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Hysterectomy Post-Op
Discharge Instructions
When you are discharged from the hospital your doctor will give you written instructions for pain medications and when to call the doctor's office or head to ER. In most cases you should call or head out if you experience:
  • severe nausea/vomiting
  • increased pain
  • fever greater than 101 degrees for 24 hours
  • difficulty breathing
  • unusual bleeding
  • leg pain

    Always call your doctor's office with any concerns you have about your health.

    Caring For Your Incision
    Some types of hysterectomies have external incision/s that require tending. Discharge instructions from the hospital should contain specific instructions for caring for yours. If they do not, ask your surgeon or call their office.

    Abdominal Hysterectomy

    You may come home from the hospital with stitches (or staples) or your stitches may be removed before you leave the hospital and replaced with steri-strips. Generally your incision should remain dry (or be dried carefully after a short shower) and covered loosely. A call to your doctor's office can calm your fears if your incision comes open. Be sure and rest and do not do any lifting. Overdoing things can stress your incision.

    Vaginal Hysterectomy

    While a vaginal hysterectomy does not have external incisions, if you had anterior or posterior repairs, you may have an episiotomy-like incision, if so, the first thing to remember is to avoid sitting. For immediate relief, use a peri-bottle filled with water as hot as you can stand it to spray over the area, every time you visit the washroom. If you were not given one when you left the hospital, you can use a sterilized plastic condiment bottle: it will be just as efficient. Another option is to use a clean wash-cloth that has been thoroughly soaked in hot water.

    Laparoscopic Hysterectomy

    Usually the 4-5 small incisions of a laparoscopic hysterectomy can be covered with bandaids. Although your incisions are small, internal healing must still take place. Be sure and rest enough so your body can heal properly.

    Managing Pain Post-Op Hysterectomy
    Upon discharge from the hospital, your surgeon will send you home with pain medication and instructions.

    During the first week it's important that you follow your pain medication instructions, taking your pills on schedule. This is to insure that your pain will be manageable. Waiting or forgetting to take your pain medications may mean that your pain will increase and will be more difficult to "get on top of".

    Denying yourself the pain meds might sound heroic but your body will have a difficult time healing from the incisions and repairs if it's spending its energy managing the pain.

    Take your pain medications as instructed and call your physician with any questions or concerns.

    The Pain Scale is a great way to communicate the intensity of your pain to your family and/or physician.

    Andrea Mankowski, software designer and endometriosis sufferer, devised this pain scale to describe her pain to her family and her physicians. Although it is designed to describe pelvic pain, it can in fact be used to quantify pain anywhere in the body. If you research pain on the Web, you can find many references to this method of quantifying pain. Feel free to print this out and take it with you to your doctor appointments or to the hospital.

  • 0: Pain Free. No medication needed.
  • 1: Very minor annoyance - occasional minor twinges. No medication needed.
  • 2: Minor annoyance - occasional strong twinges. No medication needed.
  • 3: Annoying enough to be distracting. Mild painkillers are effective. (Aspirin, Ibuprofen.)
  • 4: Can be ignored if you are really involved in your work, but still distracting. Mild painkillers relieve pain for 3-4 hours.
  • 5: Can't be ignored for more than 30 minutes. Mild painkillers reduce pain for 3-4 hours.
  • 6: Can't be ignored for any length of time, but you can still go to work and participate in social activities. Stronger painkillers (Codeine, Vicodin) reduce pain for 3-4 hours.
  • 7: Makes it difficult to concentrate, interferes with sleep You can still function with effort. Stronger painkillers are only partially effective. Strongest painkillers relieve pain (Oxycontin, Morphine)
  • 8: Physical activity severely limited. You can read and converse with effort. Nausea and dizziness set in as factors of pain. Stronger painkillers are minimally effective. Strongest painkillers reduce pain for 3-4 hours.
  • 9: Unable to speak. Crying out or moaning uncontrollably - near delirium. Strongest painkillers are only partially effective.
  • 10: Unconscious. Pain makes you pass out. Strongest painkillers are only partially effective.
    Constipation Post-Op
    If you are experiencing the normal constipation from your surgery, here are a few things HysterSisters recommends:
  • Use a stool softener instead of a laxative
  • Drink lots of water
  • Walk!
  • Eat foods that are full of fiber and encourage movements (Prunes, apples, bran)
  • Ask for your doctor's recommendation

    Vaginal Bleeding Post-Op
    No matter what kind of hysterectomy you had, chances are you will need to wear a pad for a few weeks as there will likely be vaginal bleeding post-op. As your healing continues, the bleeding will be less and less red and become more brownish. Around weeks 3 or 4 you may pass some stitches.

    If your bleeding was lessening and one day you see much more blood and it is bright red, be sure and call your doctor's office. Lifting or doing too much may result in tearing of stitches which could cause extra bleeding and slow down your recovery. This is another reason to take things easy and allow your body to heal.

    The odd odor you may become aware of can be a combination of things related to your hysterectomy. Healing vaginal stitches may be one of the culprits! Pain medications could also add to the odd odor. But remember: No douching allowed. Bladder Spasms Post-Op

    During your hysterectomy it is likely you had a catheter inserted for urine collection. Although the catheter is usually removed within a few days of surgery, your bladder may be affected by its use.

    Many women complain their bladders feel as though they have an infection. It may be that you have a bladder infection (especially if accompanied by a fever) however many discover that the bladder isn't infected but spasming. Your bladder is irritated during surgery by being moved and also by the use of the catheter. It may take your bladder a while to get back to feeling normal.

    Check with your doctor on any concerns you have about your bladder. There are effective medications for bladder spasms or, if you have an infection, your doctor will need to put you on antibiotics.

    What is Allowed? Not Allowed?
  • Picking up pillows and repositioning them-allowed
  • Turning on dishwasher AFTER SOMEONE ELSE HAS LOADED IT-allowed
  • Folding laundry-allowed
  • Taking short, easy walks and gentle stretching-allowed
  • Asking others for help-allowed and encouraged

    Not Allowed

  • Vacuuming-NOT ALLOWED
  • Sweeping or Mopping-NOT ALLOWED
  • Carrying laundry across house to washer-NOT ALLOWED
  • Lifting, Bending, Reaching, Driving-NOT ALLOWED
  • Lying around the house all day doing nothing-NOT ALLOWED (see above)
  • Bending to access oven or empty litterboxes-NOT ALLOWED
  • Going to Wal-Mart for some bargain shopping-NOT RECOMMENDED
  • Pushing a shopping cart-NOT ALLOWED
  • Sitting for prolonged periods of time i.e. at computer-NOT ALLOWED
  • Opening windows, particularly the hard-to-open ones-NOT ALLOWED
  • Making other people's problems your own-NOT ALLOWED
  • Picking Tomatoes, Weeding, and other such nonsense-NOT ALLOWED
    For More Hysterectomy Information?
    Visit the HysterSisters website for extensive information, support and discussions for post-op recovery issues concerning insomnia, getting out of bed, handling swelly belly, driving and more. Click Here
  • More Helpful Links

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