How to have a voluntary hysterectomy in melbourne part 2: the boring details of surgery

This is a very long and boring post for the people who like to know every single detail.

links to sections:
The days before the surgery
The day of the surgery
The days after the surgery
Pain and discomfort
Things I’m not allowed to do

I had a laproscopic hysterectomy with bilateral saplingectomy (medicare item number 35754), which means they made very small cuts with very small knives and took out my uterus, cervix, and fallopian tubes. I think this is the most common type of hysterectomy.

In the next few days I’ll upload the information sheets given to me by the hospital for even more juicy hysto detail.

The days before the surgery

It did get delayed. When covid numbers started going up again elective surgery was restricted. They rescheduled me for a month’s time but it was all a bit up in the air. My ordinary doctor said not to hold out hope and assume a February date. An acquaintance on the public waiting list for a hysterectomy was told all non-urgent elective surgery was just cancelled indefinitely.

I threw myself into work a bit; the final edits of my awful PhD were overdue anyway. Lockdown was supposed to end around the approximate date of my proposed surgery, but I didn’t make any plans. I drafted many emails to Dr Cilly’s assistant about whether it would actually be going ahead, but didn’t send them, not wanting to be a bother, or to hear bad news. That was silly though – when I did eventually shoot off a message at 4.50pm on a Friday with a typo in the subject line, Dr CiIly’s office replied very reassuringly. I filled out the admissions form on the hospital website.

From then, the phone calls began. The hospital accountant, telling me how much it would cost. The hospital admissions nurse, talking through the online paperwork I’d filled out and asking if I had any allergies. The anaesthetist’s assistant, asking for $990 to be paid online. The anaesthetist himself, asking for my medical history and if I had any allergies. Dr Cilly’s office, confirming details and asking for a gap payment of $500. The hospital again, asking me to get a blood test. The hospital again, asking me to get a blood test from a different pathology lab. Text messages from the hospital asking me to get a covid test, to isolate, to log into their website and fill out forms. In the week leading up to the surgery, I got maybe one or two phone calls a day. I isolated from Tuesday until Friday, after getting a covid test.

The day of the surgery was set, but the time was still up in the air. A day or two beforehand I was told surgery would happen at 11.30am, then 9am.

The day of the surgery

There’d been windy storms the night before and I’d hardly slept. I didn’t feel very stressed, but my tum was well upset. Ultros took me to the hospital and left me at the door since visitors weren’t allowed. The receptionist nurse got me to look over my details, asked me if I had any allergies, got me to sign a whole bunch of stuff I was too tired to read, took $4238 from my bank account, and asked me choose lunch and dinner from the day’s menu (this was the hardest part). There was some weird gender stuff but I’ll talk about that in a later post.

After that, I waited in a waiting room with two other people for about 20 minutes. After that, I waited in a waiting room with three other people for about 45 minutes. I was grumpy and tired so I napped. The anaesthetist texted me to ask how long it had been since I’d eaten, and how much water I’d had that morning.

Pretty soon after that, a nurse called me in. She confirmed my name and address and such, and asked if I had any allergies. She asked me about hearts and diabetes and livers. She asked me to sign some more stuff I didn’t read. She took my blood pressure and told me to take all my clothes off and put a hospital gown on. She measured my calves and rolled tight socks up to my knees. She took my belongings away. Another nurse came in and asked me to pee in a jar. After that, I waited in another waiting room for about 20 minutes.

I was put on a trolley bed and taken into a little room that stored kaleidoscope blades (I’m possibly remembering wrong) and a sassy nurse came in to suggest a new nickname for me and ask if I had any allergies. The anaesthetist came in, asked me to remove my lip piercing, put a cannula into the back of my hand (it was uncomfortable but didn’t hurt), and asked me if I had any allergies. Dr Cilly came in and asked if I was VERY SURE ABOUT THIS. I was really tired so instead of saying ‘yes i am extremely certain!’ I said ‘yeah?? I guess??’. I think she removed my uterus despite this so it was fine.

From my trolley I watched busy nurses walk around for about half an hour. Then the sassy nurse came back in and said it was time to go! He wheeled my trolley into the surgery next door, and asked me to shuffle over to a new uncomfortable bed. Another nurse was taking intimidating tools out of a bag and arranging them on a tray like it was some sort of torture scene. The anaesthetist injected some anti-nausea medication into the cannula, which hurt a bit, put a mask over my face and then

I was in a hospital room with a blood pressure monitor on my arm, an oxygen monitor on my finger, a catheter in my bits, and two wheezy squeezers on my legs. I felt really fine. Dr Cilly came in to tell me that everyone had a really great time removing my organs, including me, and asked if she should call anyone. I asked her to call Watim and Ultros and went back to sleep. The nurses came in pretty regularly to check me, but I napped happily until around 5pm, when I woke up and bragged to everyone about my cool day.

The days after the surgery

After the surgery I felt fantastic. The whole afternoon was wonderful. Not because I was high on painkillers or anything – I actually just felt normal. It was because the surgeon said I’d had a very easy, problem-free surgery, and all my friends were sending me nice messages, and I’d actually had some sleep, and the hard part was over! I also loved having a catheter, it was so cool to not have to get up to pee.

