It Happened to Me: A Cyst Ate My Ovary

If you ever watch those reality shows about the ladies who claim to not have known they were pregnant and wondered what kind of person could be so detached from their body ... that's me, apparently.
Publish date:
June 17, 2011
healthy, ovaries

Having grown sick of surviving on ketchup packets, Ramen and whatever kind of bodega coffee that is that comes in a yellow brick, I up and moved from New York to Olympia, Washington five months ago to take on a job doing publicity for a record label.

Items left behind included an antique leather top desk, a beautiful knock-off Eames lounge chair that I bought from some guy on Craigslist, a futon purchased from a thrift store owned and operated by actual cult members, and a blackened, barely used, right ovary.

It doesn’t really surprise me to now know that I had been walking around with a rotting internal organ because in my 34 years of life I have been to the gynecologist four times, the dentist maybe six, and find it possible to mentally explain away almost any physical ailment I may be having. The obvious onset of period cramps becomes “a pulled muscle,” a sore throat is merely a “dry throat” and the metallic, pulling, burny throb that came and went in the right side of my lower abdomen for a few years was referred to by me as “rock stomach.”

If you ever watch those reality shows about the ladies who claim to not have known they were pregnant until they pushed a baby out into the toilet and wondered what kind of person could be so detached from their body that they didn’t even know something large was growing in it; me, I’m that type of person, apparently.

A little over a year ago, I spent Thanksgiving with some friends and almost immediately after stuffing my face with turkey and whatever else, had to head home because my “rock stomach” was flaring up. I was used to this pain, how it would roll in out of nowhere, dividing my body in two sections with the top half being denial and the bottom half being unhealthy agony, and was confident that it would stick around for its usual four hours or so, and then fade away.

I comforted myself with this while twisting from one position to the next on the subway home in an effort to look normal and not like I was having an attack, and stretched the theory the next morning when I woke up to even greater pain. Would you have toot tooted your way to the doctor’s office at this point? Oh, well that’s cool. I squirmed around in bed for the whole day and then showered, popped a few aspirin, and met my friends at a movie theater in Manhattan to see New Moon.

Seeing Jacob Black fix motorcycles and hop over things while shirtless made the pain ease up for awhile, and I fell asleep easier than I had the previous night, but it wasn’t until the next day when the situation was so bad that I wasn’t even able to eat the leftover turkey sandwich I had made that my brain lit up the THERE IS A PROBLEM light bulb.

Before calling an ambulance, I stretched out on the hardwood floors of my apartment and texted three people to get their opinion on the matter, and to be as dramatic as possible and make sure everyone knew I was pretty much about to barf and die.

I texted my best friend, who helped me figure out where the nearest hospital was because I was living in Staten Island and didn’t know where anything was aside from the Taco Bell, although I had lived there for two years. While she was figuring that out, I texted the friend who I had spent Thanksgiving with and blamed what was happening to me on the turkey that her boyfriend had made, and then texted a girl who I had met on OKCupid and had been flirting with, who would later tell me that she wished I had never made it out of the hospital alive.

It only took the ambulance about 10 minutes to get to my house and I greeted them at the door. One of the drivers gave me fish eye as we were getting loaded in and said, “You don’t look sick,” which still bothers me. Was I supposed to come to the door nude and screaming or something?

However you’re able to craft an image in your mind of what the emergency room of the Staten Island hospital could look like, that’s what it looked like. The ambulance people waited with me for like an hour before I got checked in, and then I spent about another hour and a half sitting on a hospital bed in a brightly lit waiting room, waving and cat-calling to any nurse who passed by, pleading for pain medication.

I’m completely certain they all thought I was just in there to try and get drugs, which I sort of was because at that point I would have done anything for some relief. I’m not much of a crier, but I purposely let the water works flow once a nurse came in to check on me so she would see I was legit, and it worked, she pumped me full of morphine.

Not sure if you’ve ever been on morphine before, but it feels awesome. When they came to wheel me into a different room for a sonogram, I was grinning at everyone like we were BFFs for life.

The sonogram guy put some wet goo on my abdomen and looked around at stuff, finally explaining that my entire ovary was taken over by, NAY, being strangled by, a giant cyst. By the time I went in for surgery it was late at night, maybe around 10PM or so. Before they put me under I remember the lady surgeon assuring me that they’d do all they could to try and save my ovary, but when I woke up the next morning I was informed that it hadn’t been possible.

I spent my four days of recovery in the hospital trying to remind myself of all the things an ovary does, like what its use is and how I’ll function with only one of them. The rest of my time not spent worrying about the possibility of growing a beard or not being able to have children was spent watching "Bones" on the shitty TV hanging over my bed. Have you seen that show? It’s the worst.

My last day in the hospital would have been a lot shorter, but my nurse kept coming in to ask if I had peed and passed gas yet. I was able to pee on my own almost immediately after the catheter was taken out (I don’t wanna talk about it) but I couldn’t fart to save my life. Finally I just lied and told her that I had so I could get the hell out of there.

Moral of the story: Go to the doctor when something hurts, and if someone asks you if you’ve farted, just say yes.

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