Did you know that 1 in 3 women will have a hysterectomy in their lifetime? It has become a somewhat common procedure for women of all ages. It is still a MAJOR surgery and the mental and physical toll shouldn’t be minimized.
Note: If you’re not interested in Women’s Health or think TMI then don’t read. My goal is to possibly help someone else, as I share my journey with you.
In 2021 I completed my health screenings for year #45. Colonoscopy, endoscopy, bloodwork, mammogram, pap smear and uterine biopsy all complete and clear.
I started January 2022 with a follow-up and at my OBGYN. I had an uterine ablation in December, a common procedure to help with heavy periods. A minute into the visit my OBGYN said, “You will have to go see a gynecological oncologist.” My diagnosis is rare and occurs most in perimenopausal or menopausal women. My OBGYN was shocked as NONE of the risk factors apply to me, except a “white woman” with a family history of colon cancer. (Which later I found out my family history isn’t considered a family history.)
I met with the gynecological oncologist and scheduled a Total Hysterectomy with Tubes & Ovaries. I will immediately go into menopause after the surgery. I am told the recovery is hard and will look like: “napping” for 2 weeks and no driving, for 4 weeks no light housework-not even laundry. After 6 weeks; I can start resuming LIGHT activity.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Uterine cancer most often occurs in women over 50. The average age at diagnosis is 60. “There are no routine screening procedures available for the detection of uterine cancer or its antecedent lesions.”
-National Institute of Health
Friday: Up at 3:30 am to take the 2nd pre-surgery shower scrub and leave the house, in a snowstorm, for a 5 am hospital arrival. I am all hooked up with IVs and about to be rolled into the OR when a nurse comes over and says;
“Your doctor had a family emergency and your surgery has been canceled”
I was distraught and started crying. There was so much mental prep and arranging kids and schedules. After a nap, I quickly rebounded my mental state. Luckily all the mindset work I have done of the years was paying off. The surgery was rescheduled for Sunday.
TAKE 2: Sunday, I had the surgery at 7:30 am and was ready to go home by 2 pm. I only had two weeks to mentally & physically prepare for the surgery – so far so good.
I know my deeper commitment to daily routines, mindset work, and my physical fitness over the past 2+ years is going to pay off for this unexpected experience. I didn’t have any time to “get ready”.
DAY 1 POST-OP:
I took a little nap when I got home and had a little discomfort the first 24 hours.
DAY 3 POST-OP:
I was looking forward to these naps I was told about! I’m not tired. I don’t need a nap. I have stopped the pain meds. I rode in the car and went to watch my daughters do Speed & Agility and Taekwondo. I have kept my normal wake up and bed times.
My belly is a little swollen and it is swelling more due to some digestive discomfort. Drinking water or eating causes me to bloat and have discomfort. The gas pains are my major discomfort.
Yes, I started on synthetic estrogen right away. My friend who is an OBGYN and my sleep-psychiatrist all agreed this is a must do. The removal of my ovaries is “surgical menopause” and I am at least 5 years too young. Women who do not take the synthetic estrogen can “lose their mind” I am told.
I will deal with surgical menopause effects in the future.
DAY 7 POST-OP:
My belly swelling is coming down and I am walking around. But no naps? I am not that tired and keep a normal schedule. I have bowel and pelvic floor pains at times; which is normal. I am sleeping great through the night.
I still have discomfort after I eat. One thing they don’t tell you is your digestive system can be a wreck for a couple of weeks due to being “put to sleep” from the anesthesia. I wasn’t expecting that to be the major “pain”.
I am familiar with some digestive issues and my symptoms are mimicking SIBO – so I started following a LowFODmap food diet and that has helped reduce the symptoms and discomfort.
Again, they don’t tell you about the digestive issues. Yes, they send you home on a stool softener, which I have taken, but that is not the issue. The issue is the gas pain and bloating to the point I feel my stomach is going to explode- even just drinking some water. Luckily, I was able to “troubleshoot” on my own with LowFODmap and make sure to have gas drops/chew tabs on hand, too!
DAY 14 POST-OP :
My recovery hasn’t been the picture that was painted for me. I am walking around alot and only took a nap because I thought I should! We even went to the zoo. Some of the articles I read said at 6 weeks you “might” be able to walk up to 20 minutes. It’s actually been pretty easy, once I figured out the digestive issues and those have subsided.
I am back to working in my home office; sending emails and teaching personal development lessons. I started scripting and recording an online course for my team of coaches.
