Top 10 Hysterectomy Recovery Must-Haves

Well, I find myself in another situation in which I can choose to either be quiet, or I can choose to speak out about my own experiences in hopes that I can help others. I choose loud. Who am I kidding? I always choose loud. Sorry not sorry.

I’m 33 years old and am two days post-hysterectomy. It has been a long time coming as I’ve had issues and a lot of pain for years. My boys are 10 and 8 years old so they are old enough to be helpful during the healing process, and they sure are my little caretakers. I have quite a few friends who know a hysterectomy is likely in their future. I’ve always been kind of the leader of the pack with firsts…one of the first to get married, to have kids, to be done having kids, and now first to hysterectomy. But these issues and surgeries are quite common and I tend to handle situations better for others when I’ve already been there. And I can give tips…unsolicited advice if you will.

I found a combination of websites and blog posts from other women and put together a list of what I thought I might need for the recovery. There were so many helpful tips but I’m still adding as I go. So I’ve put together a list all in one place of my hysterectomy recovery must-haves.

So here it is…

  1. Multiple free-flowing nightgowns.Having nothing around my waste is very helpful. There is quite a bit of a bloated feeling at times, and pants just aren’t comfy. I bought 7 nightgowns at Wal-Mart for around $6 each. Super comfy and I’m living in them. Having multiple means that my hubby has time to wash before I run out of my current wardrobe.

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  2. Pain meds and rest.I get that this is kind of a given, but it has to be said. Jeremy, my hubby, has even been waking me up every four hours throughout the night so I don’t get behind on pain meds. The only time I felt super sore was when we opted to leave the hospital the same day as surgery. The 15-minute drive just took a lot out of me and I had to get caught up on pain management. But I knew I’d be able to rest better at home than in the hospital. And I was right. But take the meds and don’t overdue anything. Listen to your doctor’s instructions and stay down.
  3. Ice packs and a body pillow
    This one was unexpected but has been probably the biggest helper for pain. Ice packs on the lower abdomen feel absolutely amazing. I have a few of them so when one gets too warm, one of my boys just goes to the freezer to switch it out for me. And of course there’s the body pillow. It makes it so much easier to hold the ice pack in place and the pressure feels so much better. It’s all about comfort.
  4. Accept help
    Yes. That’s an order. From my own husband and children to so many family and friends. People have been bringing food, flowers, cards, and more. It’s been such a blessing. Having my family taken care of with visits, treats, and entertainment has been the biggest blessing. I feel incredibly blessed to be surrounded by so many beautiful and caring souls.2017-07-13 12.21.34
  5. Stool softeners, fresh fruit and veggies
    Nobody likes to talk about these things, but it’s something you’ll want to plan for. Straining to have a bowel movement after having a baby is no fun…after hysterectomy is about the same. Buy some over-the-counter colace and start taking it immediately. Mine is three times a day. Eat lots of fresh fruit and veggies in order to stay on top of that fiber and keep you regular. You’ll thank me.
  6. Cleansing bottle
    The nurse in the hospital had this idea and it has been a lifesaver! Sparing you the details, it has helped me empty my bladder and feel more clean. Especially right after surgery, emptying was a bit of a chore. Big helpers! Having a full bladder is very uncomfortable so you’ll want this little miracle bottle.
  7. Pads
    Kind of a given, but somebody else said to have adult diapers. Talk about making a woman feel un-sexy. No thanks. I’d rather be in my own comfy underwear. Bleeding has been very minimal and pads have been more than enough.
  8. Coloring books or thank-yous
    I have an adorable collection of “Creative Expressions” cards for any occassion. You color them yourself and then use them for whatever you wish. So that’s how I’ve been entertaining myself. I’ve been coloring these cards and writing thank-yous on them for my friends and family whom have been so helpful. Coloring is relaxing for me so that’s been a fun distraction.
  9. Reading material
    Again, distractions are good. There’s only so much time you can spend on social media or on staring at a TV or computer screen. Give your eyes and brain a break. I’m loving reading for fun!20170707_150650
  10. Water bottle or jug 

    This goes right along with the fruit and veggies. Stay hydrated so you don’t run into other issues. It helps with every aspect of recovery. Drink lots of water. And again, because having a full bladder is uncomfortable, be sure you empty often. It’s good for you.

