My little tips for a smooth hysterectomy

I am now 5 days post surgery. Friday morning, I had an abdominal subtotal hysterectomy. I have kept my ovaries and my cervix. Two hours prior to surgery, my consultant told me that he would also be performing a bilateral salpingectomy to “avoid complications”. At the time I did not care, but I have looked it up since then and I had not even realised that you could have an ectopic pregnancy after a hysterectomy.

During my pre-op time, I spent a lot of time online and the wealth of information I found really helped me get over my anxiety. I am just going to put bits of my experience out there in the hope that it may help someone. The background is quite simple: I am a 37 year-old, married woman with no children. I have a history of fibroids and had a myomectomy in September 2013.

Before the surgery

  • Make an appointment at the GP. You will need to see a nurse week after your surgery to remove your stitches. You also need to see your GP to get your note for work.
  • Join Facebook groups, read blogs. It will help make you feel better. Everyone is different but you are bound to find some information helpful.
  • Practise your exercises. Before being admitted to hospital, I attended a Pain Management Training (it was the same before my myomectomy). These sessions are the best! They last about 3 hours. During that time, the dietitian, the physio, a nurse come to talk to you. Among other things, you discuss how to get in/out of bed, breathing exercises, pelvic floor exercises,etc. I think you definitely need to practise how to get out of bed without twisting your midsection.
  • Organise your helpYou need to have someone with you for at least, the first 2-3 days after getting home. That is a bare minimum; have someone with you for as long as possible. My mum is staying with us for another 2 weeks and I feel very lucky to have her. If you can’t have someone, then I’m afraid you’ll have to plan carefully (cook in advance, do your food shopping). Sorting out how to get home from the hospital can be a last minute thing so I wouldn’t worry.
  • Pack smart. Quite frankly, I did not need the things I packed. I took 2 pyjamas, 2 magazines,my Kindle, a notebook, underwear, pads, toiletries, socks in case the hospital was cold, snacks, a towel, my phone charger. I could have done with less than half of that. At the hospital (Whittington, London, NHS), I was given a towel and wore the hospital gowns I was provided with, everyday. I did not need any of the things in my bag. The one I think you need to pack is a good moisturiser and an excellent lip balm. The air at the hospital is so dry that I’m pretty sure I left that place with wrinkles.
  • Read about homeopathy. I have been taking Nux Vomica to fight nausea for about 20 years. It really works for me and I used it after the surgery. Just sayin’
  • Poop. Yup. Poop. Just make sure you do the morning of the surgery, it will make the following days more bearable.

When in hospital

  • Speak up. If anything feels off, if you’re in pain, if you have any questions, make sure you ask. I was my surgeon’s second hysterectomy that morning. It’s a routine surgery for them and a life-changing event for us. Do not feel bad for wanting to know what’s happening or for asking for help.
  • Don’t let the pain settle. After my myomectomy, I woke up with virtually no pain. After the hysterectomy, I felt like I had been hit by a bus. If you’re in too much pain, then you need more painkillers. Ask.
  • Get up as soon as possibleI got up the next morning. I wanted to get out of bed the evening following the surgery but I was so light-headed that I stayed in bed. I still moved my feet and bent my legs to avoid clotting. Try your best to get out of bed. You will find it very glam to carry your catheter around.
  • Drink upWater is always the way to go and it will help you eliminate.
  • Don’t expect to rest much. Hospitals are very noisy and I have to say that I have always had the strangest people in my ward, every time I was admitted. It will be loud, some people will be rude to staff, rude to you. The staff is overworked. It’s not a restaurant, it’s not a spa.You will find yourself on edge and wired most of the time but don’t worry, you’ll soon go home. 
  • Have a shower. Having a shower always leaves me feeling great. I asked if I could shower the day after surgery and I was given the green light (the dressing was waterproof). Instant invigoration.
  • Get over yourself. I have been looked after by the same consultant for the past 3 years. I saw him on the morning of my surgery and just when I woke up. However, I reverted to feeling like a 5 year-old because I only saw the junior doctors during my hospital stay and however stupid it sounds, I could not help feeling that sense of abandonment. Now that I think about it, yeah, really get over yourself!

Back home

  • Keep an eye on what you eat. There is nothing more comforting than staying in bed with hot drinks and chocolate biscuits. Well, for me, anyway. Dangerous slope…
  • Document your journey. You never now who it might help.It’s also empowering to look back and think “made it!”
  • Brace yourself for that first poop. It’s something else. Breathe, relax.
  • Keep a pillow handy. You will need the pillow against your stomach in the car, when you laugh, when you cough,sneeze,etc.

I can’t think of anything else for the time being. I really hope this helps someone somehow.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Many,everywhere!

Still documenting my journey with fibroids for women like me who run to forums and blogs the second a doctor tells them there is something wrong. Before my myomectomy (2013), I read all sorts of testimonies and went to loads of forums. I have to say that it did make me feel better and more informed in terms of what doctors cannot really tell you ie. how you will actually feel (both physically and morally),how to organise some practical aspects of your life during your recovery, etc.

