• Erin Zaranec

Ruptures and Recovery

I'm 48 hours out from surgery and while I am enjoying changing out of one pair of sweatpants just to ease my way into another, I am definitely ready to be able to sit down and stand up without pain.

On Tuesday afternoon, I went in for surgery that was meant to be an ovarian cystectomy, excision of possible endometriosis, and possible unilateral oophorectomy (removal of the ovary). In late December 2019, the ovarian cyst was overtaking nearly 90% of my right ovary and was causing daily pain. It was beginning to harden and grow more like a tumor than a cyst, so the risk for rupture was low, I was told.

About two weeks before surgery, I was in the worst pain of my life.

I felt a sudden wave of fatigue overtake my whole body, to the point where I had to leave the gym early and went home to rest for 10 hours. I woke up the next day in pain that was so intense it impacted the way I walked, locking up the right side of my lower back and hip.

I made it through the work day with a heating pad in tow and went home to do some simple stretches and physical therapy. Stretched out on the floor, I had a burst of pain so intense that I couldn't even get up. Staring at my couch for nearly an hour, I knew something was wrong but at two weeks out before surgery I just wanted to power through it.

After an attempt to call my doctor's office, I was told to "take a bath, do some exercise, and walk it off" by a nurse practitioner. At this point, saying I was mad is an understatement, but it seemed as though the worst of the pain had passed so I managed the best I could.

Fast forward two weeks and I was on the operating table, telling the anesthesiologist that if I could be anywhere else, I'd go to Denver... and off I was.

The operation started at about 3:15 p.m. and around 5:45 p.m., I remember hearing "when we got in there the cyst was gone."

So, my cyst ruptured. When I was laying on the floor crying from pain (disclaimer: I never, ever cry from pain) my cyst was probably in the midst of crumbling inside me. Luckily, nothing was damaged during the rupture and my ovary remained in tact - but as much as I love my doctor, I truly wasn't happy with how my health was handled leading up to surgery when I knew something was wrong. (More on this in another post, it's too much for me to get into right now!)

While there was no cyst to remove, there was still some work to be done. I had two patches of what is believed to be endometriosis removed from behind my uterus. These patches were sent off to pathology and I'll know more in about a week.

My doctor did some basic fertility testing and these tubes are golden, baby - the general function of my ovaries and tubes looks good.

Post-recovery, I'll explore what exactly my doctor finds in pathology, along with some musculoskeletal issues that are contributing to pain. I have lots of questions left about the patterns of cysts in my body, but we can't do much until my incisions are healed.

I have three incisions that are just starting to tighten and heal, one vertical cut inside of my bellybutton and two smaller incisions, one that sits right under my belly and the other to the right side of my bellybutton. I'm on a rotating cycle of acetaminophen and ibuprofen every three hours and am waiting for the air they pumped me up with to get released from my body - which is currently causing some pain throughout my chest and shoulder.

The ugly side of surgery includes a bloated belly, lots of bleeding, constantly being propped up on pillows, some bruising from an IV, and mesh underwear. It includes waking up with a sore throat from your breathing tube and adjusting to controlling your own bladder after your catheter gets taken out.

The bright side of surgery includes finally knowing that I wasn't totally crazy - there was endo inside me! It's knowing that, even though I'll still be in pain for awhile, nothing else is wrong (which, hey, endo is enough) and that my ovaries are working.

I'm still a bit anxious to see what this next chapter will bring, but for now - I'm just focusing on recovery.

The Invisible Illness series will be published weekly, detailing my journey with chronic pelvic pain and the various treatments I am prescribed.


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