Worst case scenario.
Imaginations ran wild after the urgent care visit. A possible ovarian cyst, here’s an injection of painkiller, go to the emergency room if the pain gets worse, see your gynecologist as soon as possible. The symptoms matched the first worst case scenario of ovarian cancer – obvious ovarian pain, constipation, so very bloated, so very tired.
Things settled down after the gynecologist visit. A fibroid, she said, from what I can tell on the office-sized ultrasound. An abdominal ultrasound will show a better picture, she said, over at the hospital.
Roughly thirty-six hours later, all hell broke loose again upon arrival of the on-call gynecologist in the emergency room following a spiked fever and worsening abdominal pain. 4-centimeter dermoid cyst on the left ovary, 10-centimeter abscess in the area of the right ovary and fallopian tube. Total abdominal hysterectomy, he said, is the worst case scenario.
It’s the ovaries. It’s the ovaries I want to keep. Or at least one ovary. I cannot go into menopause at the age of thirty-three. Too many risks with heart disease and breast cancer and osteoporosis. The uterus, is what I have no need for. Not at this point and I don’t foresee a future where I would need it. Correction – we don’t foresee a future where we would want it. I am plenty happy being Aunt Rachel to my nephew and nieces.
A few hours later, and yet another gynecologist. No need for removing the uterus, she said, the infection is likely confined to the outside. It’s the ovaries we worry about, she said. If we have to keep the dermoid cyst in order to keep the left ovary, we will, she said. But we need to get you into surgery with your heart rate and your continued low blood pressure and your increasing white blood cell count. Worst case scenario is that we do not get you there soon enough and you end up in the intensive care unit.
And still. What I had to endure during the recovery from the resulting exploratory laparotomy, where they drained my lower right abdomen of that infectious mass – I would still call that the worst case scenario.
Being ripped open and then stapled from belly button to pubic bone. Catheterized and not allowed out of bed the first twenty-four hours. Unable to get out of bed by myself and unable to shower until the day I was discharged. Being pumped full of powerful antibiotics and narcotic painkillers that made me very sick the third day after surgery. Feeling helpless often as the husband did my household chores and others made life easier for me once I returned home. Elevated blood sugars as I continue to be on exercise restrictions. Not knowing whether I have a right ovary or an appendix, as both went unseen during surgery. Through it all, I was rather strong, I hardly cried, I just went day by day. I accepted my fate.
It’s the psychological issues surrounding this experience that are haunting me. To go from one extreme worst case scenario to another, and then to reality, and not experience depression. That I stared serious illness in the face, then managed to get through the holiday season relatively unscathed by my historically worst time for seasonal affective disorder. After all, I was alive and I had my ovaries and I was on the way back to being healthy. Will I remember this next year when the feeling of sadness hits? Or will it be business as usual?
It’s the spiritual issues surrounding this experience that are also haunting me. I prayed and prayed for it to not be cancer, to make the pain go away, to survive surgery. It is not something that I have done in a very long time. Usually spirituality means meditation and yoga and writing to me. No, it is not that I had a “come-to-Jesus” moment, it is just that I found it okay to pray. I needed to do it. To whom I was praying, I do not know for sure.
No doubt – this experience changed me, physically in the form of the scar that will remain, emotionally in the form of stability, spiritually in the form of hope.
Posted on January 7, 2010, in Health. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.
Having a strong psychological reaction to what you went through is normal as is a spiritual response in whatever form it may take.
Dude. You are awesome and amazing.
Right now I have tears falling down my face so it’s really hard to type.
I just feel for you in every possible way and I cannot articulate at the moment.
So let me just say that lots of love, prayers, hope,and positivity being sent your way.
You explained so well what this felt like, emotionally and spiritually.
I can only just begin to imagine the impact it would have to go through this. I only spent a few days wondering if I would need surgery, and ultimately found out I was not in the worst case scenario, but it could happen for me eventually, and I know it will change me. I like your words about prayer. I know it seems backwards to pray to whatever you don’t know what it is, but I know I have done it too.
lovely, lovely post.