A hysterectomy is a major surgery, knowing what to expect before hand can help with your recovery process. If you are having a vaginal or abdominal hysterectomy you can expect to remain in the hospital typically for two to five days. The amount of time spent in the hospital has many variables including your overall health, reason for the hysterectomy, type of hysterectomy, and complications that arise from the surgery.
The day of your hysterectomy, you will feel groggy most of the day and not feel like doing much at all. You can expect to keep your catheter until the second day and you will most likely be on a clear liquid diet so that your bowel can rest. You will be given pain medicine through your IV for the first day post hysterectomy and possibly through the second day depending on your pain level and ability to tolerate oral medication. Your pain medication will most likely be offered every 2-4 hours through your IV and then every 4 hours orally. You may have your IV removed on day two or it may stay in as a back up until you are discharged.
On the second day following your hysterectomy, barring any complications, the nurse will most likely remove your catheter. The nurse will help you the first time you get up. You should get up slowly and use physical assistance to avoid straining your abdominal muscles. You will be moving slowly and may be very sore, always ask for pain medicine 15-45 minutes prior to getting up to assist with pain control during movement. Once you get up the first few times after your hysterectomy, you will find it easier to get up the next time. Getting up will continue to be painful though, you can minimize the pain by moving slowly and having assistance available.
On the day of your surgery you can expect to get a clear liquid diet. If you are able to tolerate this diet, your diet may be advanced to a bland (oatmeal, toast) diet on the second day. You should slowly advance your diet each day to ensure that you can tolerate different foods.
Before you leave the hospital your Doctor will want to make sure that you are able to pass gas. The ability to pass gas is a good sign that your bowel is recovering following your hysterectomy. Serious complications can arise after a hysterectomy if your bowels do not recover and begin working again. You will be given stool softeners daily as well as a prescription to take home. It is important to alert your Doctor at any point if you go beyond 2-3 days without a moderate size bowel movement. Pain medication and decreased activity following your hysterectomy lead to slow bowel which could cause problems if not corrected quickly. Be sure to take your stool softeners daily, you will find that for the first few days, even weeks, your bowel movements may be painful. If you had an abdominal hysterectomy you most likely have more pain on the incision with bowel movements as well.
You will be wearing TED hose on your legs to help keep the blood circulation following your hysterectomy, you may also have electronic boots on your feet to assist with circulation. A respiratory therapist should come in and visit you to give you an instrument to breath in called an incentive spirometer. This device helps your lungs to expand to their fullest while helping to prevent complications such as pneumonia that may arise after a hysterectomy. There are many potential complications associated with any major surgery, be sure to listen to your Doctor and follow his directions.
Source: Personal experience, Education