At Home: Recovery & Rest
Following your hysterectomy, when you return home family and friends will be probably be anxious to ensure you are comfortable. For at least the first 24-48 hours you will find it helpful to have someone on hand to ensure you are eating, drinking and taking pain relief regularly. You will still be quite drowsy from the anesthetic, so do not want to forget to take any medication etc.
During recovery, expect to need to rest often at first, and when you feel tired, take a nap and recharge your batteries. Whilst resting in bed/on a good supportive chair, it will be at this point that you will probably find a 'V' shaped pillow will be invaluable for supporting your back whilst everything heals. It's a great idea to have plenty of reading material, diary/notebook/pens etc all within arms length. All forms of entertainment will come into their own, a radio/tv/laptop/mobile/phone will help to keep you occupied and in touch with the world.
As with everything in life, the key to a good recovery is to plan well ahead. If you can prepare meals and freeze them well in advance, this will probably help you relax even more knowing that life can get back to normal for everyone else, and you can now rest and look forward to a meal that will be well made and to your taste that can simply be reheated by whoever is preparing your meals for you!
Eating well will aid your recovery. Try and increase your intake of fruit and vegetables and drink plenty of water/fluids. This will ensure you help keep your tummy soft and will avoid constipation!(N.B. It is worth remembering that you will need to be able to walk to the bathroom fairly frequently and preferably without taking stairs to get there. If this is not possible, consider moving to a room that is closer to the bathroom for the first week or so of recovery).
If you have an abdominal scar, usually a nurse will be arranged by either your general practitioner or surgeon to come and visit you to remove the staples or stitches 3-7 days following surgery. It is perfectly normal for there to be numbness around the scar. Whilst showering, take care not to soak any dressings and ensure that if your scar does get wet, pat dry very gently. You should expect your tummy to be very swollen, so wear only loose clothing and underwear that does not touch the scar area. Your scar should not hurt constantly. Every twelve days or so, as the body completes its natural cycle of healing, you might find that you may feel little pains along the edge of the scar like an elastic band snapping along the incision. This is normal and is only the nerves healing, reconnecting and growing back. Of course everyone heals at a different rate and recovery times will vary depending upon how fit you are prior to surgery. Keeping your scar dry and clean at all times and recouperating well will ensure that healing is quicker and completed fully. (Don't forget there are many layers of muscle that have to heal beneath that scar so the more you look after yourself the better!)
Normal daily routines and activity can usually be resumed after four to eight weeks, and it is around this time that you should start to feel more like the old you. Do not be tempted to use the vacuum cleaner or push a shopping trolley straight away. When embarking on any housework or chores, ask someone to help you, or better still, make sure someone is within earshot so if you need any assistance you can ask for help. For the first few weeks, why not have your shopping delivered? You can ask the person delivering it to carry it into your kitchen for you. (The poor chap who delivered my grocery shopping said I did not look as though I had just had surgery just as he tried handing me three heavy bags of groceries! Despite his comment cheering me up somewhat at the time, my quick thinking - not taking the bags - prevented a potentially a disasterous incident from occurring!)
Physically in time, you will slowly feel better in general terms and it will of course be a great relief to be in no more pain. You and your partner may well have many questions about your 'new' body and naturally you may both be very cautious at first about resuming your physical relationship. It is widely advised that any internal stitches should have healed around six to eight weeks post surgery. You know your body best. If you have any pain or notice any untoward symptoms seek medical advice. Many women find that kegel exercises help them recover faster and help them feel better, and it is important to do gentle pelvic floor exercises well after surgery to ensure you have a great muscle support system in place long term.
Finally, you will be given an appointment to see your surgeon around three months post surgery, wherein your scar will be checked and you will also be asked to confirm how you are feeling. This will be your chance to find out more about the pathology report that was carried out after your surgery and you should also at this point be able to ask any other questions about your recovery long term i.e. when you will be able to resume your usual keep fit routine etc.