Most women of child-bearing age pay attention to their monthly cycles, right? I mean, family planning, whether trying to get pregnant or not get pregnant, is important to most of us. So, when I kept counting “days late” this month, you can imagine the anxiety that crept in.
Weighing the possible reasons I was creeping well into two weeks past my period was a little scary. I just turned 44 last month, we have 5 kids, and our oldest is pregnant with our first grandchild. I guess having another wouldn’t be too bad.
We are already planning on growing our children through foster-to-adopt, so what if we just had another biologically?
But, I had my tubes tied after our last one. 9 years ago. Ironically, when I was researching a tubal ligation “way back then,” every forum I read about women getting pregnant after a tubal, it was 8 years post-surgery.
Again, our youngest just turned 9 last week! This thought has been in the back of my mind for the past 9 years. I thought for sure we were safe. (My mind needed to think this anyways).
So, a pregnancy at this stage of life isn’t ideal, but doable. But, the very real fact that it could be ectopic was not ideal. In fact, it was downright frightening. First, let’s look at the signs of an ectopic pregnancy (according to Healthline):
- sharp waves of pain in the abdomen, pelvis, shoulder, or neck
- severe pain that occurs on one side of the abdomen
- light to heavy vaginal spotting or bleeding
- dizziness or fainting
- rectal pressure
I spent three days paying extra close attention to every tinge of pain or slight discomfort I was feeling. I realized most of what I felt was on the left side, the side where I actually have a Fallopian tube. The side I typically ovulate from.
For reference, my right tube was mostly removed during the tubal ligation due to an influx of polyps. My OB/GYN felt it was best to remove most of the tube in order to get all of them. Fine by me. I wasn’t going to need it anymore.
Now, let’s looks at ovarian cysts symptoms (again, according to Healthline):
- abdominal bloating or swelling
- painful bowel movements
- pelvic pain before or during the menstrual cycle
- painful intercourse
- pain in the lower back or thighs
- breast tenderness
- nausea and vomiting
Comparing the two, you can see a few similarities, right? The main thing I was noting was the lack of a period. So, of course I took a pregnancy test. Two, actually. My daughter (the pregnant one) insisted. (Who coincidentally was in the ER around this time last year with an ovarian cyst that burst!)
There was a bit of mixed emotions around the fact that Colby and our three oldest daughters were waiting outside the bathroom for the results with me. Both were negative. That was some relief, but an ectopic pregnancy often requires a blood test.
Nevertheless, I already had an appointment scheduled with my OB/GYN, so we would soon find out more.
Upon arrival at the doctor’s office, it was a pee sample and then straight in for a sonogram. Imagine our surprise when we saw TWINS!
Well, twin ovarian cysts that is. (But I may have only texted my kids the part about the twins! Laughter’s the best medicine, ya know).
The burning sensation, pain in my lower back and abdomen, nausea, bloating, pelvic pressure… and lack of menstruation were all explained. I have two large ovarian cysts in my left ovary, as well as an additional small one in my uterus, wreaking havoc on my insides.
Before we began the sonogram, my incredibly sweet, light-spoken doctor, asked me if there had been any travel or stress in my life lately. I looked at him and, before I could speak, Colby asked if he could answer.
Colby knows that because I live in a constant state of worry, I wouldn’t mention anything specific because, to me, it’s natural. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Colby told him about the scare we had last week with Cheyenne when she had to have her non-stress test; the crazy experience we had last week while traveling; and a few other stressful events we’ve experienced recently.
After the sonogram, my doctor looked at me and explained how our menstrual cycles are often controlled by our minds. Therefore, the stress I was experiencing was inadvertently affecting my body; the ovarian cysts are proof of that.
In just the past three days, I have slept at least 8-10 hours each night. Those that know me, know that I typically average 4-5 hours at night. Therefore, I’m getting twice as much sleep during the night, and have been napping for around 2 hours daily.
I have only eaten one (almost full) meal and that was last night after the appointment. I just don’t have an appetite.
I told Colby this morning, after waking up at 11:15am, that I wish I knew exactly what was stressing me so much. Again, because I’ve lived with anxiety for most of my life, I can’t pinpoint any particular stressors.
At least nothing that I can control and help lessen the worry-load. It all just seems to add up. Plus, most of the time, it’s also things that don’t even directly pertain to me. It’s the worries of others that I take on myself. I’m a total empath.
For now, I’m doing my best not to stress over the CA-125 blood test my doctor also ordered. It measures the amount of cancer antigen 125 in the bloodstream and is used to check for early signs of ovarian cancer in women who are at a high risk for the disease. Hopefully those results come in tomorrow—and are clear.
Until then, I am doing my best to treat the ovarian cysts at home with OTC pain killers, a heating pad, Epsom salt baths, and plenty of rest.
We’re in wait-and-see mode. My doctor said they don’t really do anything evasive unless the cyst becomes problematic (bursts, twists, or shows signs of being cancerous). Otherwise, he said it should naturally go away within three months.
Looking on the bright side, I’m kinda okay with a break from having a period. Although, this throws all of my charting out of whack. Poor Flo isn’t going to know what to do. It already reminds me daily that I’m late!