Hearing the news that you need a hysterectomy leaves you reeling. It might not seem like a major operation to some, but it is; it affects you not only physically, but emotionally as well. No matter how hard you try, you worry about the surgery, are upset with your situation, and have unanswered questions. Having to hear "everything will be fine" just doesn't cut it. To make the surgery and recovery time as easy as possible, prepare yourself for the surgery.
1- Understand. Hysterectomy is generally thought of as a last resort treatment for those who suffer from various uterine problems. Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow in and around the uterus causing extreme pain, bleeding problems, and infertility. Endometriosis is the growth of the uterine lining outside of the uterus that can also cause infertility, excessive bleeding, and pain.
2- Learn. Depending on your particular situation, there are three different ways your Obstetrician can perform a hysterectomy. A vaginal hysterectomy involves the removal of the organs and cervix through your vagina. You are often released the same day, will have no apparent scars, and the recovery period is relatively short. A laparoscopic hysterectomy involves 3-4 small incisions below your belly button and in your abdomen. Then, you stomach is inflated with gas and a small lighted camera and tools are inserted into your stomach. This method also has a relatively short recovery and your hospital stay after the surgery is only a few hours. An abdominal hysterectomy is an operation involving a large incision along the bikini line. Recovery lasts for six to eight weeks and requires a few days in the hospital. A cervical cancer hysterectomy is generally done using this method.
3- Prepare. Have a talk with your family to explain the situation and what to expect when you arrive home. So you are not tempted when you get home, clean your house and make some meals ahead. Setting up a recovery station by moving the things you use most often so that you don't have to reach too far or bend over. The day before the hysterectomy, you will need to prepare yourself for the surgery. Pack a bag to take with you that includes items such as loose fitting clothing, slip on shoes, sanitary pads, and a list of medications you are taking. You also want to be sure to leave any jewelry, money, and other unnecessary belongings at home. Your doctor will ask that you have nothing to eat or drink for several hours before the surgery and that you have an enema, a shower the night before. You will need to remove any lotion, jewelry, and nail polish as well. You might also be asked to put on anti-emulsion stocking prior to and after the surgery.
4- Recover. After the surgery, you will be given pain medications and given a light diet to help get your digestive system going again. Lifting will also be out of the question for the first while after the hysterectomy. Depression is also possible during hysterectomy recovery. You will have to avoid sexual relations and using feminine cleansing products for six to eight weeks as well. Standing, walking, and deep breathing are also recommended for a successful and speedy hysterectomy recovery.
5- Relax. Worrying and stressing yourself out will not help you. In fact, it can make the entire situation harder on you. You don't have to do everything on your own so be sure to ask for help. Don't be afraid to talk about your feelings with a friend, spouse, or even the medical staff. Almost everyone gets worried and apprehensive while lying down on the operating table. Lastly, take a deep breath. Several support groups and forums out there can connect you with others who have been in your situation. These groups will also be able to answer many of your questions and are willing to share their experiences.
A hysterectomy is tough on you physically and emotionally. Asking lots of questions and being informed of the situation is the best way to prepare for your surgery. It is a difficult and stressful situation, but in no time you will be up and about feeling better than ever.