Updated: Aug 23, 2022
It takes a bit of thought to make things work when you get back home. Steve set up a thermos flask of hot water with a mug and tea bags in easy reach so that I could make a cuppa in the bedroom whilst he took the dog for a walk. Fortunately I was starting to get the hang of getting out of bed to go to the bathroom without assistance. I still felt incredibly sore and my tummy felt vulnerable. I walked, or rather shuffled, with my arm held across my midriff protectively at all times. I’d had plenty of advice not to attempt too much too soon. At this stage there wasn’t any danger of that. I felt exhausted and spent a lot of the time dozing.
Sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose all use your tummy muscles more than you imagine and this felt uncomfortable in the early days. I had a clean hand towel folded in easy reach that I could grab and hold across my belly to give myself some support if I felt a sneeze coming on.
There was still no sign of a bowel movement, which was starting to bother me. We had followed the advice in the aftercare leaflet that suggested a small footstool placed in front of the toilet would help in getting into the optimum position, but to no avail as yet. The footstool reminded me of the squatty potty advert. Treat yourself to a few minutes of silly toilet humour if you haven’t seen it.
I’m usually a very ‘regular girl’ eating a diet full of fibre rich food. Steve was making a great effort to give me nutritious meals - I loved the care he took arranging the fruit salad! I was also taking the laxatives the hospital had provided. Searching the internet the consensus for the time to seek medical advice if you don’t manage to open your bowels seems to be a week, which is an horrendously long time by my standards.
Now I was home my hair was driving me crazy, feeling matted and tangled and looking rather like a brillo pad. It normally gets washed at least every other day as it is too curly to comb through when dry. Trying to do this frizzes it up. Unfortunately the nurses had been insisting on combing it when I was in hospital and I looked like a scarecrow. One of them said afterwards in what I felt was a puzzled voice, “Do you like your hair?” as she surveyed her handiwork. Well, normally yes, I love it! On reflection I should have taken a hairband and tied it back, plaited it, or kept in in a bun.
I wasn’t yet strong enough to stand in the shower. We have some plastic Ikea dining chairs that come out for larger gatherings. Steve put one of those in the shower on a platform of mdf to spread the weight of the chair legs on the shower tray. He wrapped the mdf in bin bags so that it was waterproof. Steve got changed into bathing shorts and helped me shower and wash my hair. I didn’t like being so dependent on him, but it would have been too hard to manage on my own. I held a clean towel over my wound dressing so it didn’t get soaked. Getting properly clean after days of hospital bed baths and having fresh clean hair felt really good.
Oh no, still no poo! I was starting to get obsessed and having a bowel movement was becoming my big ambition. My appetite was picking up and I couldn’t help but imaginine the ‘logjam’ accumulating inside! At this point I was running out of the hospital laxatives and Steve went to the pharmacist for me. She agreed with Dr Google’s ‘seek help after one week’ advice and sent Steve away with another box of laxatives. Reading around it does seem that abdominal surgery can have this effect on your bowels and I also realised that morphine-based medication can cause constipation, which was something I hadn’t been told about.
Steve suggested drawing up a chart of my painkillers to keep track of them which was a good plan rather than relying on my memory. I kept the record going until I could finally cut them right down: date, time, type of painkiller. It was really useful and I am sure stopped me taking extra doses a few times.
I reignited my enjoyment of BBC Radio 4 during my convalescence. Staying in bed much of the day Radio 4 became a real friend. With BBC Sounds I could go back through other episodes of programmes I enjoyed. I also have an Audible subscription and always have an audio book on the go. I would fall asleep listening and then have to rewind to find the place where I’d zoned out. I have only just found out there is a sleep mode you can set so that it switches off after a specified time!
Oh Goddess please let me move my bowels today!
I was feeling bulky, even Steve commented on how large my belly looked, which he wouldn’t normally do. I stood on the scales and I had actually put weight on, even though I’d had a substantial fibroid and my uterus removed! I realise now I was still swollen from the operation and all my meals were lurking in my digestive system so it wasn’t a true weight. Honestly I’d advise you to hide the scales from yourself for at least the first few weeks, they do not enhance your self-esteem and you probably don't need to know.
The hot flushes had now kicked in. Their intensity surprised me as I still had one ovary. All I can think is the ovary that was removed was doing most of the hormonal work. A sheen of sweat would break out across my brow with each hot flush and I kept asking Steve to check the radiators weren’t on. They weren’t. He was chilly and had to put jumpers on.
At night I was having sweats that left my nightdress wet and clammy, despite having the lightest weight summer duvet on the bed. Hello true menopause! I thought I’d been experiencing flushes and sweats for years, but this was taking them to a whole new level. Steve set up a fan at the end of the bed which did help a lot. If you don’t have one you might consider it a worthwhile investment.
Finally, a poo! I can’t tell you how relieved I felt, physically and emotionally. Later I was to remember that I’d bought prune juice before the operation and I replaced the yukky ‘orange flavour’ laxative drinks with a glass a day of nature’s remedy, which was much more palatable, even if it doesn’t look lovely.
I’d noticed that my voice had been very husky and weak since the operation. Probably an effect of the anaesthetic I am guessing. Nearly a week on and it was still a whisper. I realised that I didn’t feel ‘present’, which had been fair enough whilst I’d been on the morphine drip, but it felt wrong to be so disconnected now. I had the intuition that part of me was missing.
Steve does soul retrieval and I asked him to take a look. I’d guessed that a soul part had detached itself during the operation, but he found it had happened before I’d even got through the door of the hospital.
Remember the blind panic I’d gone into on the day of the operation when I couldn’t remember how to work my phone in the hospital car park? A part of me had detached then and was still sitting in Steve’s car, which probably felt much safer than going into the hospital. Once she’d been retrieved and reintegrated, I felt more like myself and I noticed my voice sounded clearer and stronger too.
Ready to read on? Next diary entry covers week two: Moving into the Crone phase
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.