So there you have it. Best wishes with your upcoming hysterectomy or for your loved one if you are passing this on as advice for someone. Many times since surgery, I have noticed the complete absence of pain. It’s a strange feeling since I’ve been dealing with severe cramping, lower back pain, and lower abdominal pressure for so long. This surgery was so worth it. God bless.

~ Bailey

Hysterectomy: There is Good in This

I firmly believe there is good in everything. I have been through an awful lot of fear and heartache in my 33 years. Having a hysterectomy next week pales in comparison. In fact, I’d take more of this over the idea of losing my husband anyday. And Jeremy is doing so well that he hasn’t had any suicidal thoughts in almost a year and a half. He says it’s his turn to take care of me. So yes, I can handle this. I’m handling it quite well, actually, because I’m really excited to get my life back. The pain has reached the point of intolerance and the uterus must go. Thank you for our two beautiful boys, now good riddens.

There are so many things I’ve been thinking about lately…how all of this was orchestrated to have so much good in it. I believe God planned it out perfectly, and I believe in the importance of focusing on the good. It’s how we survive life without bitterness and envy. It’s our secret to happiness…focus on the good and on what you can control – your own attitude. So focus on the good I will. And I write knowing others may be dealing with similar situations, so here it goes. A glimpse into my current thoughts if you will…

One month ago, I was frustrated. As a doctoral student in my fifth year and currently collecting data for my dissertation, I am possibly less than a year away from becoming Dr. Bailey Koch, Ed.D., in Special Education. I’m excited and very ready. But my research depends upon receiving surveys back from teachers. My timing wasn’t great. By the time everything fell together to begin collecting data, it was the extreme end of the school year…literally the last week. What teachers want to spend their last few hours of the school year filling out a survey? Well, I can answer that with 14 so far. But I need at least 30 back, so I’m at a standstill. I’ll have to wait until school starts again and go to more schools in order to invite teachers to participate.

Now I understand why God wanted me to have the summer off and put a stop to my data collection. There will be no doctoral stress while I’m recovering, and I’m very thankful for that. There is literally nothing I can do. This is my first true summer off…ever. Because I’m in the 25th grade (as my sons say), every summer has been full of classes for my degrees. Now is my time off. Now is my time to relax and recover.

A little over a year ago, I landed my dream job. Now a university lecturer teaching teacher candidates how to advocate for the learning of all students in the classroom, I am extremely blessed to work from home in the summers teaching online classes. I travel and teach face-to-face in the fall and spring semesters. Best of both worlds. So with a major surgery in the summer, and given the fact that I happened to teach both of my online classes in May and June, I have my July and August to relax and recover. Talk about timing.

But there’s more. Five years ago when it started to become obvious that my reproductive organs were failing, I had a procedure that would “buy me time” so hopefully my boys would grow old enough to be a help and not a burden when the time for a hysterectomy would come around. It worked. Our boys are 10 and 8 and are the biggest blessings to us in this…and always. While I wait for the procedure next week, unfortunately my uterus is extremely angry and the pain makes it hard to do much for very long. My hydrocodone and heating pad are my best friends right now. The boys are so helpful in preparing for surgery next week and in taking care of their momma. Hudson has taken an interest in learning to cook for the last year. Most of the time when I have to brown hamburger, he just does it. He knows all the steps, even seasoning the meat to perfection. Tonight we have friends visiting and I wanted to make my Mexican lasagna. I did nothing but cut up onions. Seriously. This is our 10-year-old today with mom. My husband walked in and started snapping pictures. Oh my heart.

 

And then there’s the fact that it has likely been around 13 years since I have read a book for pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, books about special education and research are great; and they’ve been my life for a lot of years. But I’m done with my doctoral courses and am now in the dissertation research stage, so I can read…like, for fun. I was so excited today when I went to our fabulous Wilson Public Library in Cozad that the women there had to believe I was crazy. However, I informed them of my situation and my likes and they guided me toward books I may just love. I’m so stinking excited to read while I recover.

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I know there’s more good. It will all be revealed in time. I’ve got this because He’s got us. The surgery is Thursday the 13th of July. I’m sure I’ll write while I recover. Who knows, maybe I’ll compile a list of “must-haves” for women preparing for and then recovering from hysterectomy. Maybe I can help someone in this. See…more good right there.

