HRT or not HRT, that is the question…

One thing I missed off from my ‘Words what I have learned’ post was HRT. And yet, before my surgery, I knew very little about it: I knew what it stood for and that’s about it, and I didn’t really relate it to the surgical procedure I was about to undergo and the effects this surgery would have on me.

The clue really is in the name: Hormone Replacement Therapy – you replace something that is no longer there! I didn’t truly understand that I would have no sex hormones after my ovaries were removed: no oestrogen, no progesterone, no testosterone, or that this would have a physical impact on my body as well as an emotional one. I think I knew intellectually that I would undergo a ‘Surgical Menopause‘, but had not the slightest idea of the impact this would have of me.

At 48, I was already having some menopausal symptoms – the odd hot flush and night sweat, and had decided that I wanted continue to try to manage things naturally after the operation. I’ve borrowed a book from a friend who’s a couple of years further along Menopause Road than I am, called Natural Solutions to Menopause by Marilyn Glenville, which is a good read, and have been trying to manage my symptoms through diet.

Recently, though, the symptoms are becoming less tolerable, and there’s more to the menopause than I realised. I knew about the hot flushes and night sweats, of course, and I’d heard about insomnia and vaginal dryness but I  had no idea that it can include headaches and joint pain as well. I still don’t know whether the crushing fatigue that sometimes takes my legs from under me is the result of the surgery or the menopause. My concentration isn’t great either, and again, I don’t know whether it’s the surgery or the menopause – I can easily ask a question, respond to the answer and then ask the exact same question again.  Apparently a good way to lose weight is to eat really slowly, giving your stomach a chance to realise that it’s full. Maybe that’s how you should speak to a menopausal woman – give her brain a chance to process what’s been said!

With the symptoms I’ve been experiencing, and with one eye on returning to work, I decided to at least ask about options for HRT during surgical menopause. I didn’t want to take a large dose or for a long time, but I feel like I need something to mitigate the flushes in particular, which make me feel like I’m on fire – and not in a good way. Anyway, it’s almost the end of the school summer holiday and I was expecting to go back to work at the beginning of the Autumn term. I’ve had some issues with healing, however, so I went to see my GP to get the all-clear for work, and to discuss my options.

Alas, it was not to be. After examining me, my GP looked at me like I was mad when I said I assumed I was going back to work next week and could I pleased have a phased return. I still have some healing issues, and long story short – I’m signed off for another month and I can’t have HRT that acts in the bloodstream as I have a history of severe classical migraines. However, I do have oestrogen pessaries which should help me to heal inside (I had some granulation tissue on my vaginal cuff – where my cervix was – at my 6 week check, which required a silver nitrate treatment; and I’m still “raw” – eek).

So, with full HRT not an option for me at the moment, I’m going to continue to manage my symptoms through diet and have ordered some supplements. After some research online, I’m trying Vitabiotics Menopace Plus – you’ll know if they work if I stop repeating questions!

I’ll keep you posted…

Words what I have learned…

Really short one, this.

Thought I’d provide a summary of the words I have learned as I’ve undertaken my hysterectoME journey. I’ll put links to images, but beware, these are medical terms and they are images!

Please remember that I’m a patient, not a doctor. These are simply googled images and explanations in my own words.

  • TAH & BSO: Total Abdominal Hystectomy  & Bilateral Salpingo Oophrectomy (removal of womb, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries – what I’ve had)
  • TLH: Total Laparoscopic (small incisions in abdomen)
  • SAH: Subtotal (Supracervical in USA?): Cervix/ovaries.tubes left behind
  • TVH: Total Vaginal Hysterectomy: what it says on the tin
  • surgical menopause: after removal of ovaries, body instantly stops producing oestrogen so instant menopause symptoms
  • granulation tissue: new connective tissue & blood vessels; normal part of healing process; helps wounds to heal from the base of a wound (seems good on the outside, but not on the inside, not sure why but I have it where my cervix was and it’s slowing down my healing there???)
  • slough/sloughy wound: basically, ‘gunk’ in an open wound; usually a sign of bacterial action/infection (includes pus, which I learned isn’t always yellow!)
  • debridement (pretty unpleasant – don’t do an image search for this one unless you have a firm constitution!): removal of dead or infected tissue, often with hydrogel; can be done surgically in extreme cases; it’s what they sometimes use maggots for (luckily I got the hydrogel!)
  • dehiscence/dehisce (another one to not search for): surgical complication where a wound opens up; can be partial (top layers of skin – what I had) or total/evisceration (right down to organs)
  • exudate: protein rich fluid that comes out of a wound, natural  part of healing process; think it can be a sign of infection depending on amount, colour etc. (it was certainly monitored while my wound was infected and while it was healing)

