This one time at cheer camp— A mom I met from my daughter’s then cheer team asked me if The Mister and I planned on having any more children.
I said no, without hesitation!
At that time, he and I were already consumed with raising the kids we have, blending families, traveling, getting to know each other and all that new relationship stuff.
Then about an hour later, I remembered the *real* reason why we weren’t having any more kids— not even by accident.
When I told her that I had forgotten that I couldn’t have any more kids because my tubes were tied, we both looked at each other and burst into laughter!
“How could you forget something like that?” she asked. “I dunno,” I said, wiping away my laughing tears from the corners of my eyes.
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Busy living the dash
If you’ve never met me offline, then you probably don’t know that I was married once before I met The Mister.
I’ve never shared this here or on social media before. My first husband died unexpectedly in a sudden car crash. I became a widow in my twenties with two small children— still so unbelievable and so surreal.
This tragedy was that pivotal point in my life where I had a rude awakening to the reality that we only have one life to live— and it could be a short one. The timing is in no way up to us. I made up my mind then that no matter how long of a life I lived, what is up to me is how I choose to extend the dash in between the years commemorating life and death.
I made up my mind that no matter the time span in between those years, my dash would be long and extended. My *one* life was going to be my best life! No regrets and no looking back. At the end of my story, they’d always be able to say, “Man, she did it all!”
So you see how I could have forgotten that I couldn’t have any more kids. I was living the dash! I had “closed the factory” after my son was born. I was too busy living life with no look-backs.
Fast forward some 15 years or so to the present day, and I remember again that there will be no more babies out of me. This time I remember because I’m about to have my uterus removed in a hysterectomy surgery.
I was catching up with my agent, and she had a handful of questions about why I need a hysterectomy.
Why are you having a hysterectomy?
Are you in pain?
Is hysterectomy major surgery?
What happens to your body when you have a hysterectomy?
What about your periods after— can you have a period without a uterus?
That’s when it hit me. There are millions of women, like me, who have no idea what’s really involved in a hysterectomy procedure until we are faced with the decision to have one ourselves. I decided that I wanted to share this journey with as many women as I can because many of us still have many questions about hysterectomies, even though it’s common among many women.
In this post, I want to answer these questions and more.
I’m into my third-week post-surgery and finally feeling the closest to my normal self again. I learned along the way that there are several beneficial recovery tips that the doctors and nurses don’t tell you upon release from the hospital. I don’t know why they leave you to figure these things out on your own?
I had this conversation with my doctor’s nurse, who agreed with me that the post-op nurses leave out a lot of valuable information. Although, this begs the question that if she already knows that they are remiss in sharing helpful post-op info, why doesn’t she educate her patients herself?
Anyhow, I’m here to share with you what I didn’t know sooner.
I hope that if you come across this article, it will be useful to you on your hysterectomy journey, too.
Pre-surgery & a farewell party for my uterus— “Bye, Felicia!”
I hosted a party at one of my favorite restaurants with my favorite girlfriends to say, “Bye, Felicia” to my angry uterus!
Why was my uterus so angry? Because it’s had to deal with pesky painful fibroids growing all over it for the last three years.
Sometimes the fibroids would cause lots of pressure, pain and extremely heavy-flow periods, once even putting me down for a week. I waited three years before deciding to have a hysterectomy surgery.
What happens if uterine fibroids go untreated?
In my wait, the fibroids only got MUCH bigger.
There are less invasive options to have fibroids removed, lasered away, or controlled (potentially), but the only sure way to rid them for good without the worry of them coming back is with a hysterectomy procedure. After three years of my uterine fibroids only getting worse, I made my decision to proceed with a hysterectomy surgery.
I would suggest to anyone having a hysterectomy to send off their uterus with a farewell celebration!
My uterus and I have been through so much together— the “big red” starting when I was 12, two pregnancies, two births, fibroids and tons of monthlies!
A celebration is also an opportunity for friends to show their support for your operation. It’s also a good time for you to answer their questions about why you need a hysterectomy. Post-op, you’ll be resting and won’t want much company right away. It’s normal to be very tired after.
