I had a hysterectomy last week.
There I said it. Like it’s a dirty word.
I didn’t tell many people. I felt funny, often hit by an awkward silence or two as people didn’t quite know what to say (and me not wanting to explain the unasked questions about why I was having it done).
It’s such a personal thing to a woman. This organ that can create life. It’s not like saying you had a liver or gall bladder removed. People don’t hesitate to ask why you had those organs removed.
Think about all the organs in our body that aren’t needed. Appendix (useful during our pre-historic plant-eating years). Tonsils and adenoids (I had both removed). Male nipples. Okay, so not an organ but fun to wonder why they are there! And the uterus. It should just shrivel up and fall out once we’re done with it, dang it.
So…to have an organ taken from me. Something that was part of my body all my life. It does feel a bit strange. What fills that space now? Do all the other organs fill in so it doesn’t feel lonely? Lucky to keep my ovaries (no menopause for me yet) I wondered, what do they do now? Could they wander off and get lost somewhere else? I mean, they have nothing left to be attached to after all.
My son loves watching The Monsters Inside Me, an Animal Planet show. In one this man contracted a parasite from swimming in an African lake. It lived in his liver without any symptoms until one day it floated into his blood and headed to his brain where it picked a new home to deposit its young. The doctors thought it was a brain tumor. Turned out to be a nest of worms. Could my ovaries float off and find a new home and start breeding, mad at me that I gave their home away to the biohazard bin? Ewww.
I’ve read many women mourn the loss of their uterus. They feel less of a mother, a woman. Their fertility is gone. Certainly this must be for younger women who never had kids or want more. I recall 18 years ago having a dermoid tumor removed. My roommate was a young girl in her 20s who had a hysterectomy. She walked the halls as she recuperated. I wondered what she was thinking and how her life would be not bearing children.
No mournful woes here. I woke up the next day to a blue sky. The clouds were waving to me. The geese were honking by my window. And I knew that the whole world was singing just for me. “It’s gone! It’s gone! This uterus is gone. A bag of pain. It won’t grow back again! Goodbye you floppy udder of my demise. Kiss my ass on this glorious sunrise.”
Hysterectomy. The musical.
Bye bye uterus. Bye bye tumors.
No more babies.
I’m so happy I’m gonna cry.
Bye bye female organ bye bye.
Bye bye aches and pains.
Bye bye sleepless nights.
Hello empty nest. I’ll kiss my womb goodbye.
I’m through with throwing up.
I’m through with cramps.
No more reading pain medication ads.
But there’s a reason I think it’s so cool, because now I don’t have to be in birth control school.
Bye bye uterus. Bye bye tumors.
I’m so happy I’m gonna cry.
Don’t forget to have a Goodbye Uterus Party! After surgery take care of yourself.
18 years since having surgery I discovered some things about hospital stays:
You can pitch your book lined up on a gurney with all the other druggies getting dosed to head off to the cutting room floor. It’s perfectly appropriate and wonderfully freeing in an uninhibited state.
There are so many male nurses now! And they are just as compassionate…and cuter to look at. Thanks premier-pharmacy.com/product/priligy/ John for helping me in the middle of the night. I had no shame. Nope. None at all. You were adorable.
How flat I am without a bra, as my son noted when he hugged me. “Well, son,” I wanted to say – “they don’t just stand up on their own!”
You can order from a delivery menu! No longer does a tray of suspicious food that you didn’t order get plopped in front of you. I never touched my Kindle. Instead my eyes devoured the lovely and lengthy menu over and over. I could order whenever and whatever I wanted! Yankee Pot Roast braised with carrots and celery? Okay! Omelets and sausage? Yum. Build my own pizza? Wowzer.
You still get no sleep. Someone is waking you or your roommate every half an hour for something. And they are not apologetic about it.
Movies on demand! I hunkered down and reminisced watching A Christmas Story. Easy to do in my fragilly state.
Hospital gowns. Still the same. A little ass and no one cares. Guaranteed a dozen other asses waved to folks along the halls that day, hospital-style.
I married the nicest man alive. He was born to pamper me. He tells me a dozen times a day how much he loves me, as he brings me water, a book to read, and dinner on a tray. I am blessed. My son is his father too, helping me with anything I ask and saying, “Don’t pick that up, Mom!”
Tips after surgery that helped me:
Get up and walk as soon as you can. I walked with assistance that night of my surgery and by the next morning was walking the halls alone. Your insides won’t actually fall out, only feel like it.
Drink lots of water! Eat fruit and foods high in fiber. All of this helps the body work better.
Pack a little bag of essentials. Face wash and lotion. Toothbrush and toothpaste. Lip gloss to make you feel “prettier”.
Be nice to the hospital staff, especially the nurses. They are a certain kind of special breed.
Ask for help! And let people bring those dinners and send those cookies. Weight Watchers can wait. Have too much? Then freeze it. I have so many wonderful folks who took the time to make delicious food and just stop by to visit me. The gift of time from someone is one of the best gifts there is. Pass it on if you can the next time you hear of someone in need.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you are Super Woman. When they tell you no activity the first 2 weeks they mean it. Ironing a shirt can send you back to bed for the afternoon with pain and exhaustion. Dusting just a bit can make you break out in a sweat. And never, ever let the cat sit on your stomach. One feline mood swing and they can launch off your abdomen in explosive pain. I learned all this the hard way. 6 weeks is a good time to plan for recovery of this kind of surgery and I believe it.
