Defeating the demons

This week has been massive for me, not necessarily in terms of physical improvements but more in ticking off mental milestones. 


The first milestone of the week came last Saturday in the form of a Spin class. This had been a goal of mine since last August. Now let me put this into context, having just been diagnosed and told cycling would be the best cardio for me I had a nightmare of a spin class. Within the warm up I discovered that every time I pedalled I effectively forced the fibroid up into my abdomen with my knees. The class had lasted 45 minutes during which I never got out of first gear, I was having to sit up tall to minimise the chance of catching my abdomen, I was frustrated, fed up and in a world of pain. The pain didn’t even stop there, for 3 days I had a constant reminder of what I had just failed to finish. It was this point I realised the impact this uninvited guest would have on me, it went from a slow puncture to a full blow out. Disappointed, lost and fed up I vowed to return. Achieving this was 100% more mentally beneficial than physical.


The second milestone came in pilates, from the earliest possible point I  began my cautious rehab, a carefully constructed routine consisting of 5 pilates style exercises. Pilates classes were reintroduced after week 4, every exercise and progression was slow and steady always erring on the side of caution and often performing much lower options than the rest of the class. As frustrating as this has been I’ve felt confident it would lead to me being stronger. This week I performed a V-sit, this means I was performing the same exercise as the rest of the class – when the rest of the class are 2+ times your age this is a big deal. 


Last but not least I got upside down! I’d put so much work into the handstand pre-op I was nervous I would be back at square one. I was by myself on the wall was just calling out to me. I kicked up expecting to hit the wall and hold for a second or two before falling, but no! I kicked up, felt my legs float up, my abs kicked in, with no contact with the wall I held myself for a couple of seconds then came down. Once again I was reassured that life is better upside down, I was surprised by how the handstand felt and as happy as a kid in a sweet shop. 

As the milestones keep coming and everything seems within touching distance the mind games are back. At times the need to stay sensible and hold back probably means I don’t push as hard as I might be able to. Yet other times the desire to push and reach those goals leaves me doing too much and regretting it. So far the sensible side is winning but I can feel the activities and exercises pulling me in. What is stronger, the heart or the head? 

NHS courtesy calls and what’s next?

Eight weeks ago I had a six inch vertical cut made in my lower abdomen and the vast majority of my reproductive system removed along with a large fibroid. This week I had my first post-op contact with the gynae team at St James. No there was no anxious waiting in a busy waiting room, no examination of the incision site, no shaking hands with the surgical team, in fact there was no face to face contact.  What I received was a “courtesy call” (their actual words), now in my experience a courtesy call is what you receive after making a purchase or hired a car, never have I associated “courtesy calls” with major surgery (Surgery serious enough to have strict protocols including lifting nothing heavier than a kettle for 6 weeks). What made the “courtesy call” even more unbelievable was that the sister making the call had no idea whether I’d had key hole, bikini line or vertical incision. I was left trying to describe the blister like area of my incision (perhaps if the courtesy call is the way to go they could introduce the use of WhatsApp for such an occasion), a challenge the sister could only respond to by instructing me to go and see my GP. I feel lucky that, blood clot aside, I’ve had a relatively straight forward recovery which I attribute to preparing myself physically and mentally both for the surgery and the recovery.

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It’s fair to say that between the cancelled surgeries cancelled surgeries and minimalistic follow up care (I was also left waiting on the line while she fought with the system to find my histology results.) I’ve been less than impressed with the NHS. I really feel for the clinical staff who quite clearly are frustrated at having to deliver a first class level of care on a third string budget and support system. NHS aside I’m now 8 weeks post-op and getting back to more and more “normal activities” everyday, the countdown to my first post-op fitness challenge is on.

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It’s now just 9 weeks until I take on my first ever triathlon. It may only be a Super sprint (Castle triathlon series, Castle Howard), 400 m swim, 20(ish) km bike and 4 km run (or something along those lines) but it’s a bloody triathlon. At this point My max bike ride has been 6.5kms and I’m on run 1 of week 2 on C25K, not running more than 90 seconds at a time. The most worrying think is that these two disciplines only come into play if I survive the 400m open water swim. Having had to cancel two challenges that just came to soon post-op I really can’t wait for this. This triathlon has really been a motivation on the days when I was sore and didn’t want to go for that walk, or do the same rehab exercises for the umpteenth time.  It also helps to know that my wife and mother in law are doing the tri too, everyone knows you can’t let your mother in-law beat you. I wonder if Castle Triathlon Series know what they’ve let themselves in for.

