Disclaimer: I am not a trained medical professional. This post should not be used as substitute for sound medical professional advice. Please consult a trained medical professional regarding any symptoms or concerns.
Three months ago, I had an operation to remove an ovarian dermoid cyst. My doctor said it was most commonly filled with hair, teeth, fat, and bones. Bizarre huh? Before this I had never heard of such a thing. I’ve learned that people are born with these types of cysts and they are usually discovered in adulthood. When my doctor said I had a “teratoma” or “tumour“, I was shaken up because I didn’t know whether or not that meant it could be cancer. I read as much as I could about it and looked up every term I didn’t understand from the ultrasound reports, got onto discussion forums (I liked the one on medhelp.org for ovarian cysts and womenshealthmatters.ca) to see what advice other people had and what their experiences were.
The doctors had all said that removal through laparascopy (key hole surgery, shorter recovery) was their recommendation. If by any chance they couldn’t remove it laparascopically, laparatomy (large incision, longer recovery) would be used. I was scared about torsion (risk of rupture) and risks with surgery but excited because this could be the source of why I feel pressure/pain in my abdominal area, get full really fast, feel bloated and get an ache in my lower left back side. Although, the doctors couldn’t confirm whether the dermoid was the cause of these symptoms. They said we wouldn’t know for certain until we had this thing taken out. They all did seem to agree that since I was a small girl and this thing was rather large approximately 8.5/11cm I might be feeling it a lot more than if I was a bigger.
On the day of surgery I was a lot more nervous than I thought I would be and the hours of anticipation only made it worse. I was there from about 7:45am to about 5:30pm. After chatting with a nurse and getting changed into a hospital gown, I was taken to the waiting room. A couple hours later, I was taken to the operating area to chat one by one with the surgery nurse, anesthesiologist, and the two surgeons that would be operating on me. I had no idea I’d be meeting with everyone before going into the operating room.
Once I was in the operating room, I remember lying down on a pillow, hearing the anaesthesiologist apologize for flicking his finger repeatedly against my wrist because he couldn’t find my vein and finally feeling the prick of the needle going into my arm. I complained that it really hurt and heard something that sounded like two blades rubbing against one another (probably tools) before I conked out. The next memory was waking up in the recovery room with an extremely dry throat and not being able to make out much (I had to take off my glasses before the operation). It felt as though no time had elapsed whatsoever, although several hours had gone by. I asked for water from a nurse that passed by, she laughed and said “I can’t give you water, you’ll throw up”. I remember thinking that it was sort of mean to laugh at me, but she was right because when I got home, I gulped down a lot of water and threw up. An upside to the anesthesia was that it was the best sleep I’ve had in a long time.
The first couple of days post-op were horrible. I remember feeling like the pain medication wasn’t working and when I was awake I couldn’t do very much but go to the washroom, sit in bed, or sleep. Luckily, my sister was around to help me with moving around as I couldn’t use my abdominal muscles. And every time they engaged by accident it hurt like hell and I had to remind myself to let go and “be dead weight”.
I took small steps in increasing my walking. I had trouble with standing up straight because it felt like I was pulling on my stitches. It really hurt to walk. I felt my belly button stitches the most with every step (it felt like someone had stapled my stomach horizontally) so I’d crouch over and take small steps. My energy level was pretty low although I gradually started to feel more like myself. My visitors helped to keep my spirits up by chatting with me and made me feel like I wasn’t missing that much of the outside world. I am especially thankful for my sister and boyfriend for their company and assistance during this time.
During my follow up, my doctor told me that the good news was the cyst was benign and that it turns out there were actually two of them inside of my left ovary and they stretched across my abdominal area. Which wasn’t a surprise because the radiologist did say that the ultrasound was having a tough time getting a clear shot of my right ovary.
After four weeks recovering at home, I returned to work and two weeks later I started exercising again. It took a while to transition back to my old routine as I was still low on energy and wasn’t used to sitting at a desk for an eight hour day. I remember noticing how stressed everyone seemed to be. It’s funny looking back and remembering how long my days felt during my recovery. The recovery was a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be but It feels good to know that this is all behind me.
I was hesitant about writing this post because it is a personal story but I remember when I first found out about my ovarian dermoid I felt more at ease when I read other people’s stories. I hope that someone might read this and find comfort in it. Whatever the case, take an active interest in your health. Keep up with routine physicals with your doctor and bring up any concerns, symptoms or changes in your body during your visits. After all, it’s your body, if you’re not going to take care of it, well no one else will.
Wishing you all good health.