Getting fatty-mac-fat-fat after a hysterectomy?

There is a rumor out there in the universe that women will gain weight after a hysterectomy.  I have heard it.  I am living that rumor … or truth.

Words of wisdom from the Dr. Dr. (yes, you read that correctly), Wulf H. Utian, MD, PhD:

There is some evidence showing that women tend to gain more weight after hysterectomy than after natural menopause. Why that is, especially since these women still have their ovaries, just isn’t clear.

… And it is clear that women often gain weight after menopause.

This weight gain doesn’t appear to be due to any effects from low estrogen/progesterone levels, but, rather, from changes in lifestyle (primarily becoming more sedentary) and because postmenopausal women tend to lose muscle and gain fat. That, in turn, leads to a slowing of your metabolism. Put more simply: Your calorie-burning furnace is operating on medium instead of high. That means that even if you’re eating and exercising the same as … years ago, you either have to eat less or exercise more to maintain your weight.

I would like to blame my weight gain on the removal of one organ.  In truth, I can’t.  I know  I haven’t been doing anything physical other than typing speedily, sprinting to the bathroom when the need arises, running my mouth and leaping into bed at night.  C’mon, who thinks this is real exercise?  I hate, loathe, detest exercise.  I used to do yoga but since my hysterectomy and the facet syndrome of my neck (fancy words for old-lady-neck osteoarthritis PAIN — emphasis on pain), I don’t want to do anything physical.  OK, maybe that one special thing that will remain unnamed that takes two people.  You know. (I’m keeping this paragraph G-rated).

On the up side, I have had thoughts of doing yoga. yoga om procrastinate  Do thoughts count?

I have also thought about swimming too, but then I’d have to join a health club paying the fee and never end up going like usual. It’s happened before.  I like to think that I’m donating to health clubs (and yes, past yoga memberships) by helping them stay in business for all those people who overuse their services.  Kind of generous huh?  (or really stupid with money).

What you would like to read about now?  More hysterectomy stuff, weight gain or my neck?  Readers choice!  Oh, wait, it’s my blog so we’ll talk about my neck because it has nothing to do with the title of the post.  You never know what you’re in for when you come here!

I promise I won’t spend too much time on my neck, but since I no longer have painful periods what else can I complain about?  Back to my neck … hmmm … that sounds funny.  Just say it, “Back to my neck.”  You can’t switch it up and say, “Neck to my back”.

My neck.  What a piece of crap neck did I get.  I can’t even say I’ve had any major  rollover car incidents or attempted self-hangings … no nothing that dramatic.  I used to swing my neck around while dancing in the ’80s especially to … see video:

After watching this video and realizing I was such a fan of such garbage musical inspiration and innovation, I’m quite sure I deserve the neck pain I’m having.  Have you ever thought, “What the f*ck was I thinking in my 20s (50s, 60s, 70s, for some of you who are older)?  clubbing  I remember thinking I would love clubbing (that means going to bars and dancing, most likely getting drunk in case you’re from another country and don’t know what that means) for the rest of my life. Holy criminy was I wrong.  And it wasn’t the last time I was wrong either!  You couldn’t get me to a club to save my life … plus those sexy neck swinging days are over.

Currently I’m undergoing RFA (radiofrequency ablation) on my neck.  Only one side can be done at a time for reasons not fully explained to me.  I had the RIGHT side RFA’d about a month ago and have complete relief on that side.  The LEFT side is an evil beast that awaits RFA in three — yes, only three days from now!

Let’s get back to that weight gain subject after hysterectomy, completely switching gears!


I have no idea why I want to eat and drink almost everything.  Like everything.  What’s with this, “I don’t give a rat’s @ss attitude”?  Like everyone else, I have to ask myself WHERE my limit lies.  A number on a scale isn’t doing it for me, the lack of a 6-pack (as if I ever had one) …  but tight pants, that’s got me rethinking eating that Snickers bar daily.

