Two weeks ago, I arrived at hospital ready for an operation I have been waiting for for nearly 2 years. You see, when I had my 12 week ultrasound whilst expecting Xander, they discovered that I didn’t just have a baby in my belly…
Initally the nurse performing the scan assumed it was an unsuccessful twin, as it was about the same size as Xander… except there wasn’t any evidence of ever being a baby there. Cue the more experienced scanners running into the room… my poor mother, who was patiently sitting in the waiting room as they wouldn’t let her in, must have been having kittens. Then one of the nurses piped up, “Oh, that’s a dermoid cyst. Textbook dermoid cyst.”
A what? I remember thinking through my morning sickness induced haze. But is the baby ok?! In all of the kerfuffle not much had been said about the baby! Thankfully, yes, Xander was fine, wriggling around and moving all over the place (he still doesn’t keep still).
They measured the cyst at 7cm by 7cm, pretty big I think you’d agree. It meant more scans, more checks on bubba to make sure the cyst wasn’t getting in his way, checks to make sure my growing uterus wasn’t going to make the cyst twist around the fallopian tube and try to kill me… you know… just what you want to hear when you’re trying to grow a life… and potentially it could mean abdominal surgery while pregnant.
A dermoid cyst, or Mature Cystic Teratoma, is a bizarre thing. Developing from a germ cell, it can literally be made of anything – skin, teeth, eyes, thyroid tissue, fat, sweat glands, hair… any cell in the body could be in there, as that’s what germ cells do – create every type of cell. Mine appears to have been mostly hair and sweat – yum!
Eventually the consultant decided that as it had made it’s way out of my pelvis without causing any upset, that it would be best to wait until after the baby was born to operate.
Fast forward quite a bit… Xander was born, we are slowly learning how to navigate through the world of parenthood, and I start getting the pains again, low down on my left hand side, like something was trying to escape from behind my pelvis. I’d had a similar pain before, but always wrote it off as period pain, or just one of those random pains that pops up every now and then only to disappear for months on end. But now I knew what it was. Despite reassurances from the consultant, I heard nothing from the hospital about surgery, so I dragged myself up to the GP, who finally agreed to refer me back to the hospital after another round of scans and realising that when he prodded my stomach, it hurt!
It all seemed to happen pretty quickly after that. I had an appointment for the Women’s Clinic come through within a week or so for a few weeks later. They scared me by arranging for an MRI and lots of tests to rule out the possibility of cancer – a thought that hadn’t even crossed my mind; everyone I’d seen had been so certain it was a harmless but inconvenient Dermoid Cyst that the thought that it could be malignant hadn’t even popped up on my radar. I spent the few days after the blood tests in a bit of a blur, thinking that if it came back with bad news would I be spending my last few months writing out 18th and 21st birthday cards for Xander because I wouldn’t be around to write them in person.
Thankfully, that worry was for nothing, as all the tests came back clear. But the cyst was bigger than it had been, at 8cm x 4cm x 5cm, so upon seeing my new consultant, he agreed it needed to come out, and soon.
So I was booked in for an open cystectomy – I can’t say I was enamoured by the thought of open surgery, having my gallbladder removed keyhole was bad enough! But the doctor seemed certain this was the safest way to proceed. He did stress that there was a chance that the left ovary, the one harbouring my alien (Terry, as we affectionately came to know him), would potentially be removed too. Everyone asked me if I’d any children yet, but then reassured me that it shouldn’t affect my fertility – I guess time will rather tell on that one.
I’ll write about my hospital experience and ongoing recovery in Part 2 , but long story short, my poor left ovary didn’t survive…