A few years after the birth of my last child, I began to experience horrible abdominal pain. The pain soon gave way to other symptoms and my doctor diagnosed me with polycystic ovarian syndrome. I continually had benign tumors growing on ovaries, and it was only a matter of time before benign would turn into malignant. I chose to have a total hysterectomy.
A total, radical hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. While the procedure cured the tumor growth and eliminated pain, bleeding, and the cancer risks in that region, I was unprepared for the sudden onslaught of menopause within six hours after surgery.
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The intense hot flashes intermixed with incredible waves of cold coupled with sweating through my clothes made me nearly wish for a surgical reversal. I wanted my ovaries back! Without the hormones from the ovaries, my body was protesting on a cellular level.
Plus, I was irritable. That's italicized because of the intensity of the irritability.
No one told me that menopause would hit me six hours after surgery, or that it would be that intense in the days, weeks, and months afterward. It's been four years and I still have hot flashes and cold sweats, although no where as intense. The hot flashes would grow from an internal furnace I had no idea I had, and radiate out. Cuddling with my husband became a tropical nightmare.
Something had to be done.
I found these items helped me manage the menopause after hysterectomy the most. Because no one told me about these things, I want to make sure you know about them, if you're going through this.
Washcloths and Blankets
Damp, cold washcloths put around my neck helped to cool me down, and they could be easily removed if a hot flash turned south to a polar trajectory. Blankets helped during the cold flashes. My hysterectomy was in a very warm May, and I wrapped up in flannel blankets.
One word: don't. The hysterectomy surgery recovery was one of the few post-surgical times in which I was incredibly uncomfortable: dealing with pain and soreness from the laproscopic surgical site, then all.the.hormones -- I was in no shape to entertain well-wishing visitors. Some people brought food, which was great, but: suggest to people that restaurant gift cards would be better, and have a caregiver or spouse (or adult child) get take-out instead.
It's not that I didn't like people -- it's just I was so uncomfortable in my own skin that I didn't want to be near myself, let alone others. Did I mention irritability?
You are going to want a small travel pillow or even a nursing pillow to cover your abdomen and protect it. The nursing pillows are something that you really should not give away. It's inevitable that someone will have a broken arm, tummy trouble, or something, and this pillow helps wrap around the abdomen. It gives a sense of a shield around your belly.
Sherbert or Ice Pops
I found that snacking on a small bowl of sherbert, or an fruit ice pop, helped with hot flashes internally, more so than even drinking cold water.
I found some natural supplements that were miracles in a box. These supplements temporarily eliminated (at least for me) hot flashes so that I could sleep, and helped the irritability. I am not a doctor, and don't claim to be, so you need to ask your medical provider if taking a supplement is right for you, but they worked miracles for me. The ones I used are available here.
Most of all, I had to realize that losing my ovaries was the cause of the sudden menopause, not my husband, or children, or an unexpected visitor that would.not.leave. I learned I had to have grace with others who were just trying to help me, and, I had to have grace with myself. Having a hysterectomy is often a traumatic thing -- for me, it was knowing having another biological child was out of the question -- so extending grace and even praying for yourself during this trying time are important.
Please share below if you have suggestions to help others going through a hysterectomy [but please be kind].
(c) 2018 Terrie Bentley McKee
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