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My abdominal hysterectomy nightmare – Fiona’s story

I am 48 years old with 4 children. I have always been fortunate to have nice normal periods but this changed around 3 years ago when they became heavy with clotting and dragging pain. I didn’t take too much notice and it wasn’t as debilitating as some other women’s stories that I have read. Around the same time, sexual intercourse became uncomfortable moving towards painful and then extremely painful. I also had stress incontinence so avoided my previously active aerobic lifestyle as I had some embarrassments but couldn’t avoid laughing or coughing of course.

I visited my GP in January of 2016, mainly because of the painful sex which I had now been avoiding for months. A trans vaginal scan later that month showed a grapefruit sized single fibroid which also obscured my right ovary. A referral was made to a gynaecologist in April and an abdominal hysterectomy was the only solution to my problem. I got the spiel that it was a straightforward procedure, thousands of women have it done every year etc. I actually asked to think about it as it seemed drastic and although my husband reassured me that the sex thing was ok, I was worried it would eventually affect our relationship, how could it not? A week later, I emailed the consultant to say I would have it done. I would be months on the list and could always change my mind.

On 2nd June 2016, just 6 weeks after my consultation, I received a phone call that my procedure was booked for Thursday 9th June. No prep time, maybe that’s a good thing I thought, gets it over with quickly.

I had the surgery as planned on the morning of 9th June. I had my womb, my right ovary and cervix removed. I have to say, all staff involved in care were fantastic-one positive, although I can’t shake the feeling that the senior consultant is a sadist, silly I know but read on.

I woke in recovery in some pain, woozy, felt sick, cold, dry mouth and very sore throat. I had a spinal block and a GA so I was numb from the waist down but could still feel some pain. Given pain relief and was back on ward within 3 hours.

I had a great nights sleep, just my throat bothered me. I drank loads of water and ate a little.The next morning, my catheter was taken out and soon after I gingerly got out of bed. Weak and a bit tender but ok. Having a wee hurt a lot, urine was measured and ok.

Back in bed, I involuntarily coughed and felt a cold sensation on my legs. I lifted the blanket and there was blood everywhere, it was gently pulsing out of my incision like a gentle wave. By the time nurses came, it was dripping on the floor but I was quite calm. A doctor and 3 nurses all pressing pressure dressings on the incision. Pushing down for what seemed like ages and eventually the bleeding ceased. I had a complete bed bath and bed change and that action started the bleeding again, more pressure, more dressings.

Later on and the next day I was in agony, I felt like I had been kicked repeatedly in the abdomen and vagina. I could barely walk. Bloods were taken daily and the day after the bleed, my haemoglobin levels had dropped from 109 pre surgery to 81. I was put on iron tablets. The next day’s dropped again a little. There was talk of a transfusion but as I don’t smoke, they said they would wait. I had a trans vaginal scan on the Saturday 11th June which showed an 8cm haematoma from an internal bleed had pooled just over my vagina where my cervix would have been had I still had one. I was told my body would re-absorb it over the coming weeks. The pain was excruciating, I cannot ever explain that pain and the pain of the scan. Worse was to come.

I was discharged on Monday 13th June and I was finally glad to be able to rest in my own bad. The week passed in a blur of pain, extensive brushing all over my abdomen, extreme gas, constipation so bad on day 6 post op that I had to manually help it along..sorry for the graphics. All the pain seemed to blend into a nightmare culminating with me being taken back to accident & emergency in the early hours of Monday 20th June with a fever of 38.2 degrees.

I was re-admitted to the ward, I had an infection in the haematoma. I was on 3 different IV antibiotics, iron tablets and pain relief though I may as well have been taking nothing. I cried day and night. My husband was on call at work so I barely saw him. I didn’t want anyone else. By Wednesday, my skin was turning yellow and despite drinking tons of water, my urine output declined dramatically. I was taken for a liver scan on Wednesday 22nd June. No one said what was happening or why. On Wednesday night at 8pm, the senior consultant came to my cubicle and said he needed to do an internal examination. I screamed at him to go away, the pain was too bad, was he a monster? He went away but said he would be back in the morning to drain the infected haematoma which was now septic and would start to poison me.