I refuse to blame the hysterectomy for the weight gain.  I am putting more food into my mouth and gullet than I ever have in my life.  The only theory I can come up with is that weird experience I had with Effexor (venlafaxine).  I lost quite a bit of weight while on that medication and had so many food aversions it would make your head spin (see pic above!).  I’m making up for all that lost time of good eating. I’m weighting … I mean waiting for my weight and appetite to normalize (it’s been 16 months since my hyst).  I’m not sure how long this is going to take … and yes, yes, yes, I’ve had my thyroid checked, and yes THE PANEL of thyroid hormones too blah, blah, blah … can’t blame “the thyroid” either as it all came out normal.

On the subject of the thyroid, recently to my trip to Eatly, I mean Italy, while on the plane a woman sat down next to me.  She squeezed into her seat, attempted to put the food tray down but it collided with her abdomen (truly a panniculus if you want to get technical).  She said, “This is another skinny seat!”  I didn’t know what to say and kind of looked away.  I couldn’t exactly agree with her (or disagree).

Prior to  her sitting down she had been bypassed by three stewardesses when she had obviously needed help putting her case into the overhead storage bin.  The stewardesses were Amazonian women of the oldest airline in the world that will remain nameless here because well, I don’t want them to read this (ha! like they would be reading my blog … I’m not that deluded people) and be upset with me … their bread was so delicious and I may be flying with them in the future.  

bread fat

When that passenger got seated one of the stewardesses practically threw her seatbelt extension at her.  Yikes.  Anyway, she went on and on about her weight saying that over two years ago she had been diagnosed with hypothyroidism indicating this was the cause of her increased junk-in-the-trunk.  This was such an awkward conversation (or monologue).  I remained polite by distracting her with my neck problem explaining that looking left towards her was painful … which was true.  She kept talking anyway.

I want to start to eat healthy ALL THE TIME again and get back to yoga.  My hysterectomy no longer keeps me from doing anything physical and my neck … it’s on the mend!  I have no excuses for my eating behavior … simply life is short and I want to eat so many things!  And try fun cocktails like the Aperol Spritz I had in Italy!


This an inspirational excerpt I found in regard to getting back to yoga (or really any kind of physicalness) after an absence:

Honor where you are today. If you’ve been absent for a while, your body will not be the same as it was. You’ve probably lost some flexibility or strength.  Maybe you have a noticeable loss of range of motion in a joint or two.  Allow yourself to return slowly, and let go of the expectations you may have placed on your “former” body.  Be real about the body you’re bringing to the mat today. Honor the integrity of your body and don’t push or injure it.  Give it time.  Put in the hours on your mat and reclaim your practice.    ~ From BODY POSITIVE YOGA


Hot flashes, Effexor & Dysgeusia

About 14 months ago … June 2013 … I started experiencing hot flashes at the ripe ol’ age of 44.  I had my uterus back then.  Lucky me — I got to have both painful periods (dysmenorrhea) AND hot flashes.  How does one get to be so lucky as to live in both worlds?  I didn’t want to go the hormonal route thinking that maybe, maybe there was some small shadow of hope that I could become pregnant BEFORE age 45.  I had told myself previously that the cut off for me having a child was 45 and after that the uterus had to go!

I was having hot flashes — not the bed soaking dripping sweat kind … at least not yet — and I was still walking the line of potential pregnancy.  After all, Sarah of the Bible gave birth at 90 (or 91 in some accounts) … her first pregnancy at that VERY advanced maternal age (VAMA) … which would definitely make 45 look young!  But was Sarah truly 90 when she gave birth?  This is not a place for Bible debate … I’m only speculating and comparing Biblical fiction … or parables … to today’s reality.

Apparently all those old ages in the Bible (Methuselah, et al), at least to many literalists, are due to man being near sinlessness earlier in his creation; as man’s existence persisted so did his accumulation of sin thus shortening his lifespan. Not my belief but certainly an interesting thought to muse.

