aging, health, hysterectomy, mental health, midlife, motherhood

hysterectomies are my thing

*Trigger Warning: Cancer scare. And hospitals. And drugged up poetry…

It was a cold day in February when I sat in my doctor’s office and heard the words, “I don’t think this will kill you, Shauna.”

“It doesn’t look like it’s spread.”

My doctor said more, but I don’t remember much else.

I remember feeling like all the air had whooshed out of my lungs and everything stopped. I could no longer see my doctor sitting in front me. The off-white walls of the little room I was sitting in evaporated. I could no longer feel my familiar winter jacket tight around me or the awkward standard doctors’ office chair under my legs. In an instant the whole room disappeared to be replaced by stark, empty whiteness.

“But I have kids…” I whispered weakly in rebuttal.

My doctor looked so sad.

My husband appeared from somewhere and I was back in the room with the doctor and this impossible news that left me limply reaching for an escape.

The following days and weeks slowly flowed like a river heavy with mud. A mass in my uterus. More appointments. Gynaecologist. CT scan. Ultrasound. MRI.

And then good news. Likely just a fibroid. A large one, mind you, but “likely” not the C-word.

Likely. Not likely. Probably not. It can’t be 100% confirmed unless removed.

With two little humans at home I could not handle “likely” and I decided to get a hysterectomy.

Since May is Hysterectomy Awareness Month I figured I would share some of my experience here with you in the hopes it will help you or someone you love.

So here we go! If I’ve missed anything please be sure to post your suggestions in the comments and let’s make this a par-tay.

Resources When you sign up you get this “what to ask and what to expect” cheatsheet that I referred to about a million times. Highly recommend.

What to Buy

  • A whole bunch of pillows so you can sit and sleep comfortably
  • (Gentle) stool softener: what? This is VERY IMPORTANT. Depending on what kind of surgery you have (c-section incision, laparoscopy etc) your body can kind of freak out and get really slow with digestion etc. Help your guts out.
  • Pain medication: don’t be a hero, take the drugs
  • Belly binder: it helped me feel like my body was put together (I didn’t start using until the swelling went down)
  • Comfortable, non-binding pjs and pants

What to Do

  • Relax! If the doc says it will take 6 weeks to recover, believe her! Don’t go and push yourself (like I did), it serves no purpose other than giving you something to whinge about.
  • Watch all the shows. Let me know if you need suggestions, I have suggestions!
  • Prepare food ahead of time
  • Accept help

My Experience/Videos Etc

Here is a video I shared a few years ago before my surgery (just a warning: I get teary! More than once! Just be prepared for my Crying Face!). I go into some lovely advice I received from a nurse in the community + some Asks for you.

Post-Op IG post: Overall I had a really good experience in the hospital and the surgery. I was in the hospital for 2 nights and while I would not want to go back any time soon, for major surgery it was very doable.

Surgery is done + things are going well! This photo is about 8 hours post-op. I was on lots of good drugs at this point so that smile is part delirium 😉
The power of small acts: The nurses and doctors are so kind. Dr. Burridge sunny and positive; Residents Amy and James, engaged and sympathetic; Dr. Luch holding my face in the operating room reassuring me; my OR nurse, Chido, her warm hand in a cold room as I drifted off… Lindsay, Pauline and Stacy, my nurses ever-present and kind 🙏
My body is amazing: I know it’s only the second day and pain meds are my BFF, but our bodies just keep evolving and trying, don’t they? 🦋
Laughter: Before I went into the OR I sat with my husband, John, and we watched Aussie Man Reviews and laughed until there were tears and I wasn’t scared at all. I did get scared when it was time to be rolled away but I came back to my breath and it was fine 🌸
I’M NOT TOTALLY DELIRIOUS. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows 🌈 😉 This hurts and I can’t stand up for very long. Saying goodbye to my kids was hard, tears strangling my throat through what I hope was a reassuring smile. By this stage in the game I would *really* like to have a shower (sorry Nurse Stacy!). I don’t have the attention span for the book I brought (The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer) + this post took me 3 tries over the course of several hours. But all in all, things are going really well 🌻 *
Thank you to everyone reaching out! It makes me feel sunshiny and cared for, thank you! 🌞

Pre-Op Photo… Post-Op Poetry… I was on really good drugs okay, I felt like writing poetry… My husband took this photo and I was feeling pretty scared and worried that my kids were worried. They were 7 years and 4 years and I wanted them to see me in the hospital doing a-okay so I asked John to snap this so they could see everything was just fine.

This Body of Mine 🦋
Oh, look at Her. My body. Reaching, reaching. Knees over toes, obedient.
I haven’t been very generous with Her over the years, have I? I have starved Her of various necessities. Nutrients. Attention. Rest. I have driven Her harder and harder, generally dismissive of Her accomplishments, bitterly disappointed. The worst kind of mother. She keeps trying to earn my love, hope in clasped hands, enduring my tests.
But She is crafted with some kind of magic, isn’t She? I think I can see shimmers of light dripping from her finger tips and cupping her calf muscles, sliding across bare collarbones and racing, tripping to Her toes, just for fun. Maybe not.
They say She is made of stardust. Capable of building nations and bridges in Her gold mended heart and in Her discarded womb and in Her perfumed arms and in earnest. My relentless abuse of this being is a socially acceptable crime against vulnerability.
Yet She persists. Dancing. Posing for children at home with Grandma, frightened by what “hospital” means. She smiles and scrunches her nose. Her own slippery fear is tucked away to be released in small salty oceans for her pillow to catch and take away when inky dark has taken over and it’s more convenient.
She marches herself into the cold Operating Room unassisted. Obedient. Afraid. She does it anyway like the warrior She is. She climbs onto the sturdy table and offers her unblemished belly under brilliant bright lights for cutting.
She is now offering organs to the merciless God of My Judgement. Is it enough? Maybe threatening me with an angry, ugly tumor was vicious payback. Maybe it was a last ditch desperate effort to get my fickle attention. Maybe it was an accidental clash of cells, a statistical fluke that means absolutely nothing at all.
But in any case, is it enough, now? Will it be different in this After? Every climacteric event is a co-creative force of the yin and the yang and these things are so much more powerful leaning on each other, working in concert. I want to be generous. I want to appreciate this body of mine. She’s been through a lot.
I like this photo. I think I look beautiful. 🦋

Five Weeks Post-Op (3 things + 1 important thing): I was feeling very upbeat and like I could take on the world.

Hysterectomy: 5 Weeks Post-Op (I got cocky): I was not feeling upbeat or like I could even take on a marshmallow.

John and I after getting the news that all the tests were back and I definitely didn’t have cancer. So relieved…

In conclusion: I am a couple years out now and I’m fine. One year later I came *this* close to running a 1/2 marathon (I injured myself in the 11th hour, so frustrating, but I was so proud of myself for coming so close to this physical feat), I am healthy and don’t feel like I’m going to pee every 2 minutes… and that gratitude and awe has not left me.

If you are going to have a hysterectomy, it is going to be okay. Ask your questions, get your support and know that there are so many of us out here rooting for you.

If you have questions, please feel free to ask!

P.S.: Also, I haven’t gone into menopause yet! I had my hysterectomy when I was 40 and I was annoyed that I would probably go into early menopause, but I haven’t yet (and I’m 43 now)!


I am conducting an experiment: I have challenged myself to try something new each month in 2022. Here are my (self imposed) rules. Let me know if you have ideas on fun/ interesting/ novel things I could try in the comments.

Or join me, that would be even more lovely actually…

7 thoughts on “hysterectomies are my thing”

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