Health Saga Part 4-- A Laparoscopic Hysterectomy & Recovery

 When we last left off with part 3 of my saga I was waiting on my surgery.  I found it quite fitting in a way that my surgery was scheduled for September-- a complete year since I had began down this road!  When I first saw my doctor last September I was absolutely terrified he was going to tell me I needed a hysterectomy and by this September I was completely on board.  


I had to have a pre-op meeting with the staff from the hospital; which they decided to carry out over the phone rather last minute.  They went through what I should expect, how I should prepare, and where exactly to go.  They let me know that while my husband could not come in with me prior to surgery he would be allowed to visit once I was admitted into a room for the night's stay post- op. 

Two days later I had a pre-op appointment with my doctor where he reviewed what he'd be doing, the risks associated with a laparoscopic hysterectomy, my approximate recovery time, and did a quick well check.  

On the Friday before my scheduled surgery date I had to go to the hospital to get a Covid test.  A pre-requisite for all non- emergency surgeries.  As long as the test was negative I wouldn't hear anything and surgery would commence as schedule. The hospital uses a spit test so it was really not that big of a deal and the whole thing is a drive up system.  I arrived pretty soon after they opened and the whole procedure took less than 30 minutes.  


I also needed bloodwork done so after I drove out of the testing site I parked my car in the parking garage and made my way to the blood lab.  They took a few vials of blood and sent me on my way.  I was really impressed with how efficient the hospital kept everything moving and the only person I had any close contact with was the lady that drew my blood.  

The day of my surgery I had to be at the hospital at 5:30 in the morning.  It's a good 30 minute drive so we were up nice and early.  I was one of the very first patients on the ward and the check in process was quite quick.  I brought my overnight bag in with me and they gave me another bag to put whatever I was wearing into.  I had a book to read with me but by 7:00 they had me back in the pre-op room meeting with all the various doctors, techs., and anesthesiologists. 

I want to say it was around 7:30 when they were wheeling me in but I was already pretty out of it with whatever shot they gave me to help me relax.  I woke up around noon feeling groggy and with a major sore throat but other than that I felt pretty good.  I always have a hard time shaking off the effects of the anesthesia and just sleep so soundly.  


Once I was awake and talking they wheeled me to the room I'd be staying in for the night.  I was surprised to find that I had a roommate (I just assumed with all this Covid stuff that the hospital wouldn't be very full but it was!).  I drank so much my first few hours post- op and they were thrilled that I even asked for something to eat.  I had a few crackers but with my throat hurting so much from the tubes I mostly just drank. They wanted me to keep practicing deep breathing and were amazed that I could immediately move the blue disk to the arrow. 

I had a catheter in and some leg pumps for circulation on my legs so I couldn't move much until they removed it all around dinnertime.  I picked at my food-- still only really drinking juice, eating my ice cream, and sipping at soup broth.  

They had me up and walking around the ward just after dinner and my nurse kept remarking on how well I was doing.  She had to strong arm me into taking Tylenol.  I wasn't feeling any real pain (or no more pain than I was used to feeling on a day to day basis) but she kept insisting I take something to stay ahead of the pain. She just chuckled at how eager I was to get up and walk.  I honestly felt better post-op than I had when I arrived in the morning.  I don't think I realized how much pain I was really in and how not normal that was. 


It was pretty impossible to get a good night's sleep in the hospital with all the buzzers, alarms, noise, IV ports, and nurse checks but I did my best.  My doctor came in to check on me early the next day and told me that they had removed my fallopian tubes, uterus, and cervix but that my ovaries looked fine so they left them in-- yay! No hormone replacement therapy!  

They did have a minor complication where they nicked the bowels but they dragged the general surgeon in to check on it and that surgeon didn't think it was a big deal at all.  My doctor persuaded him to put in a stitch just to make my doctor feel better but all in all no one was concerned so I decided not to be either.  

My doctor was really surprised that my pain was so well handled with just Motrin and Tylenol (the night nurse insisted on giving me Motrin through my IV).  He agreed that I was ready to go home.  Everyone warned me that the actual discharge paperwork could take hours. They were sending me home with a prescription for a stronger Motrin dose and a pain killer just in case I needed it since most people experience more pain in those first few days at home.  


I had a decent appetite though I felt full much faster than normal so my nurse suggested smaller frequent meals once home. I was encouraged to get up and walk, eat well, drink lots of fluid, and monitor myself for any sign of fever or infection.  

Even once home my pain was managed with a dose of Motrin every 6 hours. I spent lots of time in bed and whenever I tried to do anything that my body thought was too much my temperature would elevate just enough that I felt miserable and wanted to sleep.  I spent so much time in bed it sort of lost it's appeal.  

I continued to heal pretty well, though did have a slight fever spike that required a call to the on-call doctor on Wednesday night just a week and half after surgery.  My doctor called me the next day and since the fever had broken and not returned we decided to stick with my 2 week post op visit on that Friday. 


Just shy of two weeks my husband drove me to my appointment on that Friday (Monday would have been an official 2 weeks but it was a holiday weekend and the doctor's office wasn't open). Again the nurse and doctor were thrilled and amazed with how well I was doing.  All the biopsy results had come back from everything they had taken out and everything came back fine-- no cancer. We didn't really think it ever was but it was still nice to know. 