Sarah, VAMA Bible Sarah, laughed when she was told she would become pregnant in a year … when she would be 90.  Most women over fifty in today’s world would either laugh scoffingly or speculate how they could earn millions for such a miraculous happening.  If someone told me I’d become pregnant at 90 and somehow I managed to believe this I’d probably cry.  There would be no laughter for me … but being I am sans uterus now, this idea is moot.

Although I’m not religious, nor any Biblical scholar, this guy’s blog (see below) does a nice job of talking about Sarah: Matt talks about Sarah from the Bible!

Back to the hormone thing …

So, deciding to avoid taking hormones in the off-chance I could become pregnant … the itty-bitty, teeny-tiny, small, minuscule, microscopic, submicroscopic chance … I elected to take Effexor (venlafaxine) for my hot flashes AKA vasomotor symptoms.  Plus, I didn’t want those hormonal effects of weight gain, mood swings, increased chance of blood clots and everything else attributed to synthetic female hormones.  Boy, was I in for an adventure!

What is Effexor (venlafaxine)? 

At first Effexor (velafaxine) was great.  Seriously.  My hot flashes stopped completely in about two weeks.  I felt fantastic.  I was never depressed to begin with but now I seemed “extra happy”.  Happy on top of happy.  I lost a bunch of weight I wasn’t trying to lose — like TEN pounds worth effortlessly and without hunger.  I had more energy!  I lost any craving for alcohol, beer, bread, chocolate, corn, potatoes, chips, cake and cookies.  I was on the low dose of 75 mG once daily.

Effexor (velafaxine) sounds sounds phenomenal, doesn’t it?  It makes you want to stop reading right now and go get a prescription from your doctor, even if you don’t have hot flashes … or depression — the most common use for this medication.


About six weeks into the medication subtle things started to happen … things I attributed to other things. When my husband and I were on an airplane they served us watermelon.  I’ve always liked watermelon.  Not this time.  I thought the melon tasted off, as though it were old and spoiling.  I chalked this up to “airplane food”.  When we got to our destination, we were given a fresh watermelon drink by our hosts.  This was terrible too.  Now instead of thinking the watermelon was off I attributed it to being Indonesian watermelon … like Indonesian watermelon was different than American watermelon.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!  I’m laughing as I look back.  I had no clue at the time it was the head games (literally — I’ll explain later) of Effexor (venlafaxine) just beginning to kick in.

While we were in Indonesia everything that tasted off I chocked up to having a different taste in Indonesia.  Is this an example of being an ugly American?  While not outwardly offensive to others, I was definitely ignorant and possibly ethnocentric … and my excuse now is that I was under the powerful neurotransmitter spell of Effexor (venlafaxine).

When I got back to the states I seemed to make more excuses for my dysguesia.

What in the world is dysgeusia?

I hope you looked that up … unless YOU already know what dysgeusia is, of course.  Even this spellcheck doesn’t recognize dysgeusia!

When I got back home from the thirteen-time-zone difference I thought I’d settle in and make some yummy popcorn.  Popcorn is always yummy, isn’t it?  Halfway into the popping session I had to stop the microwave and throw the bag in the garbage … the outside garbage.  I almost threw up because the smell was so pukey.  And it was NOT burned popcorn smell.  The bag was still half grannies.  My excuses blossomed again; I attributed the disgusting smelling popcorn to jet lag … something I never believed in until I experienced it.  Just so you know, jet lag is VERY real.  Very.

On my way to work, my first day back after my two-week Indonesian vacation, I stopped at Starbuck’s to get my usual latte grande with two pumps of hazelnut syrup.  This was one of the most terrible taste experiences I have ever had.  Starbuck’s — the store itself — smelled like it was on fire before I got through the front doors.  I got my coffee, quickly left and while tasting it in the car nearly spit it out while driving. This was rancid stuff … my favorite coffee. 😦  I again, made another excuse that the Starbuck’s coffee was off that day although Starbuck’s coffee had never, ever been off in my experience.