This is probably only of interest to anyone who’s had or having surgery – or anyone who’s particularly gross!

Recovering at home: Pain, frustration and isolation

Well, I’m almost 11 weeks post-op now and have been recovering at home for some time. It hasn’t all been plain sailing: I’ve had complications and I’ve occasionally misjudged what I can and can’t do.

The title for this post seems to suggest that I need to write about the negatives first, so that must be where I’m at at the moment. The negatives are a valuable part of the recovery process: without these, you can’t have the positives. It’s also quite a long post, so don’t start reading if you’ve got plans for next week!

Again, maybe avoid the section on pain if you’re a bit squeamish or are eating. I’m going to try be candid and not pull any punches, both to remind myself just how far I’ve come in the last few weeks and to help readers to understand just how painful a hysterectomy is.

PAIN

Having, and recovering from, a hysterectomy hurts. It hurts like hell, both inside and outside. It’s a last resort procedure for a reason, and if it’s something you’re offered…THINK HARD and ASK QUESTIONS. Again, I can only write about my own experience, but it’ll give you an idea of what is involved in having a hysterectomy.

The facts: to remind you, I’ve had an abdominal procedure, which involves a large (6 inches) incision just above my pubic hair.I had stitches in my wound but some surgeons use staples (I’m SO glad I didn’t have those!). There are also routinely around 100 internal stitches, a figure I couldn’t even imagine until recently.I had my stitches removed at the local Dressings Clinic exactly a week after my operation.

The pain I’ve experienced hasn’t been from my wound itself. There’s so much cutting of muscles and nerves that I’m still pretty numb around the incision site itself. No, the pain is internal. I’m now talking about the post-op wind pain; I’m talking about the pain caused by my abdominal organs being manhandled and moved about during the surgery. I’m talking about the pain I still get now when I stand up or sit down, or when I’m on my feet for too long, or when I go to the toilet.

I’m going to write about the last one first, because in those early days and weeks, this was by far the most debilitating pain, it’s one that no-one told me about, and it’s probably the most embarrassing pain to discuss. Even now, almost eleven weeks on, it still hurts when I empty my bladder or my bowel. Nobody mentioned this beforehand, but since my op I’ve read lots of women’s accounts of suffering this pain. It actually took me a while to realise what women meant when they were writing about a BM (bowel movement)! I’ve actually got a different name for it – I’m going to call it a ‘Barry’. BM = Barry Manilow and let’s face it, apart from Bermuda Triangle in 1980 (!), most of his stuff was frankly a bit shit (see what I did there?!).

Anyone who has had a child, or any form of abdominal (or presumably anal) surgery will understand the fear of the first Barry following an operation. The fear that all your innards are going to fall out, or that you’ll burst your stitches if you push too hard, or simply that it will hurt. I had all these fears after my operation, but worst of all was the agonising, griping, twisting pain I felt in my lower abdomen (presumably my bowel) after doing/having a Barry. It was these times that had me in tears for the first two or three weeks in particular, the pain was so bad. For several minutes afterwards, I would cry and be unable to move – and it was awful that my kids saw me like this and couldn’t do anything. I knew it would settle but for those few minutes…jeez, it was excruciating. That’s one thing that no-one warns you about, presumably because it’s an embarrassing topic, and we British don’t talk about these things. But it does get better. I still have pain sometimes, and there are still times when I hold a pillow to my stomach during a Barry, even now, but it’s nothing like it was. I had very little advice from the hospital about this, but found this physiotherapist from Australia who basically taught me how to get in and out of bed and how to empty my bowel with minimal pain and causing no damage. It’s not elegant, or indeed quiet, but it really helped me.

