It is amazing how fast this past year has gone. I just realised that the anniversary for my hysterectomy came and went and actually had to go back and check the date (7th of March 2013). I thought this would be a good time to check in and see how things are going over 14 months after the operation.
The operation I had a was a complete hysterectomy. A lot of people get confused by this name as it actually means that the ovaries are left behind. The surgeon removed my uterus and cervix via laparoscopic surgery performed using the Da Vinci robot.
Why did I have the operation:
I was 34 when I had the operation and was already the mother of two children. I had a laparoscopic surgery the year before due to suspected (and then confirmed) endometriosis. I also had a prolapsed uterus though I can’t say this bothered me all that much – it was more knowing about it that disturbed me. It is fair to say that my surgery was partly elective. Since the removal of the uterus I have had less pain in my pelvic area and lower back than I did previously.
What was I worried about, how did I prepare before the operation:
I was actually quite looking forward to the operation so mentally I didn’t have any issues with it at all. I was very sure my family was complete so I wasn’t mourning for the children I would not be able to have. I had started running in the fall of the previous year so I was annoyed by the prospect of having to take time off my new passion but at the same time I was using the running to get as fit and strong as possible for the surgery.
This may sound very vain and trivial but one of the things that most worried me was the fact that in preparation for the surgery I was asked to come off the pill (risk of blood clots). Obviously I wasn’t going to need to be on birth control afterwards anyway but the reason I had gone on Yasmin was to control my skin. Yes, I know – I was about to go into a major surgery and I was worried about the fact that my skin would have to cope without any help. I had spent most of my life on them though so it was slightly worrying to see what would happen. And not just to the skin but also moods and sex drive.
If you search my blog under the “Hysterectomy” category you will be able to see more posts about the actual surgery itself as well as my recovery from it.
Hysterical Runner 14 months on
So here are some (more or less) random observations from my life after hysterectomy
It is kind of surprising how quickly you get used to the fact that you don’t get your period anymore. And I have to say, hands down, this is the most amazing perk of having had this operation. No more trying to fit your holidays or weekends away with the husband around your cycle. No more Mooncup or tampons. It took me ages to throw away the tampons I had left and the Mooncup I only chucked out last week – don’t ask me why I was holding on to it for so long!
What I wasn’t quite prepared for was the fact that you still get PMS symptoms. After all, I have the hormonal dictators (ovaries) still left so I should have expected this. Bloated tummy, sore and bigger boobs, very bad mood and insatiable appetite… Check. The PMS almost feels like fantom pains from an amputated limb – it weird to know the cycle is still happening.
Pain and scars
I feel absolutely no pain that could be attributed to the surgery and in fact I recovered fairly quickly from it. My scars are very very tiny (yay for laparoscopic surgery) and have faded to the point that you can barely see them. Sex doesn’t feel different (painful) to how it did before the operation either.
Any issues there are, can’t be attributed to the hysterectomy. 🙂 I forget about the fact that I had the surgery and really don’t think about it all that much. Like you can see from this blog (that started out with the emphasis on the operation), the focus has really shifted to running and generally just getting on with my life. I do not get broody or regret the fact that I will never be pregnant again. I am at an age (35) where a lot of women around me are having their second children so if it comes out that I have had this operation they do feel sorry for me. I am not sure they are entirely convinced when I tell them that I chose to do this and was ready for it. But we are all different. And then – not many of them have a 14 year old at home as well – a teen is very likely to put anyone off having more kids.
There are good times and there are bad. However it hasn’t been as bad as I worried it might be. It is clear my hormones are sometimes all over the place and my skin reacts to that quite quickly. But then every now and again there isn’t a blemish in sight and I am glad I don’t have all those synthetic hormones floating around in my system. Good skincare obviously is always important anyway.
If you have your ovaries left, you should not go into menopause after the operation. However the chances are that it will happen a few years earlier than it would have otherwise. In the weeks after my operation I had some fierce night sweats and I was convinced that that was it – I was menopausal. However that passed and my ovaries “woke up” as is evident from the pms. Every now and again I still get the occasional hot flashes but I think that’s just me. There is some life in me yet!
We are all different
This is how things have been for me. I had a very easy operation and a very straight forward recovery. I know some women aren’t as lucky and have a much tougher time of it. I am convinced you can help yourself pre-op by taking care of yourself. If you are not doing any exercise; take up walking or swimming or whatever feels most interesting or doable to you. Eat healthily. Prepare yourself mentally; come to terms with the good and the bad of not having a uterus.
And if you are having this operation – good luck! If you are in pain from endo or fibroids etc, it will give you a new lease on life. I am sure you are scouring the internet for information on everything to do with hysterectomy and sadly a lot of the stuff out there is negative. Just remember that people are more likely to pour out their anger and disappointment than their happiness over a good experience. Hysterectomy isn’t the end of your life; it can be the beginning of a new one.