Saturday, September 11, 2010

My Hysterectomy

Here I am feeling very sad and sorry for myself and I am quite a bit of pain. It is always much worse for blokes than lasses, just read how Fen bangs on about her surgery. But boy she did have it tough.

My whole stomach was falling apart, with muscles separating left right and centre. With such fine abbs as I have, I am not sure how this has happened, ahem. I now have an inverted 'T' of shiny staples above my navel up to my ribcage. See Fen's photo for what staples look like. Fen says she was bloated when the photo was taken. Ok, I believe her. I am bloated too.

It only hurts when I breath, move, cough or laugh. I haven't laughed.

Was I worried ahead of surgery? I certainly was. I checked very carefully on the net as to whether the surgery was really necessary. I had no pain and I could not see a reason for surgery, but searching indicated the problem will get worse and the repair will be more difficult the longer it was left.

What caused it? A couple of weeks after returning from Japan I had a minor cold. But it caused a lot of dry coughing and it would seem this is what caused the problem. I woke one night and noticed a bulge in my stomach. I concluded it wasn't a very fast growing cancerous mass and the doctor and specialist confirmed my thoughts.

I was up early on Wednesday as I had to fast from 6.30am. I forced down cereal and toast and two cups of coffee. I am not used to eating so early. I had done everything I could in advance that required lifting or straining, such as replacing the barbecue gas bottle, cleaning my shower, vacuuming etc. I was at the hospital by 12.30 and paper work and sitting around and constant confirmation of details took a couple of hours. By 3.30 I was under and I guess the op took two hours. I awoke in terrible pain like I have never known, worse than leg cramp, but gradually the chems kicked in and I was transferred to my room.

At my worst, how I loved the nurses that gave me constant care and attention. I recently read a criticism of how nurses and other medical staff talk down to older patients and are inclined to use baby speak. But that was exactly what I needed, mother care and comfort.

R visited not long after I was in my room and settled. I don't think I was making much sense and I kept dropping off to sleep. He had a formidable task to do at home and so I suggested he went home and let people know I had survived. I told him not to call Mother, but he did and she kept him on the phone for an hour. By about 9.30pm he was very stressed by messages, phone calls, texts and emails flying around. I wish I had sorted these things out better for him in advance.

Flowers arrived from our friend in Japan, lovely gerberas. That night I tried to watch tv, tried to read, tried to send texts, but as Fen said, you just keep fading in and out. Not that I was really asleep, but every hour my stats were checked. The next morning the IV drip was removed and that was the end of the good drugs. I had pressed the pain relief button nearly 300 times, although that was all in the first few hours. Of course it will only work at set intervals and so I did not get that much extra relief. I was still attached to a drain from the site of the operation to a blood drain collection container, meaning I had to carry that around if I moved. I got up a few times, but it was a terrible strain. By midday the good pain relief had worn off and I was only getting oral paracetamol. I could only have it every four hours but it wore off after three hours. They gave me something else in between that was supposed to be stronger, but it appeared to have no effect at all.

Two more friends called in as the day progressed, but when the latter arrived I was only just holding it together. R had visited straight from work at 4pm. Mother rang at 7pm and was very comforting. I received some nice text messages.

I watched tv that night and then slept, only being disturbed every couple of hours but I think I was left alone from midnight until 5am when I had the soundest sleep. I went soundly back to sleep and was again woken at 7 by staff with a fresh water jug.

The specialist made a brief visit, as they do, and said I could go home if there was someone to look after me. R had taken the day off work and collected me. The blood drainage was disconnected and the waterproof wrap removed, replaced by easy to remove tape over the staples.

Of course once home, I moved around too much and struggled to just get up and down until I worked out ways of doing things without straining my stomach. I am getting adept at hooking things off the floor with my feet, switching on or off power points with my toes and I worked out what I need to be high so that I don't have to bend down. Naturally having R around to wait on me hand and foot helps.

Like Fen, I am wearing white knee high hose to prevent clots and must do so for a couple of weeks and a kind of a girdle thing to keep everything tight. It is not attractive and nor is it comfortable, but I must learn to like it as it will be with me for a month.

As I have top private health insurance and the hospital I was in has an agreement with my health fund, I am surprised how much this is costing. Surgeon an extra $500, assistant surgeon, $150, anaesthetist, $150, hospital services surcharge $25. Plus initial surgeon visit, maybe $80, plus health fund excess, $250, girdle $80. All totalling over $1000. I don't know what the waiting list for public hospital is and of course I would not have gotten the same 'ring the bell, the nurse appears immediately' attention, but my experiences in public hospitals have been good. I would think twice about going private next time. The extra cost, even though you have insurance, rather defeats the purpose of private cover.

The hospital, the staff, the treatment were all first class though. Even the food was nice.


  1. Glad you're home and, sort of, still in one piece.
    My dear, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy will be around to get ideas for the coming season ;)

  2. The waiting list for semi urgent is 3 months, less for urgent. I had a nurse appear at my side every time I pressed my buzzer and I paid zero for the pleasure. But I don't agree with paying for private health insurance, each to his own.

    We'd be a good match right now, trying to not make each other laugh or sneeze or cough!!

    I'm glad to hear you got through it okay and best wishes for the recovery. How long do you have to take off? I'm already bored and I'm only 2 weeks in, I've got at least 6 to go eeeeeek!

  3. Welcome back Andrew. I'm not very good at medical things. What was your condition, exactly? I couldn't follow. I get the baby-talk thing. Everyone treats me like that. Most peculiar. I trust lovely R will spoil you grandly until you make a full recovery.



  4. I can assure Jayne, she won't.

    I don't agree with private health insurance either Fen, but R is of a certain age where it could be helpful, hence we have it. Little did I know I would be the first to use it.

    Pants, small hernia and large area of separated stomach muscles. The stomach muscles thing is very common and not normally bothered about, but their repair was necessary for a successful hernia repair.

  5. Anonymous8:53 pm

    Ouch Andrew! Glad you're on the mend though. I remember my appendix operation was bad enough - especially trying to get up out of bed!

  6. So are you going to oblige with pics? How many staples do you have?

  7. I felt pain just reading that.

    I hope your recovery is speedy.

  8. Thanks Scott. I haven't had my appendix removed. Hope I won't.

    I will count them next shower Fen. No pics. Yours are a good enough illustration. Bored? Yes, although I am never normally bored at home. I just can't do what I normally do and must spend time resting.

    Trouble is Victor, I don't really know if this was mega operation or something that happens to people all the time. I suspect about medium.

  9. Andrew, I think that anything that requires more than a small cut into the abdominal wall, then requires staples is considered fairly major. Says me!
    I left the house yesterday and boy was I tired at the end of the day!

  10. Staples! How I would have loved to have staples but no, I had about 57 very large stitches straight down the middle and they hurt like f*&% when dragged out. Now you know why I have no navel anymore. I could lay down, stand up but couldn't sit and definitely couldn't laugh.

    I did think of you but I am dealing with the nephew who is sure he has bone cancer because of the pain he's in from his back, leg, foot and toe.

  11. Y'ouch! Hope your recovery is a speedy one.

  12. Ouch, my lord that sounds painful!
    What it must have been like in the past without decent pain relief, doesn't bear thinking about.
    Do take care, rest, and get well, Andrew.

  13. I think it is kind of major Fen. So much time off work indicates so. Btw, I only have 28 staples.

    Jahteh, I am not sure what my navel will end up looking like. Kind of scrunched up at the moment. Nothing serious with your nephew?

    Going well Ben.

    For sure LiD. I guess they used alcohol for pain relief.