TAH BSO Not Nearly As Bad As I Expected – Patsy’s Story

I had a TAH BSO (total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo oophorectomy) basically everything removed because of fibroids.

In May 2012 I realised that I had an extremely large lump in my abdomen, 17cms to exact! How had I not noticed this before? I hadn’t really had any obvious symptoms until a couple of weeks before. My periods had been heavier for a couple of years but I thought that was just part of getting older (I’m 47), and they weren’t ridiculously heavy. My bladder was getting fuller quicker and not completely emptying, but I didn’t really realise this until after the diagnosis. I guess I knew it felt slightly different but not uncomfortable. Anyway I started getting a side pain and after a couple of weeks thought I’d better go to the Dr’s.

So the fibroid was discovered, but as it wasn’t 100% sure whether it was a fibroid or not (risk of ovarian cancer) I was referred under the 2 week rule i.e. must be seen by the gynae consultant within 2 weeks. I also had to have an ultrasound. This led onto a CT scan.

Due to the size of my fibroid it was determined that a total abdominal (vertical) hysterectomy was required. One ovary was completely hidden by the fibroid and the fibroid didn’t have normal fibroid characteristics. Until the mass had been removed the Dr’s couldn’t be sure if it was a fibroid or something else. One ovary had to be removed and I had to decide whether to have the second ovary removed.

I decided I would rather have surgical menopause than leave one ovary behind to possibly become cancerous in the future, especially as we didn’t know if the mass was cancerous at this point.

My operation was twice as long as expected (4hrs) due to complication with my bladder, ureter and kidney. Basically the mass was squishing my bladder and ureter, the ureter wasn’t draining properly and so my kidney was dilated. anyway the urologists arrived and managed to safely remove the mass from my bladder.

So recovery – I had opted for morphine for pain control – other option was epidural, which I was told was very effective, but didn’t always work – morphine was the right choice for me. It was patient controlled, so basically I pushed a button when I needed morphine. I would like to say that at NO POINT did I feel real pain. I was very drowsy for the first day, but I think this was good, helped me rest.

By the third day I was just taking paracetamol and ibuprofen! I was frightened when they said I should try not to use the morphine, but it was fine, it was still attached if i needed it, but I didn’t! Actually I think I had some codeine as well as paracetamol and ibuprofen for one day. But I would have never have imagined that by day four paracetamol and ibuprofen would be fine!

Day 2 I managed a very short walk with a couple of nurses, day 3 was able to walk unaided, only a toddle to the toilet and back. Day 4 had a shower, that was great! Day 5 went home, PHEW!

Due to the bladder complications I had to go home with a catheter, normally it would come out before you leave hospital, but this really wasn’t a problem. It wasn’t uncomfortable, easy to empty and meant I didn’t have to get up at night to wee! And even better, I didn’t get a UTI!

I’ve tried to not do too much and stick to this website’s recovery plan, but I have done a bit more, like going up and down stairs the first week, couldn’t be avoided but I figured as long as I did things carefully and stopped as soon as I felt anything pulling. I have been absolutely fine.

Part way through my 2nd week at home I kept forgetting to take the paracetamol and ibuprofen so I figured I didn’t need them and just took them when I started to feel a bit uncomfortable. Now, at the end of my 3rd week at home I don’t need any pain killers and haven’t really taken any for a few days.

Menopause – I started getting hot flushes, but only at night, on about day 6, they were bad for a few nights and I would stay awake for a few hours but then gradually eased off. I do still wake up a bit hot now, but it is summer and it is warm. I do feel “down” some days for no reason but have not discussed HRT yet… had to wait for the results to make sure the mass wasn’t cancerous and that took 2 1/2 weeks, PHEW all ok!

I would also like to say having the staples out from my wound was fine. Also having the catheter out isn’t uncomfortable at all.

So if you are due to have a hysterectomy, I hope this helps you. I was pretty terrified in advance and it was all so much better than expected. In fact i think its pretty amazing!


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. Hi, I am 36 yr old, post tah bso omnec op in 3rd week. I am feeling much better and doing all activities as before the op(except for no heavy lifting or bending due to vertical surgical healing requirements ). No pain what so ever. I do feel warmer time yo time so dress in layers ! So don’t worry have a positive attitude and make sure to be fit n active leading upto the op. That helped in my recovery post op.
    Good luck.

  2. You’ve made my day! After reading your post as I am due to have the same op tomorrow and have started to worry quite a lot.
    Its reassuring to hear a success story.
    I’m not sure about leaving an ovary intact or not but this time tomorrow it should be all done.

    Thank you and I wish you well.

  3. I am due to have my operation next Friday. I was scared but now have more information because of your article. thanks

  4. Thank you so much for this article! I’m having a complete abdominal hysterectomy tomorrow morning due to polyps and endometriosis and I was terrified of the recovery until I read your article. Thank you.

  5. I am 52 and due this surgery on 24th of june scared out of my mine never really had any bad surgery befor

  6. this story is so inspiring. i am due to the same operation anytime soon. before i read this article, i was very much scared. thank you for making me feel ok.

  7. I know this was written a while ago but I came across it whilst browsing, I`m due to have a TAH BSO in a few days time. I`m nearly 46 and had similar discomfort to you. Heavy periods, a pain similar to labour to start, apparently my body`s way of trying to remove the large polyp. I have found your account very positive and helpful. Thank you.

