Prior to surgery I intentionally limited myself when it came to the procedure and all that it entailed. Or maybe it’s just a defense mechanism for me to shield my anxiety. I didn’t google hysterectomy and I didn’t watch any video footage. I felt like by avoiding these two things I would be able to eliminate some of the high anxiety on the morning of surgery. (In actuality it didn’t matter thanks to a lovely and magical drug called Versed.) Today I’m going to be sharing my hysterectomy update five things I wish I was more prepared for.
Since I chose not to fully inform myself regarding the procedure, I do feel like there are things I could’ve asked my surgeon at pre-op to be a little bit more prepared in post-op and the first three days at home in recovery. Don’t assume I didn’t have an extensive list of questions, because I did, but they didn’t really pertain to medical inquiries as much as everyday questions recovering as a mom of four.
If you have a hysterectomy scheduled, or you’re in the beginning stages of your healing and recovery, I hope this hysterectomy update is helpful to your journey. Every person and body is different, so while your recovery might not mirror these issues listed below, they’ll be good to keep in the back of your mind so you’re not caught off guard.
This is one of two incisions on my hips. The third incision is in my belly button. All three incisions are glued.
The gas pain was absolutely unbearable after surgery. I knew that the standard protocol of a laparoscopic surgery meant inflating my stomach with CO2 gas. What I didn’t know is just how painful it would be, including where it traveled post-op. After surgery they really encourage as much flatulence and burping as possible. The quicker you relieve the gas from your body, the better. However that can be difficult to do when you can’t utilize any abdominal muscles, and you’re on a concoction of muscle relaxers/pain pills. I actually didn’t really have that much discomfort while I was in the hospital to be honest.
It wasn’t until I got home from the hospital that the gas pains became unbearable. My worst gas pains were day two and three of post-op. The gas pains didn’t stay local to the incision, they traveled throughout my body. When you’re experiencing these gas pains you absolutely cannot get comfortable. You can’t sit or lay down, even walking is uncomfortable. Personally for me, the worst place I experienced the gas pains were my collar bones.
It definitely sends waves of panic throughout your body. At times it felt like I was having a heart attack. I just couldn’t catch my breath. A deep breath felt impossible. I would say this caused the biggest waves of emotions and crying for me personally. It was difficult. Every single position was trial and error. I’m currently on day four and for the most part the gas pains have subsided, which is really exciting.
You’ll be given a device called a Voldyne Incentive Spirometer in your recovery room. It’s actually a pretty simple, straight to the point device, however what I wasn’t prepared for was just how difficult such a simple task, like breathing, would be for me post-op. My doctors placed a sticker on mine and gave me a goal to reach 2150 on my spirometer. You’ll use this device ten times every hour. I went into this breathing ‘physical therapy’ completely naive. The 5000 mark at the top of the device was intimidating. I thought it was going to be a piece of cake.
Man was I so wrong. I could barely make it to the 1000 mark twice. Just from attempting that mark twice, I was completely out of breath, winded, and light headed. I wish I would’ve known this side effect, as I feel like I could’ve practiced some breathing exercises for a week or two leading up to my surgery. Would it have made a difference? I’ll never know, but it’s definitely a post-op struggle.
I have spoken to a few close friends who have also had this surgery, and some people struggled with their breathing, others didn’t have a problem. The ones who did relate said it took them a solid 6-7 days to feel closer to ‘normal’.
This was right after they wheeled me out after surgery, and through tears I told Scot., “I didn’t die!”
This one seems the most naive, but I went in feeling so confident that recovery would be a breeze. Prepare to be dependent on your caregiver. There’s obviously restrictions put in place after your hysterectomy. Mine including lifting zero weight for two full months, that includes picking up my children. No sex for two months, which is a pretty standard protocol. And lastly no water, just quick showers, ensuring you dab off your incisions properly. I knew the surgery would impact my core, but I didn’t know I wouldn’t even be able to lift my legs up and down. I felt as though I had an epidural the first three days.
Prepare for every task to take 15 attempts. One limb at a time. Every time I needed to re position myself Scot had to move it for me. While I don’t enjoy being dependent, it is nice having Scot wash my hair and shaving my legs, because just thinking about both of those things makes me yawn. Now that I’m on day four, I’m able to move around better and not experiencing the gas pain.
I honestly thought I was losing my mind after surgery because with or without my glasses on I was seeing three of everything. Like couldn’t focus to save my life. What I learned was that the muscle relaxers and anesthesia can both cause blurred vision. Its not a permanent issue, however it can be quite frustrating when you’re trying to recover and not expecting it. Breathe through it, and just know that as soon as the medicine and anesthesia dissipate your vision should return to normal. My vision was back two normal on day two of post-op when I was home recovering.
My entire emotional state…
Back story hysterectomy update:
I briefly mentioned in my hysterectomy update big surgery post that I have been fighting for this surgery for an entire year. One would think that much time would suffice to be able to handle a major, major surgery like this emotionally. However, even if you feel 1000% prepared for this surgery, I feel like your emotions will overshadow that every single time regardless. I cried every single time a nurse came into my pre-op room, and while being wheeled down the hallway and seeing Scot and our daughter for the first time.
At the beginning stages of post-op the feeling of being under prepared made me question my decision. I felt as though I just intentionally threw my body into a hell hole. It’s a very deep and dark feeling not being able to walk, care for yourself, take deep breaths to name a few. During those first two days post-op I was filled with doubt and regret. I even murmured the words, “ I should’ve never done this!” to Scot, which is insane because I’ve waited 365 days for it to happen.
So while I don’t think ANYTHING can prepare you emotionally, just know that a wave of emotions will be waiting for you in post-op and the days following in recovery. I don’t attribute these feelings towards hormone related circumstances, but more so towards my expectations vs. reality.
At the end of the day I am so thankful that I went forward with my full hysterectomy. I have zero regrets. I’m on day four, and while physically exhausted, I would do it all over again. I hope this hysterectomy update was able to offer some insight to my personal experience and help aid you in your own hysterectomy surgery.
Thank you so much for stopping by and checking out my Hysterectomy update- Five things I wish I was more prepared for. If you want to discuss anything hysterectomy or have questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out What to expect the day of your surgery, and my hysterectomy is tomorrow posts!