Five days post op da Vinci hysterectomy
I had my da Vinci hysterectomy on Feb 28th. It is now March 5th and I am finally starting to feel human again.
My issues began back when I was pregnant with my oldest child. It was then I found out I had dysplasia in my cervix and would need to have a LEEP procedure done. This was back in 1994. Over the years I have had a few more abnormal pap "scares" that required nothing more than a colposcopy to fix the problem, but I have to say that I was always very apprehensive about the health of my cervix and never missed a yearly exam for fear of cancer.
The circumstances that led to my hysterectomy began about a year ago when my periods became very heavy and intercourse became very painful and bloody. (No fun.)
I finally went to see my OBGYN after being unable to give blood due to anemia. Now it made sense to me why I was tired and worn out and just wanted to sleep the entire first few days of my periods.
My three sisters and my mother have all had hysterectomies at about my age (37yrs)...all for fibroids and irregular bleeding issues. So, I was not shocked when it was presented as an option for me. BUT, I also knew there were other options and wanted to be sure I was making the right choice.
I was told I was a candidate for ablation, but that it wouldn't necessarily take care of the pain I was experiencing during intercourse or the heavy bleeding afterward. Another problem with the ablation was that my doctor wanted me to have a tubal ligation if I went that route because a pregnancy after ablation could be deadly (no uterine lining means the placenta grows into the muscle of the uterus...a medical emergency.) So, two procedures and it was not likely to fix all of my problems.
Another option was to try hormone therapy. I was offered birth control pills that might give me some relief from heavy periods. But I really dislike monkeying around with my body chemistry and did not consider this an option. Plus we have the whole pain and bleeding during sex thing that, again, wouldn't be fixed.
So, after a trip to my favorite ice cream parlor with my husband and a serious discussion over some rocky road (yum), we decided that a hysterectomy would be our best choice.
I have to say I was really nervous about getting the procedure done...after all, my ultrasound showed no fibroids and the uterine biopsy was negative...was it really necessary? But then I thought about the pain and anemia and decided things could not continue the way they were.
I scheduled my surgery for a month later and spent the next several weeks pouring over any information I could get my hands on regarding hysterectomy and da Vinci. I watched brilliant videos of the procedure and interviewed my mother and my sisters, asking them questions. My mother had her surgery 35 years ago. She said she wished that she’d asked more questions and gotten a second opinion. The one thing they all had to say, though, was they did not miss having a monthly period and it did not negatively affect their sex lives. (Note that none of them had their ovaries removed.)
And then I found Hystersisters and began reading as many of my fellow sisters' stories as I could find. It was so wonderful to have this resource available! I was able to head to the hospital on the day of my surgery feeling prepared, both mentally and physically.
DAY BEFORE SURGERY...
I'm the one idiot that didn't read the bowel prep instructions carefully enough and only drank one bottle of magnesium citrate instead of the required two. Fortunately for me, that was more than enough to get things moving and I felt pretty well emptied out by morning.
DAY OF SURGERY...
8am...called the surgery department and asked if I could take a Motrin. (My surgery was scheduled for 1pm and I already had a dehydration headache). They gave me the okay to have a Motrin and drink until 8:30am. Woo hoo!
I took a shower with antimicrobial body wash and then cleaned myself out with a medicated douche, as instructed. I put on some lose, clean, comfy clothes and headed off to the hospital with my husband.
I was brought in right away after checking in. Apparently, the surgery that had been scheduled previous to mine ended early and so we were moved up. I wasn't sure how I felt about that. I was getting nervous. The nurse brought me back and I changed into a gown. My personal effects were stored in a locker. They weighed me (bowel prep is a great way to lose 5 pounds, by the way) and I was brought to a curtained area and placed on a gurney. I was asked a lot of questions as an IV was started in my left hand and some blood was drawn. I got to talk to my doctor and she really made me feel at ease. I got a little teary…which I tend to do when I’m scared. So she gave me a hug and told me I would do great and that I was an ideal candidate for this surgery so not to worry.
Then, FINALLY, they let my husband back to see me. I gave him my wedding rings and told him to give them back as soon as he saw me again. We spent the next several minutes together giggling and being silly. Then, the anesthesiologist came in and told me exactly what was going to be happening from his perspective. I explained that I have a sensitivity to morphine and that a very little bit hits me hard and makes me nauseous. He told me that might be a problem because he was planning on putting a block in my back that would hold off most of the post op pain for up to 24 hours but that the medication he would be injecting was morphine. I really liked the idea of the block, but was scared of the effect the morphine would have on me, so we decided that I’d get a scopolamine patch and he’d only administer half the dose that he normally would to avoid a bad reaction in me.
He left and the nurses told me it was time for my husband to go. I kissed him goodbye and he said he’d see me soon. Then the nurse gave me a shot of sedative in my IV to calm me. It started working almost immediately. I vaguely remember being transferred to the table in the OR. Then I was asked to sit up and grab my knees and shape my back like a “C”. Even in my drugged state I remember sitting there with my head on my knees thinking how unfair it was that they were doing the block while I was awake. Why not wait until I was oblivious to the needle and the pain?
And then I was out until recovery. I remember drifting in and out of consciousness and chewing on ice chips. I let my nurse know at one point I was feeling nauseous and she shot something into my IV which made me feel better.
