It has been exactly one year since my first hysterectomy. Yes, you heard that correctly, FIRST hysterectomy. I went in for a laparoscopic hysterectomy at the age of 40 and walked out of surgery with my uterus still intact. Thanks to the amazing team of doctors on staff that day, mid-surgery. they deemed the procedure unsafe and we rescheduled a safer surgery for about a few months later.
Let me rewind a bit. You may be thinking, holy crap, what was going on with her that made her go in for a hysterectomy at age 40? Either you are reading this, trying to figure out if that is you too, or you think I’ve lost my marbles, so let me explain.
*Hysterectomies aren’t necessarily for everyone and I am in no way trying to convince someone to get one or deter them from talking to their doctor about their options. This is my personal story and I am finally ready to write it down to share with you.*
@twocametrue My hysterectomy changed my life in so many ways. To say I’m grateful is an understatement #hysterectomy #endometriosis #momsover40 #fyp #womenshealth #gamechanger #hysterectomyrecovery ♬ The Good Part – AJR
Why did I get a hysterectomy at age 40?
Growing up, I always had rough menstrual cycles, and the older I got, the worse all of my symptoms became. I was constantly having to plan my life around my cycle and the symptoms that came with it. Would I be traveling while I was on my period? Would I be on a camping trip? The older I got, the harder life revolving around my period became to manage. Not to mention all of the miserable symptoms that came with it. My migraines were getting worse, my anxiety was through the roof, and I was spending way too much on feminine products, you get the picture.
When my husband and I started our journey to parenthood, weeks turned into months. Months turned into years, and several fertility treatments later…we were lucky enough to have twin boys! Although our road to a family wasn’t easy, ultimately, I wouldn’t change a thing now. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that.
Over the years I have endured several DNC’s, polypectomies, and then a c-section, which is a lot on my body. I knew after birthing our twins that our family was complete. The five years following my c-section, my symptoms never seemed to improve. I noticed that my headaches, brain fog, anxiety, cramps and periods worsened, which let me to chat with my doctor about my options.
After a few very in depth conversations with my OBGYN, I decided I was ready to get a hysterectomy. If all went accordingly, doctors would remove my uterus, fallopian tubes and cervix, leaving my ovaries in tact, keeping me away from hormone therapy treatments (HRT). I went in for surgery and the doctors had to stop mid-surgery. While they were operating laparoscopically, they found that my uterus was attached to my bowel, the cervix was attached to my rectum, my bowels were pinned into a hairpin-like turn (making it hard to use the restroom), I had uterine fibroids, and surprise…stage 4 endometriosis with adhesions everywhere. The doctors ended up removing only my fallopian tubes that day, and we stopped the surgery so that my bowel wouldn’t be punctured. The medical team and my husband decided to reschedule for later date so that we could develop a cohesive plan.
Fast forward two months later and I was ready for my second attempt at a hysterectomy. This time, I had to do a bowel prep ahead of time in order for the doctor to safely cut the uterus off of my bowel. The doctors went in through my c-section scar (not laparoscopically this time) and performed a total abdominal hysterectomy or bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. The surgery went well and they were able to safely remove my uterus. However, this time around, they noticed that my ovaries were pinned to my abdominal wall by adhesions and were surrounded with endometriosis. After chatting with my husband about the need to eventually remove them, they made the medical decision to remove my ovaries sooner rather than later so I wouldn’t have to go through another surgery.
I supposed you are wondering if that was the decision I would have made if I were awake? Absolutely. Was I in complete shock when I woke up to find out that they were gone and I was in surgical menopause? Absolutely.
I will shoot straight with you, to say this recovery was a bit harder is an understatement. Initially, I was worried because my mom had difficult recovery after her hysterectomy in the 90’s. That was my only point of reference. I didn’t personally know of any other women in their 40’s who had had their ovaries removed. The hormone replacement piece was also worrisome. I didn’t have other women my age to lean on, ask questions of or dig deep with. Since sharing my story online last year, I cannot tell you how many women have reached out. Some want to share their own experiences with me while others ask me for support because they are thinking about getting a hysterectomy. This got me thinking, why don’t we talk about this topic more?
The recovery was long. Just when I had started to heal from the first surgery, the second one threw me for a loop. I didn’t expect to need so much down time to heal. On some days I felt great, like I could conquer the world, however, I had to rest up because there was so much healing taking place inside my body. We have played with a few different HRT treatments to see what type of hormone therapy is best for me. Currently I am doing great on the Estradiol patch 2X’s a week, changing a small patch every 3 1/2 days. With all hormone therapy treatments, there are upsides and downsides for each option (more on this next week when I share more detail about my hysterectomy recovery).
It has been one year. One year since this life changing event, that had it’s hiccups. Ultimately it provided me with a new lease on life. Yes, the recovery was tricky given my circumstances. I can honestly say that today I am a better version of myself. To heal from some of the mental hurdles I have been through (both infertility and these surgeries), I have seen a therapist, I take CBD consistently, and exercise regularly. My migraines have subsided and are almost non-existent. We can plan a trip whenever we want because I am not stressed out about leaking on an airplane or while camping. I feel like the best version of myself; I am a better mom because I have the energy to play with my kids, a better partner to my husband and just all around a better me! If anything, my only regret is not doing this a bit sooner.
So, long story short, I am on a mission to normalize conservations around this topic. Women do not need to suffer because they don’t know about treatment options are are too afraid to ask. Put it on the table to discuss freely because you are not alone. So many women have come forward since I shared my story in one Instagram post. It hit me right then and there. We need to show up for each other and recognize that it’s OK to not be OK! Let’s talk about this more. I am grateful for the women in my life that have come forward to tell me their stories and I want to continue to be a resource for those going through it right now. I am here for you. No question is off the table!