You may have noticed that I haven’t done very much blogging this year. The year started with me not feeling very well, and I didn’t think anyone would want to hear about health and food from someone whose own health was questionable. I also didn’t have very much energy to keep up with this blog in addition to the other sites that I write for. My symptoms were vague and seemingly unrelated: exhaustion, weight gain, back aches, acid reflux, and digestive problems. I thought it could be the winter blues or perhaps just getting older. Or maybe I needed to exercise more and drink more green juice.
I’ve had health problems in the past, and doctors visits turned into tests, which turned into “we’re still not sure what’s going on,” so I was reluctant to see a doctor. Since I’m a health coach, I figured I could manage things myself for a while, and I was sure I’d feel better once spring hit. I tried to allow myself more time for sleep, squeezed in some extra exercise, and I even did a mini juice fast. I still didn’t feel well. While doing yoga in early February I realized that I had pain in my abdomen and I could’t lie on my belly. This was now beyond my scope of expertise and I knew it was time to see a doctor. Since I wasn’t really sure what was going on, I made appointments with my gastroenterologist and gynecologist. The gyno had an opening two weeks earlier than that gastro doctor did, so I went to her. I really dislike going to the doctor, and my blood pressure almost always rises. I was also sure I’d be lectured on my weight, which, of course, I was. I explained that I gained it all pretty quickly and I wasn’t sure what was going on, but it pretty much fell on deaf ears. (And of course, there was no advice given on how to lose weight. I certainly didn’t need it, but I know that a lot of people do, which is why I became a health coach!) The doctor said she could feel tightness in my abdomen and sent me for an ultrasound. The scan showed a massive cyst on my right ovary. We’re talking gigantic. Like all the way up to my ribcage big. We’ve all heard stories about people finding out that they have giant cysts or tumors, and it’s always seemed so unbelievable that someone could live with a mass that large in his or her body without realizing it. My symptoms were mainly fatigue and weight gain, so yeah, it was hard to believe that I had something that large hitching a ride in my belly. I went for more scans and tests, and surgery to remove it was scheduled.
Going into surgery was terrifying. I only got an hour and a half of sleep the night before. The doctor wasn’t sure what she would find along with the cyst, so she prepared me for the worst. I knew that my right ovary wasn’t salvageable, so it would be removed along with the fallopian tube, but the doctor warned me that she might have to remove more, depending on what she found once she opened me up. Fortunately there were no surprises and the surgery went smoothly. The cyst was mucous in nature and had grown from my first appointment – the doctor said it was about the size of a watermelon! The cyst was partially behind my uterus, hence the back pain, and it was firmly attached to my intestines, which was causing the digestive problems. It was crushing some of organs including my stomach, which is why I was experiencing acid reflux. My appendix was also removed because mucous cysts are related to appendix problems.
I wish the hospital stay had gone as smoothy as the surgery itself. I knew I’d be staying at least one night, and I was prepared for an evening of being poked and prodded with very little sleep. I was woken up on a regular basis for blood tests and vital sign checks. There was also a thumping in the walls that started at 4am and the guy down the hall that screamed constantly. (I’m not even sure what he was doing there, since I was in a women’s ward.) The beds were designed to prevent blood clots in patients who can’t move around very much, so the mattresses “massage” and move on their own, which I liked at first, but after a while I found it extremely annoying and it kept me from sleeping. The hospital I was in is a teaching hospital, and rounds started around 5:30 am, with teams of attending doctors, residents and med students coming in my room to gawk at me. Most of the nurses, nurses aids and nursing students were really awesome and took great care of me. There were also holistic nurses who came to visit me who treated me with reiki, acupressure and reflexology. I was fortunate to get a private room though, and for that I was very thankful. Dennis was able to spend as much time as he wanted with me, and his company let him work from home, which actually meant working from the hospital thanks to free WiFi.
One night in the hospital turned into two, because they wanted to make sure I could walk, eat, and go the bathroom before I left. Day two I was on a liquid diet of vegetable broth, ginger ale, tea, lemon ice, fruit gels and water. Ick! Unfortunately my body disliked the “food” as much my mind did, and I spent my second night in the hospital being very sick. I was sent for x-rays which showed that peristalsis hadn’t started back up from the anesthesia. The solution to getting things flowing again was sticking a tube into my nose, through my throat and into my stomach. If that sounds unpleasant, imagine how it feels! I guess there’s something funky with my nasal cavities, because the tube wouldn’t go past a certain point. There were three attempts, and it ended with blood shooting out of my nose. Honestly, vomiting was more pleasant.
After four nights I was able to come home, and I’ve spent the past two weeks resting, relaxing, snuggling with kitties, reading, and watching movies. Since the cyst was so large, the incision is really big. I’ve been in some pain, but healing has begun and I feel a little better every day. I’m 20 pounds lighter than I was a month ago, my acid reflux is totally gone, and my back does’t ache. I’m on the mend and beginning to get back into the swing of things. I’m easing my way back to blogging, so stay tuned for more recipes, vegan lifestyle tips, and health info soon!