Friday started with me waking up suddenly at 1:48 am. Just jolted awake for no apparent reason. So, I did what you do when you wake up way too early, I went to the washroom. I returned to bed and lay there, my mind roaming to this and that (the slightly insane way mother’s, wives and workers do), organizing the day ahead of me, uttering a few prayers. I started feeling uncomfortable and I figured it was the kidney as usual. The kidney that is back to it’s original size and is functioning better than it ever had before, but this time was having issues draining now and then because it’s ureter is being squeezed by my uterus that has about 2 buckets of golf balls embedded in it. Nothing an Advil could not keep at bay if I needed it to. But then, there was a different ache, this time on the right side of my abdomen from my belly button radiating across the right and down. A sigh and an eye roll. Really? Now? With the pain no better but no worse, I decided to head to the shower at about 6:00 a.m. as Tom and I were leaving for Ottawa to meet with a client. I was disappointed that the hot water didn’t provide the usual comfort to reduce the intensity of the pain, so I popped a Tylenol and an Advil as my urologist recommended for pain management, and we started towards Ottawa. By the time I was 10 minutes along Highway 37, I decided to turn around. Now, I bear pain really well, after all, I had two, 10 pound, bouncing baby boys vaginally and I’m an average sized woman. I did think I could muscle my way through it, get the appointment done and in a worse case scenario, I would be in the nation’s capital and the hospitals there are better than the one where I live but as my husband pointed out, driving in a car putting up with 6 hours of discomfort with no known source was not the ideal way to spend the day.
The pain was more intense by 8:15 am and it was only on my right side. I called and cancelled with the client and started googling appendicitis. My symptoms were very close to both appendicitis and gall stones so I had my husband drop me off at the Emergency department of our local hospital. As usual, it was not busy when I got there and I was in a room, wearing the flattering blue and white gown with the God-knows-what pattern with the little flimsy white strings at the back. Nothing makes you realize how vulnerable we all are, more than that flimsy, misshapen, shitty little hospital gown. Nothing makes you feel more helpless and on display than when they make you lie on the gurney as they push you to the ultrasound department that you are most certainly able to walk to and nothing makes you think how horrid aging can be as you look at the many elderly people laying on gurneys in hallways moaning while they wait for their tests or in many cases, a room where they can rest comfortably. Yes, with all these little ER visits I have had recently, I have had a solid look at the hospitals, the well-meaning staff who are too few in number to handle the volume of patients coming through the emergency department. Dear Ontario Government, the lack of dignity the elderly and everyone for that matter experience laying on gurneys in the hallways of the ER is unacceptable and inexcusable. Please make it right.
My blood and urine samples were sent to the lab right away and I got to see a great doctor and had my ultrasound within minutes of being placed in an examination room. The waiting happens when you find out that there is only one technician reading the ultrasound findings for all 3 hospitals in the area. Dear Ontario government, please release the funds needed for the hospitals to have more staff on hand to take care of patients. It was almost 3 pm before my doctor was able to come in and tell me that my pain was due to a rather large ovarian cyst that had ruptured. She explained everything thoroughly and I was so grateful to the time she took to make sure I understood what had happened and how it was going to be treated. The symptoms, at first made her think that I was either suffering from appendicitis or gall-stones as I had thought, but my internal ultrasound was what revealed the ruptured cyst.
So, here’s what I learned. According to my cousin Susie, (who dives into the realms I never can because our lifestyles are completely different), the left side of my body, my female side, is upset with me. My Chakra is not balanced.
Well how the hell can it be? I live with three active and fun-loving men and I hate all things about my body associated with female reproduction because it has been a pain in my … well…it’s been a right pain and obstruction and interruption since I first got my period. I have always put up with my female reproductive system because I wanted children. I have my boys now and I have no problem letting my female side know that I hate it as much as it hates me. It makes me achy and uncomfortable and in the past it has made me physically sick once a month. Without fail, it made me fearful of the 30 day anniversary of all things horribly associated with menstruation.
Since I was 12 or 13, I have known the anxiety of those last few days before my period came. I knew I’d have cramps that would have me curled in to the fetal position, I know I’d need to always walk with a bottle of Midol or whatever I could find to keep those debilitating cramps at bay. Everyone knew when I had my period. I couldn’t keep it discreet if I tried. At least I went to an all girl high school where there were many sufferers just like me. If I was not curled into a ball of pain, I was puking because of pain. I constantly went through 5 days of bleeding; the first three spent sick and cramping. My period was the arch enemy and saboteur of my dancing and my sports. It made swimming a real concern because no woman is 100% confident in the protection of a tampon.
Fifty-one has not been kind to me so far, but I’m dealing with this menopause stuff as patiently as I can. A uterus full of fibroids can squeeze your bladder, ureters and your bowels and make life uncomfortable.
I learned that when an ovarian cyst pops, it hurts like hell because the fluid it releases with all the hormones and blood can be very irritating to the abdominal wall and the pain is much like the pain and symptoms associated with appendicitis and gall stones. Don’t assume the pain will go away and because you won’t know if it is a cyst, appendicitis or a gall bladder problem, DO go to your doctor or to the emergency department and find out what it is. Ibuprofen helps with the pain of inflammation and DO take it easy as the pain lasts a while until your body eliminates the junk from the cyst. Don’t be too concerned with your belly that suddenly is pregnant like and hard and tender to the tough. It too shall pass.
Similar to my decision to have an ablation, I am over the moon about my hysterectomy in June. I’ll still have my ovaries so I can still get a cyst that could burst but at least I’ll go through menopause naturally and in good time. I love being a woman but I have always hated the bloody, bloaty and uncomfortable components of being a woman.
I never “girled” well when it came to my cycle or female organs that caused me so much grief and pain and lost time at work and lost hours of fun, often in my life. I hated it so much, that as soon as my gynecologist put me on the pill when I was 19, I as thrilled as it gave me a pain free and regular cycle and an uninterrupted active life.
When I was ready to have children, I made the decision to come off my beloved pill that made my life so much better. Oddly enough, after being on the pill for 12 years, I got pregnant quickly. This was good because coming off the pill to get pregnant meant fighting off the fear of the pain and suffering that the return of a regular menstrual cycle would bring.
After my second son, I wanted to wean him from breast feeding before I went back on the pill. I remembered how horrid my periods were and how unnerving it was to sit anywhere when I had my period post babies. All the crap people said to me about how much lighter your flow is after kids, was just that – utter crap. My cycle was worse after I had my boys. I remember being unable to rely on a tampon and having very little faith in pads as I nervously sat at the hairdresser’s, or worse, at work where there were men everywhere.
I am not a person who just puts up with anything. I don’t believe in “this is how it is”, or suffering through anything. I have a challenging life as it is and if I can make it manageable or easier, I am willing to try whatever there is to try. I was tired of my family planning everything around “Mom’s cycle” so I had an ablation.
Fortunately, it worked for me and off to Disney World we went…twice… and to the Bahamas, and to New Orleans and to Punta Cana, North Bay, Corner Brook…we went everywhere and that miserable period I had? …Well, there has been no sign of it since 2008 and I don’t miss it one bit. Now that my boys are pretty much men, I don’t need a uterus or Fallopian tubes and since I have no choice but to go through menopause, I’d rather go through it without unnecessary female parts. I am looking forward to so much and I hope to see and do all or as much as I have planned, so the least I can do, is do what I can to make the so-called feminine side of my being, as cousin Susie calls it, quiet and content as it tags along.