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In November, I went to a gynecologist after a five-year hiatus (I know, I know, foolish of me...Didn't have insurance). I was experiencing very severe cramping, excessive menstrual bleeding, extreme mood swings, headaches and exhaustion during my menstruation. At the urging of my husband, as soon as his insurance kicked in, I went in for a physical.
Part of my physical was a Pap, which came back abnormal. Since my mother and my sister have had cervical dysplasia at ages 29 and 26, the abnormality was somewhat expected. The doctor ordered more tests. It culminated in a biopsy on December 13. The results indicated moderate scramous (?) dysplasia. It was very strongly recommended that I have a laparascopic vaginal hysterectomy due to other risks (high blood pressure and a heretofore undetected HPV...thank you, ex-husband!). Otherwise my OB/GYN, a devout Catholic practitioner, would have restricted me to a pap every six months and Depro to control the very painful periods. Hmmm, live a life fearing emminent full-blown cancer or surgery?
I scheduled my hysterectomy for January 18, 2005.
To say I'm scared would probably be the understatement of the year. As of two months ago, I thought I was extremely healthy. In that short time, I found out that my blood pressure is high and tests indicate that I am in a very high-risk cancer bracket due to HPV. My family history of precancerous cervical cells didn't help either.
The only other surgery I've ever had was a bilateral tubal ligation in 2000, after my daughter was born. That knocked me down for less than a day. The thought of being truly incapacitated scares me witless. I have NEVER been in a condition where I was not able to care for myself and my family.
So, here I am, full of questions and not quite sure how to ask them. My husband supports the decisions I've made thus far, but I know he's just as scared as I am. We're only three years into this marriage, and while my DH cooks, cleans and can take care of the house and kiddies (he was a single dad when we met...He's had his kids since his daughter was 8 months old), he's never had to deal with a woman disabled either. I've been at my job for over two years now, and while it's stressful, I love what I do.
*SIGH* Ladies, how do you deal with fears like this?
Rose first I want to say I am sorry for all you are facing and wish you the best of luck with everything. Surgery is never an easy thing to face, but adding the big "C" word to it I am sure makes it that much worse.
I think you are off to a good start by posting here The only way I know to handle my fears is to educate myself in what options are out there, what the pros and cons are and to prepare for whatever decision is made.
While it is true you will be out of commission for awhile, doesn't mean you will be lying around in pain for weeks and weeks. I was surprised at how well I felt during my recovery and it was difficult not to overdo things. But no matter how good you feel you will have to remember that you are healing on the inside and that takes time. I had more pain with my Tonsilectomy when I was 17 than I did with my hyster. I had TVH with one ovary removed.
So ask the questions you need answered and learn all you can to prepare yourself. There are some great tips here for pre-op and post-op.
Putting the "c" word into it scares me witless. After my first abnormal Pap, I went through a uterine/ovarian palpation/optical examination (which looked normal to the doc), enough bloodwork to make a vampire jealous, and an ultrasound (which showed that everything inside looked normal). When the second Pap came back abnormal and positive for HPV, my cervix was put under the microscope and the biopsy was ordered.
I'm thanking God every day for the wisdom of my husband, who practically drug me to the doc's office. Because of him, this was caught early.
It really took me off guard when I filled out the survey when I signed on here. The doctor never once used the "c" word to describe what I have. So checking a box saying "cancer" really took me off guard and drove the facts home for me. I deal with diseases every day (West Nile, St. Louis encephalitis and other mosquito-borne diseases), but it takes on a totally different meaning when it's YOUR body that's harboring this.
I guess my first question is how painful the recovery is going to be. I admit it, I'm a baby when it comes to pain!
I'm also curious as to how a woman's body changes post-op...My ovaries are staying, but thus far I've read quite a bit about the loss of libido, harmonal changes and emotional changes.
I'm in a very similar situation. In the past all of my paps were normal until this summer. The pap came back "abnormal"; they did a colop, then a biopsy. The doc said that should be it. Then the pathology came back indicating severe dysplasia. He recommended a LEEP/Cone Biopsy, which I had at the end of October; again, he said that should be the end of it. After that lab work came back, he said there were severe abnormal cells (CIN III) in the endocervial canal.
At first, he was going to wait 4 months to see what it did by itself, but then he consulted with a gyn/oncologist (scary thing), and that doc said that a hyst was not too aggressive for me, given my situation (45, no kids, beginning menopause).
Actually, I wanted to go ahead and do this sooner than later (not wait 4 months), so it wouldn't turn into something much more serious. Right now, I'm waiting until after the holidays to get this done (1/11/05 is surgery), so I'm hoping that waiting about 2 months wasn't a problem. Seems that what I have was pretty aggressive (last year everything was normal, now it's "severe").
Anyway, I'm scheduled for a TAH/BSO. I'm really feeling pretty good about it, but of course, am still a bit scared - I think more about what the pathology will ultimately say - especially since each time before - what they didn't think would be there - was.
I'm so glad I found this site, it's good just to get thoughts, questions, feelings out there.
My DH is wonderful, and says not to worry about a thing - he's going to take care of me and the house, and anything else that comes up.
Look at it this way, we'll be down and out during the winter (not my favorite season!!).
