Well, I had a hysterectomy.
And today, I’m going to talk about it.
Here I am one week post-op.
I’ve been trying to get my thoughts together and well, they’re kind of all over the place. I’ve decided to share my story because I know many of you are considering having one too and perhaps you’re close to my age and don’t have any friends who have had one, so if I can shed some light on my experience and help you, then I’m happy to do it. This post is only going to be about my hysterectomy, I will tackle hormone replacement therapy (something I’ve done for over 6 years now!) later this week as it’s an entirely different animal and deserves its own post.
BUT before I begin, I want to make something so crystal clear, THIS IS ABOUT MY EXPERIENCE ONLY. Friends, I understand my experience was definitely in the “ideal” category. I got to make this decision on my own (with the help of my doctor, of course), on my time and without any other problems happening simultaneously. So many of you are having hysterectomies that are not on your time. You have cancer, you have major medical issues, you did not get to decide the when and the where, you are going through chemo and radiation and this is NOT your plan. I have prayed for you ladies more times than I could count over the last six months. I know that so many of you have had to have this operation to save your life. That is not my story. Please don’t take what I say as downplaying something horrendous for many of you. Just because I had a great experience and recovery does not mean you did because you and I are in two different boats. Okay? I just want to make that clear. My story and your story are very different and from the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry your story has been out of your hands. A friend of mine had her hysterectomy the same week I did because of advanced ovarian cancer, so believe me when I say, I am so sorry and praying for all of you also going through that right now too.
Okay…my story…(Dad, I’m about to talk about my girly parts, please feel free to skip this post and then resume reading my blog tomorrow. Okay? Okay.).
This is lengthy because I feel like you need all of the backstory before we begin…
September 14, 2008…on my way to the hospital to have Kensington. She was born at 2:34 PM the next day 😉 .
Getting here wasn’t super easy because my girly parts have never been my friend so to speak. Over the years, my period came and went sporadically. It wasn’t consistent, wasn’t punctual, wasn’t something I could rely on. I honestly didn’t care much about it and didn’t even really worry about it until I was ready to start having a family. Then, all of a sudden, the fact that it was inconsistent became a problem. I told my OB at the time and he prescribed me meds to make it happen. That didn’t work. It still didn’t happen. At the time, I was a really healthy and active…so whhhhy could I not have a period?
So, this went on for quite some time and as you guys know, I ended up doing fertility drugs and having six IUIs. I got pregnant on my first IUI and then miscarried and had a D&C. After that, I did five more IUIs all which were unsuccessful. After my sixth failed, I stopped trying with drugs and procedures and took a break for my own mental health. Then, on January 16, 2008, the day I was to start the drugs for IVF, I found out I was pregnant with Kensington…
…and then when Kensington was a baby, I “accidentally” got pregnant with Smith.
I got pregnant with Smith when K was like six months old and had only had one period since her birth, so we were once again, really surprised.
The entire time I was pregnant with Smith, I knew he was my last pregnancy. I knew it in my core. I knew it down deep. I knew. Looking back, it would have been so easy to have had my tubes tied during my second c-section, but even though “I knew”, I also didn’t want to make a permanent decision as a hormonal/throwing up/pregnant person that would be really hard (if not impossible) to undo, so I didn’t. That being said, when Smith was about 10 days old, I just knew, knew, knew, KNEW in my gut that I was never to be pregnant again…so Mr. Shull stepped up to the plate and we made things permanent. Now, looking back, I can totally see that it wasn’t just me knowing, it was God firmly closing a door because he had another one ready and waiting to swing right open…
So, over the last ten years since my last pregnancy, not only has my period has been really sporadic, I started getting fibroids too. Um, nothing in my life has driven me closer to insanity than fibroids. There was one Sunday at church were I literally thought I was going mad. The bleeding would not stop. I mean…WOULD NOT. It was making me panic and get all sorts of nutty.
So, fast-forward to this past September…my beloved (and by beloved, I mean BELOVED OBGYN) stopped practicing OBGYN stuff a few years after I had Smith and it totally crushed me and broke my heart (ha! because a girl needs an OB she loves!!), so when I went to visit him and his wife about something else, we started talking all things OBGYN and I told him about my problems and he seemed concerned. Of course my new-ish OB (the one I started seeing after he stopped doing OBGYN) knew about these problems too and was concerned but he seemed more concerned. I told him that we had discussed having a hysterectomy and he was very much on board with that idea too. He told me though that in his professional opinion, not all hysterectomies were the same (different technology, different methods and different techniques) and that some OBs just do it much better than others, so he said to get an additional opinion before I made my decision. So, I ended up visiting with other OBs and found one that wasn’t mine so to speak but I felt very comfortable and confident with his method and results with this type of surgery. I also just really liked him as a person. He spent so much time with me when I would come in, really put my mind at ease and always made me feel like he had all the time in the world to answer my questions. At my first appointment, he confirmed that yeah, my girl parts were a mess. Not only were the fibroids and irregular periods a problem, but my uterus was legit in the wrong place, and I swear, when he went looking for my right ovary, it felt like he found it in my leg. It was NOT where it should have been plus, he said I had a ton of scar tissue inside as well clinging to everything from my reproductive organs to other major organs nearby. He wanted all of that removed too.
