Recovering From My Hysterectomy
In June of 2016, I flew to Atlanta, Georgia to go to The Center For Endometriosis Care. It was with surgeon Ken Sinervo that I was scheduled to have a hysterectomy and wide excision surgery on the morning of June 29th. The night before I hardly slept, and once it was time to head over to the hospital, I felt just as ready as I felt terrified. The nurses loaded me up on anxiety medication, slipped on cute yellow socks over my feet, and then put matching aluminum foil-looking booties and hair net cap on me. My last few minutes with my uterus were spent looking like an alien and feeling as if everything was okay in that moment (thanks to the medication). I said goodbye to my family and it was time to be rolled into the room. My surgeon held my hand as the anesthesia put me to sleep, and when I woke up, I was begging a nurse for ice chips.
The recovery itself started off really well. They told my family everything was successful and that my uterus tested positive for adenomyosis (even though it was already suspected). They left behind my ovaries, as I requested, because I didn’t want to go into menopause at the age of 24. Within a few days, I was discharged and spent the next couple days sleeping almost constantly in the hotel bed. It was incredibly painful, unlike anything I had ever experienced, but thankfully, each day I did notice an improvement. Exactly a week from the day my family and I arrived in Atlanta, we flew back home. I don’t remember too much about the flight home, but before I knew it, I was back in my own bed resting, sleeping more than I ever have, and feeling anxious to recover. My day-to-day consisted of sleeping until meds were due, eating a light snack, getting half way through a movie, and then falling right back to sleep. To be honest, that week is definitely the blurriest part of my recovery. It really wasn’t until the second week that I started to feel like myself.
By the second week, I was able to use the stairs in my house and could stay awake all day without needing a nap. Things almost felt like they were going too smooth, but I also had a history of post-operative complications, so I felt grateful things were continuing to improve each day. I was taking less medication through the week and finally got my appetite back.
Then a few days into my third week, I went downstairs to get coffee and noticed a weird smell. The smell was coming from my own skin, which was confusing. It was sweet and almost floral, but most of all it was a completely foreign smell. I went to climb back into bed with my coffee and grabbed my laptop to do some research because I was confident it was connected in some way to my surgery. I stumbled upon all these websites talking about menopause and estrogen levels creating changes in body odor. I instantly reached out to my friends who had hysterectomies too. Those who removed their ovaries had experienced menopause, but it was only a small amount of women I spoke to who kept their ovaries that experienced symptoms like I was having.
The next week was miserable, as my symptoms didn't seem to be going anywhere. I still smelt strange, my skin was clammy and hot, my temperatures were changing like crazy, my legs were throbbing, and I felt as if I wasn’t recovering anymore. I began to get depressed, panicked that I’d be stuck like this forever. And though my pain levels were still so low, I couldn’t help but wonder what I had done to my body. Though it was only a few weeks, it felt like eternity. I felt glued to blankets that would end up sticking to my skin and I'd have to tear them off. I felt gross, sore, and frustrated. Thankfully, with the support of my hysterectomy community, I learned that sometimes your ovaries can go into shock, or sometimes your hormones just get imbalanced from the surgery itself. I emailed my OBGYN and got in immediately to find out what was happening with my hormone levels.
By the time I got the results, it had been two weeks since I first noticed the smell, and thankfully, it was gone along with all the other hormonal symptoms. The results said my estrogen levels were pretty normal, so I still don’t know if this was caused by the ovaries going into shock or my body just needed time to adjust to not having a uterus. Either way, it felt great to feel balanced again. I was back to feeling like myself, even with my minor hormonal set back. At six weeks post-op, I was feeling good and now that my pain was so minimal, I was finally able to really start getting back out into the world. The more I got out, the more I noticed my body would get sore (more than before surgery when it came to walking a far distance or doing yoga), but within months, that went away as well.
As I reflect back on my surgery, it still baffles me that I flew states away and removed my uterus, while getting extensive amounts of endometriosis cut out of me, and somehow made it back home exactly a week later. It all happened so quickly and yet so slowly. It was like riding a roller coaster that you get on and off of, and then on and off again. Thankfully, the ride does end and if I had to go back, I’d do it all over again. I will always highly recommend The CEC because they completely changed my life and the care in the hospital was impeccable. Surgery recoveries can be terrifying, the unknown of what could happen, and not having the control over any of it. Going into some sort of menopausal state was my worst fear going into this surgery and I thought I was doing everything to prevent it. But again, we can’t prevent the unknown, but we can definitely survive it. The simple fact that I survived the recovery has built so much strength in the core of my being and for that, I’m grateful to all the ups and downs I had to endure.
Do you live with any other health conditions outside of endometriosis?