Health Journey

  • Bilateral Ovarian Cystectomy

    I want to make this searchable online so other women and those who love them can hear about my journey and hopefully to empower anyone else moving through a similar challenge.

    In January of 2019 I experienced some cramping.  Much like menstrual cramps, except that my period wasn't supposed to start for another week.  They continued on for about 3 days so I scheduled an appointment to get it checked out.  I got an ultrasound and it revealed a large 10cm cyst in my left ovary and a smaller, possibly complex dermoid cyst in my right ovary.

    I was totally shocked.  I had to get out a ruler.  That was over 4 inches in diameter!!  How did I not see it protruding out like a pregnancy?!  How did I not know about this earlier?  I had had functional cysts in the past that came and went (all women have them as a part of their regular cycle) and 4 years prior I had an ultrasound that showed no cysts at all.  So this had to have developed some time fairly recently.

    My doctor had me do an MRI which just confirmed the cysts and a CA-125 blood test which came back normal levels (likely non-cancerous/benign).  *whew* But this thing hurt!!  What's the plan?  The doctors wanted to put me on birth control but that wouldn't make this large cyst go away, it might just "prevent future cysts from forming". That wasn't a solution to my problem.  So I went on an anti-inflammatory diet.  No refined sugar, no caffiene and no dairy.  I started taking Shatavari and Maca daily along with Raw Revelations GI Tract Rescue supplement because I noticed the pain most when I was having trouble digesting.  Any large amount of fiber was irritating because there wasn't much room for it to move around in my lower intenstine anymore as my larger cyst was sitting very low and centrally where my blatter should be.  I also was experiencing frequent urge to urinate and feeling like I could never completely empty my bladder.  The doctor reccommended I see an OBGYN and the OBGYN recommended I see an oncologist/surgeon.

    I met with Dr. Nahas at UCR Womens Health and her team recommended a "wait and see" approach.

    When my period started in March it was INCREDIBLY painful.  I ended up having to leave my job to be taken to an ER.  It took a long time to finally get some morphine injected and get some amount of relief.  They did another ultrasound which showed there were 2 large adjacent cysts in the left ovary.  One measuring 10/9cm and the other 7.7/4cm.  It also confirmed multiple smaller possibly dermoid cysts in the right ovary.

    I contacted Dr. Nahas again and scheduled an appointment for surgery as early as they had available.  That was June 11th.  So between March 23rd and June 11th I endured some of the most excrusiating pain of my life.  About a week before my period it woud start, and last throughout my flow (heavy for 7 days) and for a week after, sometimes even up to 10 days after.  That gave me only one week out of the month that I felt even moderately comfortable. 

    I would get night sweats, felt incredibly emotionally unstable and very weak and drained all the time.  This is NOT normal for me.  I pride myself in being positive and active.  These were HARD times.  I would try to work but had to take prescription pain killers (Tramadol) often just to get through the day and I was not feeling like I was doing my best.  It was devestating for me as I had to decline opportunity after opportunity and every job was 10x harder than usual for me to withstand the performance pressure and fulfill my committments.  

    I knew just getting an opperation isn't going to address the root cause (likely hormonal imbalance) so I scheduled an appointment 2 weeks before my opperation with an Integrative MD.  I wanted to get her advice on how to support myself through surgery and also to follow up after surgery and check out my overall health to see if we can find some tips as to how to prevent the cysts from returning.

    She recommended some amazing things to prepare my body the two weeks before surgery.  

    • Diet: avoid tobacco, caffeine, alcohol, simple sugars, saturated fats
    • Nutritional Supplementation: 1000mg a day Vitamin C
    • Zinc 30mg/day with food
    • A good quality multivitamin

    One week before surgery:

    • Apply Traumeel (I couldn't find it so i got something called T-relief instead) topically to surgical area

    Day of surgery:

    • Stop nutritional supplementation
    • Right after the procedure take Homeopathic Arnica 30c or higher: 2-3 doses (I took 200ck doses)

    2 Weeks after surgery

    • Same Diet as above
    • Continue with Nutritional Supplements
    • Add Bromelain: 1000mg 2x daily with food
    • Fish Oil 1000mg EPA/DHA 2x daily with food
    • And I continued taking the homeopathic arnica 2-3x a day and applying the T-Relief to my back and around the surgical area but not on the surgical sites.

    In addition to this surgery prep and recovery support protocol my integrative doctor also wanted me to start taking the below supplements to get me healthy and possibly address what she thought could be causing imbalance.

    • she told me to stop taking the magnesium supplement I was taking on my own accord because she felt the origin of the magnesium was not helpful to me (brand was Rainbow Light) and did not think I had a magnesium deficiency
    • I was self-medicating with digestive enzymes because I noticed the most pain from digestion.  She had me switch from the brand I had picked up at a local health food store to Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra with Betaine. 1 capsule with plant based meal, 2 capsules with meals containing animal protein.  Fish only 1. 3 with red meat.
    • Orthomolecular Methyl B12 tablet sublingualy 
    • Pure Encapsulations PureGenomics B Complex. 1 in the morning.
    • Orthomolecular Orthobiotic (probiotic with way more goodies than the one I was previously taking). 1 capsule daily.

    In addition I was taking a few other supplements on my own accord at sub-therapeutic levels for the 2-3 months prior to surgery to just manage pain/inflammation.

    • Raw Revelations MSM mix 1/2tsp
    • R.R. Immunity Matrix (medicinal mushroom mix with cordycepts) 1/2tsp
    • R.R. GI Rescue (containing Aloe Vera) 1T
    • Biologic Nutrients Bio-Relieve Drug Free Pain Relief Herbal Anti-Inflammatory which I cannot recommend enough It's so amazing for dealing with lower level inflammatory pain. Pain level 1-4
    • when the pain was really bad I would take acetaminophen/tylenol (level 3-6)
    • and when the pain was REALLY REALLY bad (level 6 and above) I took Tramadol which made it somewhat bareable... but still I was in pain.

    I also smoked weed (a bowl or less a day) and started taking Rick Simpson Oil.  But I do not know for sure how or if those effected my condition for better or worse except that it took the edge off the pain when it was REALLY bad and helped keep my mood good when I was feeling aweful through the whole process.

    The surgery was 2 weeks ago now and I want to give a few tips in case you or someone you know is preparing for a similar surgery.

    • If you can, get all your worries and fears out of the way as much as possible prior to the day of surgery.  I went to a therapy appointment around 2 weeks before and it really openned my heart. I cried out all my fears and anxieties for about three days and by the time the big day came I was able to greet everyone who was going to work on me with a smile and loving presence.  I am so grateful for that early release of emotion even though it was hard to feel all those feelings, I'm glad I got it out at home so I could connect with the team who was about to cut me open.  That meant a lot to me.  That I didn't come in there with a bunch of fear and worry.  I had faith my surgeon was the best around and I really liked everyone on her team.
    • I brought a handful of black tourmaline crystals to hand out to everyone on the surgical team.  Giving them all individually a little gift allowed me some time to make connection with them which put me at ease and made me feel good knowing that they would all have the crystal in their pockets when they surrounded me for the procedure. in essence i gridded myself with black tourmaline. warding away negativity.  I also got to see each of them smile when they received their gift and that made me really happy too!
    • Dr. Nahas at UCRiverside is a mothafucken badass.  She made effort to connect with me.  Held my hand in both her hands and looked directly in my eye every time I talked with her before surgery.  She is a magician with laproscopic female reproductive procedures.  I can't recommend her enough.  She managed to remove 2 cysts from each ovary without damaging the ovaries themselves.  Getting to keep all my female reproductive organs at my age (33) is a lifelong gift I will never forget.  Thank you Dr. Nahas.
    • I did not get the "pain-pump" and personally would not recommend it as you have to pull it out of the insicion site yourself 3 days after the procedure and that sounded not fun lol.  But they REALLY try to sell you this thing.  Do some research.  But also, here is my account just telling you, you probably don't need it.  Who wants something holding the incision open any longer than necessary?  I would think that would be an infection risk.  The pain at the incision sites was totally manageable with tylenol and tramadol. But I do have a high pain tolerance and I don't have any issues with drug dependancy/abuse so for me it wasn't necessary and I was grateful I didn't do it.
    • Immediately after laproscopic surgery (well, as soon as you come to and are able to do it) begin breathing and coughing exercises every hour.  The general anesthesia messes with your lungs and my chest was in SO MUCH PAIN after the operation.  I would say that was the most painful thing for me!  Which I was really surprised and unprepaired for.  My shoulders had nerve pain and my chest was soooo difficult to expand and contract.  But it's very necessary to start breathing and coughing exercises as soon as you can.
    • Move around as much as possible.  I would get up at least once every 2 hours and walk a little.  My husband had to totally support/hold me through this the first 2 days or so, but by the third I was able to do most things, super slowly, that didn't involve lifting anything on my own.
    • Definitely make sure someone can be with you for the first 3 days after surgery (if not a whole week).  They need to be smart and strong.  Smart so they can take you back to the hospital asap if anything seems off and help you keep track of when and how much pain meds you took AND make you healthy food.  Strong so they can help you up and down.  It's REALLY hard to raise and lower your torso because you can't really flex your tummy for like a week.
    • Have some premade food for yourself for the first few days after surgery in the fridge/freezer so whoever is taking care of you can get you food quickly and easily.  I was STARVING and so thirsty the first few days after surgery so I needed reliable nutrition and hydration.
    • bring a little pillow to put between you and the seatbelt on the way home and DO NOT DRIVE.

