Recovery Report – Week 6

Yesterday was 6 weeks to the day since my hysterectomy surgery and I am excited because all my restrictions on exercise are finally lifted. I can start running again!

Truth be told, I jumped the gun and ran a little bit last week anyway, but now I am actually allowed to. Yay!

So I ran on Sunday, and again this morning. Technically, Sunday was the day before I was released. But whatever. Close enough – no harm was done. I ran about a mile and a quarter, and 1 mile of that was non stop, albeit going pretty slow. Didn’t wear a watch or keep track, I just ran on feel. It felt fine, though I was definitely ready to stop after that mile.

Today I did about 16 minutes on the treadmill, broken up into intervals of 5 – 6 minutes at about a 10 – 11 minute pace. So, I’m not sure of the exact distance, but I think it was probably a mile and a half or so. This was after I also did 20 minutes on the adaptive motion trainer, and before a core strength class. In core I had to modify everything and didn’t do V-sits at all (just seemed like a bad idea), but I got out there and did what I could.

So I’m proud of myself and feeling pretty pleased with my progress. Even though I don’t have the stamina I used to and my ankle is still a bit sore, I’m not going to focus on that – the important part is that I CAN run. I can still do these things. And soon, I’ll be able to do more – before long, I should be back to where I was. I am healed up, feeling good, and the PT I have been doing for the ankle issues has made a big difference very quickly.

So if you’re reading this, and you or someone you know is going to have a hysterectomy, or similar surgery – please know, it doesn’t have to be a scary thing. I know I was very scared about it and only did it when I really felt there was no other option.

Some people have a hard recovery, but mine has been quite easy since about the 10th day. I would guess my experience is fairly typical. And really, a couple weeks of feeling not so great is a very short amount of time when you consider that it is going to keep me from having to worry about the possibility of cancer developing later. The recovery was hard at first but I think I will eventually feel better than ever.

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Disappointed

Had a very disappointing post operative appointment today. I had been thinking that since I have been feeling so good that I would probably be released to resume more of my normal activities. Even if I didn’t get released, I thought at least there would be some sort examination and I would get to hear about how things are healing up. But, neither of those things happened. The doctor asked how I was doing, I told him great and when could I start running. He said he was glad to hear I was doing great, but he never releases anyone for exercise before 6 weeks.

So. Not sure how to feel about this. Guess I will just keep doing what I am doing, maybe ease off somewhat, and continue to wait it out like I have been. Grr.

Obeying the Letter if not the Spirit

I have continued my walking workouts and am finding every day feels a little better. I was told that until I was cleared by my doctor I should walk as much as possible, but to start out with no more than 15 minutes of leisurely walking. I was also told not to lift anything more than 10 pounds, and to try not to bend at the waist and do no core work since I still have stitches inside that are healing.

I guess you could say I am going by the letter if not the spirit of what I was told. What I took from all this is that after two weeks I could go to the gym as long as I limited my activities to:

Walking on the treadmill. Started out with “leisurely pace” on Monday (22 minute/mile) and graduated to “business-like pace” today (20 minute/mile). Before surgery my walking pace was about a 16 minute mile. I am keeping it slower so as to keep from feeling any strain in the core. I am starting with 15 minutes this week, and will increase 5 minutes each week or as I am able.

Upper body. Bicep curls, shoulder presses, triceps presses and shoulder openers using 5 lb. weights. These require minimal core engagement so they seem safe. Right now I am doing all upper body exercises while seated on a stability ball, to further protect the pelvic floor. I basically am doing the exercises recommended in this video with a couple of extras added in.

Hip bridges and pelvic tilts. I am being gentle with these, doing them mostly to get some relief for lower back discomfort (from sitting around), and to maintain flexibility in the hip flexors and some strength in the glutes.

Calf raises and foot/ankle stability exercises. These are important since I gave myself tendinitis of the posterior tibial tendon back in January and am rehabbing from that in addition to surgery. It is possible that the tendinitis, rather than the surgery recovery, will be the limiter of when I go back to running. So I will work on this in hopes that everything will be ready at the same time.