Week 7 – feeling almost normal(ish)

A holiday in Greece sounds lovely doesn’t it, and I’m not ungrateful for a fantastic week however this was no ordinary relax in the sun holiday. It was a Neilson holiday, jam packed with fun physical activities from cycling to waterskiing and everything in between. Booked last November there was no thought given to surgery recovery and rehab since we assumed it would all be a distant memory at this point. As it turned out our holiday clashed with a period of conflict between my heart and head, between pushing hard and taking it steady. Holding back and in many cases watching others do these activities was going to be a challenge, and not the kind I like.


As we arrived in Greece my farthest swim post op was 60m and that nearly killed me. I was keen to increase this as it’s the main cardio I’ve been able to do, that and the swim in the triathlon is already making me nervous. Mid week I made a push and reset myself the target of 400m (I’d already failed earlier in the week), 250m down my lungs and shoulders were crying, 300m I’m seriously pleased I had Becky my personal lifeguard with me, 350m, almost there, just one more length and I’ve done it. High fives all round then out of the pool to relax. 400m done, target one ticked off! 


With Becky in love with open water swimming it didn’t take long before she was clambering into her wetsuit and making her way to the sea. I supported from a kayak, apparently looking out for Whales (highly unlikely for a multitude of reasons). With the sea calm and wind low in the morning this would become a regular part of the morning routine. The girl is half fish I swear, her longest swim was 3.5 kms. Not to be outdone I dared to enter the sea, obviously the day I chose was the one day the sea decided to dance. To say I was nervous would be an understatement, thankfully there were no kids around because the air around me was turned blue! Plenty of stops, a touch of seasickness, a number of panic attacks as the waves picked me up and dropped me down and 900m was complete. 

To say I’ve been looking forward to getting on a bike would be an understatement. It’s been almost 9 months since I last rode a bike pain free (my fibroid was large enough so that whenever I pedalled I would force the fibroid into my stomach). One of the bike instructors, Jess, helped make sure I was on a suitable bike (no I wasn’t using stabilisers), reassured me they would pick up the bike if I needed to abandon it, and I was off. My first venture took me on a flat 2.5km, relatively easy pedalling it was nice to be back on a road bike picking up some speed. I waited a couple of days to make sure I had no negative reaction but really I couldn’t wait to get back out. Feeling more adventurous I set out to attempt a 6.5 km circuit to the local “town”, still a relatively short ride but measurable improvements. A couple of steady climbs and my quads were waking up after way too long without a challenge. Now the best bit, where there’s a climb there’s a decent. Yep that was me coasting down the hills shouting “wahoo”, wind in my hair and a smile on my face, yes I am a child at heart! 


Now I’m well aware that a triathlon involves three disciplines. Swim achieved, cycling getting there, run wise who stole my running legs? 8 lots of 60 seconds run and 90 seconds rest and it felt like I’d done a marathon. It was nowhere near as enjoyable as I remember but each step was a step closer to fitness. 

It’s crazy how much introducing these activities boosted my mood. It’s almost like being given part of my identity back. Worryingly a small opening has appeared on my incision site, no more than a couple of millimetres in diameter and very superficial, it is still a reminder that I’m still in the “be cautious” phase of recovery. However there’s so much more I want to be doing, so much more within reach, the only question now is do I have the discipline for this phase of recovery? 


As for our Neilson experience, once again it was fantastic. We are already looking at when we can go back. Neilson Messini is definitely staying on our “visit again” list. 

The magic 6 week mark!

Today marks the 6 week point, the end of the official “take it easy” period. The reality, I am learning, is not as simple as that and there is still plenty of recovery and learning to be had. Prior to surgery my main concern was not related to the surgery itself but rather my patience to endure the recovery period without doing anything stupid. The answer, so far, has been yes, just about and the recovery has been much easier than the build up to surgery.  


