I am ten weeks post op following a subtotal abdominal hysterectomy and I am amazed at how good I feel. After being diagnosed with fibroids 5 years ago, and successfully having them removed, my consultant warned me that I would be back, and he was right. After several months of hip pain, an MRI scan revealed that my fibroids had come back with a vengeance.
My consultant stated that the pain in my hip was probably due to the fibroids resting on a nerve. I had also been experiencing heavier bleeding, tiredness and bladder discomfort. I was told that a hysterectomy was required. Initially, I was put on medication to shrink the fibroids, 6 in total, so that keyhole surgery could be an option. Unfortunately I suffered some side effects and had to come off the medication after only 6 weeks. With surgery booked, I decided to get pre op fit, by losing weight and regular Pilate’s classes to build my inner core strength together with pelvic floor exercises.
My surgery took place at the end of May, I decided to keep my ovaries, as I am only 48 and did not want to bring on early menopause. My surgeon fully supported my decision. My fibroids weighed 1.4kg, the equivalent of being 18 weeks pregnant, so I immediately felt better and lighter! I had a horizontal incision below the bikini line, approx. 8 inches long. My hip pain went completely. After 2 days in hospital I was sent home, and signed off from work for 12 weeks. The hospital gave me a guidance sheet on what I could do each week so that I did not overdo it. The first week was hard, and I was given Codeine and Paracetamol as pain relief. The hospital advised me to take it regularly every 4-6 hours whether I was in pain or not, as this maintained the level in my system. This was good advice, and after 4 days or so I was able to gradually reduce the codeine, taking it at night only, as it makes you very sleepy.
I am a very active person, and the thought of sitting and taking things easy was difficult to adjust to. An adult colouring book and a set of coloured pencils helped to keep me occupied. Luckily, I was able to get someone in to do the housework, and ironing. I did try to put some washing in the machine at the end of the first week, but could not bend down to get it out again. So the advice notes were right! My husband did all the cooking for the first 2 weeks. He works full time, long hours and ready meals were perfect for this, as they are smaller portions and easy to cook.
I built up my mobility each day, walking round the house, garden, road and managed to walk to my local village shop. Not far only about 10 minutes including a small hill, but enough to build up my strength each day. In fact, staff at the shop thought I was stalking them, when I visited everyday for a week, just to have a chat and buy a newspaper. During the first 4 weeks I was able to go out for an hour or so, with friends, usually for lunch or a coffee. If I felt tired I had a snooze, always making sure I followed the advice on the plan. If it said I should not do it, then I didn’t. My husband, friends and family were great and very supportive, in fact they still are now, making sure no heavy lifting and that I am not overdoing it.
I tried driving at week 4, which was a bit too early, even with an automatic, as driving over potholes was painful. I started in week 5 for short journeys only. My wound healed well, no infection just some tenderness. Twinges of pain on the left side of the scar, is apparently normal, as this is where the internal stiches start, and where the surgeon puts a knot. This takes longer to dissolve and causes twinges. I had dissolvable stiches and all I had to do was wait for the external ones to dissolve before I could try swimming. I started this in week 5, just treading water and minor aqua aerobic exercises, just to gain confidence. It was not long before I was able to swim gentle lengths of the pool and join an aqua aerobic class. I have built this up and swim almost everyday.
It is now just two weeks until I go back to work, I feel tired at times, and make sure that I sit down and rest. I am driving as normal. I have been advised not to start back at pilates until I return to work, but I have been doing my pelvic floor, when I remember. I will be going back to work on reduced hours for the first week or so, as I have a job that requires me to be on my feet all day, and I will need to build this up gradually.
I feel great, and I do feel like a new woman, just as my consultant promised.
A few tips post op: maintain a high fibre diet, and have smaller portion meals this helps with any strain on the scar. If you feel tired, have a rest or sleep. Do not drive too early. Use bio oil on the scar, once stitches are out. I have found that massaging it daily after a shower reduces the tenderness. If you feel the need to sneeze or cough hug a cushion. Do not be afraid to ask others for help.
I hope that my positive experience will help anyone faced with similar surgery. I have found that the hospital advice sheet has been invaluable and that you must listen to your body before rushing back into everyday activities.
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