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Almost 5 weeks post-op; concerns, questions Almost 5 weeks post-op; concerns, questions

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  #1  
Unread 10-20-2008, 02:47 PM
Almost 5 weeks post-op; concerns, questions

Hi all, I'm brand new to this board and I am OH SO glad I found it!

I had an abdominal hysterectomy on September 17th (it will be 5 weeks this Wednesday).

I've had some concerns and I've read a lot online...it seems like I hear different things and want to know if I have anything to worry about, or if I'm progressing normally.

First of all, I read on here not to lift a frying pan for 6 weeks after surgery, and I've been lifting things (under 10 pounds) for about a week and a half two weeks now! Oops!

Here are my concerns: I am super swollen in the upper belly area above my bellybutton. My incision is rather large, about 10 inches. Apparently I had a huge, "boggy" uterus. Going the length of my incision, right above it, is a "shelf" thing of swelling...looks like it's flapping over the incision and it is hard, numb and sore at the same time. It feels really weird. It wasn't there a few weeks ago; it appeared around week 3. The incision itself doesn't look bad; seems like it's healing...has a bit of "scabby" stuff on it, it's not red or hot or swollen or anything.

The swelling seems to get worse after I've been out of bed for a while, but it never goes down to nearly normal size. I can't wear anything but giant sweatpants and nightgowns. Even underwear is irritating. The whole abdominal area is very sensitive, I hate to touch it even when washing and I can't stand any material rubbing on it. Fortunately I work from home, so I can dress like a schlump and get away with it, but frankly I'm getting tired of the granny panties and huge sweat pants. I went back to work half days last week and this week I'm doing 6 hours a day, next week, full time. I have a desk job and try to get up a lot and switch my position in my chair so it's more like reclining and not sitting bolt upright.

I've been cooking, doing dishes, straightening up and taking very short shopping excursions. My husband lifts the groceries and feeds the dogs, etc., but I've mostly gone back to my normal routine. I haven't driven much though and I don't lift anything heavy. I don't deal with the dogs (five of them!) except to snuggle with them on the couch and I always have a protective pillow over my tummy in case they try to climb into my lap.

So...to make a long story short...(and I know it's already long!!!), is it "normal" to be so swollen and sensitive? Is this shelf like protuberance over my incision normal? Scar tissue, perhaps? Is there anything I can do to help reduce the swelling and discomfort and get rid of this shelf thing? I can't even fathom wearing any type of band on my belly right now...it is super duper sensitive.

The only other thing is that I have insomnia and get tired easily. Is this normal? I did keep my ovaries...so I'm not sure.

I have my 6 week check up next week, but my doc tends to be a bit brusque and always says "oh that's normal" all the time and I don't feel like she really hears me!!

Thank you so much for your time; I look forward to hearing back from some of you!
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  #2  
Unread 10-20-2008, 03:33 PM
Almost 5 weeks post-op; concerns, questions

I'm only a few days post-op but it sounds like you've jumped fairly quickly into your regular schedule. Your belly may be more swollen because you are overdoing it. I don't know about the shelf like area but I do know that "swelly belly" can last for a long time and gets worse when we do too much. Your incision is much longer than mine and I can't imagine doing all that you've been doing!
  #3  
Unread 10-20-2008, 03:45 PM
Almost 5 weeks post-op; concerns, questions

Thanks for writing. I guess it's hard for me to know if I'm overdoing it or not. My doc expected me to be driving within 2 weeks, so maybe that was what made me think I could do more stuff.

I really don't "go crazy" overdoing it...when I do dishes and cook, I usually sit on a stool...but I do notice I have more pain and tiredness on the nights I decide to cook.

I'm disappointed that I still can't fit in my clothes. I didn't know what to expect, truthfully. I thought I would be completely back to normal at 5 to 6 weeks, wearing my jeans and riding my bike. I realize now that I had no idea...and I wish I would have been more prepared.

They say you can resume sexual activity at 6 weeks, but I can't even IMAGINE doing that next week...no way! I've just started letting my husband hug me again! LOL.

I don't know...I wish I had a check list of things I can and can't do. Like I said, I wash dishes, cook, pick up around the house, etc. and I really thought I was being good because I normally cook several nights a week and constantly do housework and take care of my dogs. And work! I haven't done anything ridiculous like lift something heavy, walk my dogs or exercise, other than walking...do you think I have done damage to myself, or maybe I'm just not resting enough and don't have to worry about permanent damage? I swear, I think about this every minute of every day and I want to stop worrying!!!

BTW, I'm 42, if that means anything!

Thanks!
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  #4  
Unread 10-20-2008, 03:55 PM
Almost 5 weeks post-op; concerns, questions

I had my TAH the same day as you.

I have that shelf and my skin is hypersensitive with a strange numbness in the area.

I have bought a dozen or so different panties. I have granny panties in cotton. Light support one that are very high waisted, boy shorts and a medium waist. Last night I bought some nice nylon very very light support briefs.

It seems that while today one kind works, I don't want the same one tomorrow. Variety works for me.

