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Hysterectomy...the big secret. Hysterectomy...the big secret.

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Unread 01-02-2005, 12:14 PM
Hysterectomy...the big secret.

I really think one of the reasons that people misunderstand the seriousness of hysterectomies is that we don't talk about it. For years women have been mysteriously going away to "have surgery" and nobody says out loud what the surgery was. It's almost treated like it's something to be ashamed of. I understand that this is a very personal and emotional surgery, but by not talking about it we continue to allow the myths to continue.

Now in this day of the TVH, recovery times are even more confusing for the non-educated. I cheer our sisters who have had uneventful recoveries and have been able to return to normal activities in a shorter amount of time. However, the myth that all women should recover at the same rate causes many of the slower healing sisters problems.

I am frustrated at the lack of support of women by other women. The truth is most women have no idea what the actual surgery entails or what recovery for a hysterectomy is like. How many of us did before we actually experienced it? How many of us actually had someone we know discuss their recovery and the challenges involved? AND if other women don’t know, how on earth can we expect men to understand?

In my own experience, once people realized that I was completely comfortable talking about the specifics of the surgery they had many questions. I tried to put on my teacher hat and help them learn about the surgery. Their reactions have been very surprising. I’ve had both men and women call me later to ask more questions.

I’m not suggesting that we bore people with a litany of our own complaints and aches and pains. Rather we need to educate people (both men and women) about hysterectomies.

I guess I’m just now realizing how much keeping silent about “the surgery” has hurt generations of women. The level of misunderstanding and misinformation is astounding. Hysterectomy is nothing to be ashamed of. When we treat it like it is, we only add to the misconceptions that end up hurting us all.

Thanks for listening. I've reached a level of frustration and just needed to vent.
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Unread 01-02-2005, 12:29 PM
Hysterectomy...the big secret.

Unread 01-02-2005, 01:15 PM
Hysterectomy...the big secret.

eubbie - Amen to that! You are so right! And I'm glad to hear that you're able to help educate people about this. I knew nothing (other than what I learned here - and what a Gift this site is, thank you sisters!)

I am one of the guilty parties, that's for sure - I really have not talked about it to anyone except my (real) sister, and my sisters here. I've started to a few times, (only when asked) but I could see that if the person I was talking to had fur - it would be rising - in fear, I guess, and then I would always find myself backing off the subject...

In my 20-30's, I was intrigued by cultural attitudes towards women and read alot of Margaret Mead, (anything she wrote), and Evelyn Wood _The Matriarchal Society_. It's been a long time since then, and my memory is pathetic at the moment, but basically this:
There is, even now, (maybe not conciously) a deeply rooted cultural taboo about menses, which goes back for centuries - through all cultures, and includes banishment (going on in tribes today), cleansing rituals, etc. and all kinds of cultural 'lore' about it. But the bottom line of all that is that it's to be hidden, thought of as a curse, (or black majic) considered unclean, possibly 'contagious' to men, root of witchcraft, wicka, etc. You get the idea...
So it seems, naturally, that all that bleeds over into why hysterectomy is not (to be) spoken about.

So, because of all that - I'm wondering if we're biting off a bigger chunk than we can chew if we really think we can change attitudes...but it sure doesn't hurt to start. Gotta start somewhere!

And, my pet peeve is when it's referred to as a "PROCEDURE". Give me a break.

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Unread 01-02-2005, 01:28 PM
Hysterectomy...the big secret.

Hi Ladies,
I agree Joano, a procedure is getting a mole removed, or a tooth filled. This surgery is a huge consequential change. Spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, and lifestyle. It is not a simple little thing that we can just breeze through.

Eubbie, upon reading that it made me question if this 'ignorance' to the profoundness, and the hiddenness of the whole affair is maybe why we try to recover faster and hide the fact we had this surgery by doing too much too soon? Is it maybe the fact that it is 'taboo' and considered so close the whole stigma or menstruation that we try and become superwomen? Or do we just do that because we were raised that way?

