Being Brave; Healing From The Fallout
I remember walking into the living room and telling my husband I felt a knot in my stomach. He replied, "Let me check, you're probably just being paranoid." When he went to feel my stomach I knew he felt the same thing I had. The look on his face terrified me. His response was, "You need to make a doctor's appointment right away."
Ever since that day in March my life has been turned upside down. I made the appointment for the following day. The doctor on call was not my regular doctor and her bedside manner was anything but best. She told me I had benign fibroids and that's why I was feeling a knot. Something else was wrong though I could feel it in my bones. Although I had no other bothersome symptoms, I made an appointment to have an ultrasound done. The next morning at 7:30 am the doctor's office called with the news. I had a mass the size of a grapefruit on my right ovary. They had no idea how long I had it, but they wanted to remove it as soon as possible. This has all happened in a period of 24-hours so to say I was freaked out was an understatement. The doctor on call was rude and could not give me very much information. I made an appointment with my regular Obgyn who had been on vacation. I was crying on the phone, sending her scared e-mails filled with fear. She got me in right away. I walked into her office with my husband holding my hand and she asked what questions I had. I immediately blurted out what seemed like hundreds of questions. She laughed and said, "Genevieve, I can assure you this isn't all that serious." What? Isn't all that serious?! The other doctor told me she wasn't sure if it was benign. Reeled with confusion, my doctor explained everything to me. I had a benign cyst the size of a grapefruit on my right ovary and they wanted to remove it to ensure it was benign and because it could damage other organs if left in there. I would have laparoscopy; be sent home the same day, and be on bed rest for a couple of days thereafter. Not so bad right? In the big scope of things, I was a perfectly healthy 29-year old who developed a cyst due to stress. No history of cancer in my family on either side (thank goodness) and everything else looked good.
The surgery was scheduled for April 7, 2016. I will never forget the weeks leading up to it. I was a complete wreck. I'm a hypochondriac and I've always struggled with major anxiety issues. I've never had surgery before, let alone me put under general anesthesia for anything (I opted to be awake to have my wisdom teeth pulled) so this was all very scary to me. My husband would come home from work and I would collapse in his arms and cry. Wondering if the cyst was worst than they said it was, wondering if I would have to have a full hysterectomy (no kiddo's yet, so that was a very real fear for me) worried I wouldn't live through the surgery was my biggest fear. What if I never woke up? What if I had an allergic reaction the general anesthesia? If there was a fear there, you bet I had it. I was a complete wreck week's before, e-mailing my doctor countless times a day (bless her heart for being patient with me and answering all of my questions) I cried a lot, I mean a lot! I don't think I've ever cried that much in my life. I had no choice but to be brave. There were no other options other than to tell myself I would get through this and come out on the other side a stronger, wiser, better person. I was also very worried about the pain after the surgery and the possibility of weight gain. But mainly I just wanted to make it out alive to see my wonderful husband, dogs, and family again. And pizza. I really wanted to be able to eat pizza again.
The cyst and the looking surgery put everything into perspective for me. Why did I stress over silly things? Why did I let my thoughts get so out of control? I appreciate everyone so much more now and I do not take anything for granted. That surgery brought everything and what's truly important in life full circle for me. It also made me realize how brave I really am. A person who isn't truly brave would have had their husband turn the car around once getting to the hospital. I remember Shane asking me, "Are you ready for this?" And I replied with, "As ready as I'll ever be." And I walked straight into the hospital. I was more ready than I let myself believe I was.
The day of the surgery: They gave me Xanax to take the night before and the morning of. The surgery was set for 6:30 am and I barely slept a wink the night before. A couple of days before I couldn't eat anything so I lived on bone broth. Bone broth hasn't been the same since. I was terrified the night before and had a nervous break down in my office. I started a bunch of house projects before the surgery to distract myself and I remember breaking down crying in a pile of clothes telling my husband this was a bad idea, I could die. He assured me I wouldn't die and I would be home at the same time the following night curled up with my pups, resting away.
