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major surgery (female)


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Ay rr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

Question to female climbers (or their partners) who have suffered with gynecological issues and perhaps had them treated surgically, or others who had a major surgery.

I’m undergoing a surgery and will end up with a 4-6 inch incision in my lower abdomen, somewhat similar to a cesarean section but with more cuts and sutures in the relevant organ. Unfortunately less invasive procedures are not an option.
I’m told that “recovery” will be 6-8 weeks. By recovery, the surgeon means a return to ‘normal’ activities but not sure climbing, training, multi-day outings etc fall into this category.

Climbing is my life and I’m worried about how the surgery will affect my ability to do what I love.

Anything anyone can share about short and longer term recovery would be helpful.

sharyl Crossley · · Chattanooga, TN · Joined May 2013 · Points: 0

One of my climbing partners is a mom of two. Both kids were born via caesarean, the first was an emergency surgery. It took her some time to get back to full strength, but she began climbing easy stuff as soon as doc cleared her. If it hurts or feels weird she backs off. Her youngest is just over 6 months and has been out on climbing days with us. I was hoping for a little more time to be able to climb harder than my partner...but it's inspiring to see her get strong.
Listen to your body and be patient, your body will heal and you'll be back climbing soon.

mark felber · · Wheat Ridge, CO · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 28

I'm not sure how relevant my experience is, but take it for what you think it's worth. My surgery (partial colonectomy) entailed a 6" incision, from 2" below the navel to 4" above. I was warned not to engage my core muscles for 6 weeks after my release from the hospital, or 7 weeks after the surgery. I was also warned against lifting more than 15 lbs during this time frame. I was walking the hospital hallways at least once a day from the day after the surgery. The pain from the incision was so transient that I decided not to bother with the pain meds. Instead I learned (very quickly!) how to move around without stressing the incision, which was really the only source of pain. I think the walking and the lack of pain meds sped up my recovery. Once I left the hospital I was doing long walks every day for the entire recovery period. I tried snowshoeing once late in the recovery period, but didn't get far. Once the recovery period was over I went back to climbing, running and other exercise, paying attention to how my body felt. That was Jan./Feb. of 2015; by spring I was climbing in the gym, and that summer I was doing multi-day outings (a week in the Winds in August). Basically I was fully functional from early summer onward.

I really think that skipping the pain meds and walking as I could early in the game was crucial. Like Sheryl said, listen to your body and be patient.

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,503

Male here, with wife of three c-sections plus a hysterectomy.

As motivated as you sound to be, the major thing is to listen to your body. Do not overdue. Many decades of joyful climbing remain. :-)

Ay rr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

Thank you. I will listen to my body but having some idea what I’m in for is helpful, hence asking. I have read other reports that walking was helpful in recovery, so definitely aiming to walk as much as I can, building up gradually.

I won’t rush back into it until cleared by the doctors, but most medical practitioners have little idea of what climbing actually involves in terms of movement and what demands it places on the body, especially leading and falls.

Thank you for the PMs too :)

wendy weiss · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 30

I had a hysterectomy in 1986. I no longer remember much about how long it took me to return to hiking, climbing, and skiing, though I do remember that at first it was so painful that I couldn't walk even a few blocks without stopping to rest. Long term, it has had absolutely no effect on any of my activities.

normajean · · Reading, PA · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 100

if by chance the surgery is hysterectomy, ask your surgeon if you have a choice to leave the cervix in. Taking it out limits how much weight you can lift in the future, not just during recovery period. Lifting more than that (including your own body weight) can lead to organ prolapse. Surgeons often assume that women dont lift that kind of weight and fail to advize.

BrianWS · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 790

Not a lady, but recently had a major lower abdominal surgery requiring a 10 inch vertical incision from above the crotch to my sternum (partial colectomy and hepatectomy).

The biggest concern here was the risk of hernia, high would probably be the same in your case - in addition to the potential for reproductive organ prolapse. I was out of hernia risk after about three and a half months. No issues have arisen since resuming climbing.

Good luck. If recommend reaching out to medical professionals in a climber-heavy area to get better information. There you'll find a more informed assessment of what you can and cannot do, given the likely familiarity with climbers or climbing among surgeons or other pros.

jmmlol · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 0

I'm a guy, but I had hernia surgery a while back which left a 4" cut in my groin. I was climbing again in about 5 weeks. You'll feel like death for a week or two since you quickly find you use your core for everything, but it gets better.

amarius · · Nowhere, OK · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 20

Guy here.
Car accident - 4 broken ribs, pneumothorax, minced spleen, 1L blood loss due to internal bleeding. Had emergency splenectomy, ~8in vertical scar from sternum down.
Light cardio with my surgeon's approval in two weeks, easy climbing in two months.

Take it very easy, listen to your body. Hernia is a real risk.

mark felber · · Wheat Ridge, CO · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 28

I was warned about the risk of hernia in a rather offhand way by my surgeon, then in fairly graphic terms by an RN in my family. Like everyone says, listen to your body, especially during the recovery time.

the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 110

A woman who I know quite well had her's done laparoscopically. She was climbing again within 4 to 6 weeks if I remember correctly. She also won several triathlons that year after the surgery.

Ay rr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0
normajean wrote:if by chance the surgery is hysterectomy, ask your surgeon if you have a choice to leave the cervix in. Taking it out limits how much weight you can lift in the future, not just during recovery period. Lifting more than that (including your own body weight) can lead to organ prolapse. Surgeons often assume that women dont lift that kind of weight and fail to advize.
Yes. THANK YOU. Very important point, as I need to be able to lift and carry heavy stuff for my other hobbies.

Either hysterectomy or myomectomy, and it has to be done by an abdominal incision.

I so wish I could find a surgeon who gets climbing, but the chances of that are slim.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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