful!   I make a point to keep my distance from negative people because I’m easily affected by them – and here I’ve become one of them!   


No way. 

Not me.

What a wake-up call.  I’ve been writing a gratitude list every night since.  Here is what I’m grateful for today:

  • I am noticing improvements – I can vacuum the floor once again, and lift 6-7 pounds with minimal pain.
  • I am building a business from scratch; pouring my heart and soul into it and the paintings I’m producing/listing on Etsy. 
  • I have this blog and all of you for support and even a kick in the pants when I need it. 
  • I have a supportive and very patient husband who understands me and what I’m going through.

While I’m at it, here’s another reminder for myself: self-acceptance and the ability to embrace the nature of change go hand in hand.  One will not work without the other.  If I can’t acknowledge and accept that change is going to occur in my life, then I’ll never be at peace with myself;  I’ll never have that sense of self-acceptance and will probably be delaying my recovery even further. 

I may be stumbling, friends out there – but I’m inching forward. 

Have a good weekend, and thanks for reading today. 

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  1. Sabrina says:

    In a recent personal situation I learned that patience would be the only thing to get me through. I’ve never been good at that, but good things came in the end.

    Keep inching forward, you’ll get there!

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you, Sabrina. I know we ALL go through trials – I think part of my problem is that I VOLUNTEERED for this one and am not happy with my decision so far. That is a hard pill to swallow. But, it’s bound to get better. Just gotta hang on!!

  2. Roxie says:

    I’m in a rush but want to just send a hug your way…

  3. Margot says:

    On a much less severe scale, you’ve described how I feel trying to exercise post-physical therapy. In June I was released by my therapist – I should be able to do anything, right? It’s taking me weeks, going on months, to accept that I still need work; I’ve simply learned enough that I have to do it on my own now. The therapist couldn’t warrant keeping me in her rotation. It’s a hard reality to accept.

    Good luck with your inching. I’m beginning to think that is the only way to get there physically.

    • Ellen says:

      Margot, it sounds like you have a complete understanding of things. It certainly helps to know that I’m not alone in feeling this way – but sorry that you are experiencing it. I know that 80% of it is attitude. I just need a better one.

  4. Lisa Stalsworth says:

    You are gaining strength every week based on what you share! I have heard that having a hysterectomy is removing a major organ from the female body, on the scale of a kidney or lung, and it takes the body a while to recover from it’s loss.

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you, Lisa. I appreciate your comment. I’m generally a very well-prepared person, but this I was completely unprepared for. Kind of ‘knocked off my chair’ unprepared. But boy, in a year? Hopefully I’ll have a river’s worth of wisdom to share!

  5. Ellen,

    Having gratitude can be a challenge. Lots of things can be challenge but I am so proud of you for sharing this with all of us because I know that the woman who came up with the Hate-Loss Challenge and who did so well with challenging her own anxiety by going out and trying new things and greeting strangers can get through this too!


    Much love!


    • Ellen says:

      Yes, I guess I was that girl, wasn’t I? She sure needs a refresher course! I guess this is my own personal mid-year challenge that I have to do by myself.
      Thanks for the reminder that I’m stronger than I currently think I am. I think that’s true for all of us at some point in our lives.

  6. Kyra says:

    *hugs* Healing is the name of the game (I’m not so sure you should be fighting those naps, BTW.)

    I wish I was nearby, because I could bring my canvas over, we could prop our feet up and gossip and paint! I’m pretty good at holding people hostage 😉

  7. Charlotte says:

    Honestly, you won’t ever be the same, but you can be better and different with determination and hard work. Seems like you have that in the bag so keep your chin up girl. You may have to eat some new foods or change your routine a little but exercise and water, which you know, are the keys, along with the right amount of sleep. I think that when we get older we can’t sleep longer or it is harder to get going so it’s a very fine line on what is the right amount for you. Keep that metabolism going! Take your happy pills ( do things that make you LAUGH and don’t sweat it when you are down). Pray, too, and ask Jesus for strength. It WILL get better and better!

    • Ellen says:

      Charlotte, thank you for the uplifting comment. I am trying – really trying to move beyond this and I’m taking each day at a time. I like the happy pills comment (how did you know I had a stash of those? 😉

  8. Patience isn’t one of my virtues either. (Isn’t it great we have so many more to replace it? :) )

    I was thinking about the past on one of my drives last week, and I realized that not only am I not who I was five years ago, I’m not who I was last week, or the week before or even yesterday. To really complicate things, today I’m not who I’ll be next year or the year after. All that’s left is to be who I am today and to try to the be the best version of that that I can be. (It’s 9:30 a.m. as I write this, and so far, I’m fairly awesome. LOL)

    Wishing you a peaceful and accepting spirit, Ellen! For today and all the days that follow.