Thinking about the surgery I had some concerns that I was making the right decision to have a hysterectomy rather than myomectomy. Having initially had the hysterectomy dismissed in favour of the myomectomy, the u-turn following my second cancelled operation left some questions. I researched and read forums about the recovery and implications of the decision. Hystersisters became my go-to website for real life stories, hints and tips. The reality now the dust has begun to settle is that even I hadn’t realised how much of an impact the fibroid was having. Now that it has gone I am not in a constant battle with fatigue, pain, agitation, mood swings and frequent urination. Even at this relatively early stage of recovery (never thought I’d think of the 6 week mark as relatively early) the pain is nowhere near what it was, if I’m sensible and plan short activities with plenty of rest fatigue isn’t an issue, and I get a full nights sleep without getting up to the toilet every hour. The reassurance of knowing there’s no chance of the fibroid coming back is a huge weight lifted. 

Physically I haven’t felt this good in months. The scar seems to be healing well, and even though I still get the odd twinge and pain/achiness at times it’s been fine, and nothing like some of the horror stories you read. Mentally it’s been a real challenge to go against my instincts, hold back and not push myself too far. The results when you do just aren’t worth it. What I hadn’t factored was the psychological inpact of the restriction recovery brings. Besides family the two areas of my life that brings me most happiness are work and fitness training, to be restricted from both of these for such an extended period has been really tough. As I start reintroducing activities I am really appreciating the whole environment again.

The next steps for me are simple, continue as I am, introduce activities as and when they feel good, if something doesn’t pull or hurt keep trying it, listen to my body and try and focus on the positives. 

Week 5 – The return of actual exercise.

It’s finally here, the last “take it easy week”. That’s the advice you get given, “take it easy for six weeks”, yeah and then what? Are you magically healed? Able to go back to doing everything you want the way you were before? Not quite! I’ve been looking forward to the six week mark like it was some kind of enchanted door leading to recovery and normality. In reality the 6 week anniversary is just another day and this journey will be continuous. I see that now. If truth be told I’ve been introducing new activities as I’ve seen fit, if it doesn’t pull or hurt or cause an adverse reaction I’ve done it. I’ve tried to listen to my body, be gentle with anything new and always err on the side of caution.

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The last week has seen me progress from nothing but walking, to walking, swimming, and cycling. Actual Physical activities! Walking regularly is still a staple. I’m a geek, I like data, primarily I like that it shows progress. Each week I’ve set an average daily steps target, this allows for bad and good days This weeks target has been 7500 and that’s been easily achieved. I’ve even gone above 10000 steps three times, how do fit and healthy adults fall below this recommended amount? Swimming a single length for the first time post-op was HUGE, not only because I’m not a big fan of water but because Swimming is actual exercise! I introduced it first using a noodle (the swimming not egg kind), then moved onto a pool buoy before going unaided, first for 5 metres then slightly further until I’d done the whole length.  Cycling wise I gingerly climbed on a stationary bike, being mindful of good maintaining good posture whilst also being aware that I have extraordinarily short legs that only just reach the pedals at the bottom despite the seat being at it’s lowest setting. I’ve worked up to a massive 2kms on the bike, ok it’s no Tour de Yorkshire but again it’s actual exercise and I actually feel like I’m on the road to the triathlon.

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This week also marked the point at which I was to reintroduce Pilates. For months prior to surgery I had been a regular at Pilates, building from very basic to more advanced movements and really feeling the difference. In the build up to the class I was anxious about the psychological side of going back. Don’t get me wrong I fully trust the instructor, Emma, who is also a good friend but this would be a real indication of how far back the surgery had knocked me. Walking into the hall and getting started was great, and even though being given alternatives  and being directed to the lowest level was frustrating and a reminder to leave the ego at the door I came out buzzing and looking forward to the next class.