So that’s the least-talked about pain. Other times that caused pain, and still do to a lesser degree, include walking around, sitting down / standing up from a chair or the sofa, lifting my legs to get in and out of the shower, reaching up or down, lifting etc. – anything basically, that involved moving. It’s difficult to get definite advice about what you can and can’t do, presumably as we’re all different and there are so many types of surgery for hysterectomy.  (Note to self: feeding the cats the day after I came out of hospital was a fucking stupid idea!) One of the more useful guides I found is week by week guide to recovery in this book.

One of the best, and hardest, things to do to help the pain is to move about. The discharge nurse at the hospital said that some women go home and take to their beds when they come out of hospital, but that that’s the worst thing to do, unless you are told to have bed rest, of course. I live at the top of a steep hill with a shop at the bottom, and it was week two or three before I walked down to the shop and back. It hurt more going downhill and I made sure my son came with me. For the first month or more, the most exercise I got was walking from the front gate to the rear gate of the house and through the garden. I used to do this several times and called it ‘walking the wall’. Also,. my pain relief regime was like a military operation, with different painkillers I could take at different times, and with different durations between them. I ended up recording on my phone what I’d taken and when, setting reminders so I could keep myself topped up.

The other thing I’d heard of, but wasn’t really prepared for was the ‘swelly belly‘. Even now, if I spend too long on my feet (though I can manage much longer these days), my abdomen swells and becomes painful. I was talking to a woman who’d had just her ovaries out and she described the swelly belly as like wearing a rubber ring around her lower abdomen – that’s just what it feels, and unfortunately looks, like. For a month after the operation, I wore an abdominal support band during the day, which did help.

The main pain I’m suffering now is because I still haven’t healed inside (where my cervix was) yet, and keep getting sharp, jabbing pains there. I also have some internal stitches that haven’t dissolved yet, one of which is apparently visible in my scar – eek!  And, of course, the pain I feel when I glance down at my swelly belly (it wasn’t exactly small before the op – it’s bloody huge now!).

So that’s the pain.I’m sure there’s more I could say but I really won’t. The pain settles down and I now only take painkillers as and when I need them.

FRUSTRATION

As the pain lessons, so does the frustration at being able to do so very little. Even filling the kettle and making the bed were no-nos to begin with. I’ve had to learn to deal with not being able to do things, and to rely on other people to do them – not easy when you’re a bit of a houseproud control freak. About 5 weeks in, I did some light housework, just dusting and tidying, and was really sore afterwards, so it’s all about accepting the change in pace for a bit – and this is hard to do.

There’s also been the frustration at not healing quickly, not being in control of your own body and what it does. Through no fault of my own, my wound became infected after a couple of weeks and took three weeks and two courses of antibiotics to clear up. This infection caused the wound to open up (though not all the way through to my abdominal organs), and it only fully closed after 9 weeks. This was incredibly frustrating, because whatever I did, it wouldn’t bloody heal and there were nights I came home from Dressings Clinic and burst into tears because I simply could not see the end. It meant I was having my dressing changed every other day (every day, for two weeks) and I couldn’t shower because I had to keep the dressing dry. Coming home with no dressing on the 17th August was a brilliant feeling, and now I can even bathe!

ISOLATION

I think I’ve Facebooked more since my operation than I had in the preceding couple of years (I’m a late user of FB). When all I could do is lie on the sofa, I relied on people coming to visit me, and most people I know work and have lives and stuff. It wasn’t a huge problem for the first month or so because all I did was sleep and moan and cry, but as I became more like me again, I really missed seeing people. I remember looking forward to going to Dressings Clinic in the evening just because I would get out of the house and see people!

