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Top tips to prepare for and recover from a myomectomy
This is purely written from my personal experience not from a medical professional perspective.

Before your appointment with your gynaecologist

Ok, so you've been diagnosed with fibroid/s and your GP has referred you to a gynaecologist and you are awaiting your appointment.

1. I recommend reading up on the associated procedures for fibroid removal/treatment before your appointment, this will give you a greater understanding of what's involved and should reassure you of the treatment options available. Knowledge is power!

2. Prepare for your appointment with the gynaecologist and have questions ready to ask, it's amazing how your mind goes blank when you need it most!
You may consider asking;
• What are the surgical and non-surgical options available to me?
• What are the risks associated with these procedures?
• What is the recovery period?
• What is the rate of re-growth post op?
• When will I have my biopsy results?
• How long will I have to stay in hospital?
• What are my anaesthetic options?
• How long will the surgery take?
• Will this improve my chances of getting pregnant?
• What happens if you find other conditions (polyps, endometriosis, cancer etc)?
• If you are having a laparoscopic procedure and are having fertility issues, you may be offered a 'lap & dye' at the same time to check for any blockages in your tubes as this is done via a laparoscope.

3. You do not have to make a decision straight away, however if you are having the procedure done on the NHS prepare to wait for anything between 6-16 weeks for your surgery. Discussing your options with loved ones before your appointment may assist you in making a decision either on the day or immediately afterwards.

Preparing for surgery
Ok, so you now have your surgery date and have the dreaded waiting period leading up to the event. There's no way around it this part sucks, BUT whilst you are waiting for the inevitable, you have the power to look after yourself and prepare your body for the battle of the 'broids! I found it empowering to prepare myself for surgery by treating my body to a little TLC and getting my life in order beforehand.

6-8 weeks before

1. Food. I love it, and the fact that my fibroids were making it difficult to exercise without pain meant that during the months of diagnosis my tummy (which was bulging with the 'broids anyway), bottom and thighs were showing the results. I made a decision to try and give my body a helping hand to be a bit healthier. I set about adding increased super greens into my diet (spinach, kale etc) and cut out bloating foods which made me uncomfortable. I also made sure I had at least 1 juice (fruit & vegetable super juice drink) a day. I don't mean smoothies (which can be fattening) I mean pure fruit & vegetable juice, which made sure I was getting my 5 a day without too much hassle. I also added in a pro-biotic yoghurt drink each morning to help prepare my tummy.
2. Alcohol: I cut down on alcohol consumption making sure I had a least 3 days alcohol free a week (a feat for me as a love a glass of wine in the evening after work). I also swapped my usual white wine for red wine, which I tend to drink more slowly and therefore consume much less.
3. Supplements: I've never been good at taking them, I always forget. I added a one-a-day supplement to my evening meal, making it easier to remember and I felt the benefits within a few weeks. I started with a good all-rounder (wellwoman vitabiotics) but there are loads of brands out there to choose from to make sure you get your RDA. In the two weeks build up I also added some bio-nutrients (superfood supplements) to boost my vitality and started to take arnica homoeopathy too. *Please note you should ALWAYS discuss any medication with your GP/Surgeon before taking them, even herbal remedies*.
4. Herbal Teas: I regularly drank dandelion & burdock, peppermint, camomile and 'Tulsi' pukka tea. I love herbal teas anyway, but I found using them to aid sleep and to cleanse and purify really helped. Peppermint is a must post op, so if you can learn to love it or at least tolerate it before, then do try.
5. Exercise: as I mentioned exercise was a challenge due to pain and discomfort, so I increased my walking each day trying to make sure I got my heart rate up. I was too paranoid to get into a swimming costume due to my 'broidy tummy but I wish I had the confidence as swimming would have been a great way to relax and exercise too. Yoga & Pilates are also a great way of gently exercising and can be done from the comfort of your own home if you are unable to attend a class. YouTube is a great resource for free exercise videos.
6. Tell friends and family about your operation and explain about your recovery period to manage their expectations. You may wish to set boundaries from the offset and say I won't be having any visitors for X amount of days/weeks. People often say "if there's anything we can do" and you say "no thanks we're fine". Remember if you have close family & friends nearby they can be of use in the first few days. Ask for a meal to be dropped off so your carer does not need to think about it. I asked my mum and sister to do this making it clear that it was just to drop off the food and not to visit. This was a great help to my husband.
7. Tell work as soon as you are able. Companies tend to be more sympathetic the longer they have to prepare for your absence. It is also good to remind yourself, it is only work and your health is worth more than what you do for a living. If you are concerned about statutory sick pay (SSP) or need to find out legally where you stand (say you are in a new job) check the government website for details, (the law is on your side): https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay/overview
8. Your carer, partner, spouse should inform work as soon as possible to make sure they can be available to pick you up from hospital and be with you at home for at least 5 days. They may be entitled to 'dependants leave' which can be useful if you are unsure how long you will be in hospital for and you need them to be able to leave work at fairly short notice to collect you. Information on this can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/time-off-for-dependants. This can be used in conjunction to pre-booked annual leave to look after you.

