I had an 82-pound large ovarian cyst that resulted in surgery to remove it along with a total hysterectomy. Here’s what life was like immediately after my ovarian cyst surgery.
If you’d like to start at the beginning with my experience of having an 82-pound large ovarian cyst you may want to go to my first post in this series where I talk about my symptoms that made me go to the ER in the first place.
In August I went to the ER and was completely surprised by the fact I had a large ovarian cyst – so large that it was about 1.3 feet x 1.2 feet x 1.2 feet. Yep, I meant to say feet and not inches.
Being self-employed this really hindered the amount of work I could do while waiting for surgery and a lengthy recovery afterward which I’m still working on, plus an uninsured $4,000+ ER bill from my first visit and insurance is trying to fight paying a $3,200 ER bill from a complication the nurses line told me to go to the ER for so I am sharing my GoFundMe page a friend set up for me and appreciate any and all donations and shares.
Please note that some photos may be uncomfortable for some to view. I don’t show any boobs or privates but will eventually include photos of my CT scan, surgery, incision, and bruising and skin.
This post specifically shows images of the incision and mass during the actual surgery. Yes, I'm a total nerd and asked them to take pictures.
- GoFundMe Details – This whole life event has severely impacted my income being self-employed so I’m asking for help here.
- What Made Me Finally Go To The ER
- The First ER Visit And The Worst Pain I’ve Ever Experienced
- Life Between The First And Second ER Visit
- Back To The ER, Waiting For Surgery And Being Scared (Hopefully Not) To Death
- Wait – It Was How Big?! (This Post)
- Yay – I Can Finally Eat Again! Nope, Spoke Too Soon (Coming Soon)
- A Sigh Of Relief Amidst All The Chaos (Coming Soon)
- The Tube Is Out And Have You Pooped Yet? (Coming Soon)
- After What Feels Like Forever I Get To Go Home (Coming Soon)
- Happy Tears And Why Losing So Much Weight So Quickly Isn’t Fun (Coming Soon)
- Realizing My Post-Surgery Limits (Coming Soon)
- A Third ER Visit – Something Foreign Is Growing Again – Really?! (Coming Soon)
- A Month Post-Op (Coming Soon)
- Happy 33rd Birthday – Hopefully This Year Will Have Fewer Surprises (Coming Soon)
- Questions I’m Often Asked (Coming Soon)
- Others’ Experience With Ovarian Cysts And Tumors (Coming Soon) If you have your own story you’d like me to link to or include please send me a note at [email protected] or leave a comment on this post.
In my previous post in my 82-pound large ovarian cyst series, I talked about what life was like the days I was in the hospital before surgery.
That the last thing I remember before surgery was being in the operating room and being told I was getting lidocaine so I wouldn't feel the tube going into my stomach.
What Does Anesthesia Feel Like?
I luckily didn't feel a thing, I didn't wake up during surgery, or any of the other fears I discussed in my last post. I don't even remember being moved or in the recovery room or anything like that.
It kind of felt like I was hoping but wasn't exactly what I expected either. It really did feel like I had fallen asleep and then, rather groggily, woke up.
At the same time, it didn't feel like any time had passed like I at least somewhat sense when sleeping normally at night.
I very briefly remember waking up and asking where Mr. Savvy was then I was back out again. Hooray, I was, indeed, still alive!
Then I remember waking up for a minute to what felt like the nurses putting several blankets on me and I didn't really understand why because I didn't feel cold at all. It felt like I went right back to sleep after that.
I remember waking up again, I think back in my room now, to the nurses feeling all over my abdomen because they were looking for a drain from the surgery. This is pretty common to do so that all the fluids that can collect have somewhere to go.
Apparently, the surgeon didn't put one in, though. At this point, I felt a bit more with it, but not much.
I honestly didn't even really realize at first just how much flatter my abdomen was nor just how long the incision was, as funny and absurd as that is to me now.
I was just really, really out of it, which is also why I say being under anesthesia wasn't exactly what I expected either.
It could have been in combination with the pain medications too, but I'll get into later why I think it was mostly the anesthesia.
Either way, I don't like feeling that way at all which is why I have never been one to even want to take cold medication like Nyquil.
I'm pretty sure it was even the first time I've ever even taken pain medication stronger than over the counter NSAIDs.
I have no idea what time it was at that point but I was then given the spiel about the pain medication pump where you can press the button every 3 hours as needed for pain relief. I honestly don't remember feeling a thing at that point.
But, I was told it was probably a good precaution to go ahead and take it considering just how major my surgery was. So, I did.
I think I remember still not really feeling anything but maybe taking one more dose. Again, I was really out of it.
At this point, I still hadn't really realized just how much my body had changed. After all, I had a catheter in and hadn't been on my feet at all.
Wait - It Was How Big?!
At some point during all of this, I recall recognizing Mr. Savvy was there and asking him how things went and how big the cyst ended up being.
Needless to say, it was rather shocking when he said it was 82 pounds - congrats you're the new record! You probably would have had to pick my jaw up off the floor at that moment.
