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Post surgery expectations

NoniK
Posts: 46
Joined: Oct 2017

I had a hysterectomy and lymph nodes removed 18 days ago. My surgery took 5 hours.  I would like to know what others experienced post surgery. I don’t know what is “normal”. 

How long does it take before your guts settle down. I go from diarrhea to lots of gas to mild constipation. I’m getting odd shooting pains, twitches, etc. My lungs hurt when I first wake up. Normal?

Please share your recovery experience. Thanks so much.

TeddyandBears_Mom's picture
TeddyandBears_Mom
Posts: 1564
Joined: Jun 2015

Hi NoniK,

Welcome to our board. Did you have laparoscopy surgery are abdominal? I had robotic assisted laparoscopy and it took about 3 or so weeks for things to start settling down. I had the occaisional sharp pains still 2 years post surgery. Things seem to have settled in for me now. I haven't had the sharp pains for a couple of months. My surgery was July, 2015. I encourage you to call your doctor if you are not feeling "right". Better to double check than ignore things.

Please come back and let us know how you are doing.

Love and Hugs,

Cindi

NoniK
Posts: 46
Joined: Oct 2017

Hi Cindi, 

Thanks for your reply. I did have a robic assisted laparoscopy. I have one incision that is quite uncomfortable. It feels like the stitches are poking me inside.

Any suggestions for me the next few weeks? Did you have any issues with the nodes having been removed? Swelling in your legs?

Did you have any issues with deep breathing afterwards?

I will begin radiation in the next couple of weeks.

Thank you for responding. I feel so much better hearing from others who have been in my shoes.

Sincerely, NoniK

 

TeddyandBears_Mom's picture
TeddyandBears_Mom
Posts: 1564
Joined: Jun 2015

NoniK,

I would say the best thing you can do for yourself is listen to your body. Walk when you can and rest as much as you need to. Don't push it. I had a lot of nodes removed and thankfully haven't had any problems with swelling. My right thigh was numb for over a year but didn't hurt or swell. I didn't have any breathing problems so I can't offer up any suggestions based on experience. I do think sleeping with your shoulders and head elevated might help you.

Please come back and let us know how you are doing. We will be here for you.

Love and Hugs,

Cindi

ckdgedmom's picture
ckdgedmom
Posts: 166
Joined: Oct 2017

I too had a 5 hour surgery fully hysterectomy and removal of lymph glands. It was a year ago (Nov 28 2016). I have a vertical scar from my pelvis to above my belly button.

I had trouble post anesthesia with gas and not being able to have a bowel movement from MOnday (day of surgery) until Friday night. After that my gut was fine but I take a probiotic so maybe that helped.

I mostly had trouble sleeping. I am a side sleeper and I could not sleep on my side for almost a month. It also felt "empty" down there so that was weird

I rested as much as I could....returned to work after 3 weeks but only worked a few hours a day. 

See if a probiotic helps...and be sure to mention it to your doctor...

good luck on recovery!

NoniK
Posts: 46
Joined: Oct 2017

Hi, Thanks for responding.

I had a robotic assisted laparoscopy hysterectomy. I too have to sleep on the opposite side because of the location of one of my incisions.

I find when I wake up my lungs-chest actually hurts. I keep doing deep breathing exercises.

I’m wondering what form of probiotics you took. I worried I would feel more gassy.

I‘m nearing 3 weeks Friday. I cannot imagine how you went back to work that soon. Do you have any other suggestions? How physically active were you at this point?

Thank you thank you.

NoniK

 

NoTimeForCancer's picture
NoTimeForCancer
Posts: 2609
Joined: Mar 2013

NoniK, I would start by suggesting you call your doctor's office and tell the issues you are having.  None of us are doctors and everyone responds differently based on a whole list of factors.  

 

NoniK
Posts: 46
Joined: Oct 2017

Thanks I have discussed all of my issues with my health team. I’m looking for suggestions from patients to improve my healing.

ckdgedmom's picture
ckdgedmom
Posts: 166
Joined: Oct 2017

I take a probiotic from Plexus (I have a friend who sells it)...I had previously purchased one at Whole Foods but I like this Plexus one...no gas issues and it keeps me feeling good.

i'm 53 (was 52 when I had the hysterectomy) and fairly active. Up until the pain from the uterus (we thought it was fibroids) I was doing spin classes 4-5 days a week and practicing yoga 3-5 days a week. During the weeks leading up to my hysterectomy I was bleeding a lot and it wasn't comfortable to do spin and I cut back on my yoga. I had to wait 6 weeks post-op to return to spin and yoga but as soon as I was cleared I went back to it. Because of chemo I had weeks where I only felt up to spinning 1-2 times a week and others maybe 3....as for yoga I gained weight (thank you chemo steroid) and pretty much didn't practice until May.

I have an easy job....I work in the drama department of a high school. I make costumes and assist the director so I was able to return to work because I mostly just sit.

I didn't have any issues with breathing...did your doctor have any idea why it hurt? I used that plastic breathing apparatus after surgery but found I didn't need it after a week or so.

Don't mark your healing compared to others----we all heal differently. I probably returned to work too soon and I'm a stubborn sort of woman. I actually am finding it almost harder to recover from my hernia surgery 3 weeks ago than the hysterectomy even though the hernia was laprascopic robot assist and the hysterectomy is a very long vertical incision. 

have you tried sleeping a little propped up? Like a hospital bed? I bought a wedge pillow and it kept me at an incline and it was more comfortable that way...

evolo58
Posts: 293
Joined: Dec 2017

I bought a wedge pillow as well. I used one back when I had wisdom tooth surgery (gave it to my husband, who is a snorer). It helped a whole lot with the side effects from that and helped me sleep, and I read (though of course, we ARE talking about the "innernet"), that is can help with nausea. It makes sense to me. Elevating your head is often advice I read from doctors. I couldn't afford a fancy-schmancy wedge... I bought one from Walmart. Time for me to see if it DOES work. (First chemo today).

I would think it would help with abdominal surgery (didn't think of getting one when I had that years ago) and back pain. 

llhgrey
Posts: 18
Joined: Nov 2017

I am a nursing student, and we can’t stress enough how important it is to use your incentive spirometer.  This will strengthen your diaphragm and other breathing muscles, plus it will help to prevent fluid build-up in your lungs.  If at all possible, do your spirometer each time you sit up, go to the bathroom, etc.

Also, if you have an abdominal binder, this helps to hold “things together”.  I received mine at the hospital the day after my surgery.  You can purchase one on amazon if necessary.

evolo58
Posts: 293
Joined: Dec 2017

I looked an incentive spriometer up. I forgot I had to use one after my myomectomy. I guess that's common with abdominal surgeries. It was annoying, but I did do it.

I AM hoping that when they take stuff out, if they could move my prolapsed bladder up too. I would be so grateful! :) 

Thank you for the tip about the binder as well. Now I'm thinking of a giant hernia ... wait ... maybe it's not that different. How long should you wear one?

llhgrey
Posts: 18
Joined: Nov 2017

I had a total hysterectomy/BSO, and they also removed my omentum.  My surgery could not be done laparoscopically, because my tumor was quite large.  As a result, my incision started above my umbilicus and traveled all the way down to my pubic area.  I wore my abdominal binder for almost 7 weeks.  That final week, I kept forgetting to put it on, so I just left it off.  I am assuming the laparoscopic procedure would heal more quickly?

NoniK
Posts: 46
Joined: Oct 2017

Thanks for the suggestion. I will definitely look for an abdominal binder. It sounds wonderful to give my abdomen a break. I have 6 laparoscopic incisions and I can imagine the added support would feel great.

