HysterSisters Articles for Hysterectomy
LAVH/BSO - My Experience
From the Vaginal Hysterectomy Stories Articles List
I had LAVH and BSO. So of course all of my experiences are based on that type of surgery. Thanks to HysterSisters I learned an enormous amount about what to expect when I had my hysterectomy. As it turns out there were a few things that I wish I had known. I realized that there are a lot of women out there that are as compulsive as I am and want to know lots of the little details about the experience. I started writing notes a few days after my operation and have worked on them over the course of a couple of weeks. I have included lots of tid bits so this is very
long. I realize that every experience is different. In fact every one of my visits to the hospital has been different. All of my suggestions are based on my personal experience. Be sure to ask your doctor about using any over the counter or prescription medicines. Every person’s condition comes with its on special considerations. Best wishes to All. minroses
Before the Surgery
I did my best to eat high fiber foods, cut out carbonated beverages, and drink lots. The day before the surgery I was sure to drink right up to the minute I had to stop drinking.
I packed 2 bags. A small one with supplies I thought I would want in the hospital. The other larger bag had some things I thought I might want such as small pillows. I brought the small bag w/ me when I checked in but I didn’t need anything in it until after the surgery. I still suggest bringing it with you to pre-op just-in-case. The small bag was a purse-size tote. Inside the tote I put a make-up bag. That bag held the small items I thought I would want at hand in my hospital bed. Everything else was in the tote. The larger bag stayed in the car until after the surgery. I gave DH instructions ahead of time to bring in a couple of the pillows when I was in my room. I wore a light weight jacket and jogger bottoms. It was hot here but I thought I might get cold waiting to go back to get prepped. I did get cold so I was happy I had my jacket. I wore slip-on shoes. I wore a very soft bra. No underwire and no stays on the sides. If you can, go ahead and wear cute undies to the hospital. You won’t be wearing them again for a while.
Give Chapstick to whoever will be with and give instructions that he or she is to keep it on his or her person at all times. I know it might seem silly but when you have no control over anything at least you have control over the Chapstick and you will need it to keep from getting chapped lips. I liked having a fruity scent/ flavor but if you think that will make you hungry stick with plain.
What I brought to the hospital
Big ugly panties
Tooth brush and tooth paste
Shampoo & conditioner
Pen & paper
I didn’t bring my own Kotex and I didn’t care.
Medical records – I don’t really know why other than it made me feel better.
Two flat pillows, one to sit on during the ride home and one to hold on my tummy
If your insurance company sends a letter telling you how many days have been preauthorized for your stay bring it with you. The hospital said my insurance had only approved me for one day but the letter I received said I was approved for 2 days. I didn’t need the extra day but since I had the letter with me I think it would have saved some hassle.
At the Hospital
Find out as soon as you can if your surgery is on schedule. There is a difference between the delay to get into pre-op and delay to get into the operating room. When you get into the pre-op room ask again. My surgery was delayed and no one kept me or my DH up to date. I also suggest that whoever is waiting for you find out who to ask or call about your status if he/she thinks it has been longer than it should be. Waiting and worrying is hard on our loved ones they should know how to find out how we are doing. My DH was exhausted by the unnecessary worry.
The staff wants to know your concerns. If you are at ease it makes their job easier.
Tell the nurse right away if you have had any trouble w/ IV’s or you have any worries about it. I was given a shot that stings for a second that numbs the area before the IV needle goes in. The needle is flexible and is taped down very securely. It is okay to move your hand.
Tell the nurse right away if you have concerns about the anesthesia. She will pass that information on to the anesthesiologist. Again, he or she wants you to be at ease.
I strongly suggest that you put someone in charge of asking you how you are doing and if you are comfortable. Make sure he or she listens to any instructions or information the nurse or doctor gives you. I had a couple of things that were bothering me but in my drugged state I wasn’t focused enough to ask for help as soon as I might have.
I woke up with a blood pressure cuff, oxygen tube at my nose, catheter, the leg massage things, the IV connected to Saline and the morphine dispenser. Your temperature and blood pressure will be taken regularly. Start drinking right away so you can get re-hydrated. You might run a fever if you are dehydrated. Don’t panic.
If the leg things make you hot ask to have the cooler turned on. It makes them a little noisier but you will be cooler.
At my hospital the morphine machine delivered a constant small dose of morphine. There was a button I could push as often as every ten minutes to get more morphine. Everyone is different. I used it 3 times. Once to test it out. Once when I was hurting a bit. And once right before it was disconnected, just in case. In hindsight I would have used it more. I had very little pain from the surgery but I had a lot of pain from the gas used during surgery. I don’t know why I thought I only needed to use the pain medication for the surgery pain.
Use the breather thing. It really does help to get the CO2 gas out. I had a lot of pain under my rib cage and in my neck area and the breather thing helped work it out of my system. My doctor told me that they try to push out as much of the gas as they can but it isn’t possible to get it all.
The catheter really didn’t bother me except that it was one more tube to get tangled up in. The nurse was very unceremonious about removing the catheter. She positioned me to remove it and then said, “Take a deep breath in… exhale.” She pulled it out on the exhale and that was that. She didn’t give me a chance to get nervous about it and that was a good thing. It only hurt for the half second it took to pull it out.
