Returning to activity after hysterectomy

It’s been one month since my robotic laparoscopic total hysterectomy and I’m feeling good! But let’s back up a bit and I’ll tell you how my early recovery went, how long it took to feel somewhat normal, and how I’ve been easing back into activity. If you missed the first post in the series, I talked about my concerns prior to surgery and my frustration with not knowing what to expect in regards to returning to fitness activities.

Week one: early recovery

Due to feeling dopey from anesthesia and pain meds, I slept through most of my hospital stay. The catheter was my biggest complaint but that was removed the following morning (that hurt!). Since I walked my required laps around the floor, and could go to the bathroom on my own, I was discharged shortly after lunch the day following surgery.

hysterectomy recovery

Back home, my pain was managed with ibuprofen — mostly to help with the headache and lower back pain from sleeping in odd positions and being so sedentary. Surgical pain was enough to make me behave but not as much as I anticipated. I found I needed to lie down for a while each afternoons because my abdomen swelled if I was upright (even sitting) too long. My belly was inflated and swollen, but I did not experience the gas pain so many people warned about.

A few things that helped me:

  • plenty of rest, including daily horizontal time to help with swelling
  • plenty of movement throughout the day, in small increments
  • plenty of fluids to help flush my system; my bladder felt bruised
  • plenty of protein to help with my body’s healing
  • plenty of veggies and fiber to help resume proper digestive function
  • plenty of sleep, a pile of good books, + hot tea (including this one)

Week two: shaking off the fog

This was the first time I had honest-to-goodness general anesthesia; I had no idea it could take a week to leave your system! Once I passed that mark, I finally shook the brain fog I’d had since surgery. I started feeling good enough to get stir crazy (and a little cranky). It was frustrating as heck to need to ask for so much help when I really FELT good — but doctor’s orders said no lifting more than five pounds, which includes a whole lot of ordinary day-to-day things like the big container of liquid laundry detergent or the crock pot!

date night two weeks after hysterectomy

But I did get out of the house to go on a date with Ken, and ran into at least 4 people from my fitness classes while we were out, so that was fun!

Week three: easing back in

In the third week, I was back to wearing normal clothes: no more swelling, and the external stitches finally came out. I resumed teaching classes and just took it down a notch. Everybody knew I’d had surgery so they were super helpful. It felt great to get moving but I was more tired afterwards than I’d usually be.

Four incision sites healing nicely: belly button, + 1 on one side and 2 on the other.

belly healing after hysterectomy

Brandon (our oldest) was town to visit, so not being able to pick up the boys was the biggest thing driving me crazy! One afternoon we walked all over town, going to the farmers’ market and such, and I did have to take a sit-down break after being in the heat and walking more than I had in weeks.

Week four: moving more

Running is still a no-no, but I started walking on non-class days to gradually increase my activity level. I resumed more household chores, like vacuuming, and even painting the kids’ bedroom (with a lot of help from Ken). I’m still not allowed to lift more than 15 pounds, but I celebrated one-month post-surgery with a strength training workout using only my 10-pound kettlebell and avoiding ab exercises because that still feels weird.

Next week I go for my follow-up with the surgeon and I’ll be asking him all sorts of things. If you have any questions for me, feel free to ask in the comments!