Hysterectomy, ophthalmic migraines, prolapse phobia and belly dance! – Mag’s Story

Hi I am Mags, I have 3 kids (20, 18 and 16 years old) I am a scientist/ lecturer, I have a hippie-gypsy penchant, and I enjoy natural history walks, belly dancing (amateur) and cooking ( I am a Coeliac so most of my food is home made). Sparing you the details of the how & why I got there, I had a total hysterectomy (keyhole) in West Middlesex University Hospital at the age of 40.

A little background on the procedure which from my understanding implies filling the abdominal cavity with a gas (for visibility and maneuvering) making 1 incision inside the belly button for a camera and 3 others, cutting through skin, fat and muscle just above the bikini line, in order to sever the ligaments in the pelvic cavity to detach the uterus, fallopian tubes, cervix and whatever else needs coming out.

I got an infection 2 weeks after surgery, slept for most of the first 3 weeks (anaesthesia knocks me out), so I only started to feel human after 6 weeks post op. although even then the kettle felt like it weighed a ton! On my 6 weeks check-up my consultant looked please with her work and recommended that I should have sex regularly, I was quite shocked because frankly that was the LAST thing on my mind.

The first 3 months I didn’t attempt to drive much as my days were plagued with ophthalmic migraines where I would suddenly go blind for ½ hour to 45 min, which was sometimes followed by a cephalic (painful) migraine; praise the pharmaceutical industry for nurofen and paracetamol! I tried very hard to keep walking everywhere and built up strength slowly but really didn’t feel strong at all and not terribly motivated to exercise; getting a little housework done, little pelvic floor exercises and going to work would wipe me out and I was in bed by 9am most days with a heavy/ sore “undercarriage”.

Not sure if this is due to the stop in menstrual blood loss, but around 6-7 months post-surgery, I felt a surge of energy, nails and hair got thicker, longer and stronger. I was lasting longer at work and awake later at night and actually felt the need for exercise.

I read that post-hysterectomy, chances of bladder/internal organ prolapse are around 40%, I spent some time just pondering on that value and became quite obsessed about the position of my internal organs…and how these were held in place, .I am still dealing with this sentiment today.

I had no idea what I was allowed to do or not do, received little advise on long term after care from hospital, so I began searching. I am very grateful to Oz based physiotherapist Michelle Kenway who has plenty of great advice and YouTube videos for demo.

This is what I found out:
• Got to keep one foot on the ground always (got it!)
• No running (Yay!)
• No jumping/trampoline (aww shame)
• No crunches/sit-ups (Ok)
• No lifting heavy weight (ever again, like ever)
• No intense stretching (there goes the back bends in belly dance)
• No resistance training especially involving the abdomen (wow ok)

Instead of focusing on what I cannot do I began to try hard to focus on what I could do and made a list:
• Pelvic floor exercises (always and forever, something has got to hold this stuff in place inside and only muscles can do that job now!)
• Walk (can do this fast)
• Walk up the stairs
• Cycling is allowed but I loathe it, however, I like to scoot (I bought a micro scooter and built up distance slowly, it’s like a skate board feeling of flying the wind in your face but with the handle at the front for me to hang on to for extra stability and support, loving it and liking what it’s doing to my legs and buttocks muscles!)
• And ….dance (ok not like crazy but I can belly dance again slowly and following a few rules)
o No running
o No jumping
o No back bents
o No over stretching
o No intense body shimmy or at least not very long

Hey I can do that! …and I did, worked through scar tissue screeching, unused screaming muscles and put a routine together. In March 2015, just over 9 months after my hysterectomy I performed at my local belly dance show case a slow controlled veil dance; surrounded by my beautiful family and friends and I felt intense joy, freedom, empowerment and feminine for the first time in a long time.

Hysterectomy is a horrible procedure for any woman to have to go through but there is so much more on the other side, good luck with your surgery.



in my own words book coverNow available on our online store and all other online book store’s. In My Own Words: Women’s Experience of Hysterectomy is full of many other real-life stories from women the world over.

Other people’s stories help women feel less isolated. They show that they aren’t going mad, missing the point or stupid.

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  1. Yeah I am so frightened of prolapse too.
    I am hoping to start with plodding n walking around in a swimming pool before swimming any, then very light tai chi for people with rheumatic problems before going on to tai chi.
    start small n slow n keep it safe (hopefully) then couple years start getting my much fitter body back.
    It’s so confusing with different advice from doctors.
    I wish you a great recovery too, maybe even a little jog n sit up which you may enjoy one day 🙂

  2. Hi,

    I think you have to do what feels right for you, I completely get what you mean by the fear of kicking a ball!

    I am really scared of prolapse so there is no way (hey it may still happen but I will take some precautions to avoid it); this is why I worked slowly but surely and strengthening my core muscles, I strongly believe in exercising safely, I want to feel stronger and be able to do more with time; I suppose some women will push themselves further than others faster than others!

    What I explained above is MY limits for now, and this is based on what I have read and what I feel I can cope with comfortably, having said that I am afraid I am no expert.

    All the best with your recovery!


  3. Hi Mags,
    When you say
    • No running
    • No jumping/trampoline
    • No crunches/sit-ups
    • No lifting heavy weight
    • No intense stretching
    • No resistance training

    does this mean for ever? As in the rest of our lives?
    I had my TAH to be able to get fit and active and no longer be house bound, I am now too scared to even kick a football with kids, Can we run for the bus, stock shelves or lift heavy dog food bags again ever?
    I am so confused over reading conflicting stories of excersize and I am pretty much too frightened to move right now,
    help would be appreciated.

  4. Hi Joanne, I am so glad you found it helpful, I wish you a swift recovery, take good care of yourself xxx

  5. Hi Mags thank you so much for your story,I had exactly the same procedure and it’s great to read some one else experience.You have made me feel so much better I am three weeks post op and still feel no where near myself,but as I have had keyhole surgery like your self (also removal of cervix and tubes) I think people expect so much more from you as we haven’t got a massive scar so thank you again for making me feel so much more positive about my recovery and don’t feel like a weak silly woman thank you take care xxxxxxxxx