What’s surgery like?

For some women, hysterectomy is not their first surgery, but for others (myself included!) it’s the first time they’ve ever had surgery. Maybe that’s you? Or maybe you’re just wondering what it’s like.

This article is just going to be an overview; I’d recommend reading the personal stories for more specific details, but also remember everyone is different and every situation is different. Hospitals and surgeons will do things differently.
Firstly, surgery is probably going to be nowhere near as bad as you expect – especially if you go into it aware, have discussed all your worries with your surgeon and have had all your questions answered.

Generally speaking, you’ll go into hospital early and go through all the various pre-op procedures; they’ll ask you lots of questions and take blood samples. You’ll get changed into a hugely attractive hospital gown. You might get to see your room, you might not. Some women are wheeled into surgery on gurney, some walk into the OR themselves. Lying in surgery the nurses will chat to you and you’ll be put to sleep. I wasn’t even aware it was happening, I guess suddenly I was out like a light!
After surgery you’ll go to a recovery area. This is where you’ll first come out of the anesthesia but you probably still won’t be very aware of anything. Once they’re happy you’re recovering smoothly you’ll be taken to your room. Here it will still be a while before you’re aware of things again; I have no memory of being taken anywhere or moved into my bed. Apparently I said things to my husband that I can’t remember saying! (Thankfully nothing embarrassing).

And that’s you! You’ll stay in bed for most of the day, feeling pretty tired and groggy. You shouldn’t feel very sore – there are meds for that – and if you feel nauseous there are meds for that too. You probably won’t be hungry either. You’ll probably have a catheter in; they put it in while you’re asleep and take it out 24hrs later – it doesn’t hurt, just feels a bit odd.

The first evening a nurse will get you out of bed and get you walking; not far, just few steps. The next day you’ll walk a bit more, and a bit more. They like to get you moving around 🙂

Every now and then someone will come round and check up on you, taking blood pressure, checking your incisions. And eventually they will say you’re good to go and can leave! How long this takes depends on what surgery you had, and your surgeon’s requirements. Some specify you need to urinate on your own first, or poop, or pass gas. They want to make sure your system is working before you go home.

And then you get to go home and sit on the sofa! And yes, that’s important, you need to REST!