Pathology came back best case scenario – No Cancer! That is the best news – My mom died at age 55 of colon cancer, my aunt is in hospice with appendiceal cancer, and my sister had cervical cancer – so we are relieved!
DAY 21 POST OP:
It’s been 3 weeks since my surgery and overall recovery has gone way better than “advertised”.
- No pain meds in over 2 weeks
- Surgery glue off and incisions look good but still a little bruise
- My muscles are atrophy-ing (shrinking) bc that happens fast over the age 30 if you don’t use them => and I do miss lifting weights & my online exercise sessions with www.summersfitness.com
- Stomach swelling is coming down but still a “pouch” which might take a while or become part of the new me
- I’ve gone to the zoo, mall, dinners, and lunches
- I got in my jeans for the 1st time in 3 weeks
- No naps unless I forced myself to try! Sleeping fine just “mom” interruptions at night
Of course the best news was learning no cancer and that hysterectomy was my best option for my long term health or future cancer risk if left untreated.
Even though no cancer – it doesn’t change the recovery time – nor does me feeling fine!
Sometimes I forget that I had surgery as I’ve been very active around the house and at 2 weeks started full office work and life coaching. BUT, there were a couple times my body told me to SLOW down because my body is still healing. (I can be very active even teaching personal development lessons lol!)
I spoke to one woman who had 3 additional surgeries because she thought she felt good, but she was doing too much. Your body might feel good, but the recovery internally is another story. So don’t try to pick that laundry basket up or bring in those groceries!
Week 2 told me I still need to lay down (due to gravity) at times as I was walking, standing, & sitting too much because I still had my energy
I needed these signs to tell me to slow down.
I needed this surgery to give me time to slow down and think.
I needed this surgery to open my eyes to more health & happiness … by slowing down & taking time.
As women, and moms, we are always go go go; especially if you are a driven career woman, too.
Over the past few weeks I’ve spent more time:
- hanging out and talking uninterrupted with my husband and just holding hands (time for intimacy is key)
- petting, snuggling, and appreciating my cats (petting animals releases dopamine and reduces anxiety)
- focusing on my girls & playing more games rather than trying to do tasks (discipline & structure is key, but so is fun and simple little things)
- thinking … I can’t emphasize this enough because if you are a do-er like me sometimes you forget to see the importance of doing nothing but thinking (which sometimes can be dangerous for creative brained people) that can be where you get clarity in your next best season of success when you get back to “doing” because clarity will be key!
Take a pause.
Sit in the sun.
Breathe the fresh air.
Listen and just be.
Enjoy the season you are in.
You can never go back in time so just slow down and enjoy the moment. Sometimes you just need to be
DAY 28 POST-OP:
This week I’ve been feeling a little tired and brain fog. Maybe it’s: 3 am “wake up club” and a kid ends up in my bed, full work schedule, lack of exercise, hormones adjusting to menopause and/or synthetic estrogen, lack of outdoors and sunshine, running kids to activities+.
Can you relate?
Instead of pushing through try this instead:
- turn off your phone
- rest or take a nap; even 20 minutes will do
- go outside and take a stroll even if it’s cold
- eat a wholesome meal without multitasking
- prioritize what needs done (the messy house or responding to those emails can wait)
That’s exactly what I did.
I gave myself the time to recharge instead of trying to power through. It’s not about the “time” you put in that creates a better result. So don’t beat yourself up for pausing for 15 minutes or 2 hours or even an entire day. You’ll be more productive in the long run.
DAY 42 POST-OP
Recovery has gone well. The doctor said internally I am still showing I need a little more time before I can SLOWLY start increasing my activity. Honestly there have been times I have FORGOTTEN I had surgery! Oops, I shouldn’t have picked up my 8-year-old off the floor. #momlife
It’s been a nice reward for the 6 Weeks Post Op to be in sunny Florida and feeling confident in my swimsuit, too! Just restricted on how long I am in the pool.
MY MESSAGE TO YOU
I share, educate, and coach because of the lessons I’ve learned from my Mom *after* she passed. Nobody should ever feel alone & people often only share their “highlight reel”. I’ve embraced every painful moment with the purpose to help others. I’m sharing for YOU; the woman who has already been through a lot – or – will be in the future.
My goal is for YOU to get in fighting shape.
Invest in your mental & physical health.
Will you be ready when faced with adversity?
Will you be in fighting shape?
Choose YOUR mental & physical health.
You are worth it!
Do something today to get in fighting shape mentally & physically