Hi! I found out that I had CIN III during my last pregnancy. I too didn't go in for an exam for over 5 years. If I wouldn't have gotten pregnant I may still not have known and it could have been cancer by now. I did lots of mini biopsies throughout my pregnancy, a couple major biopsies the day the baby was born and another a couple of months later. It was never cancer but it didn't get better and the chances of turning were good. I had my hysterectomy on Dec 15th. I was expecting to be put out for quite awhile for recovery but I am doing remarkably well. I just posted on the post op site to see how many women out there kind of breeze through the surgery and recovery and I was surprised to find out that there are quite a few. Of course, it is different for everyone but be comforted inthe fact that some of us are able to get through thr surgery and recovery without any real post op problems or discomforts. So don't worry too much about it. You really don't know until you are done with surgery - you may have an easier and faster recovery than you expect. Of course, that is what we wish for everyone going through this surgery. Sounds like you have a great support system at home. You really won't believe how important that is. Best of Luck to you!!!!!
Rose, it's just really hard dealing with your fears, I just try to ignore them, my hysterectomy will be Dec. 30th a total one where they remove uterus, cervix and ovaries, ugh. Mine is advanced dysplasia.
Do you have the pappiloma virus, the HPV that is? I have no idea how I got that, doctor said she thinks I've had it for 3 yrs, but have only been with husband during that time period. In case that's what you have, if your man uses a condom and there are no signs of it, then it should be ok. My doctor also said I should have my guy use a condom for the next 3 years, then after that apparently the virus goes dormant, goes away. HPV is actually very common.
I just wanted to give you a different perspective. At age 23 I had moderate to severe dysplasia diagnosed after cervical biopsy. I had it lasered and had frequent paps for 2 years after that and it never returned. I had my hyst at age 37 for severe endo and cysts. Don't be so quick to have hyst for dysplasia. I have another friend who had it when she was 20 and she is now 36, no problems. I would research some more and get a second opinion in re: hyst for dysplasia, just my opinion.
marianwrn, I have had precancerous cells in the past, 2 years ago to be exact, that's why my doctor thought the hysterectomy was the best way to go this time, and the fact that it is advanced dysplasia also made her think that way. I also have a thickness in the cervical canal which is white, the normal color should be pink or red. The white is a precursor to cancer from what I have read in medical magazines.
I had my TAH for moderate dysplasia and irregular periods. I have been married for 19 yrs so when the dr told me that I had HPV this year, I was SHOCKED. and embarrassed and didnt know what to think . I HAVE NEVER CHEATED ON MY HUSBAND. If this stuff was there, why didnt they catch it earlier??? I didnt go 5 yrs without a dr, I went 11 yrs without one LOL. Mine passed away and I just couldnt find one that I liked as much. I had paps occasssionally but why did this not show up?
AS for recovery, I was cut hip bone to hip bone and my recovery has been extremely easy. I am at 6 wks now and and back to doing EVERYTHING that I did before. I do get tired more easily but that is getting better everyday.
good luck and best wishes
Wow! I see there are a variety of views and experiences expressed to be considered. Ladies, thank you for the food for thought.
Lune, I have HPV. Unfortunately, it's one of only seven strains which have been positively linked with cervical cancer. There are 43 overall strains of HPV. I was horrified when I was told, but statistics show that over 2 million women in the US have some strain of HPV. That's a large chunk of the population!
Right now, I'm getting very poignant reminders of the decision I made for the hysterectomy. My menstrual cycle started yesterday, even though I was not scheduled to start for another week. Today, I have spent the day gobbling a combination of Motrin and aspirin (anti-coagulant). My periods consist of very painful cramping, extreme bleeding that floods an overnight pad within 2 hours, blood clots the size of the palm of my hand, headaches and sharp pain from my stomach and radiating to my back. The clots themselves have changed in color, odor and consistency in the past year. Instead of being blackish-red, they have a milky, dark red coloring, and the odor is atrocious. I also have to bear down a lot to pass these clots, otherwise the cramps worsen and I literally feel like I'm "stopped up" down there. Later tonight, I will be cuddling with a heating pad and a dose of Loritab 5 so I can sleep; I also have to wake up every two hours to change the pad, because otherwise I will wake up covered with blood. These symptoms normally last for about 60 hours. During this time, I'm more focused on taking care of the period than anything else, and I stay exhausted. I can't even eat solids right now, since that seems to make the cramping worse. As for emotional changes...During my period, I get almost suicidal, as though there is no joy left in life. I know it's just harmones, but I hate feeling that way. I normally play with the kids or find some way to distract myself away from the emotions. The emotions pass once the severe cramping passes, and I become my sunny self once more.
Add this to the recently discovered dysplasia, and some may understand why I choose to have the hysterectomy. I'm not good to anyone when I'm in this condition. I also won't be much good to anyone if the dysplasia turns into something more.
I'm still scared of the surgery. But I'm more scared of continuing to schedule my life and kids around my menstrual cycle.
Surprisingly, my husband is "feathering the nest" as we speak. Yesterday, he brought home a rolling cart, a body pillow, and three best-sellers that he knows I have been wanting to read but have never had the time. I don't want to be leaning on him too much, he already works so hard, but he seems very eager to see things change. Those extreme emotional swings of mine make him almost tiptoe around me during my menses. Poor baby.