One of the things I have noticed is that recovering from this surgery is very individual. Some people heal quickly, others don’t. I think I will be toward the quicker end, as I’ve really had relatively little pain all along, and I was pretty strong to begin with. And it may also help that as a runner I’ve been very tuned in to my body. I notice when things aren’t feeling right and tend to pay attention.

I also notice that there is no set formula for returning to exercise. Some people are running marathons 6 weeks later, and others take months even to run a mile. Not sure what this will look like for me, but I’m hoping to be running again by summer.

I didn’t die!

On January 25, I ran my half marathon, and didn’t die. I gave myself tendinitis, but otherwise things went well. Looking forward to doing that again sometime.

February we took two family trips to go skiing – we went to Banff and skied at Sunshine Village (which was great) and for my birthday weekend we went to Mission Ridge, which is a little closer to home. Everyone in the family had a good time. And in spite of avalanches and snowstorms, none of us died.

And then it was March and my surgery date was upon me.  The closer I got to the big day, the more nervous I got and for a few days before I was trying to talk myself out of doing the surgery at all. But my husband kept reminding me that surgery would be better than not having surgery and then finding out I had cancer, so I had to be a big girl.

Then it was March 10 – the big day.  I had a 5am wake up, a shower with the weird soap they gave me and then my husband drove me to the hospital for a 6am check in, leaving my children in my auntie’s capable hands.

Actual surgery was at 7:30 but it takes an hour and a half for them to take you back to surgery. That time is spent getting you ready to go back and asking you repeatedly if you know what they plan to do. I had listened to my doctor at the preop appointment and done my research so I not only knew what the plan was, I also had a pretty good visual as far as what it would look like. Ew. I told my doctor to be careful in there and try not to kill me or anything, and then they gave me the Versed and wheeled me back to the OR. Seconds later the anaesthetic kicked in and I was out. 

Surgery was uneventful, so I hear.  I was out cold, so I don’t know anything other than what they told me – which is that they found all manner of problems (endometriosis, adenomyosis, Fallopian tubes adhered shut,  plus the fibroids and complex hyperplasia that we already knew about), but the surgery went well and was over in about an hour and a half. No sign of cancer, thank goodness.

The next thing I remember is waking up in my room at noon feeling queasy. The nausea stuck around for a while along with some dizziness whenever they adjusted my pain meds, but by the afternoon I started feeling better. At 5 they kicked me out of bed to take a walk around the floor, then my kids came for a visit. Then I slept until morning. They released me next day as soon as I proved to the nurses that I could still pee.

So my surgery is over and I didn’t die! Since then, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been on total pelvic rest, meaning I pretty much can’t do anything that involves the pelvis or the belly. No bending, lifting, twisting or running. Honestly, this directive has not been a problem since the first week I was pretty much flat on my back, and even last week I still didn’t have much energy.

During this whole ordeal I was fortunate to have my aunt and my dad here to help me with the kids and the housework that I would normally do, so that really helped me relax and recover. For the last few days I’ve been feeling better, so I’ve done a little bit of leisurely walking. I’m pretty tired after so I know that it will be a while before I will be ready to run. It’s more important right now to rest and recover. Running will still be there when my body is ready.

Today marked the end of 2 weeks of total rest, so I am starting back with more of my usual routine (still resting a lot though and going easy). I started back at the gym with 15 minutes of walking on the treadmill with 1% incline at a 2.3 mph pace. I felt little twinges near my incision when I tried to go faster, so I just backed it off to where I didn’t have any discomfort. After the walking was over I sat down for a little to rest (I was feeling a bit sore), then I went and worked on my ankle strength using the rocker board. A little light stretching and that was it for my first workout. If I feel up to it tomorrow I’ll try to go a bit faster, do a little more,  and see how I do.

Let the recovery begin!!