Firstly, thank you all so much who have reached out with support and checking in on my healing journey. Secondly, know that in taking you with me on my journey, there will be some personal stuff that I am communicating. I am doing this to help destigmatize women’s bodies and topics that should be talked about more freely. Third, I am planning on creating this blog on a separate platform because so many people have reached out with questions and thanking me for being so open. Within the coming days, I will be adding some videos and some more structured presentations on recovering from a hysterectomy. I know everyone is unique and how I am healing is not everyone’s journey, but I am trying to fill in the gaps where the surgery team is no longer as involved and trying to return to “Normal.”
I knew going into this that my initial recovery will be focusing on resting, not engaging my abdominal muscles too much and slowly regaining my energy. I’m not going to lie, there were times when all I wanted to do was lay on the sofa and binge Ted Lasso and there were other days where I wanted to maniacally clean my entire apartment. The allergic reaction rash was also a disappointment. Perhaps it was my ADHD, but the first two weeks consisted of me vacillating between those two states. I quickly realized that I was really needing to be outdoors, to turn off my phone and relax in nature. My boyfriend planned for a one night trip to Rainbow Falls State Park. He did all of the heavy lifting, listened when I said I needed to rest, and constantly checked in. While I watched him enjoy the swimming area near the falls, I sat on the shore and immersed myself in a murder mystery book. I could not go swimming as I am still not allowed to fully immerse my lower body in water until after 4 weeks.
Today marks 3 weeks post-surgery. After two weeks of rolling to my side in order to get up from a lying position, not being able to sleep on my stomach, and holding my core every time I sneezed or laughed, my abdominals are better able to give me more support. Hydrating is continuing to be a top priority as well as consuming a good amount of fiber for bowel movements to be easy as I cannot push my pelvic floor muscles to allow for the stitching to heal where my cervix used to be. I also use a Squatty Potty to help with hip and pelvic floor alignment to make bowel movements easier.
With intimacy, vaginal penetration is not allowed until at least 8 weeks have passed and my surgeon clears me. That being said, intimacy can be performed in other ways and I am grateful to have a boyfriend who is understanding and patient during this time. Oral sex, external toys, and whatever else that gets you aroused without vaginal penetration is allowed. When women become aroused, blood flow is relegated to the pelvic floor, which engorges the area as well as lengthens the vaginal canal. For me personally, I did not want increased blood flow and too much strain on that region for the first two weeks as the region where my cervix used to be was healing. I’m happy to report that having an orgasm was not painful for me, but there was some lower abdominal soreness afterwards that has improved with time.
Improving endurance has mostly been met with walking- getting outside and getting some vitamin D since it has been so sunny. The only strengthening that I have been doing towards the end of the second week of recovery has just been Kegels and core activation/isometrics to start to “wake” those muscles up. I will be starting a modified Pilates and Yoga strength training program that I will have videos for within the next few days.
Thank you again for coming with me on this journey. Being an introverted Gemini, I go between wanting to stand in the spotlight to hiding for days at a time. Putting myself out there never feels natural to me, especially for something so personal, but it is needed. With one to one patient care, I am quick to share my story in an attempt to help my patients feel more comfortable entrusting their care to me.
Enjoying the sun at Rainbow Falls State Park
Kathleen Neal, DPT