Having a Hysterectomy at 38

So once again, I am going to talk about something distinctly female – girls parts, period pains, PERIODS – PERIODS – PERIODS!!!!!! But I figure, if I went through some stuff that resulted in a a total abdominal hysterectomy at an early age, then if you have found this blog, you are probably facing or are worried about the same type of things. So I am going to tell you what happened to me, how it happened and what it felt like. Sort of…. it was 4 years ago, so this account is to the best of my memory. Here goes…..

Since I was a teenager and little more than a year or two into having periods (I am going to say this word a lot, so shake it off – it’s a thing), I started to get the most horrible period pains. They would start in a mild way the day before I “came on” and then would last throughout the 1st day. I have memories of catching the bus home after work aged 17 and putting my head on the window of the bus whilst trying not to cry from the pain. It just got worse and worse as I got older and I made appointments periodically (no pun intended) with my GP to tell them how bad it was. The trips to the GP were mostly fruitless, I came away with contraceptive pills, painkillers, contraceptive injections and long chats about how it would get better once I had children or got older and the somewhat implied “stop being so soft”.

The thing is though there are 2 things about these solutions, the first one is that yes, I am quite a softy and don’t tolerate pain very well – but that should be irrelevant. How anyone feels pain is relevant to them – my pain score of 2/10 might be 10/10 to Person A and equally 0/10 for Person B. Either way, pain is pain and that is never good. The second thing, is that ALL of the things we tried made nearly no difference, with the slight exception of the contraceptive implant, which stopped my period altogether and made me put on a stone. So that was out too! 

After one trip to the GP, they recommended I have a Mirina Coil fitted, which ended up being an in-patient, 1/2 day thing at my local hospital. This just made things ten times worse. Instead of having 1 period a month, I had 2 and the pain just got worse and worse. I’d had enough of sitting on the couch with a hot water bottle on Christmas day, unable to get giddy and being asleep for most of M’s birthday waiting for my painkillers to kick in. 

in the Autumn of 2010 (Aged 37) I went yet again to the GP as my period pains had become unbearable. I saw a GP who has worked at the surgery for 30 years and was a few weeks from retirement. I am not sure if that had anything to do with it, but she referred me to a special dysmenorrhoea clinic for which she said “do you mind travelling?” and  I said “no” expecting a trip to Yorkshire or Manchester at the very least, but she said there was a consultant that held a specialist clinic in Warrington at the Spire Cheshire Hospital. (25 mins drive)

Yes, that’s right, the Spire is a private hospital, but the clinic was NHS – go figure. I saw a lovey man called Mr Griffiths and was amazing – the first doctor that actually listened to what I was saying. I explained everything that had and was happening to me and he first suggested a D&C, which is sometimes known as a “scrape” and more medically known as Dilation and Curettage. I won’t go into this too much for many reasons, but the important thing in this story, was it definitely didn’t work. 

This picture has nothing to do with this article, but it's a bit heavy going - so hey ho....
This picture has nothing to do with this article, but it’s a bit heavy going – so hey ho….

So I ended up right back in Mr Griffith’s office by May 2011. We chatted and after some discussion we agreed that a hysterectomy would be my best option. However, to make TOTALLY sure, he asked me to go back the next week with M. He sat us both down and explained that it would be permanent, irreversible and we would NEVER be able to have children naturally. He looked us both square in the eye whilst we explained that neither of us had ever wanted children and even though my mum told me I would change my mind when I met the right man – she couldn’t have been more wrong. By this point we had been together almost 8 years and we were 100% sure that there were no children in our future. 

So in the middle of July 2011, I had total abdominal hysterectomy, aged just 38. 

A couple of weeks before the big op, I had to go to the Spire for a pre-op check. This consisted of  nice nurse talking me through the procedure and swobbing the inside of my mouth and my groin to see if I had MRSA (I didn’t). She spent about a hour with me talking me through everything and  this really helped put my mind at ease. 

I was admitted on a Tuesday morning, having been starved from 10:00pm the night before. M came with me and waited until I went down to theatre, at which point he was sent home and the nurses promised to call him when I was done.  To say I was nervous was an understatement, but not for the reason you might think. 

You see, I trust the doctors and so wasn’t really afraid of dying or something going wrong, I was more worried about throwing up. SIDEBAR: I have Emetophobia  which means I have a fear of vomit – don’t like it and definitnenly DON’T do it. So yes, I was worried about throwing up after the surgery or because of the general anaesthetic.  I asked specifically to see the anaesthetist to make sure he gave me anti-sickness drugs. 

