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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Let's Talk About Ovarian Cysts

When I had my ovarian cyst I was lost and began frantically researching the culprit. I wanted to tell my story just in case it may help some poor woman unfortunate enough to have a similar experience.

I want to preface this by saying that I have an extremely high pain tolerance. I have had stitches 5 times, broken 2 bones (hand), fractured two other bones (hand and rib), and was in labor for 16 hours with no pain medication. All of this pales in comparison to the pain of my ruptured ovarian cyst.

It was the night before Halloween and I was ready to carve pumpkins. I went to the store to get some last minute carving supplies and began feeling pain while I was out. It was slowly getting worse and worse and by the time I got to my car I could barely walk and cried the whole drive home. It felt as though I had the sharpest gas pain of my life. I felt a little bit of gas but every time I passed any (burping or otherwise) the pain didn't subside. By the time I got home I was in tears, got my child out of the car seat and slunked up to our bedroom and laid on the floor. It was on the lower right side of my abdomen and I had no idea what was happening. The stabbing pain became less but there was still significant pain on that side that wasn't going away. I really didn't want to go to the hospital but after about 3 hours we decided to go because it was where I always thought an appendix should be and I didn't want to die of a ruptured appendix. We stayed in the hospital for 6 long hours. At first the doctors also thought it was my appendix until my CAT scan results came in. They found a mass on my right ovary and then I had to go to get an ultrasound. There they found a 3.8 cm hemorrhagic cyst (meaning that it was filled with blood). They said that a blood vessel inside of the cyst must have ruptured which was probably the pain I was feeling. They told me that sometimes these cysts resolve themselves on their own (meaning the blood would leak out over time) and sometimes they rupture. They said that if it did rupture that I would be in severe pain. Awesome.

I had pain on and off for about a month until Thanksgiving rolled around. My period started the day before Thanksgiving which means that Thanksgiving day was what I like to call pain day. I normally have horrible pain during my period for about 18 hours but can quell it with around-the-clock Aspirin. Thanksgiving however, was another story. I took my normal Aspirin but it did nothing for the pain. I was doubled over and the pain was making me nauseous. P.S. I learned later that taking Aspirin for pain when you have an ovarian cyst is a really bad idea. Just fyi.

I had some pain on and off for the next month until 2 days before Christmas. As soon as I got home from some last minute food shopping it hit my like a freight truck. I hobbled up the stairs while I told my husband that I thought that my cyst was rupturing. I laid on the floor crying, hyperventilating, shaking, and nauseous. The pain felt like someone shoved a knife into my abdomen and was twisting it. If I hadn't had a similar pain in the same spot (before Halloween), I would have gone straight to the ER. I asked my husband to call the gynecologist ask them what to do. They said to just wait it out and watch for excessive bleeding. They told me that if I fully filled two pads in one hour then I should go to the ER (sorry if tmi). I could not move. I was curled up in a ball by the toilet in pain that I can only describe as an inch away from feeling like death. My whole body was shaking and my teeth were chattering from the pain. I couldn't breath. My husband helped me to calm down so that I could breath and the pain lessened after about 2 hours. I was still in a large amount of pain but I was no longer being stabbed. This lasted for several more hours. For the next few days normal things were extremely difficult - laying down, walking, sitting, going to the bathroom, eating and drinking all caused me pain. According to the internet, this was due to the excess blood in my abdominal cavity which was bothering the things inside. At about day 4 I was finally able to sleep on my back again and walk at a relatively normal speed.

About a week later, I had a sonogram and found out that unfortunately my cyst did not fully rupture. I was told that it collapsed. I'm not going to lie, I didn't know that they could collapse. Apparently that means that it ruptured but not entirely. Now my cyst is only 2 cm but it is still there. Lucky me. I still have sharp pain in the area a few times a day. I can only hope that it resolves itself on it own and doesn't rupture again.We'll see.

Long before my incident, I had a teammate who had cysts often and would be out for days or half days from the pain. I feel horrible now because I didn't truly understand her pain and kept wondering why she was out so much. If you know someone with a cyst, understand that it is unimaginable pain and that normal things are painful for days. Try to be understanding even if you can't relate.

I truly hope that this never happens to you. It is a pain that I will never forget and pray that no one ever has to experience. Just know that you are not going to die even though you may feel like you could!

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