“I definitely feel like a new woman.” Says Clare Payne since having her ovaries, womb and cervix surgically removed. After years of struggling with heavy, painful periods, fibroids, endometriosis and PMDD, Clare opted to have a total hysterectomy with ovary removal in February 2023 under Consultant Gynaecologist, Mr Abhishek Gupta.
Read on to discover more about Clare’s symptoms, why she took out a Benenden Health membership, her patient journey and Clare’s advice to other women.
What symptoms were you suffering from?
“I’d had years of problems with heavy and painful periods. I knew I had some fibroids which are non-cancerous growths that develop in the muscular wall of the womb. But also, at the time of having my procedure, it was found that I had some endometriosis too. It was getting to the stage where I was probably only having one week out of a month where I was feeling okay. I felt like I was crazy, and then the week of my period I would be like ‘wow I feel great!’. Whereas most people were the other way, they’d suffer from PMS leading up to their period. It was clear to see that there was a problem with my oestrogen levels.
“I then discovered I had PMDD, which isn’t just PMS, my whole mental health was being affected by it. PMDD stands for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and causes a range of emotional and physical symptoms every month during the week or two before your period.
“I initially went to my doctor and was referred to my local hospital under gynaecology. However, the waiting lists were so long at the time, and I knew it was an option to come to Benenden Hospital, so I asked my doctor to refer me here for my initial consultation.
“I came to my first appointment at the hospital off the back of years of going through different referrals, having different scans, being in pain and not really know what was causing it all.”
Clare Payne's hysterectomy
Why did you become a Benenden Health member?
“I first took out Benenden Health membership about two years ago now, during the pandemic. It was a struggle to speak to a doctor and you couldn’t see anybody in person. So, I researched the benefits of membership and found out that you could speak to a doctor on the phone, and even do video calls with them.
"I wanted reassurance for my family that I had that healthcare option going forward. I was also aware of the NHS waiting times that were growing as a knock-on effect of the pandemic, so we could access healthcare in this way instead.”
What was your patient journey at our hospital like?
“When I came for my initial consultation and sat down with Mr Gupta, he was absolutely amazing and he had no hesitation as to what I was looking for. We did discuss the options of a coil being fitted but I’d had some previous problems with having that so I didn’t want to go down that route.
"He also offered me an ablation which meant he could sort out the lining of my womb, but again, I just wasn’t happy to go down that route, I knew I was ready for a hysterectomy to finally sort out my symptoms. Having explored all the treatment options we agreed the best treatment for me was a hysterectomy!”
“Following my appointment with Mr Gupta, and signing the consent form to have the operation, I came in to have a pre-assessment with a fantastic nurse in Outpatients. She went through everything and was so thorough about it all, even down to existing medication I was on, what I could continue taking up until day of the operation, what needed to be stopped and when – it was all written down for me.
"I had numerous bits of paperwork and booklets of information to understand what was going to happen and we spoke about the anaesthetic and I said I often struggle with anaesthetic and she made notes about all of that too.”
Day of surgery and discharge
“When I came in on the day of my hysterectomy on 20 February, the staff in the ward were fantastic. Again, they asked me if I understood the procedure, if I knew what was going to happen and how I was going to feel. They booked me in for two nights as that was standard procedure for a hysterectomy, however, I recovered so quickly!
"Because of how helpful the nurses were, and pain-relief medication was on offer if I needed it, I was actually discharged the following day! So, I was only at the hospital for 24 hours and my recovery since has been fantastic.”
Facilities and surroundings
“My private room was on Bensan Ward, I had lovely nurses who really looked after me and the facilities were great. I had an en-suite bathroom, a TV in the room and everything I needed. It was like home from home.
“I grew up in Kent so I was aware of Benenden Hospital before coming here for my surgery anyway, being a local girl, and I now only live 25-minute drive away. It’s lovely, quiet and peaceful, the countryside surrounds it and everyone you come across at the hospital is so friendly.”
How is life for you now after your hysterectomy?
“I’m now six weeks post operation and the recovery has been amazing, far better than I could have ever hoped for. I was really expecting to be in bed for six weeks, really struggling to get on with life, but my life has returned an even better normal now. I’ve had after care phone calls and I’ve got a follow-up appointment coming up so the service post-surgery has been great.
“I had a full hysterectomy, which is keyhole surgery removing the womb, cervix and ovaries which put me into a surgical menopause. The hospital prescribed me hormone replacement therapy, a week after my operation and I’ve just increased that slightly. I definitely feel like a new woman.
“I would highly recommend going to Benenden Hospital through your Benenden Health membership because I had fast access to treatment for a low-cost option each month. I had numerous scans leading up to my hysterectomy as well, and the surgery was fantastic, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere else.”
Clare’s advice to other women
“My advice to any ladies out there that are suffering with any kind of women’s health problem would be to speak to their GP first. Seek advice and don’t suffer in silence because too often we’re told it’s normal, it’s something else, there’s nothing or it’s normal to feel the way we’re feeling. When actually, it’s very much not.
“Also, don’t be afraid to speak at a young age too, because I was told so often that my symptoms weren’t relevant for my age or I was way too young to be thinking along those lines. If you’ve got a family history of women’s health problems, really take that into consideration. You can look online, speak to friends as there’s a lot of friends you may find who are going through the same problems. But the main thing is to get some help with your symptoms as early as you can.”
Speak to our experts
If heavy, painful periods, endometriosis or another women’s health problem is affecting your quality of life, help is available. We offer a range of private gynaecology treatments in a discreet, comfortable environment so you can finally feel heard. Contact our Private Patient team by completing our online enquiry form, contacting us via Livechat or by calling 01580 363 158.
Published on 07 April 2023