  9. Although I have not had the kind of surgery you speak of, I look back at the time when I had Lyme disease and hormone imbalance as being similar: I had to heal and it was going to take a long time and there’d be emotional upheaval along with the physical changes/exhaustion. Of course, now, in hindsight, it’s easy to say, “oh well, yes, I got through it.” But in the moment, it was f^&*ing hard.

    Cammy is right…all we have is right this minute. And there will be times when we don’t have patience for this moment…when we don’t accept it. And that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

  10. NewMe says:

    Surgery is not only hard on your body, it’s really hard on your mind and your spirit.

    Although it’s hard to hear, there is no other cure but “tincture of time”, as my wonderful GP says.

    You will get better and you will be able to look back on this time, remembering how hard it was and knowing that you are finally well. Different but well again.

    I’m glad you’ve got a great husband to help you through and also lots of people on the Internet who are here to give you support. We’re all rooting for you!


    • Ellen says:

      You are such a good sympathizer. I feel like if I complain any more, I won’t be able to stand myself anymore!!
      The good news is that having such wonderful people to remind me (even if it takes a few times to sink in) that it WILL happen if I just allow it to, and will be better when it’s all over. Thank you, thank you :)

      • NewMe says:

        You are not complaining! Not at all! You have simply discovered what no one tells you before you go for surgery: that recovery is much more complicated, multi-layered and difficult (both physically and, perhaps more importantly, psychologically) than anyone lets on.

        Actually, you’re doing your readers who have never had surgery a great service by alerting them to what happens afterwards. Of course, probably only those of us who’ve been through surgery (of any kind) really know what you’re talking about. It’s sort of like parenthood–no one can prepare you for the wild ride you’re in for. It’s only when it happens to you, that you understand what it all really means. :)

        Keep up the great work. We love ya!

  11. goodnuff says:

    It is oh so tough to have surgery, major or minor, and come out of it without a full understanding of how long it takes to heal. Even after having my third in a year needed my boss to tell to not expect to feel up to par in the 2 weeks that my doc said he’d release me and it wasn’t until after I decide to have it that he changed it to 6 weeks. I still, even after the first two, had it in my head that at 6 weeks I’d be feeling fabulous. I felt fabulously shitty. I have a personal belief that general anesthetic alone effs you up for a few months. All of those chemicals shutting your body down has to leave an impact. It’s been 8 months since my last surgery and I know that during that healing time I was miserable and sad. The good news is, now that it is behind me I don’t remember exactly how bad it was or exactly when I started felling better. If I did I would have warned you!

    • Ellen says:

      Hearing from people who have gone through similar situations is a huge help. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one slogging through it, but then you realize that you are no different than any others.
      I am SO glad that you commented with your experience – especially the part saying you don’t really remember how bad it was. I look forward to that.

  12. Hanlie says:

    I completely identify with how you’re feeling because I’m also there right now. The difference is that you’re getting better and you know what the cause of your malaise is. Me, not so much. Like you, I’ve struggled with self-acceptance lately – it’s hard to accept and love your body when you feel betrayed by it! Still, I’ve come to the point where I realize that I can learn so much from this experience. It’s an opportunity to dig deeper. If nothing else, it’s shown me that I have a boatload of courage, because despite it all, I’m still here and my little flame of hope is still burning.

    I also want to thank you once again for posting your whole story the other day. My pedometer arrived two minutes ago. You’ve inspired me!

    It may take time, but we’ll both look back on this a year from now and the memories of how terrible we felt will have faded until all we can remember is that we got through it. Because we’re awesome!

    • Ellen says:

      Oh, Hanlie. You are one of the strongest people there are. You will power through this; and so will I. Let’s plan on meeting back here same time next year and we’ll compare notes. You’re right – we ARE awesome! 😉

  13. E. Jane says:

    You are right when you say that your body won’t be completely healed for a year. I know that from personal experience, and that only speaks for the physical part of healing. I also know that it takes weeks for the residue of anesthesia to leave the body, and I remember not being able to concentrate on reading after my gall bladder surgery. I was told that it was a side effect from the surgery, and we’re all different.

    Having a major surgery is a traumatic event for both the body and the mind, and perhaps a hysterectomy is even more so. Any trauma, (I know what my arm and shoulder injury did to me for more than a year) can change how we feel both physically and emotionally. I know that you also lost an import person in your life at about the same time, so perhaps part of the way you’re feeling is due to the loss.

    Continue to take good care of yourself. Things will get better…

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