Diary of a Hysterectomy – The Hospital

Day 0. “Eviction Day”

I’m a wreck. No other way to put it. The enormity of what’s happened over the past 18 months (marriage separation and uprooting my life, illness, the death of my aunt, etc), and now this has proven to be too much to handle today. I’m tired and anxious and can’t stop crying.

Anything and everything is setting me off and I am so, so cold. I’m taken to what will be my room and, thank you private health insurance, my room is a delightfully vintage single with an outlook onto the leafy street below. Single and bloody cold. What is it with hospitals and having the temperature set to a max of 12 degrees?! Anyway, M and I wait for the nurses to come in, check my files and issue me with the appropriate wrist bands. Thus begins the constant repetitive questions:


“What is your name and date of birth?”
“What are you here for today?”
“Do you have any allergies?”

The theatre nurse comes in and introduces herself and I lose the plot entirely, much to her shock. I’m sheepish through my tears and assure her that it’s nothing personal.

Catlyn Tears
Can’t. Stop. Crying.

I change into my gown (less clothes, even colder now) and pressure socks and with a last smooch from M, I’m wheeled out, still bawling, to surgery where I meet one of the other theatre nurses who gives me one of those wonderful heated air blankets. OMG SO WARM! I nestle under it and ignore the urge to put my head under the covers and hide.

My anaesthetist arrives and he sees that I am one big snotty mess. He gently tells me what’s going to happen, how I am going to feel, that he’s there to make sure I stay asleep (a bloody good thing if you ask me) and bring me out of it again when all is said and done. His voice is very soothing and I am more inclined to believe that I’m not going to die this day.

Finally I get wheeled into theatre and there’s my surgeon to greet me. She grabs my hand, holds it tight and gives me a pat before going through the official process of starting the procedure. They take away my heated airbag and I instantly start shivering and crying again.

The surgeon hovers above me while the anaesthetist does his thing. I squeeze her hand as the needle goes in and the cold heat of the happy sleepy-time medicine shoots up my arm.

I only vaguely remember asking for another shot of whatever that was before I surrendered to the darkness.

That lovely fuzzy feeling.
More glorious, numbing medicine…

Waking up again seconds – though it might have been hours – later, I realise that I’m already back in my room. If I woke up in recovery, I don’t remember it.

I don’t remember much of anything for the rest of that day.

The one thing I do remember before drifting off again was that it was FUCKING FREEZING in that room.

Day 1 – First day Post-Op

Happy sleepy-time drugs finally wore off and reality set in. I was down one uterus but up one very annoying catheter. Not in a whole lot of pain, but then I hadn’t tried to move, so “yay, catheter!” I guess.

Thoroughly entertained by the fact that my entire stomach is numb from mid-rib to my girl bits. I spend much time poking at it. My stomach, that is. I poke my stomach. Not my girl bits.

Nurses (both student and fully qualified varieties) are lovely and checking on me every couple of hours around the clock. Lovely, but it means I can’t sleep. The pressure cuff around my arm keeps waking me and they keep asking me my name and date of birth and if I have any allergies.

I discover the Food Network on television.

I’m still cold.

I keep confirming my name and date of birth every two hours.

Every. Two. Hours.

Day 2.

Given my first Clexane in the wee hours of the morning. For such a tiny needle, that shit hurts like hell.

Still being asked who I am as if the answer will be a surprise.

Still cold. Starting to think the coldness is a sterile environment thing. It has to be cold so bacteria doesn’t grow. At least, that’s what I am telling myself to justify why I can’t feel my fingers and toes.

Nurse comes in with a tray of Stuff and Things™. Interesting.

“We’re taking the catheter out today!”

Oh. Yay…?

YEOUCH. That is the most unpleasant sensation.

“You feel like getting up and having a shower now?”

What the what, now?!

“Not really…”

“It’s best if you start moving around, it helps speed up healing.”

Nurse-speak for, “You stink. You need a shower and we need to change the sheets.”

I slowly – so slowly – manage to manoeuvre myself out of bed.

Oh, wow. Wow. With a side of OW. You know that sensation, like you’ve been sliced open and your guts are falling out? No? Well, use your imagination.

Hysterectomy Hack and Slash
Exactly like this.

I am honestly frightened everything is going to fall out.

I feel vaguely sorry for the poor student nurse who has to stand in the shower and help wash me but I am feeling mostly extremely aware that I am naked, sore, and not alone in the shower. The hot water is a small comfort but I would much prefer it alone.

