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TAH - and happy about it TAH - and happy about it

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Unread 07-01-2007, 01:09 PM
TAH - and happy about it

Hello, sisters. I should start by saying how long I struggled with the decision to have a hysterectomy. I am 41 and have two teenage children. I am divorced and dating a wonderful man who does not have children. So giving up all possibility of fertility was not an easy decision. I have had increasingly heavy bleeding, long (10-14 day) periods, severe cramping, constant bladder and rectal pressure and bleeding after intercourse for about 6 or 7 years. I have tried birth control pills, with only slight improvement in that on BCP I could predict when I would hemorrhage. I had an episode of flooding/hemorrage (in a restaurant!!) about 18 months ago, and went to the ER where they did a pelvic ultrasound and saw at least 4 fibroids, the largest of which was 5 cm. At that point I was mildly anemic but decided to continue with birth control and iron, while I considered my options. I went back to see the GYN in February and since the excessive bleeding and by now, anemia, were the biggest problems, and I thought I could live with the other symptoms for a while, my GYN suggested an HTA endometrial ablation instead of hysterectomy. After doing my research I thought it sounded like a good less invasive option to try, knowing that a hysterectomy was possible down the road if the fibroids got bigger.

Went in for the ablation, and woke up from anaesthesia to the news that something had gone wrong, possibly uterine perforation, and that the ablation didn't work because of that and because of the position and size of the fibroids distorted my uterus too much. My doctor did a D&C and endometrial biopsy, and sent me home. I bled heavily for three days and finally after several discussions with my doctor, she scheduled me for a hysterectomy, 5 days after the first procedure. I was already on FMLA so I called my employer and worked out a longer leave.

Checked into the hospital for the second time in a week to have the TAH on 5/31. Incidentally, I'm a nurse in the hospital where I had the procedure, so I pretty much knew everyone who took care of me. A strange thing, to be a patient in my own hospital!! The surgery went without problems. My ovaries were healthy so they stayed. I had PCA morphine afterward which helped for the first 24 hours. I also had something called "ON-Q) which is a local anaesthetic pump placed under the incision site. That delivered constant local anaesthetic to the incision, and helped keep my pain level to a minimum for the first several days after surgery. I went home with that and removed it myself after 5 days. I asked for the morphine, catheter and IV to be taken out after the first night and felt better when I could move around a little. Oral pain medication (percocet, toradol) did control the pain. I went home after 48 hours. My staples came out just before I left and the incision looked good. I went home with steristrips on the incision, and the OnQ pump still in place covered by a clear bandage so I could shower with it. I carried the pump part around in a little bag everywhere I went. My kids called me the bag lady since I was shuffling around with the bag for a few days. On day 5, I pulled teh OnQ catheter out - it came out easily and with no pain at all. I was pretty meticulous for a couple of weeks about keeping my hands very clean any time I touched the incision. Also washed the incision daily with soap and water, patted dry and put gauze against it. Ice packs to the incision helped me tremendously.

At home, I kept taking pain meds right on schedule for a week or two, needing them less and less as the days went by. Some days were very hard, with lots of pain and utter exhaustion, and some days were remarkably easy and I could move around and had energy to do some normal things. I just listened to my body and took it very slowly. Now, 4 weeks after surgery, I feel great. I still have some soreness and swelling after an active day, but I feel pretty normal otherwise.

The biggest improvement was that the bladder and rectal pressure are now GONE, and I haven't bled since my surgery. After having heavy bleeding for nearly half of my days for years, that is a huge blessing. I feel my energy is as good as it was before the surgery, and getting better daily. I guess I had no idea how bad I felt before the surgery, until now.

This site has been incredibly helpful and I plan to pass along the link to the GYN nurses at work so they can tell their patients! It helped to read other stories and to check my own experience against others' - many times I needed to know if my experience was "normal" and it helped so much to know I was not alone. Everyone is different, but there are many shared experiences.

Sisters, listen to your bodies and be patient with yourself and your families while you heal. Let someone else wash the floors and walk the dog for a few weeks. Embrace your princess-ness! I wish each of you the best possible journey and healthy outcomes! Be well!
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