Today, is a reflective day for me. Two years ago, my entire life changed… Let’s start from the beginning.
Just before my 21st birthday I noticed several irregularities in my period. I wouldn’t have a cycle for a couple of months, then I would have one that lasted weeks. After this happened a few times I called my family doctor who referred me to a gynecologist who specialized in “special” cases, he said. »Little did I know the bond that I would have with this doctor, he is now someone I consider a dear friend and I wouldn’t have my sanity with out him.« My first appointment was set in February, I waited what felt like years in the room before the doctor came in; he asked me if I had been feeling any pain; I hadn’t given much thought to the pain because I had always experienced terrible cramping. But, once I started explaining everything to him, he explained that this was not normal. He reviewed my tests, and performed an exam then explained that I had PCOS; Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and Aggressive Endometriosis… 2 levels of confusion, all clustered together that would alter my world, entirely.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a condition in which a woman has an imbalance of female sex hormones. This may lead to changes in the menstrual cycle, cysts in the ovaries, trouble getting pregnant, and other health problems.
Endometriosis is a problem affecting a woman’s uterus. This is when the kind of tissue that normally lines the uterus grows somewhere else. It can grow on the ovaries, behind the uterus or on the bowels or bladder. This can be very painful.
The next 6 years were a roller coaster of emotions. Medications, tests, doctors appointments, surgeries, and every time when I thought things were under control I would get a rude wake up call. Sometimes I would try to ignore it and think that it would just go away, that it was normal… but that didn’t last long.
As I mention, my doctor and I became great friends. When you spend as much time in his office as I did, it was bound to happen. He was one of my biggest advocates and tried so hard to do what was best for me in the short and long term. These failed attempts at a long term pay off were wearing on me; my family, friends, and my doctor could see it. It is so emotionally draining to be overjoyed that you’ve overcome something, only to be let down when you realize that isn’t the case.
February 14, 2013 my roommate and I had made plans to have a girls night. About midway through the day I started feeling some pain in my side but it didn’t feel like the pain I “normally” felt when I would get a cyst, so it didn’t even cross my mind. I went on with my day, ran some errands, visited my grandparents, then went home and waited for my roommate to get home and start our plans… but the pain wasn’t letting up. We were half way through a pedicure when I knew I was going to be sick. I asked the manicurist if he could stop and the night went downhill from there. Later that night I called my mom and told her I thought it was a kidney stone and that I really thought I needed to go to the ER. By this point I could barely stand up straight and I was fighting back tears. This still didn’t feel like a cyst. After about an hour of the typical blood work and questions from nurses and doctors they came in to do an ultrasound of my kidneys…
Ultrasound Tech: Well dear, you don’t have any kidney stones…
Me: What?? Are you sure?
Ultrasound Tech: Oh I’m sure, but you have a 6 cm cyst on your left ovary.
This hit me so hard, it had been over a year since my last cyst and it had been the longest I had gone without one. I thought it was OVER. My mom’s head sunk. I’m sure the Ultrasound tech had no idea what to do or say, so she just stepped out…The next week I was able to get in to see my beloved doctor who just came in and hugged me… In that one week the cyst had grown 2cm and it needed to be removed.
As in all surgeries, they send whatever is removed to pathology. I’ve had several exploratory surgeries to remove cysts and unwanted endometriosis at this point that I hadn’t ever really given much thought to that part of it; until I woke up from this surgery and my doctor told me that he wasn’t able to remove the entire cyst and he was going to have to wait until he received the pathology report back. Now, I wasn’t just sad or frustrated… I was scared. A few days later the report came back that the sample was benign but that it was a Teratoma. By definition this is also called a dermoid cyst of the ovary, this is a bizarre tumor, usually benign, in the ovary that typically contains a diversity of tissues including hair, teeth, bone, thyroid, etc. All I knew… was that I wanted it out of me!
In May of 2013 after a 30 day round of progesterone treatment to try to prevent any new cyst growth, I had my left ovary removed. Some would think that this was a hard decision to make but honestly, at this point… I just needed the polycystic part of life to be over. It was on that very day before my surgery that I told my doctor… if I had another cyst I wanted a hysterectomy. I was going to give it a solid effort, but that I needed to close that chapter of my life. He reluctantly agreed.
I was optimistically cautious after the single oophorectomy was a success, but I never got my hopes up that this was the end of my journey. So when I started feeling slight recognizable discomfort, I gave it time. But when it just got increasingly worse, and worse I went to see Dr. Reliable… who walked into the room, hung his head and said “This is it, isn’t it?” September 4, 2013 at 26 years old, I had a full hysterectomy. This was harder for me to come to terms with over time, but in that moment… it was effortless. I wanted my life back.
Yes, I had always pictured my future life physically having children and it was hard to let go of that image. But, there were so many things that were risky with this condition and pregnancy. Ovulation was difficult, miscarriage risk was very high, and there are other options. This chapter, was over. I have moments that are harder than others but over all this was the best decision for my life. I have gone 2 years pain free and that is the longest since I was that 20 year old girl waiting for my first appointment… So today, I look back at the path that brought me to now with no regrets or what if’s about it. This was, and always will be the right choice for me.