Updated: Nov 1
It was the one week anniversary of my operation and time to take the dressing off. I was worried it would hurt but in the event removing it wasn’t painful. Once it was gone I could see the full extent of the bruising. My tummy reminded us of a swede with its deep purple shading.
I was still feeling incredibly sore. With hindsight that is only to be expected, there is an awful lot to heal after a hysterectomy. The best pain relief was given by Oramorph, liquid morphine, and as I neared the bottom of the bottle the hospital sent me home with, I rang my surgery to ask for more. Thankfully they didn’t quibble. I wasn’t keen on nefopam as it left me feeling stoned, but I needed it occasionally so I didn’t take too many paracetamol. I saved nefopam for during the night when it wouldn’t matter so much.
Week Two – Ups and Downs
From day seven onwards I began to get glimpses of my normal self, but these were fleeting and I was still very tired. A little wander through the house would be enough to wear me out and I'd need a lie down. If I propped myself up with plenty of cushions I could perhaps manage half an hour before needing to lie flat again. I had been warned by one of the nurses that the tiredness that could persist for weeks and may hit unexpectedly at times so I was ready for this and determined to let my body rest as much as it needed.
I was delighted to receive a beautiful parcel of Fortnum and Mason biscuits and teas sent as a get well gift from one of my Glastonbury students. Even the cardboard box was too lovely to be thrown in the recycling!
I wanted to cut down on the pain relief this week as I don’t like taking so many drugs, but reducing caused a lot more discomfort so I continued to take them and to carefully record what I took and keep an eye on the quantity. I started to map my pain levels in a column at the time I took each dose. I used a 0 – 10 scale to indicate no pain at all to complete agony. When well medicated I was around a 2-3 up to 6-8 when the pain relief was wearing off, with the strongest discomfort in the evenings.
I checked which medications could be taken in combination on the NHS website as no-one had talked me through this prior to leaving hospital. I found out that the paracetamol and morphine could be taken together. I used this combo at bedtime and got the best night’s sleep since the operation. I woke up lying on my side too, which is my preferred sleeping position, not flat on my back as I had been since the operation. It was another tiny sign of normality returning.
I noticed I was getting constipated again. Reading up on constipation on the net I found references to morphine-based drugs as a possible cause. I checked the leaflet that came with Oramorph and sure enough constipation was a listed side effect. I started to reduce the daytime use.
Steve was concerned that I was still experiencing so much pain and was worried something was wrong. A quick surf around the internet confirmed that significant pain is to be expected during the first four weeks after a hysterectomy. I also saw warnings that there may be ‘bad days’ for several months following a hysterectomy which could be a warning that you were trying to do too much. I am determined to listen to my body’s feedback and give it all the space it needs to heal up well.
Affirmation: I take all the time and space I need for my healing.
I tried a warmed gel pack to see if I could get some non-medicated pain-relief but I was disappointed by how quickly it got cold. It would probably be more useful if you have a microwave. We don’t own one and so Steve heated it in a basin of hot water. I’ve put the gel pack in the freezer instead so at least it will be on hand for soothing muscular strains or inflammation in the future.
I decided to order an electric heated pad to keep a constant heat as I felt that would take the edge off the pain. I did have concerns about the EMFs emitted but weighing it up felt that it would be worth using for short periods of time if it could reduce the drugs I was taking. I had quite a bit of discomfort in my back. I don’t know whether that was a side-effect of the epidural, transferred pain from the operation site or a consequence of not moving around as much as usual. When the heat pad arrived it was more comforting to lie on and soothe my lower back and I did use it for short periods of time each day over a couple of weeks.
Hands-on healing felt comforting from the second week onwards. I was receiving a very gentle flow of healing energy. I don’t think my body wanted any strong energies. I would get some temporary pain relief by just laying my hands lightly over my lower belly and intending the healing flow. I also felt that by caressing my poor bruised belly I was accepting my newly configured abdomen sans uterus as just as special and precious and deserving of loving care.
On the evening of Day Eleven the pain ramped up unexpectedly. I took medication but couldn’t get it under control. Up until this point I hadn’t reached for crystals, but now I got a clear picture in my mind’s eye of my piece of black moonstone. I fetched it, gave it a wash and put it right on the epicentre of the pain in my belly. The pain eased considerably and I was able to get some sleep. I woke with it still in place the next morning. Its colour was a really good match for the bruise as you can see from the photo! If the pain hadn’t subsided I would have reached out for medical advice as I didn't expect it to be worsening by this stage.
Black moonstone to me is a stone of the Crone, the third phase of women’s lives and aligned with the magical Crone goddesses Hecate and Cerridwen, both of whom I love and have utmost respect for. It seemed a good choice for accepting this important transition in my life. Removing a woman's uterus draws a clear line under the Mother phase and shifts her abruptly into the Crone. It is an important time of transformation and although I will heal over time I know I will not be the same as before the hysterectomy. I will always have the memories of Maiden and Mother within me, but I know my Crone time is now and I am ready to embrace the wisdom that comes with it.
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Note: I am sharing my personal experience of having a hysterectomy and letting you know what I found helpful or unhelpful. This is not medical advice. Please consult your medical practitioner if you have any questions or concerns about your own treatment.