I’m not sure when it dawned on me Effexor (venlafaxine) was the culprit of all my taste mishaps.  I was also taking Ambien (zolpidem) for the insomnia created by Effexor (venlafaxine); I tried giving Ambien (zolpidem) the credit for all this madness in taste perception.  I spoke with an internal med doctor at work who told me it was most likely the Effexor (venlafaxine) and not the Ambien (zolpidem) causing the dysguesia.  I was quite relieved I was finding a cause of all my weird food taste changes and that I wasn’t simply weird or that menopause was changing me in this way.

And here’s the thing … some foods tasted incredible while others I’d eaten pretty much my whole life, fell off my food palate.  I became the pickiest eater I knew.  And simultaneously I understood those undergoing chemo as to why their taste perceptions changed.  I got why some people didn’t like the taste of things because I now had their tastebuds — we were taste bud buds.

You would think I would have quit the Effexor (venlafaxine) by now … but no, being adventurous by nature I kept going.  I looked at every food experience as a new one.  Would I like this particular food or not anymore?  Would it be great or simply awful?  It was like being a little kid trying foods for the first time.  Looking back, I do think my husband and parents-in-law thought I was a bit nutty … of course maybe they still do!

Here’s my food list and what things tasted like while on Effexor (venlafaxine):

  • Coffee — burning chemical odor, able to smell this bitter pungent aroma (stench) from SEVERAL feet away … even a small covered cup by someone in the office.  I had to plug my nose or hold my breath whenever walking by brewing coffee and avoid the grocery store aisle altogether with the dried coffees.  I became a coffee hater.
  • Peanuts & Peanut butter — Don’t ALL Americans love peanuts, except for the ever-growing population of those with peanut allergies?!  I liked peanuts previously and peanut butter was my go-to snack spreading it on apples.  Peanuts became foul-little flavor bombs that tasted like rotting oil and peanut butter was a nightmare because the sheer thick coating of despicable flavor stayed in my mouth for a long time.
  • Cashews — see peanuts above … almost as bad.  Greasy little gross things.  Rotten is not one of my favorite flavors.
  • Walnuts — Have you ever tasted ear wax before?  This is exactly what walnuts tasted like.  Yes, I’ve tasted ear wax … not copious chewy amounts, but yes, I have and I’ll let you figure out creative ways one may have tasted ear wax. 🙂
  • Pecans — see walnuts above, but not quite as bitter-horrible.  They were in some chocolate brownies at work and the brownies were ruined.  Now I get why some people hate nuts if this is what they taste.
  • Pineapple — oh my oh my oh my oh my!  Can you say orgasm in the mouth and I’d like multiples?!  Pineapple became so wonderful if I’d been pregnant I would have named my first child Pina (Spanish for pineapple).  I liked pineapple before but this became ridiculous … so flavorful, juicy, sweet, tart and salivary-gland activating. ❤
  • Potatoes (potato chips & French fries included) — I thought I was going to cry when I discovered my new dislike for spuds.  I have ALWAYS like potatoes.  Always … in sickness … in health … fried, baked, mashed, grilled, sautéed, stuffed, soupified … and I’m half-Scotish — it is in MY GENES to like potatoes.  No more.  They tasted rotten and mouth-smothering.  Simply terrible.
  • Avocados — I loved avocados the day we met.  But while on the aforementioned medication avocados became mouth-harbingers of rancid fat.  These were so gross the mere sight of their greasy green flesh made me gag.  I now understood the thousands of avocado-despisers.
  • Cheese, milk, butter and ice-cream — these friends stayed my friends.  In fact, I’ve never liked goat cheese but in this time period that goat-throat-coatingness of goat cheese vanished.  I became the dairy queen!
  • Corn (tortillas included) — see potatoes, but dial-up the grossness by ten.  I thought corn was one of those vegetables everyone likes until they die.  Who do you know who doesn’t like corn?  And I don’t mean have a corn allergy … I mean simply don’t like corn.  I don’t know anyone.  I became THAT person.
  • Sweet potatoes — these gems stayed gems and shined even more in their sweet and rich flavor.  I swear I could taste the minerals in the earth whence they came from!  I also found this odd due to the disliking of potatoes … guess they aren’t really related (see factoid below).