1-2 weeks before

1. Go out. See friends and family and most importantly enjoy yourself.
2. Get social, personal & domestic errands in order: Check your calendar now, set aside time to buy cards, order flowers and buy presents if you need to. Send them or give them to someone else to deal with. Get finances in order, pay bills, return library books and generally get things in order for peace of mind. You will not have time nor care after the operation to think about anyone or anything else.
3. Underwear BIG PANTS ARE A MUST: After the operation you will have an incision that is very sore. You need underwear that will not rub on your wound and that is not restrictive as you will be wearing them in bed to start with along with sanitary pads. I whole heartedly recommend BIG PANTS. Full briefs can be found in your local M&S, get a high cotton count and a multi pack (I got a pack of 5 briefs for £5). You won't be wearing them for too long but you will be so thankful for them post op.
4. Nightwear & lounge wear: I recommend a new pair of comfy PJ's in at least a size up from your normal size. You will want the extra fabric in the waistband and PJ's are always comfy when they are a bit baggy. I also went to a well-known high street retailer that sells partially cheap clothing and purchased comfy loose clothing that would be suitable for lounging in (all in 1-2 sizes larger than normal) and also chose leggings that I could wear underneath long tops that were suitable to wear out of the house. Getting your clothing comfortable post op is so important and it will help you feel better. Pack away your skinny jeans for at least a few months and go easy on yourself.
5. Prepare your living space: You will need a bed side table (we made a make shift one with a stool) and a chair (preferably with arms) to sit upright in. It can be difficult to sit on a sofa or low chairs so dining room chairs may be better. Make sure you have plenty of clean bedding so you can change the sheets regularly. I borrowed my sisters maternity pillow (V pillow) as this was excellent support in bed and when sitting upright. Move essential items into easy access areas.
6. Food shopping: I pre-ordered 2 lots of food shopping online, one to arrive the day after I would be home from hospital and another for the following week. This meant my husband didn't have to worry about food and I knew there was enough healthy food Vs. biscuits in the house!
7. Sleep, rest and relax: Try and get lots of rest in the build-up to the surgery as sleep is essential to your physical and mental wellbeing. A bubble bath the night before with a bit of pampering will help you relax and prepare you for the day ahead.
8. Agree who can and can't visit: As well as your first week home, you don't want everyone at your bedside in hospital. My mum came to visit me in the day and my husband came each evening after work, that way I knew who was coming and when and it also meant I got enough time with each of them.
9. Clean and tidy the house: It all depends on how you view your home, the thought of living in a messy home was enough to make me clean the house from top to bottom before the op so that even if it got messy and untidy, I knew that underneath the mess it was clean! Just know that you will have to live with mess in the house, and there is nothing you can do as no one can clean the bathroom, plump cushions, fold a towel or unpack the shopping like you can!

This is my essential shopping list of things I couldn't have done without:

Chewing gum - buy a big box and take them to hospital with you. Start chewing as soon as you are able as this will encourage you to pass wind and will get your bowels working
Big pants (multi-pack), PJ's with extra room, slippers & a comfy dressing gown
Comfy clothes to travel home in from hospital, slip on shoes (pumps) and a PILLOW to place on your lap so that the seatbelt doesn't rub
Entertainment: magazines or audio books on your ipod - hands free entertainment is a wonderful thing. We also signed up to Netflix (free for the first month) so I could watch TV series in bed on the laptop.
Pack peppermint tea to have in hospital as well as at home
Painkillers: stock up on ibuprofen, paracetamol as you'll need these as soon as you get home
Cosmetics: face wipes, moisturiser, hand cream, peppermint lip balm (Burt's Bees one is gorg), and sanitary towels. In addition to the usual (toothpaste, brush, hairbrush, shampoo & conditioner) I also recommend dry shampoo and something to tie your hair up with. Also people seriously snore after anaesthetic and hospitals are noisy places so I recommend ear plugs and eye mask if you are sensitive to noise & light. For after the surgery I recommend a gentle unscented shower gel.

Post-surgery recovery

So you've had your surgery and should now fibroid free - hooray! Here are my top tips for surviving the first 2 weeks, in hospital and at home.