When it came time to decide what reproductive organs I would have removed, I made the decision to remove it all. I just didn’t want to ever think about or worry about getting some other form of cancer (like ovarian) when my doctor had just been there to remove my uterus. I know this is a super hard decision for many women, but honestly for me, it felt very easy. I already do (and love!) hormone replacement therapy, so I wasn’t scared about needing to do that the rest of my life. I actually felt very relieved to know they were going in there one time to take it all. So, that’s what we decided. I would have a robotic hysterectomy and remove everything.
If you would have handed me a calendar and said “what week do you NOT want to have major surgery” I would have circled the week of December 6 because…K had a volleyball tournament, we had the school’s annual Christmas caroling, the kids’ Christmas choir concert, dance rehearsal and recital for three girls, McKinney’s light parade and pics with Santa. NOT THAT WEEK. But, that really was the best week for his schedule and then also mine when you factored in trips. I missed out on skiing, but if I would have waited until January instead, that would have messed up spring break. If I waited until after spring break, that would have messed up the beginning of summer and so on. Basically, as a mom, there really isn’t ever an ideal time to be down…so, we just made it work.
Here we are!! (This was like legit the only pic I had. Sigh. Ha!)
On Friday, December 6th, we dropped the kids off at school and headed to the hospital for my surgery. My check-in time was at 10:30 for my surgery to begin at 12:30. My sweet parents were there and waited with Andrew. I was having a complete hysterectomy…and the actual surgery part was only going to last a whopping 20 minutes. Yup. It didn’t take long at all. They put me under, took me back and bam. All done.
After I woke up in recovery, they took me off to a private room to spend the night and my girlfriends all were texting me to check on me. I sent them this pic…
…that’s it. Four tiny little incisions and it was over.
The next morning, I was feeling really well! I ate, I was drinking and going to the bathroom, and I got up and walked and was ready to head home. I even walked out the door on my own. I headed home and slept and then walked a mile that day. The next day, I walked another mile. The doctor and nurses kept saying that the more I got up and walked, the better I would feel and you know what? I felt really great!
I spent most of the week in this position here. I would get up, walk around the house, go for a walk (Andrew and Erika were so sweet to walk with me!) and then rest some more.
On Tuesday, Erika picked me up and took me to Target to get a few things and then I rested until it was time to go watch our teachers carol.
On Wednesday, I stayed home and took it easy and then we decided…
…to do Jammy Cocoa Christmas that night.
On Thursday, Erika picked me up again for errands and then that night, our kids had their school Christmas choir concert. On Friday, Erika (who I should now refer to as the best friend a girl could EVER ask for!) picked me up and took me to the mall for the kids’ concert and field trip. I would rest at home and then do something and then rest some more.
This was me on Saturday night (one week and one day post-op!) at the Light Parade. Really and truly, other than feeling really swollen and bloated in my mid-section and sore, I was doing great.
Here I am on December 15th. I was really pleased with how small the incisions were, and how minimally invasive it felt.
By my two week check up, he thought I was doing fantastic and healing great. By four weeks, I was able to resume light workouts and by six weeks, I was completely back to normal.
Here are a few other random thoughts and bits of info:
1: I came home on pain medication but after the first day, I wasn’t taking anything more than regular Tylenol. I was very sore but not in actual pain.
2: I didn’t always want to get up and walk, but it really did make me feel better.
3: I couldn’t lift anything heavy for 6 week, so that meant, no picking up Madeley. That part was hard because I’m so used to just scooping her up all day long, but for that period of time, I didn’t pick her up.
4: The hardest part for me was lying down. I would do fine sitting up, but lying down to go to sleep (in the flat position) always used my stomach muscles and that hurt. Then, sitting back up was hard too. I would always think I was doing fantastic until I tried to lie down or sit up. I would say that it went mostly away by the 2 week mark but didn’t completely go away until 4 weeks.
5: Sneezing was just the WORST! Anytime I thought I was going to sneeze, I braced myself for the worst pain EVER. Ha! That subsided completely by four weeks too.
Here I am, 2 months post-hysterectomy and feeling fantastic!!! Honestly, I feel amazing! I am so thankful that I did it when I did it, and I’m thankful that I took the time to find the right doctor for me. There were moments leading up to the surgery when I wondered if I was doing the right thing or not, but all of the women I know who had had one before me kept saying the same thing “best decision ever” and now, on this side, I couldn’t agree more.
Later this week, I’ll share my new HRT with you guys and then, I will do a post where I answer all the questions you might have in one place so that’s it’s consolidated.
Thank YOU for being so sweet to me as I recovered! You guys cheered me on, encouraged me and loved on me over the holidays and for that, I’m forever grateful. xo