About three weeks in, I had my first social outing, when I met a couple of friends from work for a (non-alcoholic) drink. I was given a lift there and back, and sat with a small cushion against my tummy, but it was great to get out of the house and talk about something other than wombs and wounds etc.

My second social outing was a week or so later, to an event round the corner from my house arranged by a group who support Syrian refugees to the area. I managed to walk there and back and stayed out for about an hour. Getting out and about, even for a short length of time, really helps the frustration as well as the isolation and reminds you that  there’s a whole world out there beyond your surgery. Reminding myself of what refugees have been through, and survived, also helped put things in perspective for me.

My third social outing was on 18th July, for my son’s 24th birthday, when I was pleased to discover that even with my huge post-hysterectomy belly which has its own post code, it is possible for my eyes to be bigger than my belly – phew!

Since then, I can get out and about a lot more. I can walk into town now, and sometimes even walk back again! I’ve even started driving again in the last week, which isn’t entirely comfortable, but means I can get out if I want. Yesterday I went for a short walk and bumped into a friend with her children. So, hopefully, no more isolation and I’m looking forward to meeting up with people before my return to work.

Phew, this was a long one. Sorry for that! I’ll try and be shorter next time – I feel a glossary of ‘Words I have learned’ coming up…

The first few days (again!)

Maybe don’t read this one if you’re at all squeamish. Or eating. You have been warned!

Well, hopefully second time lucky as I write about the first few days following my TAHBSO. I actually wrote this post a few days ago, but my laptop, which is not very well at the moment, had a senior moment and decided the operation had timed out, forgot what it was doing and then went to sleep! A bit like me. Ah . . . the penny drops – my laptop is menopausal! It’s a few years old now, so that’s probably about right.

Anyway, the first few days. There were things I expected, things I thought I was prepared for and things that nobody told me about. I walked down to theatre with the nurse at 10.30 that morning and was back on the ward before 1pm. I had no pain on waking – an advantage of having a spinal rather than a general anaesthetic – the pain relief fades gradually rather than suddenly. The surgeon came into the recovery room and spoke to me briefly, telling the that “it went well” and “blood loss wasn’t extensive” and that he’d come up and see me on the ward. Soon, I was taken back to the ward, complete with the usual attachments (intravenous drip, catheter and a special machine that regularly checked my vitals all by itself). No PCA pump, though, which did surprise me as I’d had one after my last surgery, which although it took longer to perform, was nowhere near as invasive as a hysterectomy.

Back on the ward, with the magic machine taking my blood pressure, temperature, heart rate and blood oxygen levels every 15 minutes with no human intervention (not until it went beep, anyway), I was freezing cold. My body temperature was 35 point-something, and I was shivering all the time. I spent the first two days and nights with the duvet and two blankets on the bed – in the middle of June. It was just my body’s reaction to the surgery, and soon settled down, but this was the first thing I wasn’t prepared for. I was expecting hot flushes and night sweats due to surgical menopause, but no-one told me that I could be freezing cold! Anyway, I needn’t have worried because the hot flushes and sweats came all too soon. I remember on day three, posting on Facebook that I was “loving these instant-menopause sweats“, knowing that I must have smelled delightful after three days in bed with just a flannel wash each day.

Anyone who’s been in hospital knows that they monitor everything, and they kept my catheter in for 48 hours, rather than the usual 24 because I’d had blood in my urine and wasn’t drinking enough during the first couple of days. It’s a bit disconcerting to be told as soon as a nurse enters your room that your urine is too dark and you “must keep drinking plenty”!

Without doubt, though, quite the worst thing to deal with after hysterectomy was the trapped wind. I’d been warned about this and that I would fart like a champion for days. As it happened, I didn’t, but I did some great burps. I was always known for my pub burps while out drinking in my younger days, and these burps did me proud. I suspect they caused no little panic when picked up by seismologists all over the world!

