I Found an Alternative to the Standard, Abdominal Hysterectomy
My menstrual period was a nightmare every month.
I would bleed so heavily that I would routinely soak through a pad every hour. Coughing and sneezing would make blood gush out and it wasn’t uncommon for me to leak through my clothes.
Plus, I had severe cramping before and after my periods. Most of the time, the pain was so intense, I would be doubled over and couldn’t get up until it passed. Another doctor gave me pain pills (Tylenol with codeine) and to get through my workday, I’d take half a pain pill. To sleep at night and relieve the pain, I would take a Tylenol PM. The severe pain would last four to seven days during my period and up to two weeks after my period ended.
Four years ago, I had an endometrial ablation to try and reduce some symptoms. An ablation is a procedure that uses a lighted viewing instrument to destroy (ablate) the uterine lining. Edometrial ablation can be done by laser, heat (radiofrequency), electricity, freezing or microwave.
For a year following the ablation, I felt much better, the pain was bearable and the bleeding lessened. But after 12 months after the procedure, the pain went right back to its pre-ablation level—and then some.
I finally sought help after I was at the grocery story with my kids and almost passed out from the pain. I didn’t know how I was going to get them home because I was so dizzy. That’s when I knew I had to do something. I went to go see another doctor and was diagnosed with adenomyosis, an irregularity in the muscle of my uterus. Because of my heavy menstrual flow and pain, the doctor suggested I have an abdominal hysterectomy. I knew this diagnosis was eventually coming. My mom had a complete hysterectomy at 31. She had the same symptoms I had: pain, bleeding, cramping, to point of passing out.
One of my girlfriends had just had an abdominal hysterectomy and she had a very bad experience. She showed me her incision: it sat right below her belly-button and ran at least five inches across her stomach. It was scary looking. She was in pain for at least three weeks, if not longer. She couldn’t walk a certain distance without her insides hurting her and making her sit down. Her surgical incision hurt her for week and a half.
I went back and fourth about having the abdominal surgery. I made an appointment, cancelled it, made another appointment and then, cancelled that one too.
I was told it would take four to six weeks to recover. I have two kids and there was no way I could afford to take that much time off of work.
Then I saw a commercial on TV about the single-port total laparoscopic hysterectomy procedure at MetroHealth Medical Center.
I called and scheduled an appointment.
Dr. Robert Pollard, a OB/Gyn at MetroHealth suggested I have a single-port laparoscopic surgery. The surgery is done through a single incision made in the patient’s umbilicus or bellybutton. Pollard said he usually tells women to expect a recovery time of up to three weeks but he also said many women were back to work (or back to their regular activities) within 8 to 10 days.
I scheduled my surgery for June 23rd. My surgery began at around 7:30 AM and lasted about 2 hours. I was allowed to make the decision to stay overnight in the hospital or go home. I decided I wanted to go home.
I was home by about 2:45 that same day and given the following restrictions: No lifting over 10 pounds for first week, no sex for 8 weeks and no swimming.
The pain level was pretty intense the first couple of days. The surgery is done through an incision in your belly button and that area is really sore. I had no idea how many muscles are around your belly button! Whenever I tried to sit up, roll over, cough or do anything really, it made me wince in pain.
Another thing I wasn’t expecting is how much gas I would have following the procedure. During the procedure, they pump your stomach with gas (to make it easier for them to see everything more clearly) and that gas has got to get out somehow. The pain from the gas lasted about three days.
I couldn’t take bandage off until next day. But when I took it off, there was a little hole in my belly button but nothing else. No blood, no scar, no nothing.
I am going back to work this Monday, which is 12 days after my surgery!!
Deanna M. works as a medical billing specialist for an ambulance company. She is the mother of two children and lives in Kirtland, OH.
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