And according to Precision Nutrition  … [B]otanically, potatoes and sweet potatoes are completely unrelated.

Potatoes [regular] (Solanum tuberosum) are in the Solanaceae family, related to tomatoes, peppers and eggplant along with deadly nightshade.  Plants in this family produce solanine, which is poisonous. So don’t eat the leaves or stems of any plant in this group, or potatoes that have gone green.

Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are in the Convolvulaceae family with flowering morning glory vines.  Unlike potatoes, you can also eat the leaves of sweet potatoes, which are very nutritious.

Also note: sweet potatoes aren’t yams. True yams are another type of tuber (genus Dioscorea).

Read more here: source

  • Limes & Lemons — I’ve always enjoyed citrus stuff … but never so much while I was on this dysgeusic trip!  I’d pour about one-third to one-half lemon (or lime) concentrate into water or sparking water with ice drinking it straight without sugar.  I never flinched … it was never too sour.  My husband puckered up and his eyes teared whenever he forgot that this is how I now liked my beverages and he had taken a sip of my “sour juice”.  I began to worry about potential enamel erosion as I consumed these beverages daily.
  • Bread, Cookies & Cake — Cookies and cake tasted off, stale and overstored.  Cookie Monster at this point could take his cookies and go f*ck himself!  Oh, wait, Cookie Monster is now Fruit Monster because of the growing childhood obesity epidemic in the US.  Bread was the worst.  Baked bread smelled like barf … bone fide fresh vomit.  Bread was the grossest, most disgusting foul food.  I’ve always liked bread, not loved bread but genuinely found it lifetime likable — a stable staple.  My husband, poor bread-loving husband, was not allowed to toast bread in the morning (or any other time) with me in the house.  I stopped buying freshly baked bread for him which was truly a detriment to our relationship as bread always put him in a good mood.  Yes, I did manipulate my husband’s mood with fresh bread.  Evil.  I know.  Some women use sex — I use fresh bread.
  • Cherries, all Berries & Grapes — welcome to the wonderful world of all these juicy mouth-watering balls. 🙂 I liked these before and then these became juicy gustatory gushes of sweetness.
  • Bananas — these became yucky white things to avoid.  I mistakenly believed that bananas were forever likable.
  • Rice — see potatoes above.
  • Cilantro — this “veggie” used to be fresh, crisp, bright and palate-cleansing … then after neurotransmitter saturation, all I tasted was soap. I’m really surprised actual bubbles didn’t escape from my mouth.  I’ve heard the people who don’t like cilantro describe it as soapy.  I got what they tasted and no wonder they didn’t like it.
  • Tuna, Salmon & Trout — now I see why some people don’t like fish. This is what happened to me.  It was like having my own sea harbor in my mouth.  Think cat breath turned into a tastable smell.  Bleh.
  • Jalapeños, HOT Salsa, Chili Peppers & Black Pepper — hot things I liked them somewhat before, but at this time I LOVED all things spicy and hot.  I amazed my husband by my hot-thing-eating prowess.  I could eat fresh jalapeños (seeds and all) dipped in hotter-than-hell salsa with loads of freshly cracked pepper.  Why didn’t I enter a pepper eating contest back then?  Surely I would have won.
  • Bacon — ahhh, precious bacon, the gateway meat for vegetarians became my archenemy.  I used to eat bacon almost daily (yes, bad I know) … but it became the definition of rancid.
  • Turkey — funky, weird, stinky.  I’ve loved turkey all my life — Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday, but in 2013 all I ate was cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and lemonade.
  • Wasabi — I used to like this green food that can double as a decongest … when the med kicked in full-force all I could taste was bleach.  Food that tastes like bleach will leave you fit to be Tide!  Get it?  Get my bad pun? 🙂
  • Beer — see bread above, only with a yeastiness dialed up to the max.
  • Wine — rotten, disgusting, sour, putrid.
  • Alcohol (gin, vodka, rum, tequila) — this tasted like petrochemistry in a glass.  I avoided ALL alcohols for many, many, many months.  My potential success as an alcoholic was doomed.

