I was told I needed a hysterectomy a few years ago. I had severe endometriosis and interstitial cystitis. I also had these fibroids that doctors claim are harmless, but not only did they hurt so badly, my beloved Aunt Priscilla was killed by one that turned into cancer. I will never forget her screams of agony. So I do take this all seriously.
When I researched blogs about needing a hysterectomy I found fear based articles encouraging women not to do so. Calling this surgery a cash cow for doctors. Sharing all their after effects and horror stories. This did scare me. I did everything that I could to keep my body intact because of those fears. Also I did have hope that maybe I could have another baby one day. But that was not to be a part of my journey.
I won’t go into too much detail about my journey, because this piece is written to help you get through your hysterectomy with flying colors. But I will share that before my hysterectomy I had several abdominal/colonic surgeries to remove the endometriosis, and had maxed out my months of Lupron to kill it with light chemo. I took supplements like crazy and did even try the O-shot which was a wretched and horrific experience as I felt every single jab and stab of that needle inside my vagina and into my clitoris. I don’t recommend that route at all.
I did turn to diatomaceous earth, which I wrote about in my post about energy, with a link to buy it. It is worth trying to help ease the burning of your bladder with interstitial cystitis. It also helps with energy (which is why it’s in that post), and helps with your skin and hair health.
I did seek out several medical opinions on my hysterectomy. I suggest that you do the same. You also need to do your homework. Trust me, I get that this is daunting work, especially on top of having children (if you do), a career, hobbies, etc. So I have already done most of the work for you, but every person’s body is different and you need to find what works best for you. My advice should work for everyone, but you may need more, which is why I encourage you to keep researching.
The different doctors had different ideas of what should be done (including a urologist who wanted to do a bladder surgery and put it into a sling–I declined this and am so glad that I did!!!). So let me list what I did do, and what you MUST do, to come out of this surgery happier and healthier than ever.
First let’s begin with what you must do BEFORE your surgery. These ounces of prevention will be worth pounds of cure in the long—run I promise!
Go See a Pelvic Floor Therapist Now!
When you live with a disease like endometriosis and/or interstitial cystitis, your lower abdomen gets used to “clenching up”. Your pelvic floor muscles additionally get weaker after having babies. This “clenching up” actually perpetuates the pain and weakens your lower muscles. If you don’t correct this before surgery, you will pay dearly.
Most insurances will cover a pelvic floor therapist, but they aren’t offered by the doctors. My doctors never brought one up. I found out on my own. And then to get it covered, I just asked my doctor to send in a referral. She sent one in, and I was set up with my therapist.
If you live in the Franklin/Brentwood area here are the therapists I saw that I recommend. My insurance with Cigna covered my sessions. Here is their website:
I also am a fan and follower of Erika Young who is also in the Brentwood area and I highly recommend seeing her as another option for pelvic floor therapy. I met her after going to Results so it’s not like I chose one over another. She is evidence based, compassionate, and effective. Here is her website:
What does this kind of therapist do? I was picturing exercises. Considering I already was working out, I didn’t think I would get too much from this. Boy was I wrong!!!!!
They actually do sometimes (depending on your case) insert their fingers/instruments inside your vagina to physically manipulate your muscles while coaching you to do certain breathing exercises to correct your pelvic floor muscles. This scared me at first, but I got used to it eventually, and I could feel a difference. Your therapist will give you other exercises to do as well as breathing exercises to try at home. Please do it. You have everything to gain by doing this.
It’s been over a year since my hysterectomy and I can tell when I haven’t done my breathing exercises to relax my pelvic floor. Make sure you stay on it and keep it up. Following Erika on SM helps to give me that reminder!
At Home Exercises
I started using “booty bands” to help me to build up my pelvic floor. I would do exercises like the “clamshell” exercise, “donkey kicks”, and the “fire hydrant” to help build up the muscles around my booty and side booty. Check out my Fitness at Home post for details with photos on how to perform these exercises.