Once the catheter was out I was told not to try to get up to go to the bathroom without help for at least the first two times. I felt quite unsteady the first time. It was amazing how much easier it was the second time I got up. When you get up to do your business just sit and relax. It might take a few minutes to get going and it might take its own sweet time coming out. It will probably be the same story the next time or two that you go. Just relax, you don’t have any where to go and it is the nurse or aid’s job to stay there with you. In the TMI category go easy when you tissue off. The area gets a little tender. The tissue felt like sandpaper. Pat don’t wipe.
Sometime after the catheter was removed my saline and morphine lines were disconnected. The IV was not removed from my hand until shortly before I was discharged. I think they play it safe and keep it in just in case they want to connect you again.
Keep your paper and pen on the hospital tray table. Write down any questions or requests you think of. Keep a cup of crushed ice and a cup of water on it. I also kept a couple of lifesavers and Saltines on the tray. I was so dehydrated the Saltines turned to mush that was difficult to swallow. I wish I had some other kind of cracker.
Before you leave the hospital
I took a shower before I left. And was happy I did. You have help, and you can get that yucky brown stuff they slather all over you off. When you get home you can get straight into your nice clean jammies and bed.
Ask what to do if your IV site gets sore. Yours won’t necessarily be sore. I have had several surgeries and this was the first time it hurt. My doctor told me it isn’t unusual for it to be sore for several weeks.
Ask for specifics about your discharge orders. They tend to be vague. Such as, “No heavy lifting.” Ask what “heavy” is. Ask how many times you can use the stairs, etc.
Make sure a fully conscious person is listening to the instructions with you and asking questions.
Bring the breather thing home with you and use it there.
I took gas-x and stool softener the minute I got home from the hospital. Ask your doctor what he or she suggests. I had very good luck by taking chewable gas-x 3 or 4 times a day. I had very little pain from intestinal gas. Of course you should eat as much high fiber food as you can but I doubt you will have much appetite.
I didn’t want to eat much. Have a couple of kinds of crackers on hand. You do need to eat high fiber foods but keep in mind that many of the high fiber foods can cause gas. Fresh fruits such as grapes and oranges provide fiber but not much gas.
Drink lots. It keeps your digestive system moving and keeps you moving with trips to the bathroom.
Continue to be patient when you use the bathroom. Remember to pat after you go. Fill your squeeze bottle with warm water to rinse off. It is quite soothing. Don’t forget-no pushing allowed. At my two week follow-up my doctor told me to keep using stool softeners so I would be less apt to push. Get your doctor’s opinon.
Continue to use the breather thing a few times a day or when ever you start coughing. The gas they use to expand your abdomen may take a couple of days to completely work its way out. The breather thing really does help.
I slept a lot the 1st week
Naps: Do what works for you. As needed or at a scheduled time.
My hips were sore for a couple of days. I think it was from a combination of having my legs in that oh so attractive position during surgery and laying in bed so much.
Satiny night gowns are a good idea. But after a couple of days I found that short knit tops worked better for me. Just remember that you are bottomless when you get out of bed.
I wore the comfy bra that I wore to the hospital when I knew anyone other than DH would be around. It was comfortable enough to sleep in and my two teenage sons were not horrified when I was up and around.
Put lotion on your elbows. They get a work out propping you up in bed.
Wait to change Band-Aids until after you after you have showered. The heat and moisture soften the adhesive. Be careful your skin can get tender fast.
Ask, ask, ask. You will probably get sick of asking for help. It isn’t that your family members and helpers don’t care or realize you need help they just don’t know what you need help with. Even if you think it should be obvious that you shouldn’t pick things up from the floor. (Remember, it should be obvious to you too.)
Walking short distances is good – going up and down the stairs is not the same as walking. Ask your doctor how often you can use the stairs.
FYI-a gallon of milk weighs 8 pounds
Always remember -- just because an activity doesn't cause physical pain doesn't mean it is OK to do it. You might only have a few small incisions on the outside but your insides take a beating.
Pushing and pulling all put a strain on your abdomen. Center yourself in front of the fridge door, car door, or heavy drawers before you open them. It helps distribute the strain. My two sons have become gallant about opening doors for me.
You might think that pushing a grocery cart with a few things in it is okay – but turning it is a problem.
Your legs probably weigh more than 10 pounds. Sit to put on undies and pants.
Your general rule of thumb should be to treat yourself as you would want your most precious loved ones to treat themselves in the same circumstance. That is what they want for you. It is what you deserve.
Things for your Healing Room
Keep one or two little bags on your bed.
Keep small items that you might want to use frequently in the bag. I used one for lotion and that sort of thing and the other for the phone etc. Keeping the little bags on my bed made it much easier to keep track of things and kept them handy.
Small bottled waters
Finger food/snacks, gum, etc. for bedside table - Buy some food for yourself while your buying it for everyone else.
Squirt bottle in the bathroom
Cushy wipes, the kind they keep in the Kotex section of the store
Prescription medications with instructions for your helper for when to give them to you
Pads for after surgery discharge
Small bottle of lotion, you’ll want it for your elbows
PDA/Palm Pilot/address book
Pen and small pad of paper
Thank you notes
I enjoyed having fresh flowers to look at
If your healing room is not your bedroom:
The bath towel you usually use
An assortment of pillows
Nighties, night shirts
Back washing brush with a scrubby on it. The pain meds. can make you itchy. Besides, it feels good.
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