So, now that you have taken a tour of my dysgeusia … I’ll tell you the reason I stopped Effexor (venlafaxine).  Brief, paroxysmal, torticollis neck spasms — this is the reason I quit.  Prior to the torticollis spasms I was having painful needle-like sensations in my toes and feet — peripheral neuropathy — and some mild jaw grinding and clenching … but it truly was the torticollis that was the last straw.  Sporadic neck-jerking, even while sleeping, wasn’t fun to say the least!  I felt like I had a case of light Tourette’s without the swearing.

After being on Effexor (venlafaxine) for over four months we broke up. Actually I was the one to do the breaking up.  I gave Effexor (venlafaxine) a long enough chance but the hot flashes definitely seemed better than what I was going through.  I didn’t have a hard time stopping Effexor (venlafaxine); apparently many people go through withdrawal symptoms when they quit the medication abruptly.  This was not my case.

The hot flashes and night sweats … along with my taste buds … returned four months later.  I then turned to Royal Maca Root which was completely worthless and actually exacerbated my perimenopausal symptoms.  I decided to get on the hormone train.  I started taking Lo-Lo Estrin (yes, that’s two Los in a row) daily.  Within three days the night sweats stopped.  Within a week the hot flashes and facial flushing stopped.  My brain seemed to feel clearer and my insomnia resolved.

Another thing that happened with Effexor (venlafaxine) is that I experienced graphic violent gory nightmares while I was simultaneously taking Ambien (zolpidem).  At first, I blamed the Ambien, but it was actually the COMBINED forces of these two medications.  And I was on low doses of both (Effexor 75 mG and Ambien 5 mG).  I had dreams equaling the holocaust, war scenes, faces being cut off, weird sci-fi scenarios, nuclear explosions and lots of bloody massacre-type killings.  Some of the nightmares would actually make me scream out, cry or physically fight in my sleep.  I don’t watch many violent movies — not my thing — and neither were these dreams!  Nighttime became anxiety laden with me wondering what horror awaited on the REM menu.  I stopped the Ambien at that time.  Ambien by itself was not a problem.

What do I think about Effexor (venlafaxine) after my experience?  Well, I think it does a great job resolving hot flashes and lifting mood.  I think it’s a great drug for some people, but not for me.  I don’t regret this strange experience because it made me more sympathetic to picky eaters … and those with severe neurological symptoms.  I also got a taste of what some PTSD sufferers experience with my violent nightmares.

I am currently left with a dislike for eggs (by themselves), most beer, coffee, peanuts, peanut butter and popcorn.  The best news … I’m back to eating bacon almost daily.  Mmmmm … bacon! 🙂

If you say ‘beer can’ with a British accent you’re also saying ‘bacon’ with a Jamaican accent. 

bacon accent

Spaghetti sans meatball with eggs …

I remember asking my doc before the hysterectomy, What happens when the uterus is gone … is there a big space?  Apparently this analogy is quite common: the uterus is the meatball and the intestines are like spaghetti … once the meatball is gone the spaghetti fills in the space.  Makes you hungry, doesn’t it? 😉

And according to The Essential Guide to Hysterectomy (2nd ed.) by Dr. Lauren F. Streicher:

One common question is, What happens to the eggs after hysterectomy when their is no … uterus to go to?  Contrary to what you might be picturing, the eggs don’t pile up on the floor of your pelvis.  The body simply absorbs them.

And with that thought I guess I’ll go eat breakfast now … but not eggs — I don’t like them.

egg ghost

UPDATE 11/29/2014:

After the effects of Effexor (venlaxine) on my taste buds in 2013, I started to have many food aversions — hating things I once liked.  I am beginning to like eggs again!  I’m so very happy about this!  I also had a craving for popcorn last night!

I took Effexor (venlafaxine) for hot flashes — vasomotor symptoms — with the onset of perimenopause.  Effexor (venlafaxine) is most commonly prescribed for depression.

You can read about my weird experience with Effexor (venlafaxine) below: