I found these message boards to be really helpful to me when I was diagnosed with an ovarian cyst, so I’m sharing my experience in hopes that it will help others.
I just turned 51, and have had no prior “female issues”, and no children. Periods have been erratic for a year, but last summer, I was pouring blood for three days straight, and went to the ER, because I was out of town. To be honest, I hadn’t been to a gynecologist for several years, because I wasn’t trying to get pregnant, am faithfully married, etc. But this goes to show that you SHOULD go yearly, even if you’re okay otherwise. I’m not overweight, and have no other health problems, luckily.
The vaginal ultrasound showed an ovarian cyst of 3 cm last summer, and then I stopped bleeding altogether, happily. I went to an actual gynecologist three months ago, and it was shown to have grown to 5 cm (racquetball size). Interestingly, I had NO symptoms of any kind at that point. I would never have known.
I understand that sometimes ovarian cysts form and burst on their own, but I had no history of that, and apparently after menopause, when it keeps growing, with no ovulation feeding it, it needs to come out, because it’s never good news.
I had all the tumor marker blood work done, and it all came back clear.
My doctor suggested “taking everything out while she was in there”, and I considered it, and got numerous opinions on that from people who had either been through it, or were medical professionals. Opinion varied of course, and everyone I talked to who’d had a total hysterectomy was relieved, but they’d had problems with their uterus beforehand. I did not, and my mom and her sisters, all in their 70’s, still have their parts, so that was a consideration for me, too.
I got another opinion from a very respected doctor in another part of the country, and weighed that. Ultimately my decision was that taking out a healthy uterus (that by the way, helps to hold your BLADDER up), wasn’t a good decision for me at this time. If I have problems later, I can always go back.
I had the 5 cm ovarian cyst removed five weeks ago, laparoscopically. She also took the ovary of course, and the other fallopian tube. The doctor said ACOG recommends that. So now I have my uterus and one ovary left, and am taking estrogen and progesterone for hot flashes I was having prior to surgery.
I was at the hospital at 5:30, wheeled into surgery at 7:30, and home by 11 AM, according to my husband. I barely remember leaving the hospital, of course.
A couple of things I learned (some of which will be par for the course if you’ve had a baby):
Even though it’s lap surgery, its still abdominal surgery, and it’s a BIG deal. Don’t forget, the holes may be small, but things have been cut, removed, stitched, etc. I guess I underestimated it.
I do radio for a living, working from home, and it was 9 days before I could sit up straight enough to talk for three hours and do a show. Most message boards I saw said two weeks’ recovery time was normal. I figured two weeks’ recovery for most people would be one week for me. Wrong.
I could sit up in bed for a SHORT time and lean back and get on my laptop after about a week, but sitting straight up requires muscles you don’t want to put pressure on that soon.
I have three small holes; one in my belly button, one a few inches below, and one below the hair line. Not thrilled about the middle one, but at my age, who wants to see my midriff anyway?
It was 9 days before I felt comfortable driving, and even that was one very quick errand. I’d give that two weeks.
It was 2 1/2 weeks before I could sleep on my tummy comfortably.
It was at least two weeks before it didn’t hurt to pee. Not terrible pain, but you feel it.
Five weeks out, I feel fine, and am walking every day, but I haven’t worked out, and can’t swim, take a bath or have intercourse for another week. I was horrified when the doctor first told me “no sex for six weeks”, but trust me, it’s the last thing you’re thinking about! Those of you who’ve had babies get this, I guess. I never had.
Let me be clear: it wasn’t miserable, and they gave me plenty of pain pills. I was just very cautious and wanted to heal correctly the FIRST time. After the first week or two, it just feels like someone has a string in your belly that they’re pulling tight.
Even four weeks out, I didn’t want to wear anything that put pressure on my tummy; tight pants, etc. Thank God for yoga pants!
If you’re a waitress, or a nurse, or anything physical like that, give it several weeks before you try to work.
One other thing. My doctor said when she went in, the cyst was getting ready to “twist”. I guess that’s a real problem that can cut off blood flow in the tube, and send you into shock, and the ER, and emergency surgery. Nothing to mess around with.
I made sure I had everything I needed at my bedside before I got home. I put a picnic table next to the bed for important things, (phone, laptop, pills, water, etc.) and my mom came and took care of me. You might want to get a bed pillow that has armrests. That helps to take pressure off when you sit up to eat.
If you’re gonna watch Netlfix, watch something depressing, like Mad Men. Stay away from comedies. They don’t help the healing process.
One BIG mistake I made: I took a Lortab when I first got home, after fasting for 15 hours. I thought a few crackers would be enough food. BIG mistake. I threw up all day long, and you can imagine how great THAT felt after surgery. I’m sure that delayed my recovery, too.
My cyst was benign, called a serous cyst. Glad to have it out, and glad to live in a country where I could get it out quickly. Anybody checked the UK message boards? They have to wait months just for an ultrasound for these things! God Bless America and capitalism.
Hope this was helpful to someone.