Yesterday, I went to the hospital to get my pelvic MRI done. I never had an MRI before and did not really know what to expect. Everything went much better than I thought: the noise was not that loud, yes it feels like a coffin but I closed my eyes so it did not really make a difference. My nurse was amazing! I went in the machine (donut) the first time for about 20 minutes. When I came out, the nurse said, “give us a few minutes, the doctor will have to take a look at the images”. When he came back I asked what the doctor saw and my nurse replied “Fibroids”. I asked, “How many” and he replied,”Many. Everywhere!” while making a sweeping motion with his arm. At that stage I said “But my scan showed 5 fibroids!”. He said “definitely more than 5”. Then, he probably noticed my face and said, “don’t worry about it. Most women over 30 have loads and don’t even know about it.” I asked him if he thought that they could be removed and shared with him that I feared having a hysterectomy.He smiled and said “of course, this  is not a bad scan and your file says that you’re here in preparation for fertility-preserving surgery. I am not a doctor but I doubt they’ll do a hysterectomy”. I have to say that it made me feel a lot better.Especially after seeing quite a few doctors telling me that it is not always beneficial to have a second myomectomy and that they may not be able to save my womb.

The nurse then injected me with a dye and I went back in the donut for about 10 minutes. When I came back out, the nurse said that the image was clearer and that it was actually 5 fibroids and nothing else. (Honestly WTF?!). He told me that I will get a letter for an appointment with the consultant in about three weeks. This is taking sooooo long…

In terms of how I feel, I was on medical leave this week and will also be off work next week. I have never been this tired in my life.  I literally spend my days in bed and I wake up from every nap knackered. I have a review with my GP next week. I will ask for my blood to be checked because I feel that I am probably still quite anaemic. I am still bleeding. I am starting my 3rd month of bleeding next week. I am still hopeful.

 

Courgettes fry-up

Hello!

I had to use stuff  from the back of the fridge a couple of days ago, so I made courgettes and potatoes fried cakes.

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a courgette, potatoes, shallots, onions, emmental cheese, thyme, garlic and eggs.

It was all pretty straight forward. I grated, the courgettes and the potatoes (with the skin, too lazy to peel), chopped the onions and added two eggs,  fistful of grated cheese and 4 tablespoons of flour. I seasoned the mixture with salt, chilies, pepper, garlic.

 

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I fried the cakes in my usual grapeseed oil and we had them with some salad and grilled chicken. Very sober lunch. Haha!

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Black eyed beans

Made black eyed beans for the first time today! And…I used the pressure cooker! On a side note, I’ve been terrified of it since it exploded in our kitchen a couple of years ago (the ceiling is still lightly stained). This time, everything went very well. No casualties.

I decided to try a one-pot-dish with black eyed beans and chorizo.

I did not soak the beans overnight (not sure I had to) so I just rinsed them in cold water.

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I added, two chopped onion, two chilies, 3 cloves of garlic, cloves and bay leaves.

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I then added the chopped chorizo, orange and green peppers, thyme, chopped tomatoes and potatoes.

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I left everything to cook in the pressure cooker for 50 minutes.

Not blowing my own trumpet but it was delicious!

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Court-bouillon de morue

Yesterday, I made a dish quite common on my island (Guadeloupe) called “court-bouillon de morue”. It’s a bit like a salt fish stew.

I first brought the salt fish to the boil twice (changed the water in between) to desalt it and shredded it.

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I added two chopped onions, a shallot, cloves, bay leaves, thyme , the salt fish and sweet chilies to a pan.

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I covered the pan and let it all simmer for about 15 minutes before adding my roucou oil, lemon juice and some water.

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We had the court-bouillon with rice and avocado.

 

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They’re back!

It seems like it was only yesterday that I was writing about recovering from my  abdominal myomectomy. Well, it was in September 2013 and, less than 3 years later, my fibroids are back with a vengeance!

I have now been bleeding for 12 weeks straight. I was first referred to the gynaecologist by my GP on April 8th. The gynae clinic did not contact me, and on Monday 9th May, I had a severe bleeding episode at work that ended in me going to A&E at the end of that day. I honestly thought that they would send me away but I was admitted and kept under observation for 3 days. I was transfused three units of blood during that time and was sent home on Thursday 12th. A scan revealed that I have 5 fibroids. The largest is 6.5cm (so considerably smaller than the ones I had 33 years ago). During my hospital stay, I saw many junior doctors but not my consultant. Before leaving, the doctors said that I would receive an appointment letter for an MRI and a second letter later on for an appointment with my consultant.

I was sent home with Tranexamic acid, iron tablets and Provera. I was told that I should take the Provera for 21 days and the Tranexamic for 5 days. The bleeding was supposed to stop. It did not.

