What to Expect After a Hysterectomy: My Personal Journey

The writer one month after her hysterectomy

My 10-year journey towards a hysterectomy came to an end five months ago.

My uterus—besieged by fibroids for over a decade—finally gave up, and I gave in to the reality that only surgery could fix things. While I managed to postpone the inevitable for years, the growths finally reached a mass that caused extreme discomfort. (I called those pesky ‘roids Freddie and his five friends.) I would wake up in the morning and feel like I had a bowling ball in my stomach. Because it hurt to lay on my stomach, these bad boys were totally killing my “locust pose” yoga game. My clothes had stopped fitting, too, and let me tell you: I had no interest in shopping in the maternity section. I knew it was time to say goodbye to Freddie and his buds.

The decision to have surgery did not come lightly. In fact, part of me felt defeated, because having to acknowledge that I had no control over what was happening to my body was always a “worst-case” scenario. I’d tried my hardest to avoid the knife, including a $15,000 out-of-pocket procedure called MRI Guided Ultrasound Therapy. While this resulted in some reduction in overall mass, it was not enough to halt the growth and prevent surgery.

Although I’m always seeking natural remedies, I am by no means opposed to medication and surgery when considered with other options. I also trust my doctors. Which is why the words of my primary physician, Dr. Leroy Charles, uttered during an appointment in December, hit me hard: “You really need to consider having a hysterectomy as the fibroids will continue to grow and lead to major problems including organ displacement and potentially emergency surgery.”

I scheduled my surgery that day, and spent the next three months preparing myself to ensure the best possible outcome.

Dr. Leroy Charles

I have never had a major surgery before and knew it was important to invest time and energy into entering as healthy as possible. I committed to becoming as well as possible. I elevated all my internal vitamin levels, balanced my hormones using bioidentical hormone therapy, and exercised regularly. Just prior to surgery, I went on a very clean diet to clear out extra inflammation and, as perk, lost almost 10 pounds. The closer the surgery got, the more nervous I became as I was completely afraid of having all my sexual organs removed and facing a full caesarean-type abdominal scar. I hoped for laparoscopic, which is much less invasive, but was doubtful based on the overall size of the removal.

My surgery began at 8 o’clock in the morning, and at just past 11 I woke up in the recovery room. My first question to the nurse: ”Was he able to do it laparoscopically?” She said the most amazing thing ever to grace the ears of a recently awakened, doped up surgical patient: ”Yes.”

The writer the day of her surgery

My heart lifted because I knew then the effort I had placed on taking care of myself prior to surgery would carry me through the ensuing days and weeks of recovery. Dr. Charles stopped by my bed a little while later and I said, ”You had your work cut out for you didn’t you?”

He looked me right in the eye and said, “I removed a mass in total that was as big as my head.”

My response went something like, “Holy crap! You truly are an angel.”

“This is what I do,” he told me with a smile. “It’s my passion.”

There are not many surgeons willing to take the time and care to do a less invasive surgery, when the easy route would be to cut open my abdomen and do a full removal that way. By 1 o’clock that afternoon, they discharged me and I went home—minus my uterus, fallopian tubes and cervix, and about 3 to 4 pounds of fibroids. Crazy!

I am five months post-op as I wrote this, and overall I only have good news to share….

  • I feel lighter and brighter, as if a heavy weight has been removed not only physically, but emotionally as well.
  • Because I was fortunate enough to have laparoscopic surgery, my overall recovery was relatively quick and I have minimal scars.
  • My fears about going through medical menopause have been mitigated by my choice to use bioidentical hormone therapy to keep myself youthful. I continue on a full vitamin regimen to ensure I keep my internal levels balanced.
  • I am now able to run 3 miles without stopping due to pelvic pain and accidental incontinence.
  • I do not for one second miss my monthly cycle and feel younger, not older, as a result of not worrying about it.
  • Oh and my yoga practice…I have never felt stronger and more limber than I do right now. I can do poses on my stomach like the uterus-free bad ass I am.

If you’re suffering from fibroids or any cervical issues and would like advice on your hysterectomy options, feel free to reach out to Dr. Leroy Charles, 4849 Lake Worth Road, Suite 201, Greenacres; 561/264-2055; leroycharlesmd.com.