Ask for pain relief: make sure you ask a nurse for pain relief as soon as you feel it, don't wait until the pain gets bad before asking.
Taking the catheter out: If you're like me, I was really nervous about this. It turned out it was absolutely fine and not painful at all. The nurse removed mine the day after my surgery as I was able to sit up in a chair. It can be done whilst sitting down and has the sensation of removing a regular sized tampon. There is a small tube that is inside the vagina and it is gently pulled out. It is important to remember that you will be dizzy and weak following the surgery so only get out of bed when the nurse is there and can help you and has said it is safe to do so. Once it is out you will be expected to urinate by walking to the toilet at least 3 times before you will be discharged.
You may struggle to get out of bed & sit up: Use the electronic bed to help you sit up and slowly move your legs to the edge of the bed. You must take it slowly and listen to your body.
Start chewing gum & drink peppermint tea: this should help you to pass wind (believe me it is a relief and helps with the pain) and can also help to kick your bowels into gear. Bend your knees when lying down as this will also help.
You will be visited by a doctor/ surgeon before you leave hospital: but you may not remember everything that they tell you as you have just been through a major operation. Do not worry as this will all be discussed with you at your follow up appointment with the gynaecologist in a few weeks' time.
Once you are home: rest, rest, rest. You may feel a little adrenaline when you get home as you will be relieved that the surgery is over and it will be the first time you will have been outside for a few days. Do not mistake this for energy, you must rest as much as possible either by lying down in bed or sitting in a chair.
The first few days are tough. Keep taking the painkillers as soon as you feel pain and sleep as much as possible and sit up in a chair for periods of time if you can. Eat 3 meals a day, even if your appetite isn't much.
Take a pro-biotic tablet: I swear by this. I started taking the pro-biotic as soon as I was eating as this helps to balance the good bacteria in your stomach which is killed off with the use of antibiotics. You can get specific pro-biotics which are suitable for use with antibiotics. This meant that I was able to pass stools without much trouble, something which I was worried about as there is so much pressure down there after the operation.
Ask for help with everything: It is so important that you do not put your body under pressure, and know that the person looking after you wants to help, so ask them. Don't be tempted to lift, move, push or pull anything that is even remotely heavy, it's just not worth it.
Coughing, laughing and sneezing. These are all reactions that are unavoidable and they hurt. To support yourself, hold your stomach.
Food: your appetite will increase so make sure you pack in fruit & veg where possible. I love fresh fruit & veg juices which are filling and good for me but a healthy dose of chocolate also lifts the spirits.
You will get stronger: You will find each day you will get stronger and stronger but the discipline is to not overdo it and to keep the balance of rest and activity. If you do an activity such as take a shower, then make sure you rest immediately afterwards to gather your energy back. Even small activities can be exhausting so it is vital that this is combined with plenty of rest.
Your tummy is distended and sore: make sure that you wear baggy clothes so that you feel more comfortable and make sure you are checking your incision so you can see how the external wound is healing.
Stitches out: not everyone has these types of stitches. I had to have them removed by the nurse at my doctors surgery. The stitches were removed 5 days post op. I was very nervous as I thought this may hurt but it was a split second sting and really nothing to worry about. If you have these sort of stitches you will feel so much better when they are removed as they can catch on your clothing, whilst not damaging in anyway, it can be uncomfortable.
Shower or bath? I had no choice as we do not have a walk in shower only a shower head over the bath. I showered by sitting on the edge of the bath and using the shower head to wash my body. My husband had to wash my hair over the kitchen sink whilst I sat in a chair. Gradually I felt more and more able so I then sat inside the bath and showered myself. By day 7, I was able to have a shallow bath (make sure the water isn't too hot) and it's now day 13 and I can have a full bath and wash my hair with the shower head, making sure I am being careful when lifting it above my head.
Crying, emotional and lonely: It is emotionally exhausting recovering from surgery. Your body is healing and you constantly have to adapt to your body's needs. You will feel tired, frustrated and emotional and may find yourself crying over not being able to reach a glass of water on the side. You may be irritable and start to take it out on your partner/carer and again this is normal. You have been through a major operation, a trauma and whilst you nurture your body back to health, remember that your emotional wellbeing is part of that process. I recommend doing things that are good for the soul, watching a film you really connect with, having a long chat with a close friend, drawing in a sketch book, ready a favourite book, perhaps sharing your recovery story online, like I'm doing right now.

So, I wish you much love, luck and success with your journey to evict your fibroids.
I hope you get to become the mother you want to be, one with war wounds and an epic story of the battle you went through to bring them into the world and to give them all the love in your heart.

Thank you to all the generous women on this forum who have bravely shared their stories in such a candid manner which has helped me on my own journey to recovery. :-*
Please feel free to add your top tips and wisdom from your own surgeries so that other women can steal your great ideas.

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