Warning: The following content may be graphic and queazy in nature. You have been forewarned!
Have you ever found yourself brunching with the ladies, enjoying bottomless mimosa’s, shopping, or simply walking down the street – when all of a sudden you’re struck by a stabbing pain you in your ovaries? Ladies, You now what I’m talking about, especially those 5.5 million of us dealing with Endometriosis in North America. Other symptoms include low back pain, leg pain, and excruciating cramps that make you want to curl up into a ball and die. Oh yeah, this doesn’t happen occasionally. It happens Every. Single. Month. You know the drill.
I always thought this was normal and part of being a woman (hooray for us!). I didn’t find out I had Endometriosis until I was 28. After a long day, I pulled into my driveway, got out of my car, and all of a sudden felt a lot of liquid pour down my legs, as if I just peed myself. I was on day 2 of my period and it was as if Shark Week (as my husband likes to call it) brought forth a pool of sharks that were chewing up my uterine lining and spitting out chunks with all the blood and guts they could get their jaws onto.
I ran to my apartment, like a horrified shark victim about to die, with blood running down my legs, leaving a trail behind me. I was mortified, embarrassed, and on the brink of a panic attack. I thought I was going to bleed to death and die! I immediately called my Primary Care Physician (PCP) who told me it could have been a bad period month and that if it was still bad in a couple of months to come back. A couple of months went by, and I was still cramping like mad and literally going through two tampons in one hour, which is NOT normal. Something had to be wrong. This was when I was referred to an amazing OBGYN who scheduled and performed an ultrasound the very next day.
The ultrasound found a 5 cm cyst that looked a bit odd. So I then proceeded to run around town trying to diagnose my “questionable” cyst. I had a pelvic MRI and a sonohysterography test. That is where they insert saline into your vagay-gay and look to see if you have any polyps, endometrial atrophy, or fibroids. From the looks of it, the cyst had many qualities of an endometrioma so my doctor scheduled a laporoscopy surgery to be performed just a few days before Chirstmas. I was assured that I would be in and out of the procedure in 90 minutes, my cyst would be removed, and I could fly home (across the country) and enjoy Christmas with my family at ease.
The day before the laporoscopy, my OBGYN calls to say the oncologist reviewed my chart and recommends I have the procedure done in-patient vs. out-patient. “Just in case”. I really did not think anything of it. I thought I was lucky to be in the hands of a physician who took every precaution necessary to make this a safe and successful procedure.
I went in for surgery, was put under general anesthesia, and only remember waking up after the surgery vomiting violently as I was wheeled from the operating room to recovery room post-op. When I finally came too, I was informed that instead of the 5 cm cyst and laparoscopy they had planned, my surgery turned into a full blown laporotomy open surgery where they had to cut me open and remove not one, but two baseball size cysts! One was an endometrioma cyst, one was not. Wait…what?! I was confused. Was this the meds talking, or was I going crazy? Apparently these two cysts cradled themselves onto my pelvic bone and were just hanging out there surrounded by my lovely ass.
I was shocked. How could an ultrasound and a MRI not detect something so large in a woman my size? I was 5’8″ and 121 lbs. It didn’t make sense, but boy was I glad they got those suckers out of me!
What this experience taught and reinforced within me is how powerful a woman’s intuition can be. We all have it within us, but it is up to us to listen or ignore it. If I did not go to my second doctor, demand answers, and insist on an ultrasound I may have never discovered that I had endometriosis or the massive cysts. My cysts could have burst, they could have turned, twisted my fallopian tubes, or prevented blood flow to my ovaries which could have prevented me from ever having children. But because I felt something was seriously wrong and insisted on being checked out, I was able to find the root of the problem.
After sharing this story with my girlfriends numerous times, I wanted to finally write it down and encourage all of you to listen to your body, trust it, and always go with your gut. If you feel something is wrong, then something probably IS wrong. Sometimes even the latest and most advanced technology cannot diagnose or detect what is going on inside of you. Sometimes you need to take the initiative to get a second opinion from a new physician.
You are still the only one who knows you best, inside and out. You only have one body in this world, so take care of it by staying fit, eating right, and always loving your beautiful self.