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Whilst it’s been a good week physically, mentally it’s been tough. This week should have been “Peak week” for me in the Rat Race preparations so whilst introducing new activities is great, a 2km ride on a stationary bike is hardly as momentous as a 20 mile obstacle run. The Dirty Weekend was going to be a huge challenge, and the highlight of this year, it had rocketed both my own and my dads training to new levels, but it’s not to be. Not this year anyway. Unfortunately the numerous cancellations I’ve endured resulted in my surgery being just six weeks before this event. It’s hard to see the build up to this event, knowing that you should be preparing for whatever it holds when the reality is you are marking a 3 km walk as a new personal best. Keeping a training diary is helping, as is the events I have booked in for this year, although a further event is at risk of being slightly too early for me. One thing is for certain though, I will be running the dirty weekend next year, it will be epic, and I will be stronger, mentally and physically, than ever before!

 

Reality Vs my Brain

 

I wasn’t going to share my blog this week, after all the positivity of last week this week has certainly had it’s dips. Having said that this blog is an honest account of my experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly. I want to be able to look back in a few months time at the journey I’ve had, I also want to share this journey with others in the hope that they might take something from my experiences.  So here it is, warts and all, an insight into what goes on in my head, the thoughts, the feelings and the actions.

 

Last weeks’ blog really highlighted a peak in positivity, everything I did was with a purpose, I was actively seeking challenges, the future was bright and I felt “recovered”. I wasn’t napping as much, was walking more comfortably and had introduced more “normal” activities. Fast forward to this week and the roller-coaster has been on a drop. Physically I’ve still been able to do much of what I was last week, I’ve been feeling more comfortable walking around but the issue of fatigue and pain has hit me like a truck on more than one occasion. Fatigue follows any time I’ve done “too much” but what constitutes “too much”? Well that seems to depend on the day, everyday is different and listening to my body is a skill I’m working on. Pain wise, there’s the odd twinge here and there, stiffness in the morning or when I’m sat for too long, the real issue is evenings/night times. It is probably my bodies way of saying I’ve done too much, well you’d have thought through years of coaching/teaching my body would know the more immediate the feedback the more likely it is to work.  Telling me at the end of the day is just too late!

 

I’ve spent the majority of three days on the sofa this week, I know that I’m only 4 weeks out from what is considered “major surgery”, I’m aware the first 4-6 weeks should be spent resting but that doesn’t stop me from being frustrated at needing these three days. I’ve always tried to keep my fitness levels up, that’s something I’m proud of, I shouldn’t need three days on the sofa. These days have also brought with them tears and tantrums, frustrations boil over. Time seems to be standing still, in my head I’m not progressing, I should be able to do more. I write a daily activity diary, in it I include steps done, rehab done, and any additional activities, even when I look through this and see the numbers showing progress I can’t help but put a damper on it. A prime example is a walk I’ve done this week, 3 km’s in over an hour, really I know I should be pleased with this progress but in reality my first thought is “wow that’s slow” or to immediately consider just how far away my fitness is from that needed for a triathlon I’ve signed up for. I know the process of goal setting and I have the smaller short term goals but I can’t help comparing where I am now to where I was prior to surgery (even that wasn’t something to overly shout about) and where I want to be.

 

The 4 week point appears to be a point where certain activities can be added, you’re encouraged to introduce more activities. This should be a time to be happy, a time to look forward to taking ownership, and I am looking forward to introducing certain activities. However, it’s a scary thought, not least because I’m naturally wired to push myself and this needs to be held back, the consequences don’t bear thinking about. The main concern for me is that getting back to these activities will further illustrate how far I’ve regressed and how much farther I have to go. How confusing, I’m frustrated by the lack of progress yet apprehensive of just what the progress will illustrate.

 

So there you have it, pretty much an unfiltered journey through my mind in week 4. The rollercoaster continues, this week has been tough, and the climb continues with many false summits, the view from the top? I really hope it’s worth it.

 

 

 

Fear, recovery and womanhood?