I was in surgery for just over and hour and a half and then in recover for another 30-40 minutes. They removed my womb, cervix and uterus, but left my ovaries in tact. This meant that my body didn’t immediately go into the menopause – phew. Upside though, no more cervix, no more cervical smear!!!! Yay!!!! 

When I came around I had a PCA, which is patient controlled analgesia – very cool. This is basically a pump with morphine in it, but before you all get excited or worries, it was cool, but not THAT cool. I could push a button for a hit of morphine every 10 minutes, and when I did push, I would get 5 mg. I didn’t matter if I pushed the button 15 times in 10 minutes, it would only release the drug once every 10 minutes. So there was no chance of me overdosing or getting too off my nut on drugs. It really helped actually, as I had 22 staples across my belly and they bloody hurt! Every time I moved in bed or just moved, it hurt like hell and I had to press my button. 

They kept me on the PCA for 24 hours and I was a little scared of what would happen when the took it off. I needn’t have been. The stopped the morphine but then they gave me suppository of paracetamol and other stuff so I was still quite dosed up. Full disclosure, I did feel quite sick the day after, the day AFTER the surgery, as I’d had so much morphine and then of course when they do the op itself, they rummage around inside you – not good if you think about THAT too much. 

Also, one other thing, is that when I initially woke up, I had quite a big dressing on which came off  when they took the morphine away as Mr Griffith said that fresh air was the best thing to let a large wound heal without infection. I have to say he was right. 

Also the day after the op, they wanted to get me out of bed. This was a very scary though, as it was quite painful to even move. I am not going to lie, it took  2 nurses to get me off the bed and onto the chair and I was only able to sit for just over an hour and then I had to get back in bed. 

But I was in hospital from Tuesday until Saturday and each day I got a little better. However, I wasn’t really able to walk very far as the staples really pulled and so I adopted something akin to a granny shuffle. When I was discharged, I did make one massive error of judgement. I was a little too embarrassed and stubborn to get a wheelchair to go to the car and insisted I was ok to walk. I was SO wrong. 

The furthest I had walked was to the end of the ward and back and the so the walk back to car was almost a step too far. I went slowly, but half way across the car park, I didn’t think I was going to make it as I started to feel a bit dizzy, but thankfully and with a ton of willpower, I made it to the car. Phew. 

The first night at home was tricky as I got over giddy and ate a huge cupcake – cue me up in the night feeling as SICK AS you like. I didn’t get much sleep at all the first week at home as I just couldn’t get comfortable in bed. I couldn’t turn over due to the staples, so I had to sleep on my back. Not ideal. I also got quite tired during the day for the entire time I was off sick (7 weeks) as my whole sleeping pattern was utterly disturbed at first.

However, I was given a strict exercise programme as apparently the sooner you get moving, the sooner you will heal. I had pelvic exercises and then of course the walks. I started off with 1 x 5 minute walk per day  (at a painstakingly slow pace) and slowly but surely moving up to 2 x 10 minute walks per day then a full 20 minute walk.  I even progressed up to baked bread and taking our lovely dog Peggy on the bus and train into Liverpool and then out to Widnes to see M’s parents. 

After 1 week at home,  I was off the pain medication all together and even when I came home I just used paracetamol and ibuprofen as the stronger meds made me feel sick. M says I have a very unusual memory when it comes to pain as I don’t remember it being that bad, but he says that at first I was in quite a lot of pain.

But even with the initial pain and lack of mobility, I have to say, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Having a hysterectomy changed my life for the better. No more periods, meant no more period pains and THAT for me, is a game changer. 

It was only a few months after the op I went to look for a handbag for something and looking through the bottom of my wardrobe I realised that in EVERY Bag there were sanitary products and painkillers. EVERY frickin bag. The whole thing had dominated my life for such a long time that it was a blessed relief not to even think about it anymore. 

It’s now 4 years since I had that op and I don’t regret it for one single minute. I was SO grateful that Mr Griffith took me seriously and listened to me when I said that I didn’t want children. I can only say that if you are wondering whether or not to have it done… then I hope reading some of what I experienced might help you decide. If you did want to ask me any questions, then you can use my contact page to email me. Good luck. 

 G x

This was my experience of having a hysterectomy done in the UK under NHS care, but at a private hospital. I had my own room and loo and practically personal nurse. My understanding is that this is VERY unusual and I consider myself to be very lucky. I love the NHS and my only comment about being treated in a private hospital is that they generally had less patients and more staff and subsequently more time per patient.

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