I have one pair of jeans I can wear fairly comfortably. I put on a different pair on my way out the door to Wal-Mart last night. Bad move. They rubbed the ends of my incision and I was pretty miserable. I'm still a little sensitive there today.

I have been doing some dishes, laundry and running errands. I am careful not to lift over 10 lbs. I'm also on the treadmill each day. I do 1/4 mile at a time and try to do it several times a day.

I go back to work in 2 weeks. I'm a little concerned about the lifting. I have a doctor appt tomorrow and I'm going to ask if I should put a lb limit restriction on it for a little longer.

Barb
  #5  
Unread 10-20-2008, 03:58 PM
Almost 5 weeks post-op; concerns, questions

I'm 45. I doubt you've done permanent damage but you do need to ask the doctor about the flap/shelf thing. I think you're probably just not resting enough. You did have major abdominal surgery - don't expect yourself to be back to normal so quickly. From what I've read here, the swelly belly could last for a few months so you may want to find some comfy but cute clothes that will get you through. I found several solid colored, knit sundresses that I can use as jumpers over a long sleeved T. They are high waisted so the belly won't be as obvious (I hope!) They were on clearance so I didn't feel too bad spending a little to have something I'd feel good in. Since I'm still just a few days post op I'm mostly wearing nighties and sweats right now. At this point, I can't imagine fitting into my regular clothes anytime soon.

As far as the sexual activity goes, your doctor may have you wait a couple more weeks depending on your checkup. If the vaginal cuff isn't healed enough, you may not be ready yet. I'm not really looking forward to that first time either. At this point, DH is still sleeping in another room so he doesn't bump my incision in the night.
  #6  
Unread 10-20-2008, 04:55 PM
Almost 5 weeks post-op; concerns, questions

It doesn't sound like you are doing anything you are not supposed to be doing. I had my surgery 5 days before you and at my 2 week check up was told I could lift 10 pounds instead of 5. I certainly don't have a frying pan that weighs 10 pounds or do any of our clothing weigh that much so I have have been cooking, doing laundy and dishes since the 2 week point. I still don't vacuum or mop or carry heavy bags from the grocery store (I have them pack them into 5 pound bags, they can weigh them!) but other than that I am pretty much back to normal.

Just make sure that you what your Dr says as all of us are different. Just because I can lift 10 pounds, maybe you are only supposed to be lifting 5. Also I would have him look at your incision to make sure everything is healing properly.
  #7  
Unread 10-20-2008, 05:19 PM
Almost 5 weeks post-op; concerns, questions

Hi Nannie,
I had my TAH two days before you and have tried to get as active as possible.

When I went to the dr for 2 week check-up he said, what I do is up to me and my body. All the stitches have dissolved and my level of activity should be gauged by how achey I get.

I've been shopping and walking 2 km a day since week 3. I'm up to about 4 km a day as of last week. I've been cooking and doing light chores since week 3. I have been lifting things over 10 lbs and find I get little pin-prick pains, but nothing really painful.
I also have started doing the exercises listed on the fitness area of this website.

My belly always swells up in the afternoon and evening.

I just believe that the more active I am the more I'll get back to normal and the swelling will finally go away!

I don't think you did too much... just listen to your body, it will tell you!

BTW - I'm 45
  #8  
Unread 10-21-2008, 08:10 AM
Almost 5 weeks post-op; concerns, questions

Hi, thanks for your reply. You have the shelf too? Have you talked to your doc about it? I'm assuming it's normal...it's just strange, the numbness and everything.

I appreciate your thoughts and hope you heal quickly!!!

Thanks,

Nan
  #9  
Unread 10-21-2008, 08:54 AM
Almost 5 weeks post-op; concerns, questions

Thanks to everyone who wrote! It really feels good to be able to "talk" to others going through the same thing. It's hard to know what to do and what not to do and what's normal and what's not!!

I truly appreciate all of you!

I decided to be a little lighter in my routine yesterday; I prepared dinner, but had my husband lift the broiler pan into the oven and take it out, he plated and served it and did the dishes...I reclined and watched tv after dinner and took it easy...and I actually feel better this morning.

I've prepared my hubby that I'm going to slack off a bit on what I've been doing and he wholeheartedly agreed...I'll just have to contend with the house being a bit messier than I like...I'll have to fight my OCD...LOL...I can't STAND dishes in the sink!, but I'll just have to relinquish control and lay back a little more. The way I feel this morning compared to yesterday morning is proof that while I can do things, perhaps I need to let some things go for a while!

I'm considering the "swelly belly" band (going to ask my doc first). Anyone use that?

I hope you all have a magnificent day!!
  #10  
Unread 10-21-2008, 09:10 AM
Almost 5 weeks post-op; concerns, questions

I actually do not like the swelly belly band. You have to get it wet to activate the gel and it stays wet! Yuk. I also tried to freeze it but then it is just a rock solid brick that you could never possibly wear. They say you can wear it under your clothes but everything would be soaking wet.

I do love the ab binder that I ordered from here. I am wearing that or a pair of support panties every day.
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