As my friends and more importantly, as women, they completely understood my pain and my decision to undergo this procedure.
We said, “Cheers!” and toasted to cancelling my monthly subscription! No more monthly cycles after a hysterectomy!
To prepare for my party, the only thing I made, other than dinner reservations, were these cute little farewell signs.
I used computer paper, my printer, laminating machine and paper straws (getting rid of the uterus, but saving the dolphins with the paper straws.) 😉 The invitations were created in minutes and sent out with the Hobnob app electronically.
Then I picked out a party dress and showed-up! I was already practicing doing the least— which is the recipe to follow after surgery. I’m glad that I took the time (an hour, if that) to make the photo signs. They were the perfect party favors to compliment the restaurant’s table setting, and the life of the party for my guests.
Get your free hysterectomy “Goodbye Uterus!” party printable!
For more ideas for your goodbye uterus party, check out this post HERE.
The morning of surgery day was a breeze. No bathing with anything other than water. No cosmetics or makeup, and no food after midnight.
I had already spent the previous week doing everything from washing and folding all of my laundry, mopping all the floors, bathing the dog, redecorating and organizing my bathroom and closet— basically anything that I knew I could not do around the house after surgery.
I was only a little nervous the day of about the unknown (damn subconscious mind), but not too much worried. The friendly hospital staff immediately eased my nerves, and I had The Mister, my mom and my daughter by my side.
They sometimes call this procedure a partial hysterectomy because you keep your ovaries, while your uterus and fallopian tubes are removed (my fallopian tubes I had tied and burnt 17 years ago in the tubal ligation procedure right after my son was born).
Most women, including myself, keep their ovaries in today’s hysterectomy procedures. If the ovaries are healthy, they can be kept. Keeping them prevents escalation into early menopause— and that’s NOT what we want right now!
Anyhow, they gave me my “cocktail” as they called it. I remember the nurses rolling me into the operating room— and then I woke up after it was all done!
This is the part where my story takes a left turn, and nothing feels normal…
Unlike the other women I read about and talked with that shared their post-hysterectomy stories, NO ONE told me about the uber PAINFUL post-op gases.
They said that after surgery, the gases that they fill your body with during surgery will be uncomfortable, and mostly I heard it cramps in your back and shoulders.
Let me be the one to tell you that this pain was worse than contractions, ladies!
Not just in my shoulders, which defiantly made it uncomfortable to rest or sleep. The pain I experienced was like a baby elephant sitting on my chest— no, more like a herd of baby elephants stampeding through my chest trying to escape!
The nurses told me this pain from the surgical gases is not the same for everyone (also probably why no one told me). Lucky me— I drew the straw for the most painful end of the spectrum, and this pain lasted ALL NIGHT!
Ask anyone that knows me; I have a high tolerance for pain (i.e., two c-section births with no epidurals, y’all).
We just had to let the surgery gases “escape on their own.” I literally howled and screamed in my hospital room all night. I don’t know what the neighboring patients thought was going on in my room!
Thankfully, I was blessed to have THE BEST team of night nurses who were right by my side with heat packs and massages— which is all that they could do.
Today, many women go home within hours of a hysterectomy. I’m not sure how one would go home only hours after this major surgery.
I stayed overnight. If it weren’t for the uncomfortable hospital bed (also partially due to the horrible surgery gases exiting my body), I would have stayed one more night for around-the-clock care. Your husband doesn’t need to stay with you overnight. The Mister came back in the morning and took me home in the afternoon, the day after my surgery.
Do and don’t after hysterectomy:
Nurse Jenny, a post-surgery RN, read my article and left this helpful comment I want to share.
“I’m a post surgery RN. The gases you are describing do not come from your intestines or gut. These gases are used during a laparoscopic procedure to blow up the abdominal cavity ( the area between your skin layers and organs) so the surgeon can place a camera through one incision and the tools to remove or repair organs through the other incisions. Most laparoscopic procedures have anywhere from 3 to 6 small abdominal incisions.