pinky104
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

I've had cancer surgery twice, in 2010 and this year.  The second time, I had chest pain after surgery.  I was taken for a CT scan of my chest while still in the hospital to rule out a pulmonary embolism (clot).  It was negative.  To be honest, I didn't do the spirometry thing as much as I should have.  I ended up with pain at the base of my lungs that was getting worse after I'd been home a while.  I went into the ER and went through a work-up (EKG, x-ray, another CT scan, arterial blood gases, etc.).  That found nothing, and I was sent home with a diagnosis of non-specific chest pain.  After that, I got to thinking about how when I worked as a coder in the ER, I used to see the diagnosis of costochondritis pretty often.  I googled it and decided that was most likely what I had.  It went away after a month or so.  I had abd. pain for a long time after each surgery and could hardly get out of bed, but I had pretty extensive surgery each time.  The first time, I had cancer surgery and had my gallbladder and appendix removed.  The second time, I had cancer surgery with two resections, one for the cancer and one for my intestines that had grown into the mesh from my incisional hernia repair 5 years earlier, along with a "replacement" of my abdominal wall with mesh.  I would guess it took about a month to a month and a half for my abdomen to settle down.  I was told to take Colace stool softener, which I did for a long time, but now, I don't need it any longer.  You may have some irritable bowel syndrome.  I'm not sure where your twitches are, but I wonder if they might be from an electrolyte imbalance (calcium, magnesium, and/or potassium).  I have supplemented with potassium and have a lot fewer cramps and twitches in my extremities than I used to have.  I'm on both a prescription potassium pill and a small supplement that's over the counter.  The prescription one is much more effective than the other one was, although I take both now, and I'm in the correct range according to my oncologist. You may want to see if your doctor thinks you should be tested to find out your levels of your electrolytes.  Also, I have twitches more frequently when I don't get enough sleep, so that's another possibility.  I know I had a lot of trouble sleeping after my first surgery.  I started taking Melatonin to help me sleep, but instead found myself waking up with horrible nightmares of people dying right in front of me, so I got off of it.

NoniK
Posts: 46
Joined: Oct 2017

Hi, Thanks so much for your feedback. I went to see my PCP today and she diagnosed me with costochondritis. So you were right on. She thinks it has to do with whatever position I was in during surgery. Suggested taking Advil and giving it time to heal without lifting any weight. She also suggested I take a chewable gas medication after every meal until things calm down. I will definitely ask my doctor to check my electrolytes. Thanks for that suggestion and for taking the time to respond. 

pinky104
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

You're very welcome.  That's interesting that it may be positional.  I hadn't thought of that.  I know some other women on this site in the past have had other aches and pains from the positions they were put in during surgery.  I remember reading in one of my surgery reports about how I was strapped down.  Maybe the strap went across my ribs.  I don't remember how they worded it now, almost 8 mos. later, but that seems quite likely. 

derMaus's picture
derMaus
Posts: 561
Joined: Nov 2016

I got this one on Amazon. It was a lifesaver;  cheap and washable, too. After trial and error, I came to prefer the ones with addition straps so you can get a custom adjustment. I wore it for a couple of months after surgery.

https://www.amazon.com/Healthcom-Abdominal-Comfortable-Postpartum-Maternity/dp/B01AW5HKY6/ref=sr_1_15_s_it?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1512853042&sr=1-15&keywords=abdominal%2Bbinder&th=1

 

NoniK
Posts: 46
Joined: Oct 2017

Thanks for the suggestion. It really helps.

 

JinVa's picture
JinVa
Posts: 29
Joined: Dec 2017

Hi NoniK and welcome! This board is full of wonderful ladies and you will never lack for support. I had a robotically assisted radical hysterectomy with removal of both Fallopian tubes and ovaries along with dissection of sentinel lymph nodes on 27 December so I am nine days post-op. The first three-four days were the worst b/c I had to have a Foley catheter and had trouble passing gas and bowel movement. I still need a stool softener but am getting around ok. More tired than usual -- I also take a daily nap but then struggle with insomnia at night. I also have weird twinges and pain in my hips, which is strange because both are artificial implants. It has been crazy cold on the East Coast though so maybe that has something to do with it. My incisions hurt and anything with a waistband irritates But I think that is normal. I never had lung pain and echo others in urging you to talk with your medical team. I slept semi-reclined on a couch the first few days that I came home so maybe that helped. I'm so sorry you are uncomfortable and hope you feel better soon and recover fully. 

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