The pain though, was horrific, and if that’s how babies feel when they have colic, I’m not surprised they scream so much. It was enough to make me cry and to ensure that my blood oxygen level kept dropping because I could only take such shallow breaths. It was agony to breath deeply. So the machine that goes ping was constantly going ping. (Really wish that wasn’t a childbirth sketch, but there you go). The nurses insisted that I got out of bed on day two, no matter how painful it was. I got my own back, however, when I managed an hour, threw up and got back into bed. They were right, though, moving about is the best thing to release trapped wind. I also drank endless cups of peppermint tea and green tea and had regular peppermint capsules (which I didn’t even realise you can get).

One thing I wasn’t expecting was when they removed the dressing form my wound on the Wednesday, two days after my surgery. They sprayed the wound with something waterproof and I think antiseptic and that was it. No dressing (at that point, anyway). I made the mistake of looking at the wound in the mirror and just saw loads of black stitches and a huge area of bruising in the middle. Yuck. When the consultant came to see me on the ward, he told me that my womb had been quite happy where it was; I can’t remember his exact words (was off my head on opiates!), but I understood it to mean it was quite embedded, because he said it took him a bit longer than expected to remove it. I don’t know if this is why I’ve had some of the complications I have, but it’s a thought.

The other issue I had was that my blood pressure, which runs on the low side of normal anyway, was even lower than usual, which meant that I couldn’t have the oral morphine that first night (apparently morphine lowers blood pressure anyway), so the highlight of day one was a painkilling suppository, which entailed an agonising move onto my side. Queue another TMI Facebook post in which I said something like “Grrr. They won’t give me the morphine because blood pressure too low, so up the bum it is then. Not as much fun as it sounds.” Made a few people laugh with that one, and I suspect the drugs from theatre were still swimming lazily around my system at that point. Have to say, though, pain relief up the bum was great – really quick and effective and if you’re ever offered painkillers this way, my advice is take it! I liked it so much, I let them do it the next day!

What with low blood pressure, dropping oxygen levels, blood in my (dark) urine, and not eating or drinking enough, it was looking dodgy for me going home as expected on the 16th, although I felt great after my first post-op shower (supervised by a healthcare assistant), with pain levels coming under control, and was looking forward to getting home.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be as without being too indelicate, I then got diarrhoea, proper dribbling down my leg diarrhoea and ended up in floods of tears and apologising profusely to the poor nurse who had to come and rescue me from the bathroom. I’ve obviously been lucky up to now, because I’d never had this before and it was truly horrible. Apparently it was the stuff they gave me to ‘get me going’ (constipation is an issue after most operations, but especially when your bowel has been manhandled and moved about during major abdominal surgery). Embarrassing and unpleasant, but worse, enough to stop me from going home. Anyway, the nurses called the consultant up to see me after his clinic that morning and he decided to keep me in another night. Part of me was gutted (I just wanted to be at home, in my own bed) and part of me was glad (I knew I could at least just ring a bell for a nurse overnight – they got used to me buzzing at 2am and asking for “more drugs, please”). I was eventually released on the Friday morning and was home by about midday.

More about my recovery at home next time.

Chakras and Crystals

Okay, so here goes with the ‘whacky’ bit. Like I said in my last post, I’m a total wuss with anything medical. I much prefer a dentist to a doctor, ironic really, given how often I’ve seen doctors over the years.

The last time I had surgery was also quite a big operation, though nowhere near as invasive and traumatic as my hysterectomy. I was in Manchester, having a benign tumour removed and a reconstruction done at the same time. I don’t like hospitals (they’re full of doctors, you know) and I really wasn’t looking forward to having the operation, especially as I’d already had the lump removed once (by the same consultant who removed my womb, actually) and it had come back (makes me wonder…?). So I was just a teeny bit anxious.

Anyway, they wheeled me down to theatre on my bed; I insisted on my partner walking down to theatre with me and was nearly in tears by the time I got into the pre-op room. I freaked as soon as I saw all the machines and people in scrubs.

I’m telling you this so you’ll hopefully appreciate how different I felt this time. This time, I walked down to theatre from my hospital bed, sans partner, and was chatting to the nurse accompanying me. Completely different – I wasn’t sweating or crying, and my heart-rate was completely normal. The only time I balked slightly was when I walked into the pre-op room. I was a bit nervous as they put the cannula in and injected into my spine but up til then, fine.

This complete change isn’t because I finally grew a pair. It’s because I’d had the chakra-balancing crystal treatment at Wytch Way, Lancaster. I’d actually gone in to book a straightforward, non New-Age and non-Alternative massage. Just a massage to relax me a bit before my surgery. I explained what was happening and that I was a bit anxious about the surgery and Cindy suggested that I had the crystal treatment to balance my chakras.

I must admit, I was a little bit sceptical; although I’m open to the idea of chakras, I wasn’t convinced about using crystals. I have to say, after the treatment I felt relaxed and chilled and prepared for the surgery. Perhaps the most bizarre and unexpected thing to happen, and the one that sounds the most crazy, was that during the treatment (which was largely silent and lasted over an hour) and out of nowhere, I found myself silently speaking to my womb. It wasn’t conscious, I just heard my own voice in my head say three things:

  • I’m not angry with you
  • Thank you for the children
  • You can go now

Now, I had actually been feeling angry – I remember saying to someone that I felt like my womb had betrayed me, but I came away from the treatment feeling positive, like I’d said goodbye and was ready to let it go. I’ve felt like this up until only the last week or two, when it’s finally beginning to dawn on me that there’s nothing there now. It’s all gone and I’ll never get it back. But I think that’s okay.

I would recommend a chakra and/or crystal treatment to anyone feeling stressed or anxious or who’s facing something momentous and life-changing. I liked it so much, I’ve booked another on for the end of the month, before my return to work.

Still a bit unsure about posting this one, but in for a penny and all that…

H-Day

So the date for my operation was set – June 13th, 2016.I had around a month to prepare myself physically, psychologically and emotionally for a major, life-changing surgery. I’ll try to describe each in turn.

Physically

In the bumf the hospital gave me, it said the usual stuff about preparing for surgery: stop smoking, stop drinking, eat healthily, lose weight if you need to, get fit etc. I don’t smoke, so that was fine. I generally don’t drink huge amounts, but was drinking a bit more than normal, finding my recent job change quite challenging. I stopped drinking the day I saw the consultant. I bought myself a smoothie maker (a Nutribullet, which I love) and started making smoothies with the right types of food to prepare my body for the trauma of surgery and for an instant menopause. Check out here, here and here for further information, especially if you’re a woman of a certain age. I learned about phytoestrogens and what foods to eat to get them. Luckily, it’s mainly foods I eat anyway:cereals, seeds, pulses, beans, brightly coloured vegetables, and – yay, garlic! Also soya products. So I bought some tofu (which I didn’t even eat when I was vegetarian for 17 years, and which I threw away after my surgery!), and started eating soya ‘yoghurt’, which I do like. I’m still having soya ‘milk’ on my cereal in the morning (but it’s not getting anywhere near my cups of tea!). Anyway, I ate healthily for the month I had before the surgery, to give my body the chance to heal well. The best laid plans and all that…

Psychologically

I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to doctors and hospitals; give me a dentist over a doctor, any day. And I was preparing to have a major surgical procedure, lose my lady bits and instantly begin menopause proper, all in a couple of hours in theatre. It felt, and still feels, like a medical triple-whammy and has taken some getting my head around (I sometimes think I’m still not there quite yet, but it has only been a few weeks).

I read up as much as I could in the four weeks I had, bearing in mind I was still working full-time and preparing what I could at work, so as not to disrupt my classes’ learning any more than I had to. I went into hospital thinking I was prepared and knew everything I needed to. Not really so. Since my op, and during my recovery, I am realising how little I actually knew, and how little I was told about what I would and wouldn’t be able to do, and it would feel like after the surgery (but more of this in a later post).

