The following is a compilation of things that I’ve learned through this whole hysterectomy process.
1. Rhubarb extract is a life-altering gift, and in our house, to ensure temperature stability (and therefore the sanity of the household), it is a firmly established mainstay.
2. There is no shame in wearing elastic waistbands IF THEY ARE HIDDEN well under a baggy yet stylish top.
3. I am still reeling from the realization that there seems to be a Secret Spandex Society which is only growing exponentially in numbers locally. Maybe it’s my upbringing from the Eighties, but I keep fighting back the urge to ask, “Oh sweetie, did you forget the skirt you had laid out to go over that?” [Sidenote: when exactly did fur lined boots get paired with yoga pants? Seriously, I am curious and have NO intention to be mean or offend…I am simply confused about when these styles became all the rage.] I digress…
4. When everyone says “You will be laid up, flat; for 4-6 weeks or more”. THEY AIN’T LYING.
5. Seriously, assemble a collection of movies next to your bed BEFORE surgery. Trust me, you’ll need them for the days when you are awake but are somehow too exhausted to move.
6. Get used to having people come visit you and keep outings to a BARE minimum. It’s a few weeks of your life…not the end of all social life as you know it.
7. Expect lots of sleep.
8. Ask questions until you have none left. I did, and I knew everything that I needed to know as I went in for surgery…all the details, including what my insides would look like. There’s no shame in finding out what is being done to the body you will inhabit until death.
9. Microwaveable rice heating pads are the best recovery tool ever invented. I packed mine in the hospital bag, and since moist heat helps draw out gas and discomfort, it was constantly being reheated by the nurses for me. It made a vast difference! (For my surgery, they had to fill my body with gas so that they could see my organs clearer. Post-surgery, the gas tries to escape through your shoulders and lower back. Honestly, it does, and it’s horribly painful. The heat pack worked amazingly well!) My Pinterest Board: Hysterectomy Fashion and tips has some images of ways to sew your own (www.pinterest.com/graciekharold).
10. Gas-X(R) is your friend. Buy it in bulk before surgery.
11. Frozen dinners for 1 are your other best friend…even young children can microwave a meal for you. Additionally, after everyone stops staying with you during the day, there will be fatigued days when you really just want a warm meal in 2 minutes, without having to lift out the items from the fridge.
12. Granny Panties do have a practical use. I was skeptical as well, but I am glad that I listened.
13. There is no shame in asking others to help (this from the bull-headed woman who insisted on putting on her own socks and promptly took half that day and the next to sleep off the pain). Learn to ask for help.
14. As my Dr. said, “Outercourse is okay while you heal, Intercourse is not.” Creativity is good, and can be fun. If it hurts, don’t do it. If it causes strain on your incisions, DON’T DO IT. Prolonging recovery time in the name of instant gratification is simply not wise. Take care of your body…it’s the only one you’re going to get.
15. Be gentle with yourself. Pamper yourself wherever possible. Wear perfume with your pajamas, brush your teeth, put on lipstick that matches your slippers. Have a friend paint your nails, you get the idea.
16. The lifting restrictions and bending restrictions? They know what they are talking about. Seriously, experience taught me quickly that twisting and or bending to get the laptop off the floor really HURTS. My surgeon gave me a great rule: “If you start to get a pain or a spasm, or if you’re exhausted, you are doing too much.”
17. Random odd thing we learned: if you have ever learned to sing and breathe from your stomach/diaphragm…prepare to take a short hiatus from singing full-throttle until you have healed a bit. **Lesson learned after two weeks of utter exhaustion and near-collapse following church services where I joined the congregational singing…oops.**
18. Relax and give yourself permission ahead of time. You will need at least a week of being in the house and sleeping.
19. Have a friend arrange meals for at least the first 10 weekdays following surgery. Trust me, you’ll need it.
20. Have comfortable clothes in varying sizes in a drawer that doesn’t require bending or reaching. Bloating is an unfortunate side effect, but moving forward in health is the best reward.
I can’t believe how much better I feel already. Yes, I’m tired, but it’s a healthy tired. It’s a healing tired. I am so glad that we went through with this.
Oh, and last but not least: Chocolate always helps promote healing 😉