~ Bailey

Follow our journey on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeremyandbaileykoch/

30 Something Somethings I’m Learning in My 30s

I’ve only been in my 30s for a couple of years now, but I’m finding it to be quite awesome. My 30s so far have come with some ground-breaking realizations. I’m feeling more free. Transformed even. I’m learning that a lot of the chains I felt were on me were put there by none other than – wait for it – me. I held myself back for a long time.

Getting old has a lot of disadvantages. I’ve stopped getting carded when I order a drink. People call me “ma’am.” And being a parent in this world of technology is a huge challenge. But I’ve found that there are a heck of a lot more benefits to getting older than setbacks. I’m learning to embrace the changes, take the bad in stride, and focus on the good whenever and wherever I can. I’m enjoying life more and more every day and embracing the moments, so it’s time to put words to what I’m realizing…

Here are 30 Something Somethings I’m Learning in My 30s:

  1. Weight is nothing more than a number. Do you feel sexy? Focus on that. If no, work hard in whatever way you need to get there. If yes, rock whatever you’ve got.
  2. Hair dye and makeup cover up my “wisdom” and “experience.” Some people call these gray hairs and wrinkles. Those people can bite me. I’m growing fond of those visual representations of the fact that life happens. I feel better when my hair is natural and I wear less makeup rather than more.
  3. My husband seems to love me even more than he did the day I married him – you know, when I was 120 pounds and had zero life experience (ah hem…and humans) showing on my body. I like that. He’s hot. I’m hot to him. Who else matters in this area?
  4. I’ve learned more from failure and tears than from success and smiles.
  5. Keeping thoughts and feelings inside is really overrated. It’s the reason every fight has ever happened. Say it. Respectfully.
  6. Continuing number 5 – Being able to respectfully disagree or not says an awful lot about who you are…and whether or not I want to be around you.
  7. There is so much power in the words, “I’m sorry.” Say it and mean it.
  8. A smile, coupled with an attitude of I’ll do better tomorrow. I’ve got this., can turn any bad day around.
  9. Jesus rocks.
  10. Being a parent is the hardest and easiest job at the same time. They are so easy to love.
  11. Attitude is everything. Think about it. A is the first letter in the alphabet. T is the 20th and so on. Add up the numbers. A=1, T=20, T=20, I=9, T=20, U=21, D=4, E=5. Got it? 100. Attitude equals 100%. (I may or may not be a teacher.)
  12. Cussing by training yourself to say words like, “BUBBLES!” will immediately change your attitude. Go ahead, just try to say “bubbles” in an angry way. I’ll wait.
  13. Listen to lots of music. Dance. Sing loudly. Be weird. You will make yourself smile and others around you. Even if they are smiling because they are laughing at you – you just made their day better. Hold your head high.
  14. I don’t know what I’m doing. Ever. I’m just doing the best I can with what I have. And that’s okay.
  15. My favorite word is, “Enough.” When feeling frustrated with financials – Do we have enough? Yes. Then trust it will all be okay.
  16. I don’t know how I feel about a lot of things. And that’s okay.
  17. Just love. Judging, hating, envying, trying to change someone…they don’t help and they don’t work. I’ve tried and failed. I’ve hurt myself and others. Just love.
  18. Sometimes keeping your mouth shut is what has to happen in the moment. Walk away. Cool down. Think of a way to be respectful. Then speak.
  19. There is something so emotionally comforting about having and loving a dog. Or really any pet. Animals have healing powers.
  20. The ONLY way to lose weight is to work hard through diet and exercise. There is no secret. Stop wasting your money.
  21. The people making decisions are usually the ones who shouldn’t be. Do the best you can with what you have.
  22. Working hard and falling flat on your face (likely multiple times) is the only respectable way to get anything. Do NOT give up on your dreams.
  23. Those who fall and get back up are so much stronger than those whom have never fallen.
  24. Suicide is not selfish. It is also not the answer. But it’s not selfish. (Side note…this is number 24 in honor of my husband. Jeremy, my love for almost 17 years, is a five-time suicide attempt survivor. Learn more on our website at www.jeremyandbailey.com and follow our journey advocating for mental health on Facebook).
  25. God doesn’t make mistakes. Period. You are who you are and where you are for a reason.
  26. There is always a way out of an uncomfortable situation. You just have to find it.
  27. Your conscience is God. Listen.
  28. Learning to train yourself to see the positive before you see the negative is a human superpower. Do it.
  29. Being thankful for what you have, as opposed to focusing on what you don’t, will change everything.
  30. It’s okay to be picky about who you choose to surround yourself with.
  31. The bad days are the days when I’m trying to control something or someone. Let it go.
  32. If you learned from it and you grew through it, it was worth it.