I cried all night. The night nurse reassured me and said I would be taken to theatre to have it drained and not to worry. I was nil by mouth from midnight but at 8am my tormentor was back with the matron and he did the unthinkable, he manually inserted his hand and some long scissors into my vagina and cut the stitches where my cervix used to be. I cannot describe the pain, the matron held me down, I was traumatised and I still am. It seemed barbaric and I just cried and cried. My husband had come in just before 8am and heard my screams, so did everyone else on the wards I suppose.

Anyway, it did work as the infected blood gushed out, then oozed and the awful pain started to subside. It left me with nightmares, clammy sweats and tears which still continue. I was discharged home on 26th June after 6 days in hospital with a further 10 days of oral antibiotics.

So here I am, going on 4 weeks since the surgery. I am still bleeding off and on, I still have some tenderness, the scar is healing, my vagina still feels bruised, my tummy is like a balloon, I have lost a stone in weight (the one positive!) and my antibiotics finish tomorrow.

Yesterday evening I couldn’t stop crying, I screamed at my poor husband who has been wonderful. I threw things at him until he left. He stayed at a friends last night. I can’t bear to see him, I don’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone. I cry every day. I think of that consultant and I shake and go cold. I can’t imagine being touched down there ever again. I’m not going to go to my post op appointment in 2 weeks. We are supposed to be flying to our holiday destination of Montenegro on 24th July. I can’t even imagine me getting to the airport never mind that. I feel useless and hopeless.

I wish with all my heart I had prepared myself for such a big surgery. I didn’t want to know as I thought internet horror stories would put me off but it’s better to be informed so you can have a balanced view. I was so jealous of the other women on my ward over the 12 days I was there, all but me had keyhole surgery. All were walking around and went home the next day or two days at the most.

I was unlucky, I know that. I had the surgery for my husbands sake really, For our sexual relationship. I would advise that you only undertake to have it done if it will benefit your life so much more than the life you’re living now and prepare yourself, read everything you can, ask others who have had it done and be very sure it is the only solution for you.

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in my own words book coverIn My Own Words: Women’s Experience of Hysterectomy is full of many other real-life stories from women the world over.

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9 thoughts on “My abdominal hysterectomy nightmare – Fiona’s story

  1. Hi Fiona, I too have had a TAH and both ovaries removed and a disaster following the operation, I had the dreadful constipation, I used to dread going to bed in the first 7 days because the pain overnight was horrendous, gas, wind back pain and searing internal pain, one week after my surgery I was admitted to A&E with sepsis the rest is a blur, after 3 days I had an enema for the constipation – luckily my GP spotted the sepsis – and arranged the A&E admittance, I was on IV antibiotics for a week in A&E and a pool of infected blood was in a large haematoma right behind my TAH horizontal scar…. that was in Feb 20016. Over the next few days my body ejected the infected blood out via my scar it was disgusting. It’s now Nov 2016 and I am starting to feel normal again – it took me 3 month before I went back to work (home working for 1 month (month 4) ) and during the entire time and now I swell up around my stomach regularly – and struggle with the time it has taken me to start to recover, I still have some way to go, but I know I improve each week – it’s going to take you (like me) a long time to recover, you sound like you have a fantastic partner – he can help you – my partner was fantastic, you will need all the support you can get, take it slowly, you will improve, but it might take longer than you imagine. I wish someone who had the op and complications had been able to let me know I would improve, I have but it took me 6 months to achieve what others took 6 – 8 weeks to achieve ……. You will start to improve but like me it may take 6 months at least before you feel like there is some real improvement. Good luck and just so you know my bowl is still not right, but it has improved as has the constipation but again it is slow progress… my emotional recovery was also very bizarre, I am fiercely independent and have never been ill, however I had my ovaries removed too and emotionally have found the process very challenging – and difficult. Just hang on in there…

  2. Hi Fiona.

    I read your story with my mouth open , all i could think was OMG…. i had my surgery 10 days ago and i know how extremely lucky i have been. I cannot begin to imagine the horror you have came through, i agree with other girls i think you should go and seek help from someone who can help you deal with the trauma you have experienced. Your husband is in limbo just as you are , he wont know what to do for the best,and deep down all he wants is to help you , please dont keep him at arms length, maybe letting him back in with help on the start of your recovery journey.
    i wish you all the best on your recovery and i know it will be a long road for you .
    The sun will shine for you again . please believe that …. Big hugs . xxxx
    Fiona McCutcheon X

  3. Fiona – I cannot begin to imagine how violated you must have felt when that monster of a doctor assaulted you in that manner. Yes – assaulted! I would sue the hospital for psychological trauma and physical pain and suffering. No living being – human or animal – should be treated with such callous indifference! He is a monster and should not be allowed to continue on in his role.
    I sincerely hope you seek counselling along with your husband, as he is a victim in this situation too and must be feeling powerless to help you. Don’t let that monster ruin your life. Go and see your GP – not hospital – for another check up and explain to him/her your experiences. Allow yourself to seek help as you so deserve it after the abuse you have suffered. Please take care of yourself.

  4. Hi Fiona, I just prayed for you and yours. What you went through in this day was unnecessary and I am sorry. I had a TAH on July 13 so I am 9 weeks post op it is still sore because I had 7 fibroids three of them the size of baby’s heads so I was cut one hip bone to the other but it is healing it still hurts like the dickens when I cough and sleep sometimes but I am trust God that this to shall pass. My doctor said 8 weeks for healing than another 8 weeks to feel like your self and up to a year for your tummy to feel right and it might never gain all its sensations back. I hope you get some counseling I have sought some and seeking more because I wanted children from my womb and now unless God does miricales this dream …. I wish you the best and a peaceful recovery. Please let your husband love you emotionally the rest will come in time.
    In HIS Healing Grace
    Rev. Stephanie

  5. I have just had a full hysterectomy on Thursday, luckily came home Sunday.
    I’m 42 a mother of 1 child for which I will always be grateful for.
    I am having good and bad days but it is early days….. Remember there are always people worse than ourselves … People being operated on to remove cancers to go onto chemo or radiotherapy. Their suffering must be horrendous! Mine is to me but the only way to get through this and fight the bloating, wind, pain, sadness …..is to try to wake up and be thankful …. We will get over this with rest and time. Listen to your body but keep your mind, do not allow yourself to get down and suffer with depression because that’s my big fight now. Not the sickness, diarrhoea, bloating, wind pain, nerve pain it’s my mind I need to keep on track. I’m so sorry to hear your horrendous journey it sounds awful. I woke hearing a newborn crying and hearing children playing in the park outside my window and cried as I was still hoping for another miracle baby before my op. I fell asleep knowing this would never happen and thinking of my father who had been lying in a bed having his bladder and prostrate removed a year before he died to be with me longer!
    I am struggling emotionally and physically and to be honest i begged nurses to put me back to sleep for the first few days. I believe support before and after is key and I for one will be looking for a therapy group to get me through this.
    Please remember no surgery should be done half heartedly. It’s major surgery, please look after yourselves ladies and keep fighting one day you will and I will all feel so much better xx

  6. Dear Fiona, It all sounds extrememly traumatic and I just wonder if you have some Post traumatic stress. Maybe some counselling would help you recover. I can not imagine being treated in the way you describe. I wish you well and I hope you are slowly starting to recover both physically and mentally.

  7. I had a hysterectomy on the Jan 20/14 due to severe uterine prolapse so I have made 2years and 8 months postop. I had previously lost my husband in 2012 so the question of sex has been out since then. Anyway after surgery which was done vaginally, it took me only 24hrs in hospital and I was not in any pain at all. I was in pain when I woke up in recovery but realised it was the packed gauze that caused it and pain stopped the next morning when they took it out. I had a terrible back pain and also near my kidneys which later I was told it was an ovary shock.
    My main problem now is that most times I feel like I have another prolapse at timeslike when I stand for like ng hours or lift anything above ten bls. Another problem is that I have to increase on using a moisturizer which has helped me a lot. I use it one a day and it helps.

  8. I’ve just had a full hysterectomy thank god I never experienced any of that it sounds barbaric & so frightening so sorry for you do you think councilling may help you . I do have a few problems like severe anus pain & toilet complications also developed a D V T in my left groin &now have a severely swollen leg xx

  9. Hi Fiona

    What you went through was traumatic and things like that should not happen.
    I hope you are being to feel a little better xx

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