I was driving home two days ago when I felt some odd twinges of pain in my lower right abdomen. I didn’t think too much about it (being pretty well distracted by all of the other post-surgical discomforts and nasty, nasty RSV cold symptoms that I caught from my boys), until later that evening when it went rapidly from uncomfortable to so painful I could barely see straight. It ended up being a very long night.
I was having difficulty moving without making the pain worse, and it was radiating all the way down my legs and to the other side of my middle, as if the location with the actual problem just couldn’t contain that much torment.
The pain wasn’t originating from my surgical site, and given the amount of laxatives they give a person in my condition, I was pretty sure it wasn’t constipation. The only other things located in that particular area are an ovary and my appendix, both of which can be problems. I really wasn’t sure what to do. I just knew that the very last thing I wanted to do was have another surgery. I’m capable of coping with quite a bit, but starting the whole surgical process over at this point is just more than I can handle gracefully. In fact, I’ve had this recurring, minor panic attack for the past five weeks where I get told something isn’t right and we have to do it again. These nightmarish fantasies are usually followed by thoughts of changing my position on human euthanasia.
About the time I was trying to decide if I should go to the ER, try to sleep, or just shoot myself, my friend called and asked me if I could take her daughter (one of my awesome seminary students) for the night because she was in a bit of an extended family pickle and needed to suddenly leave town. I agreed to take her, not just because I’m a really good friend, but with the ulterior motive of having a living, breathing babysitter at my beck and call for the increasingly likely chance that I would need to leave the house for medical attention in the middle of the night. I get no points for altruism. None. What. So. Ever.
By the time they arrived twenty minutes later, I was just about seeing double and couldn’t stand up straight.
I tried to go to bed after that, unsuccessfully, as every tiny movement left me just writhing and moaning. I finally vomited because the pain was so intense. That has only happened once before, and it involved natural childbirth, a situation where being in so much pain that you puke isn’t so much of a stretch.
I tried to get to sleep, miserable in my bed, but almost incapable of moving to anywhere else when it dawned on me that I had leftover hydrocodone from the hysterectomy. I managed to half walk- half crawl to the kitchen, pop two pills and then settled back down where a sweet, fuzzy bliss settled over me. The pain wasn’t gone, but it was so much less, and after another hour or so, after some very
drugged high- very, very high Facebooking in which I shared my pontifications on the blessed state that would befit the inventor of narcotics, I fell asleep.
The next morning, the pain was significantly reduced, but still pretty uncomfortable, so I visited my PA, who did a great job of inducing panic when she read my chart and then told me that my ob/gyn had taken my ovaries along with my uterus. Medically speaking, “total hysterectomy” does not mean ovaries too. It means both uterus and cervix, as opposed to a supracervical hysterectomy which means they leave the cervix. Oophorechtomy, on the other hand, is the removal of the ovaries, and is technically a separate procedure. (Yes, I am geeky enough to know this, and even knew it before I had to have surgery. I am that nerdy, folks). Now, you and I really don’t need this information, but medical professionals who read people’s charts really should know this, so they don’t freak out their patients. Thank heaven I knew what total hysterectomy meant, or I would have been forming a malpractice suit in my head, rather than focusing on the pain.
My PA sent me across town to the radiology center, so they could take a CT scan of my abdomen. The radiology people wanted me to not eat for four hours prior to the scan which would be in four hours. So even though it was past lunch time, and I hadn’t eaten since eight am, and I had been vividly imagining downing a Frosty all the way through this appointment, I was good and ate nothing except a quick tic-tac out of sheer spite. I suppose being hungry was a blessing since I had to down a huge, fairly repellent barium smoothie before they could do the exam.
The scan proved that I do, indeed, have ovaries, and that one of them had a cyst. Dr. Buehner confirmed the cyst the next day by poking it with an ultrasound wand. I’ve had many ovarian cysts, so this wasn’t that big of a surprise for me. I had one that was seven cm when I was expecting Gabriel, which I jokingly referred to as Gabe’s little “cyst-er”. Ovarian cysts are wickedly painful, but I’m used to those and can deal. Cyst small enough to avoid surgery? No problem! In fact, since the possibility of an appendectomy and all of the other horror story options my PA had brought up were off the table, I was completely stoked! Just an ovarian cyst! Just mind blowing pain for a day or two, nothing surgical- LET’S REJOICE!
It is all about perspective, isn’t it?