If you don't recall, I mentioned in the previous post that the surgeon had estimated it weighing around 30 - 40 pounds so I think everyone was surprised.
Before all this, I was excited to know that I really was doing the right things to lose weight and that it was the cyst growing causing me to gain weight. That I would quite possibly be under 300 pounds again.
The reality was that I was now under 250. That's a size I haven't been since before high school. Just crazy.
Once that information finally set in I started noticing how my body had changed.
I remember looking down and realizing wait...my stomach actually looks flat. There's not this huge bump on my abdomen where I can barely see my own feet.
Then I was a bit taken aback by just how long the incision was. I knew it would be huge but I did not expect it to be over a foot long vertically.
Mr. Savvy leaves to go home for a bit to take care of the cats. I try to get some sleep.
By now I'm feeling cold all the time again. My teeth also keep chattering. I learned this isn't that uncommon after anesthesia.
The First Round Of Physical Therapy
While he's gone the physical therapist comes in. She asks how I'm doing.
I said something along the lines of, well, apparently I lost more than 80 pounds overnight from my surgery. She asks if that number is for real. I guess she didn't believe me, ha.
She says that she's going to have me get out of bed and walk over to the chair a couple feet away.
I start to move the back of the hospital bed up and she says no, you're going to lie on your side facing that wall, roll over to this side, then sit up and get out of bed.
At the same time, the nurses come to take my button pressable pain medication out so I knew I wouldn't have that anymore afterward.
Considering how long my incision is and that the physical therapist didn't even know what surgery I had been through apparently, and barely being out of surgery 12 hours at that, I was kind of questioning if this was smart to do.
But, I thought I had to take the plunge at some point and so far I didn't have much pain so what was the worst that could happen?
Rolling over is really slow and painful due to the 63 staples going from just under my breasts to just above my pelvis. I was really weak so it was also not easy for me to sit up from flat by myself but I eventually got there.
Getting up wasn't too bad. I had a walker to use to get to the chair. It was slow and, well, interesting to not be carrying around an extra 100 or so pounds.
I make it to the chair and sit, really exhausted. The physical therapist said I did well and she didn't think I'd need to go to a nursing home to recoup after I was discharged.
I was thinking, well, that's good because I had never even really considered that I'd be in the shape where that would need to be an option after surgery.
She leaves and I continue sitting there to try to eat some breakfast. I'm still on liquids since I just had major abdominal surgery.
Yay, more Jell-O, tea, and soup. I at least got some ginger ale, too now. I still wasn't feeling hungry yet but I was surprised that things at least tasted appetizing and like they had flavor now.
Mr. Savvy is back by now and took a picture of me. This is how awesome I looked. Someone could have at least mentioned my hair could stand to be brushed, ha.
I don't remember when exactly I knew I was still having issues with nausea and vomiting after surgery. But, since I see the emesis bag and pan in the picture, it must not have taken long. I'll discuss that later.
I Suddenly Feel Like I Can't Breathe Well
Back when I was 8 I had pneumonia that was so bad I had to spend a week or so in the hospital. My dad also smoked like a freight train and I always reacted poorly to the smoke.
I always got really congested with a cold when the weather changed. At school when the AC was running I pretty much had a permanent cold with lots of coughing and congestion.
It started never going away but the doctors always ignored it. It became something I just had to live with.
While not nearly as bad as it once was, I've always had a bit of congestion build up most days where I'd have to cough hard a few times to unblock it and be able to breathe normally.
It's gross, but again something I just learned to live with. Before the surgery when I had my CT they noted that part of one of my lungs was abnormal, like it may have collapsed.
Obviously, this isn't super major as I'm breathing well enough to still be alive. With everything else going on I, unfortunately, didn't really think about how surgery would impact being able to cough because it's now just second nature to me.
I was still sitting in the chair and all of a sudden I just felt like I couldn't breathe deeply enough. All of my abdominal muscles were obviously a bit out of sorts so I wasn't able to productively cough like I was used to.
My oxygen level went down the 80s, so that was fun. My life wasn't in danger or anything serious like that, but that is a level that's lower than they would like.
So, the nurses taught me how to use a pillow to help support my abdomen to be able to cough better. I also got an incentive spirometer to use to help build my lungs back up.
I then got a breathing treatment to help open things back up which did help quite a bit.
My Lovely Yellow Bracelet
I also had the catheter pulled out the first day. I thought it would feel rather irritating but I didn't notice it at all.
I was so out of it for the first several hours it was probably a good idea I had it in, ha. I didn't even feel it when the nurse took it out.
I also got some new bling ala a yellow wristband, which meant I was a fall risk. This meant my bed arms were always up.
I also had a bed alarm that would go off if I were to try to get up by myself, which I never risked. But it would also go off if I happened to stretch my leg too far over the side of the bed. Oops.
This also meant that every time I had to go to the bathroom or wanted to get up I'd have to call for assistance.
It was very annoying to me with my stubbornly independent wanting to try to do things by myself personality, but also totally understandable as to say I was unstable on my feet was an understatement.