Enjoy the gift of time you have at home to do relaxing projects, read, watch movies, doze, write holiday cards..and reflect on all you have to be thankful for.
Are you having a hysterectomy? A friend directed me to a wonderful site that I highly recommend. Hyster Sisters. You can learn about all the hysterectomy options (I had abdominal sub lateral), pre-op, post-op information, real life stories and get support for the emotional loss of this part of you. They even have a wonderful booklet for your husband or partner to help them understand all you’re going through.
Share your story here!
Melinda Leigh says
Awesome blog, Donna!
Take care of yourself and feel better.
Melinda, thanks for the kind words..and I am taking it easy 🙂
Chris Redding says
I had to have an emergency one after a c-section. He was my second child and I only wanted two and being an oops myself, I was especially sensitive about that not happening to me.
So when the doc, who, poor woman, could not look me in the eye, said I needed an emergency one, I said go for it. I was done having children. I knew the second son was healthy and on his way to the nursery. This way my dh didn’t need to get a vasectomy which he really didn’t want to do.
Here are the good things:
No period. Ever. Which means that you never have to schedule your beach vacation around it. You never have to worry about dropping your purse and feminine hygiene products falling out.
No birth control to remember.
Chris, sorry you had an emergency one…hope the recovery wasnt too bad. Glad it worked out for you! Yes, as I feel better every day I am giddy over the good things to come from this! I’ve been in pain 3 weeks out of every month, sometimes excruciating -and now can look forward to Disney next year with glee!
Lucile Barker says
In my family, we referred to it as Holiday Inn…no surprises!
I have Crohn’s and the combination of periods and intestinal bleeding was putting me in the hospital every six weeks, which was not a good thing with tiny twins at home.
Do be aware that there will be a few hormonal changes even with ovaries intact and that there can be post surgical depression.
All the best. Enjoy the freedom of this next part of your life!
Lucie, Holiday Inn – now I like that! Sorry to hear you have Crohn’s. I have a friend who has that too with many issues. I have read about hormonal changes too yes, even with ovaries intact. Thanks for the reminder and well wishes!
Teri Goggin-Roberts says
Wow. What a powerful post Donna! I love your honesty and humor. Your advice for healing applies to so many situations. Glad to hear your husband and son are surrounding you with love and support. To add to that support, here’s a link to a bunch of free, classic Christmas movies available online. Enjoy and happy healing. Hugs, Teri
Teri, nice to hear from you! Thanks for the great site “Peace on Earth – from the couch!” love it. Appreciate your well wishes and hope to see you in the New Year 🙂
Hi, Donna. I had a dear friend who went through the operation and I helped with all that c0oking and whatnot. She was up and walking in no time – that was her. But I also saw the emotional workout she got as well. She had fairly recently lost one of her children and it seemed to reopen that wound in space. Hugs to you and what a great sharing!
Victoria, what a dear friend you are to have helped out. I cant imagine the grief she went thru after losing a child and then to have this operation…the loss must have been immense for her.
Catherine Stine says
You are brave to share this. Wishing you a great recovery! I got my tubes tied after my second caesarean, and it was very freeing. No more birth control, ever.
Catherine, thanks! I wasnt going to write about it and keep it private and then thought – why the heck not…feels good 🙂
Kathryn Craft says
Oh my god you used it—Hysterectomy, the Musical! Hahaha–love it! You are totally the woman to write it, too. Love this part: “Goodbye you floppy udder of my demise.” Hilarious. Glad to have shared in your Goodbye Goddam Uterus Party! You sound great, look great— JUST REMEMBER TO REST. That is your main defense against the post-surgoical depression.
Kathryn – yes, Hysterectomy the Musical! LOL. Glad to share a laugh with you – and thanks for taking me to the Dr and for a lovely visit. You always brighten my day. I’m so lucky to have people like you around me – online and in person. Resting now…after another friends visit..oh, and a treat “beer”. 🙂
Angela Ackerman says
I think having a great attitude makes the harder things go a bit smoother, and your story is proof of that. I am glad that you took this step for your health and safety. Living with pain and worry is no way to live if a person can do something about it!
Rest well and take care of yourself!
Hi Angela, yes indeed – a good attitude makes it so much easier. My poor hospital roommate complained the entire time to her nurses and visitors and I thought ‘What an energy drain that is! All that negative energy.’ I think being positive aids in healing faster.
Ilene Schneider says
I had a hysterectomy in the summer of 2001. My only regret is that I hadn’t done it sooner.
Ilene, thanks for sharing…and I hear your word from so many women! Glad it went well for you.
Ellery Griswold says
Life is soooo much better….after… but do get plenty of rest….had ‘the works’ removed laparoscopically…went home with 3 tiny bandaids and a little dull ache…went to the mall with my coupons 3 days later…big mistake…too much walking, too soon…big dull ache…taking it slow and easy is imperative…this was more than having a splinter removed no matter what type of surgery….thinking of you…hope you have an easy recovery..
Ellery, you were lucky to have laparoscopically. I had to have abdominal with my condition…giant incision but doing ok! YES, its amazing what your body cant do when its healing indeed. I learned my lesson over doing it too, now taking it easy. Glad all went well for you.
I love you! What a fabulous post. Hysterectomy: The Musical. I’m still rolling!