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Supracervical Abdominal Hysterectomy - SAH-BSO w/epidural - CherieB's Story

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In the recovery room, the nurses, surprised that I was awake and talking, asked me why I chose to have an epidural. I told them it was because of the information I had read on an Internet site called Hyster Sisters. They laughed at the clever name, and told me to spread the word about having an epidural. I can’t imagine going through this surgery without having the information the site provided. A hysterectomy could be a traumatic scary ordeal, but I felt informed and in control which made it a positive experience.

I am 49 and post menopausal mother and grandmother. Thursday, November 30, 2000, I had a SAH-BSO, supracervical hysterectomy with an abdominal incision from the pubic bone to the navel, because of a 2.3 pound football sized mass of fibroids that were beginning to cause damage to my left ureter and kidney. I decided to keep my cervix, and although my doctor didn’t recommend it, he was willing to try it. He told me none of the reasons for keeping the cervix have been proven scientifically, (although there are new studies coming out of France). It is just a part of my body I preferred not to lose. I also did not like the idea of cutting the vaginal wall to remove the cervix. The doctor patiently described both procedures to me, with drawings, and let me decide. I only had two days of vaginal discharge and no bleeding.

I was most nervous about the loss of control during the anesthesia. I chose the epidural because I wanted to avoid general anesthesia and the morphine pump. I didn’t want to spend the day groggy and sick. I was worried about the drug given in the IV just before surgery, because things the anesthesiologist told me the evening before on the phone. It was fine. I remember being rolled into another room and thinking it didn’t look like an operating room. (That was the drug taking effect) The next thing I remember is the doctor’s voice saying that I wanted to see the uterus, and someone showing me. Someone asked me to fold my arms to be moved onto the recovery bed, and then I was clear headed and talking to the nurses in recovery and asking the time. It was 8:30 AM and I had gone into surgery at 7 AM.

I felt pretty good the first day. It hurt to move, but I was comfortable and chatted with relatives on the phone. My mom and husband were with me most of the day. I was given Fentanyl into the epidural catheter every three to six hours, as I needed it. It made my mouth dry and my skin itch. I was given Benadryl to stop the itching, which made me a little drowsy. But I didn’t sleep all day. The next day was the worst for pain. One disadvantage of the epidural is that it takes 30 - 40 minutes for the nurses to prepare the meds, and not all the nurses were trained to add the meds to the epidural catheter, which was taped near my neck. Friday morning during a shift change, I had to wait over an hour for meds, when I was in the most pain. Overall I was happy with my choice of anesthesia. Especially when patients around me were groggy and vomiting.

I switched to Percodan pills at the end of day two, and was sent home with 20 Percocet pills. I took one pill every three or four hours, and then two in the evening and before bed. On day five I switched to Ibuprofen. By day eleven I didn’t need anything.

I had read about the problem of gas pains on the Hysters site and I was prepared with Gas-X, prunes, prune juice, fleet enema, fiber cereal, fruit, Milk of Magnesia, and Tums. But none of them worked! A back rub from my DH, after painfully moving onto my side with one knee propped on a pillow, got me out of the hospital. “Did you hear that? We can go home!” A hot bath eased the pain and helped expel the gas at home. After two days of trying everything, I finally called the doctor and he said I needed a return flow enema. You know, the one with the bag and a quart of warm water. That worked to get the gas moving and eliminated the pain, but still no BM for six days. Then all was back to normal.

Even after reading the varied experiences, I had wondered about what I would be able to do after surgery and how much help I would need. I didn’t want my mom to come until after I got home from the hospital, but she insisted on being there for the surgery. She was right. She kept me company, brought me ice, filled my water pitcher, arranged my pillows, etc. She helped me take my first shower in the hospital and bath at home. I couldn’t pick anything up if I dropped it and I couldn’t dry my legs and feet. My husband helped too, but Mom was better. By day five I could squat and bend to reach things on the floor, by day six I could dry my feet, by day seven I could shave my legs, and by day eight I could put my own socks on. The first eight days I needed someone to wait on me as I spent the day in my recliner. On day seven, I was on my own. It hurt to get in and out of the chair, and after too many times, I was exhausted and went to bed at 8:30. On day eleven my DH drove me to the drug store and I made a 15-minute shopping trip. I had to go sit in the car while he paid because it hurt to stand any longer. On day thirteen I walked my dog to the corner and back. My body lets me know if I am doing too much. By day 18 I could go Christmas shopping without discomfort. I am happy with my recovery progress and am enjoying my hibernation during the month of December with good books and movies by the Christmas tree.

12-20-2000 - 01:04 PM


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