If you liked my list of 30 Something Somethings I’m Learning in My 30s, please share. If not, don’t. Here’s a bonus tip…be true to who you are and what you believe. Stand up for what is right. And be happy.

~ Bailey

www.jeremyandbailey.com

https://www.facebook.com/jeremyandbaileykoch/

Finding the Culprit: Food Allergies and Infections

Well today was full of great information, most completely unwanted, but still great information.

For 31 years, 32 next month, I’ve dealt with a lot of intestinal issues. Flare-ups would come and go, and I just kind of adjusted to life with near-constant tummy troubles. However, this last time Jeremy had to be in three different hospitals in two weeks was enough stress to send my system into complete freak-out mode. Essentially, it started with a nasty cold that turned into a nasty sinus and ear infection. From there, I started some antibiotics, and while those infections improved, my intestinal issues worsened. To this day, my issues continue to worsen. But it appears I am on the way to healing.

A couple weeks ago, my doctors performed a scope and officially diagnosed me with gastritis. During that time, they also took a sample to check for bacteria. But then my doctor went on vacation. They instructed me to call if my symptoms worsened before I see him for my follow-up this Friday. So today, I made a trip after my allergy appointments.

But let’s back up a bit. SOMETHING causes gastritis, and food allergies/intolerances were suspected. Our oldest son suffers from food allergies too and he needed a follow up appointment; so today, Hudson and mommy had a date with the allergy doctors.

If you can’t tell, we have some allergies. Hudson is highly allergic to milk and corn (which we’ve known for a long time but had allowed him some in his diet in order to minimize the chance of reaction if any gets in his system…our method failed miserably). So Hudson’s allergy symptoms have continued to get worse and testing today confirmed why. He can have no milk…none. We had hoped he was growing out of it. Again, nope. Sorry buddy.

On the bright side, however, Hudson thought it was pretty cool mommy had to go through the testing this time too. While I’m not allergic to milk, I do have a severe intolerance to it, especially with my intestinal issues right now. So no milk for mommy either. However, most interesting for mommy, and terrifying, is the fact that I came back as extremely allergic to yeast. You guessed it…Celiac Disease. A blood test may or may not confirm (as the blood tests are highly inaccurate), but they sent off my blood anyway because of the large connection between yeast allergy and gluten issues. Even if it does come back negative, I’m to stay completely gluten free.

It’s quite overwhelming. But it’s also exciting. I think back to certain things I have eaten and immediately have had issues; those memories always seem to have one or two connections…gluten and dairy. But I also must say this…gluten free is not a fad as I once believed. Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance are real and miserable. I’m willing to do anything to no longer feel like this.

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Very thankful for our local grocery store, Sonny’s in Cozad. Walking the aisles with tears in my eyes and they stop me to tell me where everything is for gluten free as well as let me know they can get special items in for me if I ask them to.

 

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And thanks, Cheerios. There’s just something comforting about a bowl of gluten free cheerios with soy milk. Happy Bailey.

But there’s more to why I feel miserable lately. After those allergy tests and results, Hudson and I went out to eat. Immediate issues. EVERYTHING I eat lately gives me immediate problems. I was sick of it, and my doctor said to call if symptoms get worse. So I went to Urgent Care to see my friend and doctor, and she took care of me. It makes sense that my symptoms got worse. She spoke to my doctor, who just got back from vacation, and I am filled with infection…colitis in addition to my gastritis and possibly enteritis. That’s a lot of itis. They are doing even more testing, but they are putting me immediately on strong antibiotics to get these infections gone. So antibiotics and probiotics it is for me in addition to completely adjusting my diet. I hope to start feeling better soon. Crazy thing is this is even affecting my eyesight (lots of floaters in my vision), and that’s a huge indicator of infection too.

Basically, I’m a mess, but at least we have answers. I feel like crap, but I’ll get better. I’ve been dealing with this stuff for a long time; it’s just been a heck of a lot worse these last six weeks. I’m over it…ready to feel human again. Next steps are likely colonoscopy to keep diagnosing everything correctly and more specific bacteria tests.

As always, we share because we know many other people struggle with similar issues. So please feel free to share advice or tips if you have any. I’ll gladly accept any tips! I’ll especially accept prayers! Thanks, friends!

~ Bailey