The night of the surgery (Friday) was pretty hard. I think I had two hours’ sleep, which the night nurse said was pretty typical. The blood pressure machine seemed scared of the dark and kept clutching my arm for support. The wheezy squeezers on my legs were charming but noisy, and in my dreaminess I imagined they were enthusiastic toddlers hugging my calves and doing big farts. Everything beeped and whirred a lot. Patients in other rooms kept dinging their nurse-attractor beacons.

Saturday was more difficult. One of the more modern and technologically advanced indignities is getting gas pumped into your body to inflate it like a big balloon so your organs are easier to find. This somehow meant that my shoulders were absolutely killing me. My wounds also started hurting around 4am, stabbing pains alongside a whole body uneasiness. The nurse gave me some drugs which really helped. They also injected my leg with anti-blood-clotting magic and removed my catheter which was uncomfortable and disappointing. Later on Saturday I stood up for the first time since Friday morning and was overcome by nausea and weakness. The nurse gave me tramadol, an opiate, and this made me feel real woozy and spaced out, which I didn’t enjoy. I stayed spacey for the rest of the day, and decided to avoid opiates unless I was in the most worst of pain. Before they discharged me the nurses made me do some void tests which sounds cool but isn’t – they measured how much I had pissed and did an ultrasound to check if my bladder was completely empty. I was discharged around 1pm – a little later than everyone expected, because Dr Cilly had to stop and do some emergency lifesaving on the way. A nurse brought me downstairs in a wheelchair and Ultros picked me up from the front door.

At home on Sunday I felt much better. I definitely didn’t feel normal, but I also didn’t feel any stabbing pain or nausea. The most discomfort I felt was in my shoulders, and a sort of bloated gassiness like I’d eaten something really wrong. This got a bit better when I finally ‘used my bowels’ Monday morning.

Monday I felt great, until I tried to walk to the end of the driveway. After that I crashed, and was really fatigued and sore the rest of the day. My vag also started to bleed (WHICH IS APPARENTLY COMPLETELY NORMAL AND I’M DEFINITELY NOT WORRIED AT ALL), and I had a few cramping pains, sort of like a bad period pain.

Tuesday I felt fine physically but was really tired and vague all day.

Wednesday onwards I felt perfectly fine! As long as I didn’t try to do anything too physical, I felt completely normal.

Pain and discomfort

Week one: I’m not really in any pain. It’s more just a feeling of stiffness in my tum, sore shoulders, and a general sense of blah. In terms of being able to do stuff, it’s a lot like having the flu. Not in terms of the symptoms, but in terms of how much energy you’ll have and how much you can concentrate on things. If I try and use my stomach muscles to sit up or twist around I feel an uncomfortable ache and an unconscionable guilt that I’m jeopardising my stitches. Turns out you need your core muscles for everything, and it’s really inconvenient not having them around. I’m getting better really quick, but I’m still having to ask my partners to pick things off the ground, to help me stand up, to help me sit down, to put my socks on.

Going to the loo is definitely the most nightmarish part of my recovery. The information sheets did warn about constipation, but this is next level. I wish something else was the most nightmarish part, because it’s embarrassing to talk about. Information online says your bowels become ‘stunned’ during surgery, and opiates also slow everything to a standstill. It definitely felt like my guts were asleep, or disconnected. They’re starting to wake up, but they’re not happy. Last time I went to the loo I sat there for half an hour with the shivers. Maybe my bowel and uterus were friends?

I’ll have 4 permanent scars when this is over. And right now I have 4 postage-stamp sized bandages on my lower tum, which I must keep clean and dry. Weirdly enough they’re all labelled 1 to 4. Number 1 is on my lower right side, sort of near my hip bone. Number 2 is right over my belly button. Number 3 is a little down and to the left from number 2. And number 4 is below that. I can take these dressings off myself on Friday and the wounds should be pretty much healed. Once or twice I have felt quick pangs in these places, but on the whole they’re unnoticeable.

I’m taking panadol every 6 hours and an anti-inflammatory every 12 hours, and that seems to work fine, since I’m not feeling any pain.

Week two: The shoulder pain and stiffness is gone, so I can move around a lot easier. I’ve taken my bandages off and I have three tiny scars about a centimetre long (the belly button one doesn’t show). What I’m noticing this week is some mild cramps in the morning, like period pain. These only last a few minutes though, and are probably the result of sleeping in weird positions. Apart from that, the only sign I’ve had a hysterectomy is that I get tired a lot easier than usual. As long as I sit around a lot it’s fine. My partners are still making me dinner, but I can do pretty much everything else.

Week 3: I’m not taking any medication, not even panadol. I feel a mild internal ache after masturbating or walking longer than 20 minutes, but other than that I feel completely normal. The scars are fading fast and are a bit itchy.

Things I’m not allowed to do

I’m not allowed to lift things heavier than 2kg and I’m not allowed to do any exercise more than wandering around the house for 2 weeks. I’m not allowed to drive for 3 weeks. I’m not allowed to jog for 4 weeks. I’m not allowed to put anything in my vag for 6 weeks, (though I am allowed to be aroused). I’m not allowed to go to the gym for 6 weeks at least. After that I’m taking my 2.1kg dildos and joyriding to the orgy at the treadmill factory baybeeee

part 1: finding a surgeon
part 2: the boring details of surgery
part 3: advice
part 4: money
part 5: gender feelings (mine and others)