  8. Hello again!
    Am done with my tabso operation last march 5 and am starting another journey in my life w/out these crowning glory reproductive organs .I have bravely faced this greatest challenge through the guidance of our Lord and also through my DRs .Now am on my 6th day and hoping that this recovery period will be ok and no hassles.I can walk and ho to comfrot room on my own and most of all dont have pains. To God be the Glory

  9. am nervous with my forthcoming TABHSU operation this 1st week of march 2014 . i have sleepless nights and every night i always pray that i can overcome the operation and see my family again but am inspired with patsy’s experience hope to hear more details like feelings and emotions during the pre and post operation. want to hear more encouragement from women who survived tabhsu

  10. I had my bso this Friday, feeling very sore…how did u get on and what do u think recovery time is x

  11. I have just been told I need TAH and BOS due to very severe endometriosis which has just been diagnosed after a laparoscopy. I am very scared. I’m worried about the pain. I need lots of reassurance that I can cope with this, as I am terrified about having the op and the recovery period after. I haven’t got a date yet and may have to wait a few months, I want to prepare mentally for this, but get quite emotional if I think about it too much. I am 45 and have 2 healthy children, so very lucky, but not looking forward to this at all.

  12. I started my journey by having a heart scan with my husband (whose father died from heart disease) as a Valentine’s Day gift, we went in on April 29, 2013. His heart score was 759, and mine was 0. Thought I was perfect until the radiologist called me to state that they found spots on my lung. Next another full CT scan with contrast of the neck, chest, abdomen and pelvic area. I was scheduled for a lung biopsy 2 days later, which was clear. No cancer! No explanation for the huge lymphnodes in my chest and lungs. Was then sent to Pulmonary Specialist who will wait and see, but told me to have Primary Care Physician review my Ovarian Cyst/Uterine Fibroids. She did and sent me for an ultrasound and transvaginal ultrasound. With these results I was referred to the women’s clinic for further tests. I have an ovary neoplasm of 10 cm, but the doctor is not too concerned with that. More concerned with the multiple fibroid tumors of the uterus. She states that there could be connection between lungs and uterine. I am scheduled for a Total Abdominal Hysterectomy in 1 week, but will have results of CA125 blood work back by Thursday. If elevated, will be referred to gyn/oncologist instead.

    Upon my yearly exam my doctor could feel fibroids on my abdomen. Which is when I an Ultrasound done 4 years ago, where the cyst and fibroids were found but was told that they would shrink with menopause. Obviously not. I had an endometrial ablation 10 years ago, which is why I never had symptoms of abnormal bleeding since.

    Definitely concerned about cancer and how far this could have progressed. What a 5 week ride I have been on.

  13. Ladies, this came at the right time for me. It feels good to know that am not alone in this, others out there are going through similar experiences.

    My TAH-BSO has been scheduled for June the 25th. I had a Caesar in 2003, removed multiple fibroids in March 2010 then 2 very big ovarian cysts on either side in September 2010. Just when I thought it was all done with, my lower left side became very hard to the touch-from the navel down. My periods were extremely painful. I held on as I wasn’t ready to undergo another operation. My gynae says my organs have hardened and stuck together due to too many incisions to the area. Painful though it is, its time to let go. I will turn 40 in September this year.

  14. Reading this made me feel a bit reassured. I am due to have a TAH in a few weeks time due to rather large fibroids. I am very scared and feel hopelessly alone. I hope my experience is like Patsy’s. She makes it feel a lot more ‘survivable’.

  15. I only came out of hospital 4 days ago and being such a clever person have been doing too much. I really felt time except my staples are pulling and my stomach aches. Realised last night what a fool I am, my good friend Diane has come very day and cooked, tidied up, and kept me company. Got a telling off from another friend for being stupid and trying to do too much. My stomach feels huge, hope this will go down.

  16. Hi Dania, I’m concerned that you are assuming you won’t enjoy sex as you did before – that sort of thing has a habit of being a self fulfiling prophecy. There is no reason why your sex life should change and for most women in our research it improves dramatically.

  17. 3 weeks after TAH&BSO quite bloated and weak, but sleep ok trying not to think about future problems with my sex life (i AM 55 but have a new partner). My partner’s support was very supportive but i cannot help feeling worried about symptoms in the future. so far mild hot flashes and bit emotional but the feeling that i will not be the same worries me and how our relationship might change because of his kowledge that i cannot enjoy sex like before. We have discussed and i shared my worries and now awaiting to try sex in 3/4 weeks i feel very anxious in case he would feel frustrated and we will both be sad

  18. I’m 5 weeks post op, tah & bso, wound site has just healed but my stomach is so enlarged and sore, i don’t know if it’s relating to the anti clotting injections I had to do or the op its self

  19. hi patsy
    i have used this forum alot over the last few wks so im sorry if we have already spoke and im asking the same question. i have spoke to alot of lovely ladies on this site but i have just read ur story and it is almost the same as mine altho im 36 and iv not had my hysterectomy yet but my cat scan is tomorrow so they said it will be booked tuesday and then ill have a date.. they said it would be within two wks of the scan because there is a risk of ovarian cancer..

    what i was wondering is how u are recovering now?? and are u taking hrt or herbal stuff? i dont know if mine is ovarian cancer yet and if it is then i doubt i can take hrt.. im wondering if i should go the herbal route anyway as i am going to have to take something until im near 50 and as im only 36 hrt would be too long as iv read ur only spose to take it for ten yrs.. some people take nothing tho and just take multi vitamins and calcium tablets.. its so confusing isnt it


  20. Thank you Patsy – I’m in a similar position, with a whopping fibroid that I cannot believe I never worked out was there. This afternoon I was given a mid-November surgery date, and at the moment it seems to be my choice about leaving my ovaries or not. As it seems menopause can onset within a couple of years of surgery anyway, I’m leaning towards having them removed. Not looking forward to instant menopause! (I’m 37.) But cheered by the positive outlook of many on here, and by your positive story – thank you.x

  21. thanks Patsy, your story sounds similar to mine – although yours sounds worse. But you’ve reassured me that it’s not so terrifying! Now I have to get organised and book the op.

    Thanks again