Surviving a Hysterectomy - Part 1

By Jodie Dunne

Before Surgery

A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. It’s a significant gynaecological surgery that can occur for a number of reasons. You can find out more about hysterectomy here.

Like any surgery or medical procedure, there are lots of questions running through your mind and it can be easy to turn to Dr Google to find stories from other women about their experience. QENDO is here to help! We’ve had one of our very own share their experience and provide in detail how to prepare as well as what happens next.

So, you’ve had your consults and your surgery is booked in. This post covers what to do before your hysterectomy, starting about a week before you do your pre-surgical bowel prep.

1. Inform yourself

  • Ask lots of questions of your doctor about your surgery—what is the plan? Will your ovaries be removed or remain? Don’t be afraid to ask what you need to make yourself comfortable with what is coming.

  • Talk to a counsellor or loved ones about what you are about to do. Ensure you work through any issues, concerns or feelings you have so that nothing is left unresolved.

  • Get a pelvic floor assessment by a pelvic physio prior to your surgery so that you understand what impacts surgery may have on your pelvic floor and how you can manage it post surgery.

2. Get your house in order

  • Do some nesting before you go into hospital. It may sound weird but you are likely to be spending a lot of time in your bed or in your lounge room during your recovery. Making it comfortable ahead of time is great way to retain some control during this situation.

    • Make your bed comfortable and your space peaceful

    • Remove clutter so it is easy to move around.

    • Make some food and freeze it so that you have easy access to something nutritious when you come home from hospital. Or, ask a loved one to help out by preparing some meals for you.

    • Clean your house thoroughly before you go to hospital. It means you don’t have to worry about housework for a little while.

3. Pack your hospital bag

  • Pack some things to keep you occupied in hospital. Pack some wipes, dry shampoo and any of your other favourites that you can use to stay fresh. The length of your hospital stay will vary depending on the type of surgery you will have.

  • Pack your own pillow—while not compulsory, this is a great way to stay comfortable and bring a piece of home with you.

  • Pack clothes and shoes that are easy to get on and off. Don’t forget some warm socks, as it can get cold in hospital.

  • If you’re a light sleeper, you may also like to pack ear plugs and an eye mask to block out the constant noise and light.  

4. Think about the logistics

  • Organise someone to pick you up from hospital. Confirm them ahead of time so you’re not worrying about this from your hospital bed.

  • The drive home means bumps and other movement that may cause pain and discomfort. Have a soft pillow ready for the car trip to tuck between your stomach and the seat belt. This helps you stabilise yourself when you can’t use your muscles to do it.

5. Bowel prep

  • Be well hydrated before you start any bowel prep. Start drinking more water in the week/s beforehand.

  • Eat cleanly, including more fresh fruit and vegetables, the week before you begin your bowel prep.

  • Consider having less solid food and more liquid-type foods and less fibre the closer you get to beginning your bowel prep.  

  • If you’re on a clear fluid diet before you officially begin your bowel prep, ensure you alternate between sweet and savoury flavours.

  • Get your bowel moving and as healthy as you can—the better your bowels move beforehand the less you have to clean out during the prep process.

  • The ‘drink’ you have to consume to get things going is pretty horrible but you just have to stick it out. Focus on getting it down as quickly as possible to limit how much you taste—try drinking through a straw, pinching your nose etc.

  • Have some flushable wet wipes at the ready to help soothe a sore backside. The all-natural, aloe vera, unscented wipes tend to sting less. Ointment for anal skin irritation is also helpful.

  • Just to be clear—stay close to the bathroom! Make sure your household know that the toilet is yours during bowel prep as you need unrestricted access as things happen quickly!

We hope this helps and would love to know if you have any tips on how to prepare for major surgery like a hysterectomy. If you’ve got tips, share them by commenting below! Stay tuned for part 2, for more tips about surviving hysterectomy. 

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