By the fifth week anniversary of my operation I was starting to feel quite a bit better. I enjoyed listening to BBC Radio 4 during my recovery. On Start the Week there was a discussion of a book by GP Gavin Francis called ‘The Lost Art of Convalescence’. This was a timely listen. He spoke about the pre-drug therapy world prior to the 1950s when consideration was given to space, light, cleanliness, fresh air and green space as factors in recovery from serious illness or operations. Sanitoriums were located in places of natural beauty and it was recognised that convalescent time shouldn’t be rushed. I know this approach would be impossible to provide with our NHS creaking at the seams, and those lucky enough to experience recovery in sanitoriums were most likely privileged, however I believe the principles of making a good recovery by providing a supportive environment still hold true.
The discussion underlined that my recovery shouldn’t be rushed, that I owed it to myself to treat my convalescence as a precious time in which I could nurture my body and rebuild my strength. I felt the broadcast was calming my conditioned response to get back to work as soon as physically possible. I picked a Soulful Woman card later in the day which supported the message to take as much time as my body needs: Divine Patience!
I decided to make a Gratitude List. I think it is a healthy practice to count your blessings whatever your current situation. Here is my week five list:
I survived the operation!
I am healing, slowly but steadily.
I am receiving care and support from my husband.
The surgeon made a very neat job of the incision and I can see the scar will be almost invisible in time.
I have lost about half a stone and I am the lightest weight I have been in decades.
I have a comfortable space to recover in and good nutritious food to eat.
Although I hardly told anyone about my operation I have received gifts of flowers and a little hamper of goodies and get well cards, plus offers of help from friends and neighbours.
I have taken a break from social media which has relieved the urge to keep posting through my recovery. I may take a ‘social media holiday’ every year just to unplug.
I had an unwelcome surprise on the Tuesday of week 5. I felt wetness between my legs. When I stood up I could seeI was concerned as this was bright red blood and it had gone through my nightdress to my sheets and down my thighs.
I called Steve to show him and we agreed that bleeding often looks like more than it was. I wasn’t haemorrhaging. He had to go out for a meeting but I agreed I would call him if it got worse. By the time he returned the flow was less. I had been warned that I might bleed after the operation, but as I had minimal bleeding in the first week and none after that it was quite a shock.
I considered my morning so far. I’d had a little sneezing fit just before the bleed. When you’ve had abdominal surgery you can really feel it when you sneeze. I’d also been told that all my stitches were dissolvable. I wondered if the sneezing combined with dissolving stitches had worked something loose inside.
I checked online advice and the guidance is that bright red blood or heavy bleeding should be medically checked, but pinkish discharge is normal up to six weeks after the operation. I decided to monitor things over the next few hours. By the afternoon the bleed was turning pink. There was a dull dragging pain reminiscent of period pain, even though I no longer have a uterus to have a period with. I’d reduced my painkillers to a minimum, but it felt appropriate to take some ibuprofen for the next few days.
I also noticed on this trawl of internet advice warnings against bending down. I’d only heard warnings about not overdoing it in hospital and not lifting anything as heavy as a filled kettle. I had been reaching down for things. I resolved to be more careful as at this stage I didn’t want to cause setbacks. I did speak to my GP and he agreed that the bleed was probably due to some dissolving internal stitches and made it clear to contact the doctor’s surgery if it worsened or if I was worried.
The bleeding continued at a low level until the end of week six. Sometimes I would think it had stopped, but then it started again, however it was never heavy and none of it was the bright red colour of that initial bleed. In some ways the bleed had been timely as it cautioned me not to overdo things.
I was now getting up and getting dressed each day. My belly still felt tender to the touch and appeared bruised. The purple colours were starting to change to greenish hues and fade.
I did get the kids’ old wii fit console out. It still works! I was aware that I had lost muscle over so many weeks of resting. Sitting upright was tiring and my legs felt wobbly. I needed to build muscle tone back up. What was encouraging was my weight now falls into the ‘healthy BMI category’ for the first time in several decades.
I’d managed to lose a significant amount of weight over the last couple of years using my Sacred Vessel principles and I was already feeling much more positive about my body shape and size, but the fibroid and enlarged uterus gave me a pregnant look which I couldn't do anything about. I was aware that some of my weight loss since the operation was not just fibroid, uterus and fat, and must have included muscle loss; I expected some weight to go back on as I regain my fitness and that’s a good thing!
I picked some simple exercise games on the console that were balance based to strengthen my core and some gentle step-based exercises to build some muscle and stamina. I avoided anything strenuous. I started with just 15 minutes and built up to 20 minutes a day, then 30 minutes when that felt easy.
Despite the bleeding these two weeks felt like the best for seeing steady improvement. Doing some regular gentle exercise brought rewards. At the end of week 5 the sun came out and I asked Steve to accompany me on a walk outdoors. I’d been feeling like a hermit! We have a quiet country lane near our house so a wander between fields and hedgerows was easy to access.
It felt so good to walk in the sun, to see the honeysuckle in bloom in the hedges and the sheep grazing. I was pleased of Steve’s company, I didn’t entirely trust my legs to go out solo. I held my hand protectively over my belly all the way. We did 10 minutes out before we turned back. My legs did feel shaky for the last 5 minutes.
On the six week anniversary of the operation I realised that I had not taken any painkillers for almost a week. I could still feel some tenderness externally and internally, especially if I coughed, sneezed or laughed, but it wasn’t too uncomfortable to cope with.
I met a friend to walk around Llandrindod’s Lake. This is a level walk of about 0.5 km with lots of benches around the circumference. Normally we’d walk fast and talk and make 5 or 6 circuits losing count, but today I managed one circuit with four rest stops. I felt proud just to have made it all the way round! It was lovely to be outside and to see all the babies including moorhen chicks, cygnets and ducklings. The Muscovy duck was protecting a huge brood of ducklings under her wings. She got up at one point and we counted 11 little ones, just a day or so old. We met a woman who told us a fun fact – apparently Muscovy ducks nest in trees and when the ducklings hatch they just tumble down to the ground!
I had a call with the doctor to review my HRT. The lowest dose Evorel had calmed the hot flushes and they were nowhere near as severe, but they were still there. I don’t seem to have suffered any side effects. He was happy for me to try the next strength Evorel 50. I was happy about that as researching when Evorel I found the EMC website cites that there is a preventative affect against osteoporosis with strengths from 50 upwards which has not been found in the lowest dose. I have a family history of osteoporosis so maintaining bone density as I age is something I am aware of.
I felt the urge to channel a message on the 12th July, which was good as I hadn’t had the energy to do this up to now. It was six weeks and a day since the operation and the day before the July Supermoon.
I started with a statement (ever impatient to get back to work!)
“I am ready to serve.”
The answer came through in a flood!
“You do need to rest sister. We admire your determination, but you still have healing to do before you go back into action. Fear not, the opportunities will not pass you by. In taking this time you strengthen your abilities. You will be full of energy and enthusiasm for your return.
You do not have to announce anything about this withdrawal period yet. You have done well to keep it quiet. People are well meaning, but you will not benefit from interference, however kindly intended. Stay quiet, relish the cave time and allow the ideas to bubble through as these will be of service for your return.”
The channelling went on with more personal and specific guidance for me, but I share this part of the message as I think this may be helpful for others who are convalescing.
On the Supermoon I went out with a large crystal to bathe in the moonlight and say a thank you to the Goddess for my healing. I had to get up in the middle of the night as the moon was so low in the sky at bedtime, but I knew I could rely on my bladder to wake me in time!