Apparently, it took me a bit longer to come out of it than normal. My surgery was only two hours but I spent three more hours in recovery. Finally, I was moved to a lovely private room in the maternity ward where my dear husband was waiting for me. He spent about an hour with me before heading home to eat dinner with the family. I slept from the time he left the room until he and my sister returned at 8:00pm. They smuggled in some broth from ham and bean soup my sister had made. It was so delicious and tasted a million times better than the stuff the hospital offered. At about 9:00pm I was ready to take my first walk. Sitting up and then standing were difficult, but once I was up the walking came easier. We took a lap around the maternity ward and that was more than enough.
I had to ask for pain meds a couple of times during my 24 hour hospital stay. I was prepared for this and just enjoyed the opportunity to sleep comfortably. I probably would have slept all through the night had it not been for the frequent visits from nurses needing to take my blood pressure and my temperature.
Finally, at 5:00am, my patience started to wear thin and my husband got an earful about the IV and the catheter and how I was drinking plenty of liquids so why did they need to keep pumping saline into me? And that the catheter was uncomfortable and I wanted it out! My husband listened quietly and then stepped out into the hallway. A few minutes later the nurse came in and removed my catheter and IV. Have I mentioned that I love my husband?
I was so happy to be rid of all the tubes and poky things! I walked into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. My face was puffy and my rings felt tight on my fingers from all the fluid retention. Ugh! Who was that scary woman staring back at me? I sat on the toilet and urinated on my own a few minutes later and noticed a bit of blood. I almost panicked but the nurse said that was normal and to be expected.
DAY 1 POSTSURGERY
Later that morning I ate a bit of breakfast; a nice spinach and cheese quiche that really wasn’t half bad. At about 8:00am my doctor came in to see me. She told me the pathology report wouldn’t be ready for a few weeks but that just from her observations, my uterus was enlarged and my uterine arteries were very dilated…some as big around as her thumb. She was fairly certain that this was the culprit for my bleeding and pain. She also explained that she had to place my incisions further out toward the sides of my body than she’d anticipated because my abdomen was so small that it was difficult to accommodate all of the equipment. And while this was great for my ego, it was not so great for my recovery since my incisions are on my sides and it makes side-sleeping (my favorite position) difficult.
My AM nurse was great. She had a da Vinci hysterectomy three years ago and was able to give me some advice as far as scheduling my meds and what to expect. She said it was a good year before she could sneeze without experiencing pain. She also warned me that getting up and down from chairs would be the greatest challenge for a while.
Finally, at 12:00pm I was given my discharge papers and sent home. My husband and I stopped at the pharmacy drive thru to drop off my prescriptions and were told it would be a half hour before they were ready. We decided to go to a nearby restaurant for some lunch while we waited. I’m sure I looked a sight walking in there hunched over like an old lady in my pajamas and wearing hospital bands around my wrists. Ah, well. The soup I ordered was tasty and the hot tea was just what I needed, so who cares what people thought? The sitting was not very comfortable, but I didn’t expect it to be.
We picked up the meds and I took a Percocet immediately since my pain level was at about a five or six. When I got home I climbed into bed and didn’t move until the next morning.
DAY 2 POSTSURGERY
Pain level: five. I woke up coughing up green, thick, blood streaked mucous. I’d been afraid to cough all the time I was in the hospital and had been suppressing the urge all through the first days at home. In that time I hadn’t cleared my lungs of any of the gunk that had settled in there and it had become infected. I went straight to the urgent care down the street. They told me I had bronchitis and gave me a prescription for a cough suppressant (which I never used since I think it was NOT coughing that caused the infection in the first place). I was told the antibiotic I was already on should take care of the infection and, if not, I would be prescribed a broad spectrum antibiotic like Zithromax to clean it out. Fortunately, my lungs improved quickly and that wasn’t necessary.
DAY 3 POSTSURGERY
Pain level: eight. I was really doing quite well during the morning. I was even able to get out of my pajamas, take a shower, and go downstairs and spend time with the family. The problem was the gas. It moved up into my neck and before I knew it I was having a horrible migraine headache. My husband called my doctor and she called in a prescription for Imatrex to help me through it. I took the first pill and it did nothing. Fortunately, after the second dose, the headache finally subsided. But my neck was still in agony and the only way I could alleviate the pain was to lie flat on my back with a heating pad on my neck. I slept the rest of that day and night in that position.
DAY 4 POSTSURGERY
Pain level: three. I finally broke down and gave myself an enema since I had yet to have a bowel movement. Relief was quick and I felt a hundred times better afterward. I wished I’d done so sooner! I spent most of this day alternating between being down with the family and then having to go back to bed and lie down to alleviate the neck pain. Sleep was much easier. The pain from my surgery was nothing more than a dull ache, now. The main issues that I was continuing to deal with were those related to the gas.
DAY 5 POSTSURGERY
Pain level: two. My husband woke up with a sinus infection and I went with him to the walk-in clinic. He and I joked around with the doctor and nursing staff and they were shocked to hear I’d had a hysterectomy just five days earlier since I was walking around normally and was very comfortable. I even sneezed and felt zero pain!
I still need the pain meds to take the edge off from time to time, so I know I'm not totally there, yet. But I would say that as of Day 5 I’m probably at about 80%. I still need a lot of help since I can’t lift my young children for another couple of weeks, but I’m really pleased with how far I’ve come in such a short time.
All in all, I am THRILLED with the results of my da Vinci hysterectomy.