To bring light to a very important area of women’s health during Women’s Health month I am sharing more about my personal journey in this three part series blog. Far too many women are suffering, and most of them are doing so in silence. I hope by sharing my story I can help change that and let women know that they are not in this alone.
It has taken me a little bit of time to be able to share with everyone that I even had a hysterectomy. I kept my surgery to myself because I was terrified of being judged. As silly as that seems I was disappointed in my body and was being extremely too hard on myself. I knew I eventually wanted to share but I also knew that I needed to first allow myself time to heal both physically and mentally.
Going into this surgery I thought I would be fine with recovery. Having three cesareans I thought I knew what to expect. There were so many things I never imagined this surgery would bring on and I want to share those with you before I get into my journey to healing physically.
Things I never expected from my hysterectomy
- To lose complete control and feeling of my ab muscles
- To be thrown into a deep depression
- Feelings that my body had failed me
- Leaking – this is very common but never normal
- To have a shelf that I’m not sure is ever going away
- To have so many emotions about my uterus being gone
- That getting back to me would take so long
- To be terrified to have sex with my husband
- That I would gain weight and have to buy new bottoms from underwear to pants and everything between
I think back to the expectations I had going into this surgery and what my recovery would be like. I try to think about what was so different from my cesareans compared to this. I think the biggest thing was that I didn’t have a newborn to care for. I had all of the free time in the world to sit there and think about things and really be in pain. I had time to validate and sit with my not so good feelings. In the past, I had a human to keep alive and that’s a big job. Then it was easy to push my feelings to the side because I had a really important job and it wasn’t about me.
The day after my hysterectomy
I will never forget the day after my surgery. My core, the core I had been working on getting stronger for the past four years with MUTU was wrecked. It wouldn’t even work, I couldn’t feel it and it was a struggle to try and get up to go to the bathroom. Every day I would work on reconnecting my mind with my body. I would focus on breathing and try to get my muscles to respond. After time things did get better and week after week I got a little stronger. My doctor recommended that for the first 4 weeks I rest, but I wanted to slowly start adding some light breathing and engaging. My back pain was miserable and I knew that was due to my core not working properly.
I didn’t even recognize myself in the mirror and I didn’t like it! Again being pregnant for 9 months you watch your body change throughout the months, but this time it was literally in an instance. I hope that doesn’t sound vain because I preach that it’s not the way it looks but how it works.
Not only did my body look different but at this time it wasn’t working either! I didn’t expect my appearance to change from this surgery. I also didn’t expect to leak every time I got up off the toilet, or when I picked my youngest girl up. Those were not things I was prepared to deal with! It was frustrating, to say the least, and fed my already depressed state!
Still to this day I am 100% happy with the doctor I choose to perform my surgery. He was “the one.” He was the doctor who was cut out to perform my surgery and I would recommend him over and over again. Sadly I was not given any resources after I was cleared from my six week post-op checkup. I was told that I could head back to the gym and have sex. Which by the way I was terrified to do! In my head, there was now an ending point in my vaginal canal and I just couldn’t wrap my head around that. I googled sex after hysterectomy and didn’t find anything that made me feel better! I hope that if you are reading this and you are scared too this will give you some comfort. Sex is still not back to normal but it is getting better post surgery. So, if you are experiencing any pain post surgery I would highly recommend seeing a women’s health PT.
I loved my doctor so much that I had really high hopes that he was going to give me the resources I already knew I was going to need after this surgery to heal properly. When I was cleared to go back to “normal activity” just six short weeks after what I consider a major surgery I felt almost defeated. I felt like I wasn’t even anywhere close to being ready to be back to me, let alone reintroduce what activity looked like before surgery. I wasn’t ready to have sex and being at the gym was the last place I wanted to be. I left that appointment with an overwhelming reminder that this area of women’s health is so ignored and we have so much work to do.
It left me reminded of how underserved women are after having babies, and it made me wonder how many women are suffering after having a hysterectomy. How many women are leaking and suffering from symptoms after this surgery?
How many women have been cleared to go back to normal activity after this surgery instead of told that they need to go see a women’s health PT and rehab these muscles after this surgery?
How many women are suffering in silence, or have asked for help and are not getting the answers that I believe they need? Having this surgery has simply added another layer to my story and has made me even more passionate about getting this information to women!
Doing it for the right reasons
Since I truly believed that this was my last resort so I could feel good I wanted to make sure I was doing it the “right” way. I had been seeing my PT for months before the surgery because I wanted to go into this surgery strong. I also scheduled my sessions for after my surgery.
My women’s health PT was a huge part of this journey and without her, I would not be where I am today in my healing journey! For me personally, I knew what I needed to do, but to have that focused hour once a week and that time with her where she was telling me what to do was healing in more than one way for me. To have a healthcare professional not only listen but to validate your feelings and symptoms then go the extra mile to come up with resources that will work. That’s what ALL women deserve!
Writing this blog and being so vulnerable was my last missing piece to healing. I have suffered from anxiety and depression for the greater part of my life.
I allowed my birth stories and my cesareans to affect me for far too long.
I didn’t know how to ask for help back then and I also didn’t have any of the resources I have today. This is why I share so much. I know I am not the only woman going through what I am going through. My hope is that someone can read these blogs and not only have hope but also know that they are not alone. It’s easy to isolate yourself and have no idea where to even start or who to ask for help.
Why I am sharing my story
So here it is, this is my story and my journey and I’m embracing it and owning it because it’s mine! Shelf and all I am thankful for my body. It is strong and most importantly it works right! Since I was one week post-op I have been working on my MUTU breath and proper engagements of my muscles. I have listened to my body every step of the way and started my full MUTU core workouts as soon as I felt ready about 4 weeks post-op. There were many times I would have to modify or scale back, and that was OK! Since I was leaking and my lower back hurt so bad I was eager to get my core working and strong again! I have missed running the most and one of my goals from having this surgery was to be able to run again. I promised my body six months of healing before I attempted to try running any races. I write this blog 18 weeks post-op and just last week ran my first ¼ mile uterus free run. It felt amazing! I still have a long road ahead of me and have given myself a full 12 months to heal from this surgery. That’s a far cry from the six weeks I was given and I hope if your reading this you will allow yourself more time to heal as well.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without MUTU and my women’s health PT. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!