We agreed to check back in a few weeks and I continued to gradually do a bit more here and there as I felt able for those weeks in between. I began driving the very next day-- just short trips around town. During those first 7 weeks or so I was still spotting (as is normal) and any time that spotting increased or got darker I knew I was probably doing too much and had to rest.  

By my 5 week check-up I felt back to normal.  I had resumed housework, doing groceries, lighter lifting like laundry baskets, etc. I just hadn't done any exercising other than walking though we had stretched out our walks to over an hour and began leaving the flat paved trails for some flat dirt paths in the woods. I still made sure there were no strenuous work outs or heavy lifting. I thought I'd be all cleared at my 5 week check up but he cautioned me that he could still see stitches so I still needed to take it a bit easy for at least 3 more weeks just to be on the safe side.  I was fine to keep on doing what I'd been doing but I shouldn't add anything more strenuous in.  While I was disappointed that he didn't think I was back to 100% my doctor was actually quite pleased with my recovery.  


I was in a fair bit of pain after my 5 week check-up that lasted for at least a few days and I began to feel like I was never going to be feel better.  

But so gradually over the next 3 weeks I began to make improvements and by Thanksgiving I did feel like I was back to my old self!  I still get minor twinges of pain now and then and I have noticed that I get winded and tired after just 90 minute hikes but am slowly working on building up my muscles and tolerance once again.  

Though I hemmed and hawed for so long I am so glad I had the surgery but I am even more grateful to have both the surgery and the recovery behind me already. 

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Comments

  1. I'm so glad you're through all of this. And I like your honesty about how your perspective on a hysterectomy changed throughout the year.

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    1. I am so glad to have it firmly behind me now.

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  2. I'm glad everything went so well with the surgery. I'm sure the fact that you're doing so well worked against you a bit (over doing). I'm glad you knew to listen to your body and slow down when needed.

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    1. I'm sure it did too; my doctor cautioned me about that too.

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  3. So very glad that everything went well for you Joanne. It must be a huge relief. x

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  4. Glad that this all worked out for you and that they were able to save your ovaries. Because of my endometriosis, they couldn't save mine, so I have to take a hormone combo.
    I took 6 weeks off and I needed every bit of it! And it took another couple of weeks to not feel completely worn out. So I am glad to hear that you healed so well.
    take care,
    Melissa | Little Frugal Homestead

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    1. I definitely needed a full 6-8 weeks to bounce back.

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  5. Thanks for sharing your experiences and I hope all is well now!

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  6. Thank you for sharing this...I know it will help someone out there who is dealing with a decision about surgery. It's amazing how long it takes the body to recover and heal, even from a laparoscopic procedure. Take care!

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    1. I had had a few laparoscopic outpatient procedures before but I guess since this one was more along the lines of major surgery I wasn't quite prepared for the recovery time.

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  7. Joanne,
    Great post and very informative to those who are not familiar with this type of surgery and recovery time....Isn't modern medicine great?/ I had my knee replacement at 3pm on a Monday and was home by 3pm on Tuesday and started out patient therapy on that Thursday morning....It did help that I had been a Rehab nurse for over 37 years but it is very different when you are the patient.....I too thought I should be doing more sooner but I was doing well...With knee replacement or any type of joint replacement, they say that it takes up to a year to be fully recovered and I can attest to that...Even though I was 6-7 months post op when i started my Christmas decorating last year, I see the difference this year and how much better physically I am over a year and a half later....Glad you feel better after your surgery and all went well!!
    Thanks so much for stopping by!!
    Stay safe, healthy and happy!!
    Hugs,
    Debbie

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    1. It really is! From what my doctor had told me if they hadn't been able to do this laparoscopically the hospital time and recovery time would have been (at least) double what I went through.

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  8. I’m so happy to hear that all went well and you have this behind you, Joanne. I had a hysterectomy almost 20 years ago, and it took me awhile to feel like my old self.

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    1. I am so happy to have it behind me; it has been hanging over my head for so long that it is a relief to not have to think about it anymore.

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  9. I'm glad to hear your surgery went well and your recovery is progressing well, too. Take it easy and enjoy the holidays!

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  10. So glad as you go into this new year, you will be feeling 100% with this surgery behind you. Proud of you to skip the pain meds, although they are good to have if you need them. I think I took one pill the night of my parathyroid surgery and then a little Tylenol the following day. I always say I've had 2 babies via natural childbirth...I can withstand a little pain.

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    1. Yeah, I have a pretty high tolerance for pain but I truly wasn't in much pain at all.

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  11. I am so glad you are back to yourself. The 5 week could have been too much lifting too soon. But so glad is good! Take it easy and rest when you need it.

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  12. So wonderful that you are healed and feeling better. Especially after a year of feeling unwell! It's so crazy how our bodies can adapt to anything and make us forget that the pain isn't normal. Now you can enjoy the holidays and all they have to offer, pain free!

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    1. It really is amazing how we just adjust and adapt and begin to think of it as normal! I honestly didn't register how much pain I was in until it was gone.

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