I lost so much weight so quickly and mentally felt so out of it due to the drugs that I was constantly having to take side steps like I was going to fall over because I felt that off balance. It was a totally odd feeling that is hard to describe.
What Is The Pain Like After Abdominal, Pelvic, And Hysterectomy Surgery?
I will be very upfront and say I think my experience with pain after my major surgery was not normal. I've always felt like I've had a pretty high tolerance of pain.
There were times I was in so much pain before surgery that I questioned this, but I think I was just actually in that bad of shape.
When I'm asked what the pain has been like I always say I apparently got most of my pain out of the way before surgery. Everyone, even the medical professionals, was always super surprised to hear just how little pain I was in.
The only time I really felt it enough to where I'd gasp in pain is when the actual staples of the incision had to shift such as when I had to roll over in bed, adjust for xrays, or got a sponge bath and would have to turn and such.
I consider myself extremely lucky for this. Part of me thinks my body was just in that much shock.
Pain really didn't limit me at all. Being exhausted, constantly sick to my stomach and vomiting, and feeling completely out of it for pretty much my entire 9 days in the hospital post surgery did, though.
This is why I stopped the codeine pain medication about two days after my surgery. I felt like I didn't need it, though I did continue taking regular Tylenol.
I didn't like the way it made me feel zoned out and not all there at all. I think it was the Saturday or Sunday night after my surgery that one of the nurses talked me into giving Dilaudid a try, especially since I was having trouble sleeping.
I absolutely hated it. It made my head swim so much that I didn't even feel like I could walk the few feet to the bathroom and had to use the bedside toilet chair instead.
It also didn't help me sleep at all. Mr. Savvy, ever the funny man, said he like me on it because I was quiet then. Very funny.
Even though I stopped the pain medication after that, again other than regular Tylenol, I still felt really out of it mentally.
This, paired with having my teeth chatter for several days still, is why I think the anesthesia may have taken several days to really work out of my system.
Between being exhausted and not sleeping well and the side effects of the drugs I felt like I was often falling asleep for a few minutes at a time.
I'd dream about being on my laptop (which I didn't even have at the hospital yet) or phone and browsing Facebook, Reddit, etc. and reading the most off the wall things.
It was hard to know at the time what was reality and what were dreams when it came to that. It was a really frustrating feeling for me.
It wasn't what I'd call a terrible experience. But I have to admit it was so debilitating that I'm reconsidering having future cosmetic surgeries that I hoped to one day have like excess skin removal and a boob lift.
We'll see. I'd, of course, still have any medically necessary surgeries.
Meeting The Surgeon Again
I left this section until the end on purpose because I'm going to include the pictures from the actual surgery. I know not everyone is a medical nerd like me and some may consider them graphic, disturbing, and/or disgusting.
I honestly don't remember what time it was when I talked to the surgeon and residents but it was obviously sometime the first day after surgery.
It was obvious that everyone was surprised at just how heavy the ovarian mass was. Dr. Irvin confirmed that I had set a new record for him. I'm not sure that's exactly the thing one wants to celebrate or be proud of, ha.
He said that the pathology done during the surgery didn't show any signs of cancer but that it would be several days until the thorough pathology got back to be certain.
He also said that he removed all of my female doodads (my terminology) including the cyst + attached ovary, both of my fallopian tubes, uterus, and all of my cervix because there were some questionable issues.
The only thing left was my other ovary so I at least wouldn't be going through menopause yet.
I wasn't really worried about the cyst being cancerous at this point because with it being so huge it probably would have killed me a long time ago if it was cancer.
However, I was obviously now worried that something malignant would now be found in the other organs removed. While it was certainly a serious worry, it was one I chose to tuck in the back of my head for now.
I knew that no matter what the results were in the meantime I needed to focus on rest, recovery, and especially getting my strength back to regain independence.
Otherwise, everything had gone well. My other organs like my bladder, intestines, and such didn't seem to have been damaged.
As much as I looked forward to real food I needed to stay on liquids a while to see how I tolerated things. I wasn't feeling hunger yet so that was okay with me.
Then they showed me the photos of the actual surgery that you've been scrolling through in this section. Sorry that they aren't the best of quality. I was given printouts instead of actual image files.
Either way, holy sheet, people.
Even two months later when I look at those pictures it is still hard for me to believe that thing came out of me, had been growing for who knows how long, and that I'm still here to tell the story and bring awareness about ovarian cysts to other women.
Overall, the first few days were pretty much a breeze when it came to pain. I know that is definitely not the case for everyone, though.
The lack of mental clarity, exhaustion, nausea and vomiting, and having to be almost totally dependent on others was very frustrating for me, though.
But I was very thankful to be able to walk, not have immense back pain (I didn't even have to be on just my side to be comfortable anymore) and at least able wipe my own butt. And let me tell you, that's a LOT easier to do when you're not carrying around an 82-pound mass anymore.
Okay, I think this is a good stopping section for the first few days of recovery. In my next post, I'll talk more about the complications I had post surgery and why I wasn't going to be eating real food or going home any time soon.