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Recovery after Total Abdominal Hysterectomy – Vicki’s Story

Hi my name is Vicki and I am 44 years old. I had a Total Abdominal Hysterectomy (TAH) on the 17th of September, so I am 6 weeks and 2 days into my recovery. The reason for my TAH was like so many women the discovery of a very large fibroid, im not sure of the exact size of it but my incision had to be vertical due to the size of the fibroid.

When I was first told I was having this operation I felt a real sense of loss and a part of me felt like a failure as a ‘woman’, apparently this is quite normal so if you feel this you are not alone.

I really wanted to post on this forum to let people know that I feel absolutely fine after the op, yes I have taken it easy and still am to a cetain degree, but I have been able to drive from 4 weeks, at first I only did little journeys but have not built it up so I can get out and about as the boredom of been stuck at home was driving me crazy. I have taken all the medical advice given to me but more importantly I have listened to my own body, it has a way of telling you if you have done too much.

So if you have been told the news that you need to have the op, please don’t be scared, hopefully like me you will be well on the way to recovery within 6 weeks.

I really hope this may help some people put their minds at rest before they have this operation.



in my own words book coverNow available on our online store and all other online book store’s. In My Own Words: Women’s Experience of Hysterectomy is full of many other real-life stories from women the world over.

Other people’s stories help women feel less isolated. They show that they aren’t going mad, missing the point or stupid.

74 thoughts on “Recovery after Total Abdominal Hysterectomy – Vicki’s Story

  1. Hello
    I had a full abdominal hysterectomy 4 weeks ago and wanted to share a few things I learnt that might be helpful to others.
    Before the operation it might be useful to get in the habit of doing pelvic floor exercises and also gentle arm strengthening exercises . After the op you rely on arms to get you out of bed and up from chairs
    Also get well hydrated. Drink plenty of water a couple of days before (I was told 1.5 to 2 litres a day)
    After the op keep well hydrated-if water gets boring drink weak fruit squash or herb tea. Peppermint tea helps trapped wind
    Get a paper fan in case you get hot flushes .i keep this with me all the time.
    Also a thin woollen shawl is lovely if you get temperature fluctuations- easier than taking a sweater on and off
    When you leave hospital make sure your carer takes note of your painkiller instructions- your mind might not be clear enough to take it all in
    Your painkillers might need adjusting so keep an eye on the effects. I was given Ibroprofen which gave me diarrhoea so was changed to codeine. This made me super drowsy but only for the first day
    Keep on top of the doses. I set an alarm on my phone to make sure I don’t forget
    I had rare complications so needed more care than I planned for but accept as much help is offered. You need someone else to put on your surgical stockings.
    I also have to have my dressing changed by a nurse 3 times a week-my case might be unusual but nobody told me about this (and I need someone to take me)
    You get given strong antibiotics to prevent infection. Check with your doctor but I found that taking the last dose late in the evening interfered with sleeping so taking them early evening was better
    You will be told to get up as soon as you feel able . Seems impossible at first but this is important. Gentle strolls across the living room are great in the early days .
    For extra pain relief relaxation exercises and gentle massages can really help.
    Finally diet is important to help reduce constipation and help you recover.
    I have porridge or muesli with sliced fresh fruit for breakfast. Lunch is a fresh salad , a cheese sandwich and fruit. Supper is maybe grilled fish with broccoli and baked potato and stewed prunes with yoghurt. Probiotic yoghurts are great as they bring back the good bacteria which is destroyed by the antibiotics
    I drink a glass of water with every meal
    The operation had a bigger effect than I expected. Yours might be less but it is important to have care in place, especially for the first couple of weeks
    The good news is that the operation has solved the problems I had before
    Good luck everyone and remember – gentle exercise, eat well and get plenty of rest.

  2. Had a radical hysterectomy at your (take everything including uterus, cervix and omentum and lymph nodes there as well as lymph glands further down) because I had borderline ovarian cancer. They also removed my appendix and tightened up my pelvic floor which was just great because now I don’t pee when I sneeze even 11 years later – I’m 62 now. I was in menopause so I noticed no difference hormone-wise.

    Had a general anesthetic – no epidural. Woke up in a little discomfort and was hooked up to a urinary catheter and morphine drip that I could self administer with an overdose guard. Lots of metal stitches! I never was in pain but kept up the morphine for two days when I was moved to Tylenol 3’s. They remove catheter (didn’t even really notice) and get you out of bed on day two to go the washroom. That was a tough walk but not painful. Out of the hospital on day 4 and recovery was 7 weeks with 2 weeks being limited movement – no stairs and have to say feel happily ever after. I was experiencing on and off heavy bleeding up to that point and had very low iron so had to take iron pills which were hard on the stomach. The surgeon did a great job on the incision which is hardly noticeable and removed a vertical line of hair I did not like! But the best was not peeing myself when I sneezed unexpectedly!!! I love this and I loved that my labia was pulled up too so looked more like when I was young!

    Just be careful getting out of bed the first time. I actually did it without nursing help – bad idea – I injured a nerve that governs skin sensation in upper thigh which made it feel like on fire when touched. It took a year to recover from that – very hard to shave that part of my leg and couldn’t wear pantyhose. It’s fine now, just a little numbness that I only notice when I pay attention to it.

    So fear not. But get your surgeon to tighten up your pelvic floor – absolutely necessary!

  3. I am 66 and had a total abdominal hysterectomy a week ago today. I had it because my sister was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer earlier this year which puts me at an increased risked to develop it. I was very surprised at the amount of pain I’ve had and still have. Getting up and down are quite painful and turning over in bed is painful too. I’m still taking hydrocodone. I get my sutures out in two days and will see what my surgeon has to say then. I was on clear liquids the two days before surgery and lost 4 pounds. After surgery I was only on water; day after, clear liquids until dinner, when I was advanced to full liquids. The second day after surgery I was on a regular diet and went home after lunch. I weighed myself the next morning and I had gained 5 pounds! I was shocked, thinking I would probably have lost a little bit more than my morning of surgery weight. I have also felt kind of bloated. I don’t know if this is normal or not, but it’s been very disappointing. I’m not allowed to drive for two weeks and really have no desire to at this point. I’ve followed all doctor’s instructions and for the most part have take it easy, although there was a death in our very close friends’ family while I was in the hospital and I did go to the visitation and funeral.
    My incision isn’t so much what’s painful, it’s all across my low abdomen, kind of inside, with a very sore spot on my right side public bone. They had to get through a lot of previous surgery scar tissue, so I know that’s part of the pain, but I just never thought I’d have this much pain. I also get tired in the afternoon and usually take a nap. I’m ready for some improvement.

  4. I am due to have a radical hysterectomy on October 7th 2015 {next weds} due to a complex ovarian cyst that is 23cms in size and a family history of ovarian cancer.
    I have to say I am absolutely frightened to death about the surgery but I know my life will be so much better after the surgery, as at the moment I look and feel 8 month pregnant.
    just wondered if anyone else is due surgery within the next few days.

    1. hello I am due on Monday to have total abdominal hysterectomy , I am scared but keep trying not to think too much although it is hard, good luck to you ,

      1. I had a hysterectomy last Thursday. I was also scared and anxious. It has been a process. I will say I worried for nothing. It isn’t half as bad as I imagined it would be.

  5. hi, i am having a total hysterectomy in a few weeks… i am 33 years old and wondered how long would i expect ot be in hospital for please. also did anyone put on weight or have any problems please. Many thanks


  6. First of all I think finding a great ob gym doctor to be the most important step to having an abdominal hysterectomy. I’m in the Conway arkansas area. Dr. Sward did my surgery. I received the best of care before and after my surgery. No problems at all. Im in to my 5th week after my surgery. I’m getting my energy level back and wanting to get back to my normal routine. I see my doctor next week. I already feel a sense of relief. I had multiple fibroid tumors. One rather large one. They we’re causing me a lot of constant pain and hemoraging type of bleeding. I feel lighter on my feet already. I am healing so much faster than I expected. I was so nervous to be having the surgery but it’s all in being able to trust your doctor. Do research on your doctors reputation. My children were so helpful to me. I don’t feel any sadness over the loss of my uterus and all. I am 54 years old with four children and lots of grandchildren.

  7. Hi,I had an abdominal hysterectomy on dec,2014, recovery has been good still have some pain according to how I move or position my body. The hardest part was shower and getting in bed to position myself to sleep.i find myself tired faster.when is the best time to start excercise after surgery.what also is the normal recovery time for abdominal hysterectomy had a bikini cut.

    1. Hi Benia. You can start exercising immediately just by taking a few gentle walks each day and increasing their length by just a few steps at a time.

    2. Hello I’m new to this sorry . I had a total hysterectomy due to cervical cancer. The procedure went well. I stayed in hospital for 4 days, only because I was eager to leave, they encourage 6 days. I was very lucky with the support I had. What would we do without parents. .going home was scary with a 6 year old, but as I said u need support, I’m Just commencing my third week of recovery . Each day you notice certain things get easier or better. You cope with the discomfort . Take the medication given. each day I put new targets in place. Today I finally walked my daughter to school .yippee can finally feel like a mommy again,instead of everyone else taking her.. My advice till date . Keep your bowels going as normal as possible. Try and dri k as much fluild as possible and eat i found this hard , as my appetite went. Have friends take u out as much as possible. You will feel tried but a smile hides a lot. my question is how long before the swelling around my abdoman starts to reduce so I don’t have to wear leggings,I’m missing my jeans, and does anyone know When can I start to go swimming. Thank u ladies

  8. Hello all. First off I would like to apologize in advance for any spelling or grammar mistakes, eng is not my first language! I had a tah on the 2nd of june (almost 3 weeks post op now), been very good with the whole do nothing.. Even learned how to knit lol. Today I have way more pain than the previous week, when I laid in the bath I washed the incision site with soap and water and felt a heavy hardness just above the incision at exactly the same place that the pain comes from the whole day. Its also very tender and has a pulling sensation. You can actually feel the hardness like a ‘knob’. Can only get to the dr on monday and I’m wondering if its something to worry about. I have been sitting in very strange positions the whole day, can that have something to do with it? Incision is healed beautifully, no problems there. Thanx so much for your time 🙂 oh, I’m 31

    1. I think seeing your GP is probably a good idea Lindie 🙂

  9. I had a TAH in a renowned teaching hospital on 11 March 2014 because of a suspected cancerous ovarian cyst. Despite a slightly weeping wound I was discharged after 4 days and given a couple of dressings to take a way with me. 2 days later, I was admitted to my local hospital suffering from an infection and cellulitis. While I was receiving IV antibiotics I received a telephone call from the teaching hospital to say the tumour was benign. That news was obviously wonderful (all the other women I was in hospital with had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer at a v late stage) but 4 weeks on from the TAH my wound still hasn’t healed and I’m beginning to wish I hadn’t had the operation at all. I’m 56 and have never really been ill before – now my life is centred around daily appointments with the practice or community nurse.

    1. Hi Martha. It will get better and whilst it’s not common to have this particular problem it does happen.

    2. i am 29 years old I am due to have an abdominal hysterectomy on the 25th july 2014,can anyone tell me and help me to not feel nervous and scared about having the procedure done. Its needing done due to have very heavy periods and a lot of pain for around 7 years.I have 5 kids so I am quiet happy to have the surgery but just wants some reassurance on the surgery.
      Thank you in advance

      1. I am 10 days post surgery and doing really well. The first few days are really awful, take any drugs available! I started walking as soon as I could (day 2) and I think that is really helpful. I found walking easier than getting up and down our of bed or chairs. I think walking also got my bowels moving, which was quite a big deal. Make sure you take some sort of fibre straight after the surgery . I also found a lot of my pain was in fact, wind pain! Apparently quite common. When I got out of hospital I went straight to the chemist and they gave me some de-gas (much to my children’s amusement) and Gavison and that helped heaps within a day! So, there are some helpful hints! Good luck with the surgery 🙂

      2. Those are some great hints Kate 🙂

      3. hi lisa how are you feeling did you have your op last week i had mine on monday feel very emotional today and uncomfortable did you feel the same xx

  10. I had a total radical hysterectomy just over a week ago, feeling ok very tired, my tummy is very swollen and is very tender to touch just after the first week, I think I might be doing too much walking around maybe but just sitting and lying down is hurting my back and bottom

    1. You need to do enough to encourage the body to heal but not so much that you over do it. It’s a fine line that is different for everyone, but generally pain will indicate you’ve done too much or that there’s a problem which needs checking.

    2. I had my TAHLSO 4 weeks ago and I’m totally fine. Can drive short distances after 2 weeks, but didn’t overdo it. Bowel & urinating is normal. I eat plenty of guava meat and drink lots calamansi & pineapple juice, plus i’m taking multi vit. My incision is bikini cut & it dried after the 3rd day of surgery. I did not experience any abdominal swelling. I think my ob surgeon was a very good one. I didn’t feel any tiredness. Maybe because i managed the walking exercise well. Hope everyone is feeling better. God Bless!!

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