Monday, April 7, 2008


I begrudgingly went to the doctor last Friday because of some pain in my lower abdomen. The pains which have been strong enough to wake me from my sleep have been around for the past three weeks or so. But because the pain only came during the night, it wasn’t enough of a bother to send me running to the doctor. More than anything, it was just a nuisance to be awakened every night with discomfort. After describing my ailment to co-workers, one of them suggested the possibility of an ovarian cyst, and I knew right away that this was probably my diagnosis. It’s a very common occurrence and, in fact, one of my friends in high school had a cyst. I’ve heard of them several times, and to my knowledge the treatment was simple – birth control. The hormones in the pill somehow react with your body to shrink and hopefully clear up the cyst.

I headed to my appointment with hopes of a fast and friendly visit. I have an extreme aversion to medical facilities, so my plan was to get in and get out as quickly as possible. I was in the waiting room no longer than 5 minutes before they called me back for the exam.

Five minute waiting room stay. Score. One step closer to getting out of here and getting on with my day.

Peed in the cup without getting it all over my hand. Second score. I’m doing awesome. This is the best doctor’s visit ever.

Doc comes into the exam room within 10 minutes. Note to self: Make more Friday appointments. They want to get the hell out of here just as much as I do.

The doctor asked about my symptoms so I gave her the run down and told her it was probably an ovarian cyst. (Doctors hate that about me – I love self-diagnosing.) She poked around on my belly for a good while and eventually developed a small smirk on her face. I said, “Don’t tell me there’s a baby in there.” I knew for a fact I wasn’t pregnant, but she wasn’t so convinced of that. The next thing I know, she’s wheeling in an Ultrasound machine. “No,” she said. “No baby. But you were right about the cyst.” She rotated the monitor so I could look at it, and sure enough there was a big black blob staring at me on the screen.

“That thing is huge!” I said. “It’s the size of a friggin’ golf ball!”

This was nothing like the pictures I had seen on Google where the cysts were the size of a dime. No, this sucker was big, bad and nasty. So you can imagine my shock when she says, “No, honey. It’s way bigger than a golf ball.”

“A GRAPEFRUIT!?!?!” I asked? I was trying to think of the largest medical analogy possible, and for some reason weird growths are always related to fruit.

She held up her hands and replied, “No, no grapefruit. A Nerf football.” And there between here molded palms, I saw the imaginary ball – a big, spongy yellow Nerf. AND IT’S LIVING IN MY BODY!!!! AHHHH!
My immediate reaction was hysterical laughter. I was in complete shock and denial….kind of like crazy Britney Spears when they wheeled her off in that gurney to the psych ward.

“But I only have 3 fillings and I rarely get sick! I’m really healthy! Where did this come from? What did I do to make it grow? How long has it been living inside me? When can you take it out? Can you take it out today? I can get off work.”

The doctor told me they needed to do blood work immediately in order to get the results back as quickly as possible. She also told me I need surgery ASAP, and along with removing the growth, they will also remove one of my ovaries.

Well, shit. The awesomeness of this visit completely died.

Every time my blood is drawn I pass out cold, and I usually have to lay around with some orange juice and a cold rag for at least an hour afterwards. Perhaps it was the knowledge of the football in my gut that took my mind off blood loss, but for some weird reason I maintained consciousness through the removal of six vials worth.

I was scheduled for an Ultrasound appointment at 1:00 that afternoon– this time it would be more thorough. My friends from work joined me for a quick BBQ lunch, and it was really nice to be surrounded by such great people at such a difficult time. They helped me maintain my spirits throughout the day. I arrive for the Ultrasound with a full bladder just as the doctor had asked, and by the time the started I thought I was going to burst! Finally, I was able to pee, but the Ultrasound last a full hour. Someone tell me – does it take that long if you’re having a baby? I don’t know…I just thought it seemed excessive. The lab tech kept tracing my “football” with the little jelly stick, and after a while the pushing and tracing started to get uncomfortable. Not only that, but as she stared at my football on the screen, she had the most horrified look on her face. I said, “You look like you’re watching a scary movie. Can you at least smile or something?” She just laughed, but I knew it was a front…she was terrified of my football, but she couldn’t let me know it was the scariest thing she’d ever seen. I finally got to see it myself. It was lumpy and very irregular in shape. The good news is that the football is” not very vascular.” Apparently malignant growths are more vascular…so let’s hope this one is benign.

Aside from the news of having a huge growth in my abdomen, scheduling my first surgery, and knowing I’ll lose an ovary, I’ve been really upset because Sean is not in town. My doctor appointment was Friday, and Sean left for Chicago on Saturday to visit family. I’m normally not a crier, but his leaving was the first time that I shed tears over the whole ordeal. I didn’t want him to cancel the trip because right now I’m just waiting to hear back from my doctor and there’s not much he’d be able to do for me. He’ll be back in time for the surgery for sure…but I do miss his company and his support. I don’t think about it until I need him, but I really rely on him so much in so many different ways. I can’t wait for him to come home. I feel like a big baby.

I have an appointment tomorrow morning with my doctor. She will have the results from the blood work and the extensive Ultrasound, so we’re going to discuss the plan of action. I’m expecting surgery at the end of this week or beginning of next. The doc says she wants to get the football out ASAP – there’s just no reason it should be growing inside me. The surgery will be a full-on cutting open of my stomach (unfortunately, the growth is too big for them to do the easy laparoscopic procedure). It will be very similar to a C-section, so I’ll be in the hospital for a few days with a 6 week recovery period.

The good news? I should see a significant flattening of my stomach after the football comes out. I’ll try to remember to post before and after pictures.

1 comment:

Adrienne said...

Stacey, wtf?! This sucks so bad! But I'm sure the surgery will go fine and everything will be okay. We'll keep our fingers crossed for you. Hey, if you have surgery this week, we'll come visit you in the hospital because we'll be in town!

Also, any chance you get to keep the football in a little jar after the procedure?