A major concern for women undergoing a hysterectomy is how long is the recovery. Google this and you will find a multitude of responses. Why? Because there are so many factors that impact your recovery. My recovery was quite quick and easy, which was not completely expected as it was an emergency surgery rather than a planned one. However, I am on the younger side of patients having this surgery, I was healthy going in to surgery, I eat well and exercise, so I definitely had several things going in my favour. Here is a video that discusses some of the factors that may impact your recovery time. The video is a little goofy in my opinion, but it does have some good information to consider. You may want to skip ahead to about the 40 second mark though.
I have mentioned in a previous post that I think we tend to shy away from discussions about women’s health in general, and women’s reproductive health issues specifically. I don’t understand why this is but I find it incredibly frustrating, especially so, when it puts women at increased risk for disease and death. Take a look at this link to understand one such health issue that is affecting millions of women worldwide, an issue that you may not even have heard of…until now.
I know I have reblogged from the Hysterical Runner previously but as I said, I really enjoy her posts. This is a follow up on how she is doing approximately 6 months after her hysterectomy. I think I enjoy her posts, especially this one, because her experience so closely resembles mine. You can read more of her stuff at her blog: Hysterical Runner. Enjoy!
Now that I seem to have really done my foot some damage (as in I can barely walk on it) I will probably be light on the running related posts while I try to give it time to heal. Or until I manage to drug myself up to the point where I can shove it into my Nikes – just kidding!..
When I started this blog I was staring down the barrel at my impending hysterectomy. I meant to (b)log my experience the best I could in order to help other women in the same situation find first-hand experience, with the running being a fun thing on the side. I expected the operation to be a huge, defining moment in my life for better or for worse. As it happens, I have almost forgotten I had it.
They say hysterectomy is a major surgery. And I suppose it is, when…
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I finally got my hands on the surgeon’s report from my hysterectomy surgery. I love reading this kind of thing and since I didn’t get a chance to ask all of the questions I wanted at my post-op, I was looking forward to seeing this report. The most interesting part to me was the discovery of what kind of fibroid I had – submucosal.
Fibroids are described by the location in which they are found. There are several types including: subserosal, intramural, and of course, submucosal. So, what exactly does submucosal mean? I look to my favourite hysterectomy resource, “The Essential Guide to Hysterectomy”, for an answer.
You will find these fibroids like to hang out in the layer closest to the uterine wall cavity. They can stay small or fill the entire uterine cavity. Apparently, given where mine was, it took up a large portion of my uterus – fun. According to the book, “submucosal fibroids cause more trouble than any other type of fibroid (p.45)”. Yep, you won’t hear any arguments from me on that point! According to this website, submucosal fibroids are rare, comprising only 5% of all uterine fibroids. Sure, when my chances are tiny of winning a lottery, I never win, but when my chances are low of getting a rare, troublesome type of fibroid, I “win” – lucky me! Oh well, at least my surgeon showed that pesky little fibroid who’s boss!
Until approximately two years ago, the word uterus rarely, if ever, made it into my vocabulary. Starting about two years ago though, with the onset of some crazy menstrual changes, ‘uterus’ crept into my vocabulary a little more often. However, since my hysterectomy surgery, I have never uttered that word so often. Seriously, a conversation now doesn’t seem complete without some discussion of it! I don’t doubt that as memories of my surgery fade, that this word will once again recede in its useage. Until then however, I will continue blogging about such topics.
Here is an interesting ‘call for proposals’ on that particular subject, called “The Exquisite Uterus”. Now, I definitely wasn’t feeling that my uterus deserved such a title prior to it’s recent removal, however, the project wants you to reflect on such a topic and the current state of women’s reproductive health issues, especially in the USA. I don’t want to get too political on this blog, but as a Canadian I have watched in amazement as women’s rights to make decisions about her reproductive system has deterioted greatly in the last several years, south of the border. If you haven’t thought about these issues lately, perhaps this project just may urge you to do so!
