The other day, I was approached by a young woman on Facebook. She sent me a message because she’s going undergoing a similar procedure (well, actually the same procedure) and she wanted to know what were things she should look out for. I sent her a pretty lengthy message and I’ve cleaned up my answers here.
If you’re going through this, I hope that this helps! Happy reading! 🙂
1. Ask lots of questions!
This is for everyone! The hospital staff, your insurance company, family, etc. Specifically, you want to know about hospital procedure (especially with the anesthesia), how many days you’ll have to spend in the hospital, visiting hours, and other things that might concern you. I didn’t think of this until after I had my procedure but ask things like, “Will I be in a recovery room alone or will I have to share?” Another thing that I didn’t think to ask is whether I would be at a “teaching hospital” and if any of the staff have shadows or students. If so, ask if this will this impact your procedure or your recovery, and if they say yes, ask them in what way?
2. Take it easy!
It is a major surgery so only do as much as you possibly can without getting too fatigued. Do NOT (under any circumstances) push yourself or allow someone to push you to move or do something that you may not be ready to do. I didn’t take it as easy as I should have and as a result, I pulled some of my internal incisions/sutures opened. Because of that, I was put on bedrest (which was absolutely boring) and I have to be watched for more scarring. So rest!
3. Do everything you can to avoid constipation.
People tell you this but they never tell you how. Drink lots of clear fluids (preferably water and apple juice) & take 1 Colace pill before every meal. One thing they don’t tell you is that your pain relievers may cause constipation and you can get ahead of that by taking the colace before you eat your meals. Also, if your hospital lets you pick the food that you’ll get to eat (we had a menu and could choose our own combinations), pick the vegetables. Always…pick the vegetables! If you get nothing else from this, you want to make it as easy as possible for you to go to the bathroom because you can’t push to urinate faster or evacuate your bowels. You have to sit there…and wait. And if your nurses are anything like mine, they’ll keep asking you if you’re okay (which gets annoying). So up your fiber intake and drink water.
4. Rest up…rest up!
When you get home, rest. Rest on your couch. Rest in a reclining chair. Rest…don’t do anything except rest (okay, actually do what your doctor tells you to do but rest). I’m not sure how high your bed is but I learned that if you are lying on something, you want it as low as possible. You won’t really be able to use your core muscles for the first few weeks (they’ll tell you to use your arms to lift yourself) so you’ll have to be creative in getting up. Beds are generally higher than couches, so you increase your risk of tearing your incision and you don’t want that.
5. Eat smaller portions.
The portions that you normally eat should probably be reduced. You won’t be moving that much for the first few weeks, so don’t eat like you normally would. It only leads to constipation and unnecessary weight gain.
6. Snack and snack on soft stuff.
In addition to making sure your snacks are easily digestible, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t have to work hard to eat them. Your meds will make you sleepy. Nothing worse than struggling to stay awake while eating a snack. So what do you do? Get lots of snacks that are easily digestible (i.e., pudding, jello, applesauce especially, etc.) because those will help when you have to take your medication and it is not meal time. One of the things I experienced was vomiting due to taking meds on an empty stomach (don’t do that) and I learned that you use your stomach when you vomit. So everything about that experience was painful.
7. Wear comfy clothes & super pads!
That might be a bit TMI but who am I kidding, everything about this procedure is TMI. Wear loose clothing and invest in some heavy-duty sanitary napkins. You will experience some bleeding and this is normal. But you want the overnight or super absorbent napkins for the bleeding because they hold more and you can’t use tampons.
8. Don’t lift anything heavy.
Heavy here really means like you have to strain your arm muscle. They’ll tell you twenty pounds, so you definitely want to only pick up anything under than weight. But if you ask me, just stay away from holding small kids or heavy
9. Pillows as props are the rule of thumb.
Especially when you’re sleeping. They’ll have you start to sleep on your side after a few days. When they do this, use a pillow or two behind your back. It helps with the pressure. And it also helps you in getting up.
10. You’ll have to roll to get up…but not really.
When you go to get up, use your legs and arms. I started to do this trick where I would literally pull my knees to my chest, scoot to the edge of whatever I was on, and push up with my arms. If you consider yourself to be of the “I have no upper body strength” club, then start doing push-ups. You’ll thank me in the end.
11. Ask if they’ll give you Benadryl with your pain relievers.
The pain relievers while great will probably make you itchy . That’s normal. If you feel that, ask for Benadryl IMMEDIATELY! I now have scars on my legs because I scratched them after I would take my pain relievers (not realizing that it was the medication making me itchy). Once I figured that out though, they gave me the Benadryl and it was no problem.
12. Shower time & washing your hair can be tricky!
When you bathe or shower, I suggest getting a bath chair and sitting, but that’s only if you have a problem with standing up for a long period of time. I had that issue. Try to get your hair done in a style where you won’t have to worry about it for a few weeks. I couldn’t even hold my arms up to wash my hair until like week 3 or 4 of recovery (I had braids so it wasn’t that bad).
Other things that I shared:
- 6-8 weeks is a normal recovery time.
- Be careful because with an abdominal myomectomy because your lower abdomen WILL be numb (they cut your nerves so you can’t feel anything).
- Wearing heels is out of the question — for a few weeks (just thought I would throw that in as a freebie).
Here’s to happy healing! If you have any questions, post them in the comments section.
~Ms. C. Jayne