By the time I’m out, dried and dressed in my own PJs, my bed has been remade and I have to admit I feel better for the shower. I finally beg for a couple more blankets as I just can’t deal with the cold anymore.

Extra blankets are brought and I am happy as a bug missing a uterus in a rug.

Warmth and food and sheer exhaustion from just moving between the bed and the shower means that I crash out hard for a couple of hours. When I wake up the nurse comes in and says that I was completely out and she didn’t want to disturb me so she just checked my temp while I was sleeping and left me alone.

I really like that nurse.

Day 3.

Given Clexane again. Nasty little fucker of a needle, that. Not a great way to wake up.

I really want to go home now. Third night in on very little real sleep apart from cat-naps that are interrupted by changing of the guard at the nurse’s station or pain keeping me awake means that I am very quickly losing the plot. I’m tired and bored and I miss my mum and my cats and my boyfriend and I am seriously starting to regret having the operation because of the sheer amount of discomfort I’m in. Moving hurts, the bed hurts, my neck hurts, every muscle not used to being employed for the simple act of walking is screaming at me. I’m on a cocktail of Endone, Ibuprofen, Paracetamol and something that might have been slow release morphine…

The nurses ask me how I’m feeling once or twice and I just start crying again. They do their best to soothe me and explain that even though it might not seem like it, I’m actually doing quite well.

I don’t believe them.

I want to go home, I tell them.

I can go home when I can manage to go to the toilet on my own, they tell me.

OH REALLY?

CHALLENGE. FUCKING. ACCEPTED.

Thus begins the Quest to Poop.

The Mission to Void the Bowels.

The Goal to Drop Anchor in Port.

You get it.

I can’t go home before they see that my poop shoot is shooting the poop unimpeded.

In hospital, you poop…. or you die.

With the catheter gone I’m peeing like a champ on my own. Still can’t feel much down there so it’s only when my bladder is absolutely aching that I realise I need to go. I can never really tell when my bladder is empty either, which is slightly disconcerting. It’s a weird sensation of stuff being there but not quite as there as it was pre-op.

I decide that since I am up and able to shuffle around by myself without help, I may as well have a shower. In the meantime, someone comes in and changes my bed again.

THEY STEAL MY BLANKETS.

Major whining ensues until I get them back again.

Missing everyone. With the exception of M, no one has come in to visit me. I don’t mind it so much but I honestly had not expected to be in hospital for so long and the lack of sleep mixed with pain mixed with medication is making me constantly weepy and I just want a friendly face that isn’t attached to an arm with a hand that’s weilding a needle…

End of the day, still no poop. Worrying because I have hideous, painful gas. My stomach is bloated beyond ridiculousness.

Day 4. This day has been officially renamed to  Waiting to Poop Day

The nurses still can’t remember my name or date of birth. It’s starting to get old.

Able to walk around a little bit more so I’m wandering slowly around the ward. I’m doing well, so they tell me. I don’t care, I tell them back. I want to go home.

“But you need to…”

“Poo. Yes, I KNOW.”

Peppermint water is supplied to help settle my bloated tummy but all that does is make me gag. I’m given some laxatives but after a few hours there’s still no joy.

Suppository time.

Yes, it’s that glamorous but I no longer care.

I WILL TAKE THINGS BEING SHOVED UP MY BUTT TO GET OUT OF THIS COLD, COLD HOSPITAL.

And like everything else in this hell hole, the nurses fingers were freezing too.

Suppository works in the vaguest sense of working. The colt from Old Regret didn’t exactly get away but the gate was left open. I no longer feel so stopped up. Small blessings.

“Can I leave now?”

“Yes, you can go home…”

“YAY!”

“…tomorrow.”

“OH FUCK YOU.”

Day 5.

I’m going home today! I’m going home today!  The nurses come in and ask me my name and date of birth again, but this time I get a new question…

“Who is coming to pick you up?”

I shower. I pack. I watch more Food Network.

I repeat my name and date of birth at least four more times before M arrives in the early afternoon to rescue me. But we’re still stuck there for a while as we wait for my discharge and to be given all the wonderful drugs which stop me from feeling the fact that I have a rather large hole in my abdomen.

The trip home is an interesting experience. G-force and abdominal surgery are not happy bedfellows. Every time the car breaks, I feel my entire lower half lurch. Fortunately I have a towel and wrap it around my belly for support – I could kiss whoever it was that suggested that little trick.

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