Fear! Something you face every day. Fear of success, fear of failure, fear of your own mortality, fear of the unknown.  The issue I have with fear is that it’s not tangible. I can’t give you a lump of fear, you can’t hold it in your hands, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  I’m a big believer in facing your fears, putting yourself in situations that scare you, thus making fear an optional concept, I choose not to be fearful.  I’m scared of water, so I completed an open water swim, I’m scared of pregnant women (feel free to continue reading when you’ve finished laughing) I’ve done pilates surrounded by pregnant ladies. In the build up to surgery I had no fear of the surgery, I’d done my research, had confidence in the medical professionals, I put myself in a position not to be fearful. Recovery can be treated in a similar way. Right now I have a choice, I can sit back, rest and do nothing or I can actively participate in the process do what I can, listen to my body and give it what it needs to recover. I choose to take control, to move forward, to be better physically and mentally.

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They say it takes 6 weeks to resume “normal” activities post-hysterectomy, which means today is the half way mark. In reality the 6 week mark will just be the start, the journey back to the activities I miss will be much longer. I miss the feeling of setting a workout, hitting the point where your body is screaming at you to stop and having the strength of mind to keep pushing through. I miss the feeling of sitting under a bar, legs threatening to give way and still finding a way to stand tall. Strangely, I miss the feeling of being on a run, lungs burning, legs feeling like they’re stuck in treacle and hitting that zone where nothing else matters, the minutes fly by as you empty your mind whilst contemplating life’s problems. I can’t understand why people take drugs when these feelings are freely available through physical efforts. With my main goal this year (rat Race Dirty Weekend) already ruled out I’m currently setting out to fill the next few months with as many challenges as possible, after all what says “F**k you” to fibroids and surgery better than pushing yourself through obstacles and challenges with a smile on your face?

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Prior to surgery many of the forums I read talked of a great sense of loss that women feel following a hysterectomy. The loss of ever being able to carry children and frequently the loss of feeling like a woman, the loss of “womanhood”. I often questioned the inevitability of these thoughts, after all I knew I didn’t want to carry children and keeping my ovaries would keep hormone levels relatively stable. Would the surgery really change how I feel about myself as a woman? Three weeks on and these feelings are nowhere to be felt. Am I any less of a woman because I’m missing a few organs? I guess that depends on how you look at things. Biologically yes, without my uterus, cervix and tubes I am less of a woman but in reality? My point of view is that being a strong woman is about being strong physically, mentally and having strength of character. Physically I’m doing whatever my body allows, mentally there have been good days and bad days but I keep working on my frustrations and occasional emotional outbursts, however no matter what challenge I’ve faced I’ve stayed true to myself and that, I believe, is what makes me a strong woman!

 

hospital visits and being patient. – week 2

This week has been full of challenges, reality checks and frustrations. But that’s two weeks down on this road to fitness, two weeks closer than I was prior to surgery.

I mentioned in the last blog that I had been experiencing some calf pain and a cough, after getting sick of me complaining (only joking) Becky insisted we find out if this was something to be concerned about. I called the ward and was told to go to A&E just to be on the safe side. So despite my arguments off we went to A&E. Not exactly feeling at my best it took all my strength not to unleash hell on the doctor who examined me. I was left feeling like I was wasting his time (because spending 4 hours in A&E on a Saturday is one of my favourite pastimes), tutting at the speed I took to move and get on the bed and asking me what I thought was wrong, if I knew that I’d have saved us both the time! Following his examination I was told he thought I was ok but wanted to do some tests in case I had a blood clot on my lungs which is potentially dangerous. The tests an X-ray, being asked if I was pregnant was an obvious irritation here, and blood tests came back potentially positive. I say potentially positive because they aren’t always accurate after surgery apparently. I was given a blood thinning injection in my stomach (ouch!) and told to come back on Sunday for another then more tests on Monday. Monday was a long day of tests and waiting for results, thankfully because the results take so long to come back I was allowed to go home and try to get comfortable – hospital chairs for hours on end are not comfortable at this stage. Thankfully the call came to say results were in and everything was fine for now and just stay aware of the symptoms and go back if anything changed. We’ll never know if it was a clot and the drugs did their job or if the symptoms were just down to the surgery and/or cough. Either way I’m grateful that Becky made me ask the question and that in the end everything worked out.

