retrospective of my recent hysterectomy

august 5, 2023

i am now one month out from my hysterectomy. on july 5, 2023, i checked into the hospital, disrobed, and was wheeled off to the surgical theater. the anesthesiologist, whose name or appearance i don't remember much (except that he was handsome), slipped an oxygen mask onto my face. i remember feeling short of breath while someone counted down, then nothing. the first thing i remember waking up (and only vaguely) was commenting to my husband and the nurse that "Alan Hart must've gone through it." i think i tried to talk politics with the nurse without sounding too radical, then i remember being frustrated that my thoughts weren't very organized, and thinking about anything felt like watching a thousand television programs at the same time. so i fell asleep. my family visited. my mom and sister giggled about seeing my butt through the inadequate, but very comfortable and genuinely practical, hospital gown.

i stayed overnight, which i'm very glad i did. the nurses were excellent - very kind and helpful, and made sure i was keeping on top of my pain relief medicines. got discharged, came home, slept again. since then, the past month has dragged. four weeks ago feels more like four months ago and i have felt very frustrated with my inability to do much in terms of physical movement. i cannot bend much without aches, i can't go out for long, my energy needs to be managed, etc. i don't like feeling fragile, which is precisely how i feel. i get a lot of anxiety about the healing process, of course - for the week or so after my surgery, i had a tunnel between my legs with nothing but a sutured hole between my guts and the outside world. something as simple as showering made me fear that i was going to, somehow, introduce some horrible bacteria into my body and that i'd die of septic shock.

but in spite of all my worries, i'm relieved that i was finally - finally - able to get this surgery. i've been pursuing it on some level for the past 10 years. i've always dealt with abdominal pains that were often debilitating, whether i was menstruating or not. removing my uterus and ovaries was less a procedure i desired for some sort of confirmation of my gender, and more a practical decision: these organs were disabling me with pain. i would like to not be in pain anymore. hence, excision.

the most interesting part of recovery has been that the worst pain i felt - which occurred while staying in the hospital, within 24 hours of the surgery itself - was nowhere near as severe as the cramps i had been feeling since i first started menstruating. it was nowhere near as bad as the cramps i'd later get as a result of atrophy. that's 20 years of pain, snipped away over the course of a few hours under the knife.

the relief is palpable, and despite some minor aches from surgery, immediate. the week after my surgery, i was a few days late for my testosterone shot. normally, before my hysterectomy, i would have experienced pulsating waves of cramps, increasing in intensity over the course of several hours for every day i didn't do my shot. sex could be a struggle; the cramps would also attack after coming, so it was more difficult for me to stay in the moment because of the anticipation of pain that just doesn't go away. but now, the usual triggers haven't caused any cramping at all. the organs causing that pain literally aren't there anymore. they were investigated for cancer or other concerns (clear on both fronts), and likely incinerated as medical waste.

so i'm glad. despite all the struggles of healing, i'm very happy. i did lose my job for needing time off to recover (hooray for temp jobs in an at-will employment state), but despite getting screwed in that regard, i'm doing better than i thought from an emotional standpoint. my therapist pointed out that losing work might have been a mixed blessing, and i agree with her. i've been able to get back into drawing and other creative work, been able to read more books, etc.

i suppose that with my hysterectomy, i've gotten all the procedures i feel i needed from a transitional standpoint - again, even if the hysterectomy was strictly and realistically for pain management. so does that put me squarely in the "post-transition" camp? honestly, i've felt like i've been there for several years now. and who knows - my feelings about additional surgeries and procedures may change in the future.

the other thing is that, the relief i feel after my hysterectomy is profoundly different than noticing changes from tesosterone or waking up from top surgery. everything that changed is internal. while i sometimes get nostalgic for those big changes tesosterone and top surgery caused and the emotions that came with them, i don't miss the days of my early transition. t works magic, no doubt - the changes from testosterone have enabled me to feel fully-realized and more sincere and authentic generally - but it works slowly. (it's still working, for that matter.) i suspect that i'll need more time to fully process how my body and emotions have changed since getting my hysterectomy.

i still have a long time to fully heal and a process to go through. thank god my husband has been through the same before, so i can lean on him for support and questions. my surgeon is also highly skilled and has done countless hysterectomies, and her clinic is fantastic too. despite all my anxieties, i feel supported. things are looking up and i'm feeling better each day.

back to archive