My first period was completely unexplained by my mom, and scared the living daylights out of me! I was horrified that I had done something to hurt myself or was being punished by God for something. My son however at 12 knows more than I did by the time I was 16!! He is completely ok about telling all his friends, while I didnt tell anyone until i was done. Now conciously I did this to not worry anyone and not have this huge fuss. But maybe subconciously I didn't tell because it is a 'shameful' secret??

Very good food for thought!! I am very open now, and find when I talk to women who have had the surgery, the notes come out on how it went, what they did, how we felt, etc.

Unread 01-02-2005, 01:52 PM
Hysterectomy...the big secret.

Hopefully things are slowly changing, I personally didn't find any problems with openess , even men ( some of them fathers of kids where I work) weren't shocked or embarassed to talk about what surgery I had ( of course not the intimate details) maybe it's a sign that the younger generations are becoming more aware , it seems to be more of a problem with people of the generation were sex and women's issues weren't discussed . Education is hopefully moving in the right direction and co-ed schools are having classses were things relating to both sexes are discussed.
As the mother of a son , I've always been open with women's issues with him hopefully his wife will be thankful for the understanding I've instilled in him. I must also say that many older women I know have been happy to tell me about there experience with hysterectomy , we are alot more informed than they were so hopefully those to follow will benefit for our experience that is why this site is so great...sharing experiences good and bad for the benefit each other....being informed and educated is the best thing we as women can do for ourselves
Unread 01-02-2005, 03:04 PM
Hysterectomy...the big secret.

I completely agree. People think TVH is nothing. In fact at my 2 wk post visit for my colon resection, I was telling the surgeon that I was much more tired with my TVH than with this colon surgery. She--yes a woman, said that she was surprised as she thought vaginal hysterectomies would be a "walk in the park"--this from a woman doctor. We have a lot of educating to do.
Unread 01-02-2005, 03:07 PM
Hysterectomy...the big secret.

my disturbing childhood memory,

I'm nearly 56 but when I was a young girl of 8, I recall clearly a relative who had to have, " the operation". The men never spoke the word and the women, my mother included, only mouthed the word " hysterectomy, " and just to other women, so us young ones could not hear the spoken word. I didn't know what it meant, but I sure knew it was BAD.

I questioned my older cousin and her reply was, "don't you know? That's when they take a woman and cut out all her female organs. Then she's just an it."

I nearly became ill with the thought of someone doing that to me. I couldn't understand what the woman did that was so bad for men doctors to do that to her. My cousin continued that after a surgery you're not a male or female, you're a nothing and that you loose your mind too.

No wonder it took me 9 years to decide to have this surgery. Even with all the research I did prior...childhood fears of unspoken topics are very damaging.

We've come along way sister.........but I agree, not nearly far enough.

Unread 01-02-2005, 03:20 PM
Hysterectomy...the big secret.

I agree. Hysterectomy was always the unspoken word. I thought it was evil or something. My mom used to call menses "troubles" . I can't believe it now how shameful females used to feel about female conditions.
My gyn made me feel fine with having a hyst. I had never seen him until my first appt. to see what was causing me so many symptoms. We met first in his office. He said he was here to help me and make me feel like a totally new woman. I will never forget that and will always be so grateful to him. He said to me on several occasions that I am still as much of a woman as ever, I will still ovulate the same, I am still a female, but just won't have all of that awful pain and bleed to death anymore. I will go through menopause the same time as I would have. It really took some weeks to believe everything he told me, but he was right. I am probably better than ever.
I actually read in a medical book at work today that hysterectomies won't change your feminimety. You will still be very much a woman. That was healing to see.
We must keep educating and get rid of those myths of it being something evil.

Thanks for the topic.
Unread 01-02-2005, 03:51 PM
Hysterectomy...the big secret.

I agree with all of the above!! When people ask how I'm feeling, I am honest and say I feel pretty good, as long as I don't overdo it. I try to explain about internal healing, etc. Some people think I should feel worse than what I do, some think I should be back to work already.

I work with a 16 yr old autistic boy and will be going back to work in 3 wks. I told him I was having surgery before hand but didn't go into detail. He is very inquisitive and I know he is going to have alot of questions. I'm not sure how much to explain to him/lol.

Unread 01-02-2005, 06:04 PM
Hysterectomy...the big secret.

I feel ashamed for having a hyster.

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