    I recommend the following foods after your procedure

    • LIQUIDS and things that are really easy to digest. you will be constipated. quite possibly the worst you've ever experienced in your life.
    • maybe even start taking stool softeners prior to your surgery if it's ok with your surgeon and if you have any issues with constipation normally because i went in to the procedure about 1 day constipated and I didn't have a proper bowl movement untill 4 days after. That pressure and pain of backed up poo right after you just had lower abdominal surgery is absolutely the worst part of the whole thing in my opinion.
    • don't eat anything immediately right after your surgery. just chew on some ice.  don't even drink water.  i made that mistake as soon as i woke up and i threw it up immediately. not fun. but also not that big of a deal when you're on fentenol lol
    • a few hours after surgery you'll want to eat cold things. your throat will be sore from the breathing tube.  there are a lot of all natural, little to no sugar added popcycles out there now and I highly recommend something cold and sweet but not too much sugar because sugar causes inflammation.  but your taste buds will be really "off" from the anesthesia so fruit and frozen fruit is a really good way to go.
    • frozen grapes! watermelon! cherries! bananas! homemade smoothies sneaking in some greens!  
    • broths!  i made bone broth before surgery and had some every so often. that and some vegan seaweed soup.
    • FRUIT AND VEGETABLES, you will be, in essence, bringing yourself back to life. do it with the best organic whole foods you have access to and support your body!
    • whole grains on the second day i started in with oatmeal with no sugar, just a date and cinnamon/nutmeg + berries
    • organic coconut activated charcoal. i got pills from the brand schizandu which were 100% pure food grade and took them on an empty stomach to help detoxify the anesthesia

    A few other tips for right after surgery:

    • you can't take a bath submerging your whole body underwater but you CAN take a foot bath!  And it's incredibly therapeutic to do so.  I recommend one with magnesium bath salts to further detoxify your body.  you can basically sponge-bath the first few days and that's what I did. there was no way i was getting in a shower and going to be able to stand and take a shower for like 4 days after but those foot baths were heaven!  maybe use some yummy smelling oils too!  Good smells go a LONG way in helping you relax in the early stages of recovery.
    • i brought lavendar oil to the hospital so my husband could put some in his hands and let me smell it when i woke up. also gave him a rose quartz heart that he placed on my chest as soon as he saw me.
    • i brought rose colored glasses to wear as soon as i woke up because hospitals are bright and the light feels violent when you are in that vulnerable state. i wore them all the way home. best idea ever!
    • bring something loose that doesnt restrict around the waist to wear home.  No underwear.  I brought a silk mumu.  Highly recommend.  And a satin robe over as well.  And UGG boots cause comfort.
    • i woke up COLD. i told the nurse and she immediately covered me in a HUGE heating blanket which was so comforting.  I was still cold for like a week after the procedure though and I got one of those amethyst biomat heating pad things and I cannot tell you how much it helped me!  I still do little sessions with it when I start to feel fatigued or any amount of residual pain and it really helps me feel amazing. My parents bought me this one as a gift to help me through: Heating Pad . It WORKS.  I look forward to laying on it on my next menstrual cycle as well!!!
    • you will bleed.  i didn't really start bleeding at all untill about 2 whole days after surgery but when i did it was painful (like period cramps, but a little more intense) and i wasn't supposed to start my period for a few more days, but i just bled for like a week after the operation and it sucks cause you can't really wear underwear. anything restricting that area is really painful. so what i did was took a pair of old underwear and just cut them vertically right in the middle almost down to my vagina.  that way they still sorta hung around my hips and i could put a pad in them.  you can't put anything in your vagina (no tampons, diva cups etc.) for 4-6 weeks after the operation so in my opinion, this underwear diy trick is the bomb.
    • Don't worry about the incisions and scars.  the incision sites were actually the least of my worries. they didn't hurt very bad at all and my surgeon didn't even use stitches.  she managed to keep all 4 incisions (1 in the belly button, 1 horzontal right below where your pubic hair starts to grow and one inside each hip) smaller than one inch.  They just seal them up with a surgical glue (i imagine it's similar to prosade that we use in makeup) and that stuff really works to keep the site clean and protected.  
    • for laproscopic procedures they inflate your body with a gas to give space around the area to be worked on.  this gas gets trapped in your body and feels SUPER uncomfortable/painful.  The more you can move and cough the sooner you can get it all out.

    I will be seeing my surgeon for follow up tomorrow to check me out and make sure everything is going well, although I have to say, I'm feeling pretty amazing already!  Been doing a little yoga every day the past few days and really still taking it easy.  Not working.  Not stressing.  Lots of loving and listening to binural beats and just NURTURE NURTURE NURTURE.  Rest as much as possible but also MOVE so that you can promote healing energy to spread throughout your body.

    Friday I will be having a handful of blood tests done to see if I can get any more info for how to support my body and bring my hormones back into balance so I don't get any reaccuring large cysts again.  I will check back in to update more in a few weeks!