I was escorted into the operating room and really freaked out, although Xanax sort of makes you numb to everything. The nurse why super energetic and talked about her dogs while I undressed and she put IV's in me and those weird socks they give you pre-op. I'll never forget those socks. I opted not to take them home. So there I am, in bed, doped up on all kind of medicine, but still asking questions if I would make it out alive or not. The moment my anxiety got worse, was when this other doctor who is the head of general anesthesia came in and asked me if I had any bad reactions to GA before. I told him I didn't know, as I never gone under before. But then my team of female doctors walked into the room and I immediately felt at ease. My doctor's intern came in and told me it was going to be okay and that I was with one of the best doctors in the country and that I had nothing to fear. The woman who was in charge of my general anesthesia came in and said: "I only do two-way trips, so you have nothing to worry about." She immediately made me feel at ease. Then my wonderful doctor came in and held my hand and asked if I had any questions. By that point I was so out of it, I didn't really understand what was going on. I looked at my husband one more time, he held my hand, and they whisked me away to the operating room. I was so out of it, I remember my doctor talking about yoga to me, as she held my hand and they put me under. Being put under is the strangest thing I've ever experienced. It's almost like going into a deep black hole and they waking up right away. Well, I thought I woke up right away. I was in surgery for 3-hours (laparoscopy is a long prep time) but I woke up asking if the surgery was done. I remember instantly feeling the cramping and needing pain meds right away. I had to have a D & C along with my cyst removal to make sure everything looked top notch in my uterus and there were no other issues besides my fibroids. My doctor told my husband everything went well, there were no complications, and she was really happy with how everything turned out. She said my uterus was super healthy and that the cyst more than likely benign. She told my husband that she did her best she could to preserve everything, but that she accidentally nicked the fallopian tube and that I would have a slightly higher chance of having an ectopic pregnancy. Other than that everything went really well. I remember begging to see my husband, but being so out of it I kept falling asleep in the recovery room. Then when they had me get up to use the bathroom and put my clothes on to go home, I felt so nauseous. They gave me more meds and sent me on my way.
I don't really remember anything from that Thursday evening except eating pizza crusts and crackers and falling in and out of deep sleep. After having general anesthesia your body just wants to sleep. I remember waking up in a panic thinking I had just had the surgery. I was already at home in bed, it was normal to have those weird vivid dreams. The next day was the worst, I woke up in pain needing to go to the bathroom, I got half way through the hallway and passed out. The pain was so bad I completely blacked out. Sleeping was the worst and very uncomfortable. The more I walked in the days after surgery, the faster I healed. I was up and back on my feet in two weeks. Not bad in the big scheme of things right? The results came back a few weeks later and my cyst was benign and would most likely not return. Everything else looked good, and my doctor was pleased.
All in all after writing this all out it doesn't really sound all that bad. Except now, 6-months later I'm still healing from the fallout. I have PTSD and horrible nightmares. Any pain at all in my ovary sends me into overdrive. The tissue surrounding where they cut into me is still super sensitive when I bend over to tie my shoe. I now have ovary pain when I ovulate which my doctor says is completely normal because the cyst was blocking my pain receptors. I must have had that cyst for years and never even knew it. I had no symptoms. The thing about cysts though is they continue to grow so they must be removed. I had no choice.
It's been 6-months since my post-op and I'm still recovering emotionally. I still have nightmares, I still freak out, I still feel my ovary from time to time, everything is still slightly sensitive, and I'm terrified it's going to happen all over again. I do not wish this on my worst enemy. Yes, there are far worst things in life to go through, but for me this has been by far the worst. Every day I look at my tattoo that says, "be brave" and I think about how brave I actually was. You truly never know how strong you actually are until it's the only option you have. I was very strong throughout that entire process, but also very scared. Today, I still struggle with PTSD and am contemplating getting on medication to manage my anxiety. I talk about my surgery a lot, but now it's time to let it all go. I need to move on. I need to release. I need to let go. It happened, I lived trough it, and I'm that much stronger now. But it's time to let go.
I release you fear, I release you PTSD, I release and I let go because it's time to move on.
It's time to let go......