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This whole experience gave me more food for thought and prompted yet more frustrations. You see the only advise I’ve been given is to take it easy, yet taking it easy leaves you open to the risks of these complications. I was given no exercises or advise to prevent these complications and aid recovery, this may be because I was placed on the breast ward rather than the gynae ward post-surgery. Instead I have had  to research  and find advise given by other NHS trusts on recommendations for recovery. Everything I’ve read suggests the benefits of walking, which I have been doing since day 1, most documents suggest that at this point the majority of women are walking for up to 10 minutes, I’m now at around 20-25 minutes max, is this too much or am I ok if I get no after effects? I now have a series of 5 exercises, (ankle rotations, knee extensions, pelvic floor exercises, pelvic tilts and knee drops which I do 5-10 reps of 2-3 times a day and stop with any sign of discomfort or pain. This seems to be the consensus amongst the documents and with no post-op follow up scheduled I guess it’s the best I’ve got right now.

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Patience and discipline really is being challenged at the moment. Mentally I’m raring to go, physically I feel like I can do so much more than what I am doing which is leaving me with a constant battle between my heart and head. My heart wants to get moving, start regaining some level of fitness whilst my head knows that my body will take time to heal. The external incision is virtually healed but I know that the soft tissue internally takes much longer to regain it’s strength and recover. I’m increasingly fighting between the need to rest (and nap) with my inherent dislike for laziness, Ok I know its recovery and not being lazy but still!! I keep trying to tell myself that being disciplined now will allow me to do the fun stuff sooner, not that that helps when the little chimp in my head that wants it’s fitness now!

 

1 Week on.

 

A week on from my hysterectomy I am surprised by how well I feel. I was aware of being in pain and tired for the past few months but not at quite how much this was affecting me. The change was almost immediate. Now don’t get me wrong the surgery hurts, basic movement (sitting/standing, walking etc), laughing and coughing are hardly a walk on the park right now. I’ve also found a new hobby of taking regular naps, the likes of which I haven’t enjoyed since being a toddler. I’ve had some issues with a cough and random leg pain but even so I feel raring to go and am consciously putting the breaks on my activity levels.

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The most difficult aspect of recovery for me so far is the lack of guidance/timescale for rehab. With previous injuries I’ve been given guidelines and milestones to work towards, with this you’re told “you’ve had major surgery, take it easy for 6 weeks”. What exactly does “take it easy” mean? My taking it easy is probably quite different from a lot of the women having this surgery. I have researched and searched forums for basic guidelines which at the moment is helping me set very basic targets and map out my journey for the next couple of weeks.

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Activity wise I’m pretty mobile already. I’m walking slowly but fairly freely, I’ve taken short walks around the local area and even to the pub and back. I try and have something booked in everyday and that’s my aim for the day. I’m learning the warning signs and call it a day if I feel any discomfort or pulling/soreness and am careful to have plenty of rest throughout the day. Prior to the operation I’d read about how uncomfortable seatbelts were after this type of surgery, I can honestly say I have had no issues with this at all. The potholes however, now there’s a different story.

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The biggest surprise for me has been the emotional toll of this surgery. I’m sure that much of this is relief at it finally going ahead, that and a natural reaction to the drugs and trauma of surgery. However I have been surprised on more than one occasion by an ever stronger desire to cry for apparently no reason. His was one side effect I wasn’t expecting.

 

Pain wise I’m pleasantly surprised, I’ve taken nothing stronger than paracetamol and ibuprofen, even that has pretty much stopped other than at night. All in all I’m one week post-op, feeling ok, if not a little frustrated. The next few weeks are sure to bring their challenges, but with the support I’ve got by my side I’m sure I will make it out the other side a stronger and better person.

 

 

 

Finally Fibroid Free.

The 24th March was a date I was looking forward to with excitement, dread and apprehension. Knowing I had been cancelled three times previously I optimistically hoped that they wouldn’t cancel again. Arriving on the ward at 7 am I was concerned there was nobody else there, no staff or new admissions. The nerves were kicking in around 7:30 as more people arrived and were ticked off the list of admissions by the receptionist. We were called up one by one and asked to follow a nurse into a room containing six beds. We sat on the bed and began the admissions process, signing the consent form (my operation had changed from myomectomy to hysterectomy) and getting changed into some weird pair of what looked like crocheted pants and a gown. I was first on the list (something tells me they wanted me done and over with) , it was around 9 am when a nurse walked me down into the anaesthetic room, in there I asked the anaesthetic nurse how many times they had cancelled an operation at this point, “never” she replied. It was actually happening.

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The next thing I remember is waking up in recovery with a nurse who was telling me her name, which actually annoyed me as I believed she’d already told me that, and thinking I didn’t want to be laid down, I’ve since found out I actually tried to get up while in recovery. I wasn’t really in much pain but I could feel something different in my lower abdomen. The next few hours are a blur, my next memory is being with Becky in the same room we were taken too, I was feeling sick and felt like I was watching everything happen around me without really being there (does that make any sense?). I was on a patient controlled  morphine pump and although I don’t remember ever pressing it I certainly didn’t feel with it. As I came round more I asked the nurse to take it away, it wasn’t a feeling I appreciated and the pain wasn’t that bad. As the day progressed we were moved to a different part of the ward to wait for a bed to be free on a different ward for the rest of my stay.

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The wait to be moved seemed to take forever, it wasn’t until 12:30 the porters arrived to take me down to ward 24. The journey down was surreal turning corners, feeling every bump and watching/listening to the porters talk about random things all whilst trying to figure out what is going on. I was placed into a side room, met the nurse on duty, given some painkillers and finally I could settle. Waking the next morning was strange, I hadn’t realised how much the fibroid had been taking out of me but waking up I felt so good, yes there was some pain and yes I was tired but everything felt so different from just 24 hours before. As the day progressed drips and catheters were taken out , it finally felt like I was on the road to recovery. Although I had been told there was a good chance that I could go home on the Saturday the nurse stressed that I’d been through major surgery, she wanted to keep me in and to be fair I was in no position to argue. The pain was up and down but other than the feeling of trapped wind it was nowhere near as bed as I’d feared. I even ventured for a walk to the day room and back (literally about 50m in total), it was good to be up and about but the walk reminded me just how much my body has been through and how far I’ve got to go to be back to the activities I love.

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I’ve been honest about my experiences with the NHS recently and it’s important that people are aware that our “free” health service is facing these issues but at the same time it’s also important that people are aware of the fantastic work the health professionals do. My stay in St James’ was virtually problem free (the only issue being having to wait until gone midnight to be transferred after the op), the nurses were lovely giving space to rest and recover whilst getting on with their jobs, even chasing the doctors to do the discharge notes so I could leave. They genuinely seem to care about each and everyone of their patients whether it’s 1am or 1pm. They really are a credit to St James’, the NHS and themselves.

Ward rounds on Sunday a lovey Irish doctor told me I could go home and after a wait for the paperwork I was sat in the mother in laws car on my way home. On more than one occasion I felt like my insides were going to fall out of my incision site – damn you pot holes. Being home is a huge morale boost, basic tasks such as sitting down and standing up are still tough and take twice as long as they should. Coughing is a challenge, you try as you might to hold something against your stomach to ease it just a little yet each pathetic sounding cough feels like the stitches could split. It’s all worth it though knowing I am now fibroid free and can look to the future.

So the surgery I’ve actually had was an abdominal hysterectomy with vertical incision. They’ve removed my uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes plus the fibroid through a 5-6 inch cut from my belly button down. The reason for cutting down instead of the traditional bikini line cut was the size and position of the fibroid (approximately 15cm). It’s early days (3 days post op) but I am so pleased I opted for the hysterectomy. Everyone is different but the effects of the fibroid and the knowledge that there’s always a chance the problem will return helped me make the decision. Keeping my ovaries means I’m not facing early menopause and I look to the future without worry of fibroids, cervical cancer or other “women’s problems”.

I’ve got to say how lucky I feel to have the support I do at home. The mother-in-law has been amazing baby-sitting the animals and the wife. Becky has been by my side through everything, no matter how moody, angry or annoying I’ve been she has taken everything I’ve thrown at her. The past few days she has been by my side at all times, sitting with me whether I’m awake or sleeping, getting up at 3 am to help me downstairs when I couldn’t get comfortable and helping me with everything and anything. I really wouldn’t have wanted anyone else there, and the words in our vows and wedding song really do hold true.