I used to have severe pain in my hips to the point where I would aggressively push at them with a massage stick. These exercises helped to reduce that and as of this post, that pain has never returned and I am so grateful. I will later create videos to show you how to do these exercises. On a side note, I started doing these exercises to prepare me for my hysterectomy, and I not only came out so well afterwards, but now I’ve got an amazing booty-so it’s a win win! Here is the link for the same bands I purchased over a year ago that are still going strong!
You need to focus on lower ab exercises. I was doing crunches before and obliques, but that wasn’t helping anything. There’s this one, I don’t know the name of it, but I would lay on my back and raise my legs up and bend them, keeping them flat like a table top. One by one I would drop them and count to 20 for each leg. This looks so easy and simple but it really engaged my lower core. I also added another ab exercises where I would hold onto my couch while laying on my back. I would then raise one leg at a time in the air. I can only do 10 of these per leg. Also your therapist will give you exercises to try as well. If you have diastasis recti, you need to be wary of trying new ab exercises off of social media. Erika Young has shared horror stories of well intentioned women following bad advice from SM on ab exercises. I did not have diastasis recti, but was still cautious about my exercises and always went over them with my therapist before trying them.
Get Your Hormones Tested!
I can’t say this enough. I say this to everyone regardless if they need a hysterectomy or not. If you’re constantly tired, gaining weight no matter what you do, having skin problems, losing hair, etc, please go to a GYN to get them tested. Do not have your PCP test them. For example, my PCP told me my levels were fine. My GYN saw that my hormones were at two extremes, so combined I looked fine, but the reality was that I was headed for a heart attack. I am very lucky that I asked for a second opinion on that matter.
I was on estrogen suppressants for a long time because of my endometriosis. You may be too. This takes a toll on our bodies. I had no testosterone at all. Because of this, my GYN prescribed me a cream, which is made by a local pharmacy, that I put on my arms and legs every morning. Every few months I get my labs drawn, and my creams are adjusted or left alone. This has changed my life so drastically. So much of my irritation completely disappeared. No longer was my urethra on fire whenever I peed. No longer was I gaining this weight that came from nowhere. No longer was I fighting fatigue and sugary cravings. Alot of that disappeared with the hormones.
Another reason to have your hormones tested and corrected is that my tissues were becoming more plump and pliable, whereas before they were dry and cracking apart. Which tissues would heal better after surgery? The ones that are plump and pliable, yes? You need this done before surgery. Also, I shudder to think that I could have died on that operating table because my hormones were so off. Please do it.
A final reason for having your hormones tested and done is to have a baseline before your hysterectomy. You may need to have your ovaries removed or not. But having this information before hand will be extremely helpful for you.
Nourish Your Body
You will be going through big changes. Your body needs proper nutrients to rebuild it properly. On my post on energy, you will see links to supplement drinks and vitamins that will help your body have what it needs to rebuild. It will also give you energy to do the workouts you need to do to get ready for your surgery. If you have extra weight, losing it now will help you to stay ahead. Your body will be already working hard to heal, and having extra weight, especially around your waistline will make it even harder. That will be compounded more by the fact that you will need to rest at least six weeks after your surgery. I have personally lost about 50 pounds and have kept it off using these supplements and my exercises.
If you do drink alcohol, just stop. My surgeon highly recommended that I everyone do that. It dehydrates your tissues, and right now, you really need for them to be plumped up as much as possible for correct healing. This is your body and this is your life. You will be glad that you cut that out-I promise!
But also, you need to eat well. Because of my autism, I like to eat the same things everyday. This actually is very helpful for your body, and can help you to stick to the course. I’m going to advise that you don’t eat out. That food is not really good for you. Let me share some of my simple meals with you.
Every single morning, I have high protein oatmeal made by Quaker Oats.
I use Almond milk in it and add in Hemp Hearts. You may be able to find Hemp Hearts at your local store, at Costco, or you can buy it here on Amazon. Here is the link:
Hemp hearts contains Iron, Manganese, Fiber, Protein, Omegas, and more! I also add frozen fruit to my oatmeal that contains blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. I put it in my microwave for 2 minutes and then I add Collagen to it. Collagen is so necessary for your body to rebuild after surgery. You will need it stored in your body before you have the surgery done, and also, a side effect, is that your skin and hair will be stronger and healthier. Here is the link:
I eat this every single morning. It tastes like berry cobbler and doesn’t take a long time to make either. Even if you only switch out your regular breakfast for this one, you will be ahead of the game!