The only way to get rid of this abdominal cavity GAS is to walk after surgery- this helps the body reabsorb the gases which decreases pain. The more you walk after surgery the faster the gases are reabsorbed which equals less pain and faster recovery. So when RNs ask you to walk after surgery, please listen.
Walking after any type of surgery helps the patient with blood flow, oxygenation, prevents pneumonia, builds bones back together and much more… Also eating protein after surgery helps repair skin, muscle and bones back together. Don’t eat a lot of sweets while trying to heal after surgery- bacteria loves sugar!! Hope this helps!!”
How painful is laparoscopic hysterectomy? I’ve got 99 problems but a uterus aint one!
Yes, post-surgery and I had 99 problems— at least I felt like I did! For the sake of this post already being LONG, I’ll only concentrate on the core things that I wasn’t prepared for.
How come I didn’t I feel like I could go on a brief, day after surgery outing like the other women I talked to and read about post-hysterectomy?
I felt like crap— and that’s saying a lot for me being that smiling’s my favorite!
Laparoscopic hysterectomy: what is the incision site & is it noticeable?
What is the exact procedure I had done? I had a laparoscopic hysterectomy like the other women I knew and read about. In a laparoscopic procedure, most women have only four less-invasive pen-hole scars after their surgery.
I had those same scars on my stomach, plus an incision horizontal across my two-time giving birth, c-section incision— the one with 20 years of scar tissue underneath it! This extra cut happened to me because, in my doctor’s words, I had “a very impressive uterus.”
What size fibroids should be removed and how many pounds is a uterus?
Because of all the fibroids attached to it, my gynecologist said my uterus was 952 grams compared to an average-sized uterus at 76 grams. Wowza!
This third opening of my incision is why I felt so terrible. They had to cut me to get that baby-sized uterus out! And now I had more healing to do than most.
I didn’t make it out of the house for an “outing” until two weeks after surgery.
I did go to see my doctor before my two-week check-up. I went because I was in so much pain, especially on my right side after every time I ate.
My doctor said I had a small blood clot, but insisted it was normal and I shouldn’t worry— wait, what?!
Things to buy before your hysterectomy: care package & recovery kit
Here’s the one thing my doctor recommended, along with everything else you should know, and what I wish I had known before surgery that I now know!
Hysterectomy recovery tips & what I learned during my two weeks of hard recovery:
1. Get Lularoe brand leggings- hysterectomy pants is what I call them. These are what to wear after your hysterectomy, and part of your hysterectomy recovery kit! Many ladies love Lularoe and look amazing wearing their fashions. They’re not my everyday jam, but post-surgery, Lularoe’s are the best thing ever! No elastic waistband to bother your incisions and soft like butta’!
—I learned this pre-surgery online and bought seven new leggings for $5 each via the OfferUp app from a Lularoe consultant going out of business.
2. Get a belly band. While I don’t wear this anymore, I thought it was the best thing ever the first-week post-surgery. Because of the size of my uterus, I lost 2 pounds in belly mass! However, my tummy still felt tender and jelly-like. The belly band firms you up and is excellent for walking support.
It may also help with the question many women ask, “Will your stomach go down after a hysterectomy?”
—I learned this pre-surgery online and wore it for about a week.
3. Drink LOTS of water. Water is good for 100 million reasons, including help with movement, flow and the c-word (constipation) after surgery!
—I learned this post-surgery when reading online reviews about my next tip.
4. Get a stool softener. —Learned this pre-surgery online, and it’s true. I drank lots of water (see above tip) and only had to use these two or three days.
5. Take ibuprofen. It helps with swelling and obviously pain, but the side effect post-surgery is why you need tip number 4 and lots of water!
—My doc prescribed me ibuprofen, although I read online and had a friend tell me the same, that no one at the hospital told them to take ibuprofen post-surgery! They had to learn about it on their own after days of pain— Poor things!