A post-operation update from one of the blogs I follow. I love the photo of the heart-shaped dressings! There are also some good pre- and post-op tips. Enjoy!
Aug 2: 1pm Surgery, 3pm Recovery Room, 6pm Home.
I was calm, relaxed and felt totally confident about being in capable hands. I attribute some of that to the Successful Surgery meditation CD I listened to every night before I went to bed for the past 10 days and the first few mornings in addition before the surgery. Jeff was joking around with the nurses, my oncologist checked in and it was an atmosphere of positive energy.
I left the prep room immediately after they administered my first sleeping cocktail of anesthesia. I was out before we hit the hallway, just a couple of feet! My next memory is waking up in recovery groggy and with some discomfort, mainly from the removal of the catheter and the gas bloating from the air they fill your abdomen to see and separate the organs. My legs felt restless and I couldn’t…
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I had not really heard much about fibroids prior to being diagnosed with one and having an emergency hysterectomy 4 days after that! Seriously, I either spent most of my time in high school health classes completely zoned out, or women’s health issues just aren’t discussed much (even though about a third of women have fibroids!). Since my surgery, I have been trying to learn more about fibroids. I actually only had one and it was not overly large, sizing in at 3cm. However, given its placement, it caused lots of problems. That’s the funny thing about fibroids…it’s difficult to predict how any one fibroid will impact any given woman. Some women have many fibroids and have no issues whatsoever. Others, such as yours truly, can have one fairly small one and feel like she’s bleeding to death. Since I am not a medical expert, I thought I would share with you some information from the Hysterectomy Association in the UK. They are a great resource for some of the more technical aspects on these issues. Here’s some information from their site:
“A fibroid is a benign tumour of the uterus and they will often appear either within the muscular wall of the uterus or on the outside of the wall. It is thought that around 30% of all hysterectomies performed in the United States are due to fibroids.
It is not known what causes fibroids, although it is known that they are related to the production of estrogen, although there are no clear studies showing that women who have fibroids have higher than average levels of estrogen. It is known that, as with endometriosis, they will usually shrink following the menopause.
The rate at which they grow depends on individual women, they can be very small or the size of a melon and the size can bear no resemblance to the severity of the symptoms experienced. but you may have had. You may also experience problems with your bladder if the fibroid presses on it. Finally you may also find that sex is painful.
Fibroids may also interfere with conception if they protrude into the uterus. They may also be a cause of premature births if they are taking up to much room within the uterus. Both of these instances only happen rarely.
It is estimated that between 25 – 35% of all women will have fibroids in varying sizes.
The Center for Uterine Fibroids based at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts is conducting a study to determine if there is a genetic link to fibroids. They are looking for women with fibroids who have close female relatives who also have the condition. If you are interested in taking part follow the link below.
- heavy or prolonged bleeding particularly if the fibroid is growing underneath the lining of the uterus as this increases the surface area of the uterus
- spotting between periods
- awareness of fullness or pressure in the abdomen
- increase in urinary frequency or stress incontinence
- constipation, if the fibroids are pressing on the rectum
- swelling of the abdomen
- pain in the abdomen if the blood supply to the fibroid is reduced which results in it dying off (usually due to a speedy growth)
- sudden, severe pain if a fibroid on a stalk (a pendiculate fibroid) twists causing the blood supply to stop.
What Treatment is Available?
Observation may be recommended where the fibroids present no symptoms to the woman and if they appear to be growing slowly.
Drug therapies such as Synarel, which are also used in the treatment of endometriosis, may be used to shrink a large fibroid to a size where surgery can be performed to remove the fibroid without damaging the uterus beyond repair. They are also particularly useful where there is very heavy bleeding as they create an artificial menopause and bleeding is stopped. A Potential side effects of these drugs is the menopausal symptoms that you may experience.
Find out more at their website!