I joined the forums on the Hysterectomy Association, a UK site run by a lady who’s had the surgery, and an excellent source of information, advice and support from women who understand from experience the thoughts and feelings and questions you have as you prepare for, experience and recover from hysterectomy. This is the site I’ve used most regularly in the last few weeks and it’s helped enormously. There’s a different forum group for each month of the year so I can chat with women who are at the same stage as myself in their recovery. No question is too silly and it’s mutually supportive.There’s an American site called HysterSisters as well, which seems very similar, and although procedures, protocols and even some medical terms are a bit different, women’s thoughts, feelings, concerns and questions are the same.

Emotionally

Now here’s the thing. Hysterectomy is by its very nature an emotional procedure. Medically, it’s a hormonal surgery regardless of what exactly is removed. By the time a woman needs a hysterectomy, she has been controlled by / beholden to / governed by her hormones. Especially if she has endured years, or even decades, of heavy, painful periods or conditions like endometriosis. Most women who end up having a hysterectomy are grateful to be freed from such conditions, but I feel there’s still an emotional cost. Our wombs are a huge part of us (often much larger than they should be – mine was the size of a melon when they took it out!). They remind us of their presence every month; they allow us to create our children; they define us as women. And when a woman no longer has her womb (tubes/ovaries/cervix), it’s a huge wrench, emotionally as well as physically. You’re left asking questions: Am I still a woman? Will my partner still love me? Want me? Will he (or she) see me differently? What happens in my abdomen – is there just a big space where my womb was? (Apparently the other organs just shift about to fill the space. I was a bit disconcerted to be told by a nurse that when a woman has had a hysterectomy, they do bladder scans like they do for men because that’s where the bladder ends up!) I was lucky enough to have had my children, but I can only imagine it must be worse for women who desperately wanted children but were unable to have them.

Now, some of you might think this next bit’s a bit whacky. One of the ways I decided to prepare for the emotional impact of my surgery, as well as the likelihood that I would be a gibbering wreck on the day of the operation like last time I had surgery, was to have a chakra-balancing crystal treatment. Very New Age. Very alternative. Very fucking effective. I was completely chilled and relaxed about the whole thing, even as I walked down to theatre at 10.30am on the 13th of June this year. Now, I realise that not everyone will be interested in reading about this,  so I’ll do a separate post that you can choose to completely ignore.

NB The link above isn’t to the place who did my treatment, but has quite a nice introduction to chakras and crystals. I had my treatment at this place, in Lancaster, Lancashire.

 

 

There’s hysterectomy and there’s hysterectomy…

One thing I’ve learned over the last few weeks and months is that no two hysterectomies are the same, at least not from the woman’s point of view.

I’ve learned that there are four different types of hysterectomy and three different ways of having it done. Check out here if you don’t believe me – you’ll need to scroll down.

I’ve had a total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo oophrectomy (thankfully shortened to TAH&BSO), which is just about the most invasive one you can have. I’m very lucky to have only had fibroids and not any form of cancer as a radical hysterectomy is even more traumatic than what I’ve had. I’m also lucky in having a horizontal, bikini-line incision rather than a vertical one, but apart from that, it’s been pretty intrusive and debilitating.

I must admit to feeling a bit jealous of women who’ve managed to ‘get away with’ having their procedure performed laproscopically (keyhole) or vaginally (no explanation needed!), although I suspect they’re just as traumatic in their own way. I can’t help thinking, though,  that I wouldn’t have had the wound issues I’ve had (more about these at a later date) if I’d had smaller incisions rather than one long one.

As far as I can see, this variety of kinds of hysterectomy and types of surgery really does mean that no two hysterectomies are the same, especially when you take into account the health and lifestyle of individual women.

When I was offered my hysterectomy, I rather naively thought I knew exactly what he was talking about. I knew I would lose my womb, and I might lose my tubes and ovaries. I was shocked to hear he would also remove my cervix, and realised with something approaching shame that I didn’t really know how I was ‘built‘ inside. Time to consult Dr Google again.

So – I lost my uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and cervix all in one fell swoop, leading to a surgical menopause, which does what it says on the tin. Hot flushes within hours of coming round from surgery – more about this pleasure and others in a future post.

My surgery was booked for 13th June, this year (2016).