6. Get a heating pad. Especially if you have an extra incision like me. I still sleep with my electric heating pad every night, as my doctor suggested I do.
—I learned this post-surgery. My doctor didn’t tell me to use a heating pad until AFTER I came for that early post-surgery visit to his office!
Get your free hysterectomy party printable!
7. You may not be able to eat solid foods right away. It was about five days after surgery before I could eat solid foods. I wanted them! But my body wouldn’t hold ’em down. My doctor prescribed medication for nauseousness, but just like when I was pregnant, it didn’t work!
—I learned this post-surgery in the hospital when even soup wouldn’t stay down.
8. Saltine crackers for the win! These stayed down, so I would eat them before taking my ibuprofen. —Another post-surgery figure-out!
9. Ginger ale is your friend. Helps with nausea AND the release of any last gases from surgery trying to escape.
—Again, a post-surgery lesson learned.
10. Get a massage. I had a massage as my first outing two weeks after my hysterectomy. The masseuse had to modify my service because they can’t have you lay on your stomach until after six weeks post-op. Still, it was the best thing ever, and I started to feel like I was on the mend!
11. Walk— and I don’t mean for miles and not even power-style. In weeks one and two, I would walk the deck in my back yard when I was letting out Prince George, my puppy. Walking helps the healing and loosening of the incisions.
—Walking is THE ONE THING that the hospital and doctor’s office did tell me *pre-surgery*. Oh, and yes, to their credit, they did prescribe the ibuprofen, too!
12. Wear supportive shoes when you do go out. I’ve been wearing my comfy Birkenstocks everywhere from the porch to the doctor’s office, and probably because they slip right on and also I keep them by the front door. Today I wore a pair of really flat sandals, and I felt the hard, concrete walk. While these sandals are a fave of mine and never felt this way before, I need supportive shoes for the time being.
—No-one told me this one either, but maybe it’s a common-sense thing!
Shopping list for hysterectomy
Life after hysterectomy & no more cramping my style!
I’m a few days over the three-week mark as of today— Yay me!
I knew this was going to be major surgery, but my recovery has been more than I anticipated.
Hysterectomy for fibroids recovery time
As of yesterday, my incision feels loose, and I no longer feel like I’m walking around with a tight elastic band stretched between my old uterus space and my breast bone.
It’s normal to be very tired after a hysterectomy, but now I can deep-sleep through the night again without waking up to anguishing stomach pain. Truly a relief!
At week two, I had two outings. One was my massage with a group of influencers in my area to experience and promote a local day spa. I agreed to this pre-surgery and was so fortunate on the timing!
For my second outing, I was a panelist speaker at a women’s conference, and even wore boots with heels to the event (Yaasss, Prince)!
I had such a fantastic time being out and about socializing that I forgot that I was a patient! It was so good to feel like myself again.
I’m taking a cruise in week six, and I can’t wait! Once again, it’s a work thing (no kidding), and I’m blessed again on the timing.
Even if you don’t believe me that it’s a working cruise, it’d be hard to hate on ‘lil ole me– the lady with the extra hard recovery!
Remember my hysterectomy story when I share my posts from the cruise— and know that your girl earned this one!
Read all about my cruise and life after hysterectomy recovery HERE!
“Keep taking time for yourself until you’re you again.” —Lalah Delia
Is life better after a hysterectomy?
Heck yeah! Having a hysterectomy is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself!
If a good friend were considering a hysterectomy, I would suggest going through with it if they weren’t considering having children.
How do I feel about my surgery today?
My surgery 100% improved my previous symptoms.
I feel so much freer! Free from period pain and free from a monthly cycle to slow me down.
The fibroids are gone, and I no longer deal with the monthly pelvic pain and pressure, cramping from heavy menstrual bleeding, or excessive bleeding from a uterus in stress.
It’s easier to savor and enjoy every moment. I was 41 at the time of surgery, and I feel like I’m thriving in the years after today!
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer you information through the lens of my personal experience. It’s not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or replace a physician’s services.
For more happy hysterectomy stories, check out these posts:
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