|One of my most favorite places on earth, cabin 91.|
I lost my job in June, and it was just downhill from there. You see, I didn't deserve to lose my job. I was GOOD at my job, like really good. That's what made it so awful, so unbearable, and wrong. I couldn't get out of bed, seriously what was the point? My husband was working 15 hour days, I had no purpose. I woke up with the weight of an elephant on my chest, with dread of the next 12+ hours until I could go to bed again. I didn't think it could get worse.
But then it did.
In the middle of a Friday night in August, I awoke with severe side pains on my right side that just wouldn't go away. I suffered in silence going back and forth from the bathroom to my office chair so I wouldn't wake up my husband, he'd been working so hard.
I'd had these severe cramps before, but they always went away. Not this time, this time they intensified. We went to the hospital and sat for almost 3 hours waiting for the physician on staff to see us. All the while we were pacing to stay awake, to calm the dread that was causing me to practically lose my mind.
The doctor decided due to the fact I am healthy, never go to the doctor, and that I flinched everywhere he pressed in my abdomen, ordered a CT Scan. He figured it was kidney stones, I still kinda imagine his surprise when he got the scans back. Turns out I had a mass in my abdomen, so large that no organs could be seen. So large that it made me look 12 months pregnant with triplets. So large that it was pushing back into my spine, taking what precious space was left from vital organs. Then he dropped the c-bomb. He told me there were no signs of cancer in my blood levels, but they would not be 100% sure the tumor was benign until it was removed. That this was an ovarian tumor and could be ovarian cancer. Oh, and then I was discharged. 7am on a Saturday morning and I was sent home to go to sleep. How does one sleep after that news? Yes, they found something, all the issues over the years were because of this monster growing in my belly...but it could be cancer. I think I managed about 15 minutes of sleep when we got home.
The next three weeks were pretty much a blur- doctors’ appointments, family visits, and lots of movies and trashy tv. After seeing my gynecologist who would be performing the surgery, he informed me he was pretty sure it was a mucinous cystadenoma ovary, that started out as a cyst on my ovary and grew into a tumor the size of a watermelon.
I was informed it was one of 3 types of tumors- mucinous cystadenoma which is benign, a second type that if it was malignant would not require chemo/radiation, and then a malignant tumor that was spreading and would require chemo and radiation. Upon visiting the oncologist I learned that this is more common than you'd think, and that she performs them regularly.
The night before surgery I decided I didn't want the surgeons operating on me to deal with hairy legs and attempted shaving my legs alone in the shower. BIG mistake. After straightening up from bending over my legs I was engulfed with the most horrid pain of my life. I knew it was the tumor- I honestly thought I burst it.
Back to the ER. I will take this time to apologize to everyone in or near the ER that night for my obnoxious screaming and vomiting, you didn't deserve to hear that. The pain was so awful, I was screaming obscenities at the nurses who wouldn't give me any medication without a doctor seeing me. Three doses of DELAUDEN (sp?) and an ultrasound later I was sent home, none the wiser as to the source of my agony.
The morning of my surgery I somehow made it to the car from the chair I had been sleeping in for weeks, held my husband’s hand on the way to the hospital and tried not to think about not waking up. You can't imagine the thoughts that go through your head at times like this. All I kept thinking was what if I didn't wake up? People die on the operating table ALL the time. This tumor could burst when they were attempting to remove it- that is why I have a 16" vertical incision down my chest. These tumors can't be removed laproscopically as bursting and leaking back into the body cavity would pretty much be terminal. Still in pain from the night before, I kissed my husband, sent him off to the waiting room to sit with his sister and dad, and I drifted off.
|Waking up from surgery|
The next 24 hours are hazy, but I remember my sister Lyn coming to my room, my sister in law telling me I could have babies, and intense pain. I remember specifically telling a nurse I shouldn't be in this much pain the day of surgery, that I expected one full day of feeling nothing.
|My two best buds: husband and sister|
The surgeons did not have to remove the other ovary, saved my uterus, and took out my appendix, the tumor, and a layer of fat to biopsy from my stomach. I later learned in the pathology report that I had appendicitis- ha! I guess it was all good timing. I was also told the tumor turned on it's blood supply the night before surgery, thus the source of the excruciating pain.
|Totally fell in love with a pillow my mom sent me!|
I spent 3 nights in the hospital and was discharged home to my inlaws. Looking back I don't know what I would have done without them, specifically my mother in law. I call her Nurse Ratchet (an inside joke of course!)
Fast forward 8 weeks to today. I am almost back to 100%- I can sleep on my sides, back, stomach, I can eat anything I want, I can sit up on my own, and my mood has evened out. Turns out when your ovary which is supposed to be the size of a walnut is the size of a watermelon, your hormones really mess you up- the intense depression really was chemical, not something I could have kicked on my own. I'm not saying it has been a night and day change-apparently my hormones will be up and down for a while until my body adjusts, and my other ovary can get up and running. I still ache when I cough, sneeze, blow my nose and sit for long periods of time, but overall I feel good. I tire easily and turn cranky, but I'm alive. And cancer free. The tumor and all surrounding areas were benign, the appendicitis is gone.
|3 Week Post-Op trip to the beach|
This has been such a nightmare, I won't sugar coat it. Well, that being said I sugar coated a lot of what happened, leaving out details too embarrassing to share publically. The complications and side effects have been the worst part- the incision itself is healing nicely, I'm hoping the daily applications of Maderma will help with that.
All these years I suffered what I thought were normal aches and pains, I thought my large, hard, and protruding stomach was just belly fat. I'd lose weight and it wouldn't go away, my stomach stayed the size of a full term pregnant woman. How did I not know this was in me?
I wanted to share my story in the event someone googles “mucinous cystadenoma ovary” and needs someone to talk to about it, someone facing a laparotomy, someone with no one to talk to. You see, I had an angel who reached out to me when I announced it on facebook, an angel I went to high school with and haven’t spoken to in 13 years. Of all the doctors, specialists, nurses, family, friends, etc- she was the only one who could put my fears to rest. To know someone who has gone through this battle before and come out victorious means more than any doctor.
One important thing I learned through this and want to pass along to you, my readers and friends- if you feel that something is wrong in you, get it checked out. I learned that in your 20s-early 30s you shouldn’t be in pain, depressed, sick, nauseous, hormonal—that’s not normal. What I had accepted as “normal” was a 25lb sickness growing in me, pushing my organs around, stealing blood and nutrients, and slowly killing me.
|Before and After Surgery|
Going through this the last few months it was hard to see the light, hard to see the finish line, but it’s so close now and I am excited for the future. I was numb through most of the process, but now that I have been given that diagnoses of benign, I get to start over. And that’s exactly what I plan on doing, going on a quest to find myself again.
Shameless bathroom selfie to show I now have a waist: