On the morning of Sunday, 29th December at around 6am I woke up with strange cramps in my right lower abdomen. I had my period at the time so figured it must’ve been ovarian pain or something, which I’d had once as a teenager. I went to the bathroom and drank some water before lying back down, but it got worse. Suddenly I felt really sick, so sat up and stuck my head out of the window. Brenton (I was at his house) murmured “don’t do that” cuz I was letting in the light, but quickly changed his tune when I vomited up the water I’d just drunk. I lay back down and the pain eventually receeded. I went back to sleep.
An hour later I woke up as the pain was coming back. It came on slower this time, but after half an hour it was really bad. I couldn’t lay still; constantly trying to find a position that didn’t hurt. Eventually I called 13HEALTH, but had to hand the phone to Brenton half way through the call so I could vomit. I used to work at the same call centre, so I know the nurses there follow a series of pre-set questions, kind of like a flow chart, to diagnose and advise.. however it’s really limited in that if you answer one or two questions uncertainly it gets the diagnoses totally wrong. I think we went wrong when she asked if it had been sudden or gradual onset and I was unclear on the difference. She advised us to go to the doctor if it didn’t go away after an hour. “It’s been longer than an hour already,” Brenton said. He hung up and called for an ambulance, because at this point I was crying and hyperventilating.
The ambulance came and the paramedics gave me the green whistle. It tasted like Ether, and after the first puff my memory gets really hazy. All I can remember is the female paramedic being very cool and blasé (at one point rolling her eyes), and that the whistle didn’t make a dent in the pain at all. They took me to the RBWH, a hospital in Brisbane that looks itself like a small city. Brenton followed in his car.
The next I remember I was in the emergency ward. The doctor was lovely, asking questions about what kind of pain, where it was, poking me a bit (which hurt a lot), and giving me increasing amounts of morphine – which made me feel weirder and weirder but still had no effect on my pain, which just continued to worsen. I was writhing and groaning and sobbing, Brenton holding my hand through the lot, looking miserable.
I had an ultrasound (yet more pain), which confirmed the doctor’s suspicion; a big cyst on my right ovary which had twisted the whole thing around, cutting off the blood flow. I needed surgery immediately to save the ovary, if it wasn’t already too late.
Two very smiley, lovely doctors came to introduce themselves as the operating surgeons. I was given more morphine and changed into a gown and weird surgery tie-on underwear, then wheeled straight to the operating theatre. It was at this point the morphine really kicked in. Apparently, in the elevator with the orderly, a doctor, and Brenton as audience, I sang a song about how happy I was to not be in pain. I can barely recall this which is annoying because it sounds hilarious. I do remember the doctor laughing.
In the operating theatre everyone was highly energetic, chirpy and friendly. The anethestist asked me when I’d last eaten or had alcohol. I said I’d had some yesterday, at the cricket, and became very anxious that this might mean I’d die on the operating table. The anthetist reassured me by asking what kind of alcohol I’d like in my IV.
I was slid from my bed to the table, and suddenly needles were going in and masks were going on. The anethetist pinched my throat as I went under.
Next thing I remember is being in recovery, Brenton and mumm standing over me with worried expressions. Everything from this time is still really hazy, but I can remember feeling just fine, euphoric and well. I laughed the whole thing off. I asked mumm to take an amusing photo of me for facebook, completely underestimating the panic that would ensue among my family and friends.
When I finally became lucid, I was surprised to learn it was about 5pm. I wondered what had happened. Had they saved my ovary? After mumm left I lay in my bed with Brenton perched beside me for several hours, still pain free and pretty happy, waiting to find out. We watched Kill Bill while waiting, as dozens of nurses came with various pills and machines to scan me.
The doctor came at around 9pm. He stood seriously over the bed, and told me what they’d done to me. It had been a keyhole surgery, with a camera going in through my belly button (*shudder*) and an incision just above my pubic area. The cyst had been around twenty centimetres long. It had twisted around itself three times, choking the ovary. The doctor went so far as to show me pictures and explain to me that cysts are weird in that the cells are quite new, and can form into anything. In my case they had formed into the kind of cells that make up your face, and so they had hair, and facial oil.
Thanks for that little tidbit, doctor.
They’d had to chop the cyst into lots of little chunks to take it out piecemeal. As they did this, gross cystic juices exploded all through my guts, so they’d had to make a drainage hole in the other side of my abdomen. The tube coming out of this hole stayed with me for several days, leading to a bag full of bileous, bloody goo. It was pretty gross, carrying this bag around with me every time I had to get up and pee.
Anyway, after removing the cyst the doctors waited half an hour to see if the ovary would regain its colour. It didn’t. I am now less one ovary.
Apparently you only need one quarter of an ovary to be fertile. All the doctors and nurses who came to see me carefully assured me that I was not 50% less fertile now. However, while my other ovary is perfectly healthy and fine, it too has a benign cyst (albeit much, much smaller) that will need ultrasounds every two years or so, just in case. YAY.
I’m not worried, though. I became pregnant a year ago, at a time when this cyst was certainly malevolently spreading its junk through my junk. No worries.
Anyway I stayed in hospital three days all up. Most of that was spent in considerable pain and unable to do anything but doze and whimper. Visitors included Brenton, Mumm and her partner Rob, my sister Sarah and her husband Hawkins, and my very lovely good friends Chelle and Marie, who both brought me the most thoughtful presents and books to read (not knowing I was far too doped up to read them). I had other offers of visits but couldn’t have really handled them, I don’t think.
I was discharged Tuesday evening, which, incidentally, was New Year’s Eve. I was forbidden to celebrate the event with anything more potent than ice cream and movies. Brenton, the sweetest, kindest boy who ever boyed, spent it with me nonetheless, cooking me a healthy dinner, helping me to bed and feeding me my meds. It is now Thursday and he is still doing just that, but also watering my plants, doing my dishes and fetching me my glass of water from a table that is less than half a metre away. Sitting up really hurts.
Recovery is taking a while. I’m definitely better than I was a couple of days ago. I’m on a regime of 1000mg paracetamol and 200mg ibuprofen 3-4 times a day, and 5mg oxycodone at the intervals the pain is worst, currently twice a day. I find it so weird that after an invasive abdominal surgery, whilst in the recovery ward, the go-to pain relief was paracetamol. Seriously? I take that every other day for mild headaches! Apparently it demands far more respect than I ever have given it.
So it’s day four post surgery and I’m feeling pretty good. I attribute this to:
1. I’m healing, duh.
2. Today. I. POOPED!
I hadn’t since Saturday. Oh man was I getting worried. It’s weird, but this poop today I feel has been one of my greatest accomplishments. My outlook has lifted considerably. I’m gonna be okay. 😀