I kept going with life although I felt exhausted. The bleeding was still heavy. On Thursday 26th May, I experienced something that never happened to me before. I was at work and within literally 10 seconds (no exaggeration) I found myself standing in a pool of my blood. There were no warning signs and nothing that I could have done. I was wearing two pads and they made absolutely no difference. I ended up leaving work in an ambulance (first time for everything,woohoo) and going straight to the local hospital (not the same I had been admitted to before).The amount of blood I lost on that day really panicked me.It was everywhere and it was not stopping. I had to get up for a nurse to take my clothes off and felt dizzy. They decided to keep me overnight and I was transfused with a further 3 units of blood (so a total of 6 over a period of  3 weeks). Before discharging me, they also doubled all the dosage of my medicines and extended my treatment. I have an appointment for my MRI in 3 days.

This whole situation has created a real emotional roller-coaster. I had doctors frowning at me after asking me “Do you have any children?”. I was also told that it is very unlikely that I will undergo another myomectomy as there were complications during my last one. The word “hysterectomy” was mentioned a few times and I was horrified. I am turning 37 in a few months and have been married for less than a year. It has been more difficult than I thought to try to get used to the idea that I might get advised to have a hysterectomy.

Mu husband is being really supportive and said that he has made peace with the possibility that we may not have biological children. I am not too sure what to think.

Salmon lasagna

I love salmon. Always have.  Annoyingly, my other half hates everything I like (except chocolate). I’ve decided to be selfish today and make something that makes me happy: smoked salmon lasagna.
I put in a pan 2 onions, parsley, mushrooms, 3 tomatoes,2 fistfuls of baby spinach, 2 spring onions, garlic powder, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I added the salmon 5 minutes later, when the mushrooms had started cooking. 

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After everything reduced a bit, I added some crème fraîche.

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I’m not a fan of lasagna but that’s what I fancied today and I happened to have everything I needed.
I have to say, it tasted really nice.

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Court-bouillon de poisson

This week, I found some parrot fish! It’s my favourite fish but it’s not that common here. This is going to sound silly but it’s both flaky and firm and really reminds me of home (Guadeloupe).
I decided to give court-bouillon another try. It’s one of my favourite local dishes and I have tried to make it twice but felt disappointed both times.
I know I shouldn’t, but I use my deep pan for everything!
I cut lots of tomatoes, a whole garlic (in small pieces), an onion, bay leaves, thyme and about 3 spring onions. I added salt, pepper and an uncut scotch bonnet pepper.

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I covered the pan and left it all to reduce with a bit of sunflower oil. To add colour, I poured in some “roucou” oil.

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The day before, I seasoned my fish. I tried to do it like my mum : covered the fish in lime juice, rubbed lime inside and outside of it and left it to soak in water, salt, lime juice and a touch of pepper. I left it in a bowl in the fridge for a day.
I placed my seasoned fish on top of the reduced tomatoes, etc and covered  the pan.

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I did not check how long it took but I switched it off once the fish was cooked.

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I had my fish with rice and kidney beans. Although it was still not as good as my mums, I loved it. It’s the ultimate comfort food for me.

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Dombrés

We had my future sister-in-law with us the whole week. She went back to France this morning.
Yesterday was her birthday which was also her first real Halloween. She wanted to eat something guadeloupean to remind her of home. I made her some dombrés with prawns. I made them before with kidney beans and lardons and posted it here.
I first put my lardons in a pan to fry. I like them pretty dry. Then,  added the prawns.

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When everything had coloured nicely, I incorporated onions, garlic, lime, thyme, salt, pepper , bay leaves,  a pepper (everytime I say “pepper”  now,  I’ve got that stupid “things are getting too spicy for the pepper! ” Francine voice from “American Dad”. Pfff…)
When the onions had softened, I added 2 tins of tomatoes and water to fill up my pot (it took about 4 tea cups).
When the water started boiling, I added the dumplings. They’re made of flour, water and salt. No oil this time.

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I left the whole thing to boil, reduce and thicken for about 40mn.

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I have to say, it was really nice.

Another summer gone.

So much has happened since the last time I wrote.
On the myomectomy front, nearly a year post-surgery, I was told by my doctor that the pain I have been experiencing is due to abdominal adhesion. There is not much that they can do as the surgery to repair the issue will create more adhesion. The surgeon told me that I will just have to take painkillers when in pain. Weirdly, I feel much better now that I know what the problem is. I only wish I had been informed beforehand of the likelihood of this happening. Some of my fibroids have also already returned but I do not want to think about that.
My scar has also changed and is now a keloid scar. 4-5 months after the surgery, it kind of “opened” and puffed up. I was offered plastic surgery on the NHS but was warned that my skin may create another keloid scar after the corrective surgery. There is no point in having it done.
On a more positive note, I got engaged in April. We went on a “let’s do absolutely nothing” holiday in the Vendée region, in France and he proposed during a hike on the coast there. It was a complete surprise and I burst into tears. We have been together for a very long time and although I was quite happy and at peace with our relationship, I am super excited about our wedding. I hope it does not actually change anything.
Here are a few pictures I took on my engagement day.
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Since January, I have not even tried to get back out running. I was in a lot of pain after exercising and since I did not know the reason behind it, I decided to just give it a rest. Therefore, I did not go to my Easter race.
However, the upcoming wedding is more than motivating. I have joined a gym today and I have signed up for another 10K with my fiancé. I really want to look great in my dress (no idea what it will look like) and feel confident on my special day.