As for my other meals, I eat very simply. I definitely don’t eat alot of bread because it causes me to have bloating, and that’s the last thing that you need when you already are having abdominal discomfort, right?
For lunch, I really like prosciutto rolls with cheese that I get at Costco and have 5 of those with an apple, a bit of peanut butter, and dried figs. Sometimes I have canned tuna that I mix with mayo, and eat with crackers and cheese, or Sun Dried chips. I also like to take turkey meat and make a roll of it filled with cheese, mustard, and salad with a side of Sun Dried chips. This is pretty much what I have every single day for lunch. Fast, easy, full of protein and nutrients, satisfying, and low carb.
For dinner, we just rotate the same meals. We do spaghetti with meatballs using the Autumn Harvest sauce from Trader Joes that we buy in bulk during the fall to last us all year (ah the quirks of having autism! I only like this spaghetti sauce and make that arduous trip once a year to procure it). We get healthy Planko styled chicken tenders/nuggets from Costco and I enjoy that with a spring mix salad. Fish and Chips that we get from Costco is another favorite, with a salad. I also make a crock pot vegetable beef stew that is fast and easy, and I’d be delighted to put my recipe on here. I just throw everything in the pot, and by dinner time it’s ready and smells heavenly. My daughter just asked to have it last night! Sometimes we make grilled ham or turkey and cheese sandwiches with tomato or butter squash soup. That’s fast and easy. We also like to make beef burritos. All of these meals are simple, don’t require alot of prep or time, and are full of protein.
You may become so used to eating home cooked food that you have a disdain for restaurant food. I have found that I have a hard time eating restaurant food, except for dessert from Cheesecake Factory. I will always love their cheesecakes!
After Hysterectomy Care
I highly recommend getting a waist binder. Trust me on this one! I didn’t get one at first and immediately regretted it. As soon as I got one I felt much much better! Here is the exact one that I purchased:
I liked that this was two pieces so I could totally custom fit it to my body. As my body got stronger I was also able to just use one or the other, but at first both were totally needed. As an added bonus, this can be used to also aid in weight loss because it does suppress your appetite. You can also use it to protect your back while doing some serious labor around your house, or while working out.
The Pain After Surgery
There’s no way around it, you will be in some serious pain after your surgery. Stay ahead of it and take your pain medication, but, I highly suggest weaning off after four days. Here is why. You see, pain medication starts this vicious cycle of constipation, which creates more pain, then you take more pain medication to get rid of the pain, and then it becomes worse.
I’m going to keep it real with you, if you have ever had a natural child birth, having your first BM will be a very very close second to that. The longer you are constipated, the bigger your BM and pain will be. And then you will develop hemorrhoids. Trust me on this one.
So how can you handle the pain and not use those pain killers? Well, this is unconventional, but I recommend medical cannabis. I know this is not legal in most states. I recognize I am recommending that you to do something that is illegal. But you know what? There’s alot of illegal things that good people do and have done everyday that are not bad. Conversely, there’s alot of legal things that people do that are very much so bad.
Medical cannabis will numb your pain without constipating you. It can also be controlled by using a vape or edibles. It is not addictive in my opinion at all. But then again, anything can be turned into an addiction, and seeing as opioids are highly addictive and have caused so much damage to people and to our society, I feel more confidant about cannabis than I do opioids.
I personally wrestled with this choice as I do want to be a law abiding citizen. I was raised with a high disdain for people who used cannabis, but then again, I only knew about teens getting high and doing stupid things. Once I saw it as medication and used it as such, it has helped me immensely, and then I didn’t have the desire to use it past that.
Proper SkinCare After a Hysterectomy
Once you are medically allowed to use lotions and creams, please refer to my post in the DIY section on how to make the best body butter for your body. This has drastically healed my skin and reduced my scars. It works wonders! I have given samples to friends of mine for their after surgery care and they have all texted me asking for more! It is now the only lotion I use every single day and my body looks so radiant and it glows!