Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Crisis That Wasn't

I had a little medical crisis last week.

Actually it's been going on for a lot longer than a week but I was treating it the way I usually treat running injuries - with public optimism and private worry. It's the ultimate in yin and yang therapy. Brush off the fact that I'm in any pain to anyone who notices and then when I'm by myself go through the list of potential diagnoses and try not to freak out that it's probably cancer. It's always probably cancer.

I had a pain in my pelvis. Not bad pain. More like just an annoyance. Sometimes it wasn't bad, sometimes it was worse and sometimes it wasn't even there at all. It's probably been a few months that I'd had it but I hadn't seen a doctor because I kept believing it would just go away. Or maybe hoping is a better word.

But last Sunday it got worse. Not to the point of having to have painkillers but bad enough to have me lying on the couch all afternoon with a heat pack and being cranky because, well pain hurts. Iven was all for me going to the doctor on Monday but I was still stubbornly believing it would just resolve itself. And it had improved a lot overnight so I didn't. I didn't go on Tuesday either. Or on Wednesday. But on Thursday the pain was bad again so I finally did what I probably should have done weeks before.

I got to see my favourite doctor - not an easy ask at such short notice. She's not my favourite because she's a medical genius. She's my favourite because she bulk bills me and she chats about her kids and she prescribes me whatever I ask for. Yes, she's my drug dealer. Don't judge.

She had a bit of a poke around my belly and made me cough and proclaimed that I had a hernia. Then she referred me to get an ultrasound to confirm and suggested that running should stop for the meanwhile. I suggested that I'd probably run Melbourne marathon with it so why stop now? Then she suggested that I be sensible and I agreed. But I had a sneaky suspicion that her version of sensible was a little different to mine.

Eff it! A hernia was not what I was wanting to hear. But it was a lot better than a lot of the other diseases on my self-assembled list of differential diagnoses. I had about ten items on that list ranging from appendicitis, ruptured ovarian cyst, endometriosis to a few real nasties ending in cancer. Hernia had made an appearance on the list but was in the 'unlikely' column because I'm a woman and it's more prevalent in men.

A hernia means surgery. And surgery means that I have to be off running for a while. It also means that I have to be cautious until I have the surgery because intestine could get stuck in the little hole in my abdominal muscles, die and turn gangrenous which could lead to me dying and turning gangrenous. And then I'd be off running permanently.

I went home and had a little pity party. Messaged a few running friends so they could be part of my pity party. Messaged my sister who's an anaesthetic nurse and was in theatre doing a hernia list when she got my text. Googled hernia surgery. Read running forums about hernia repairs and recovery (which was quite encouraging - minimal time off running). And basically came to terms with imminently having to go under the knife. The running forums also let me know that most crazy runners continue to run with their hernias for months until their surgery so my doctor was just being a worry wart when she suggested that it was better if I didn't.

I didn't sleep so well that night. The pain seemed to be worse. I'm pretty sure it wasn't but the fact that I was thinking about it all the time could have contributed. I got up the next morning and ran a really easy 10k with my posse and they got to listen to my tale of woe. Then I went home, ate breakfast and waited for my appointment. Part of this waiting process involved fasting for six hours. And I have to confess that I decided that five hours would be enough and a coffee while I did the crossword would help pass the time better. Okay, it may have been more like four and a half hours but I was still pretty hungry with two hours to go and started to google whether it was even necessary to fast before a hernia ultrasound and all the sites said that it wasn't. So then I was hungry and resentful.

Eventually it was time to go and I really didn't have to wait long till I was called in to be examined. The lovely sonographer told me that my doctor had ordered the wrong test. She was a pelvic sonographer and I needed a muscular one (not a bodybuilder type - although I wouldn't have minded if he was built) but if I waited a little longer she'd arrange for the muscular guy to do it. I confirmed with her my suspicions about fasting. No I hadn't needed to but she would get me a coffee if I'd like. And that's the moment when I fell a little bit in love with her - just as well because it would have been so very wrong letting someone I had no feelings for do the things she did to me later on.

A bit more waiting then I was good to go. A bit of cold jelly on my belly and a bit of pressing and we had the results. No hernia! Not on the side causing me pain anyway. There's a little one on the other side but it's not the cause of my symptoms. My new girl crush had seen some things on the screen that she thought warranted further investigation so she offered me the full pelvic job and she found this.

Okay, maybe not. But she did find a giant uterus filled with fibroids. Woohoo! Her estimate was that my uterus is the size of a five months pregnant uterus and probably weighs about five kilos. I think she may have been exaggerating with the five kilo bit but she said it so I'm going with it. She also found lots of ovarian follicles so it looks like I won't be going through menopause any time soon. Forever young!

Her best guesses as to what was causing the pain was that one of the bigger fibroids had outgrown it's blood supply and was degenerating or that I'd had a ruptured ovarian cyst. Either way, the pain would just resolve by itself. Like I'd initially thought. I'd just given up too soon.

So Saturday I was running again, without fear of strangulating my intestines, and regaling my running companions with all my medical escapades. Of course most of them were males - they really love hearing about all that female reproductive stuff gone bad. I can tell by the way they put their hands over their ears and try to drown me out with "la la la la ...".  But when I got to the part about the five kilo uterus they were all of a sudden more interested. The general consensus was that I should go ahead and have my giant uterus whipped out for the sake of my running times. Five kilos lighter = faster. 

And if it weren't for the whole surgery thing and the months of recovery I'd be so doing that. I wonder how much faster five kilos would let me go.


  1. That sounds painful, but I'm glad you don't require hernia surgery after all.

  2. I laughed the whole way through that - some while simultaneously horrified! And then I reminded myself I'm as obsessive about certain things (well... food, TV and books) so if someone told me I had to give them up (even temporarily) I'd be endangering my health as well!

    Glad it will mend itself! Take care though!

  3. OK so how long will it take to mend itself? and will the giant uterus remain gaint? You've still got a lot of questions and I hope the answers are all good for you!

  4. So you almost diagnosed yourself before you went to the doctor. Hmmmm. Interesting. You knew it was something to do with the reproductive region. If it was me I'd have the whole lot removed. Five kilos is five kilos.

  5. I know the pain of a ruptured cyst - it's crippling. Good to hear you don't have a hernia - but definitely follow up on the whole fibroid thing - especially r/o endometriosis.

  6. Oh wow sounds like you dodged a bullet. But yikes on the overflowing uterus. In addition the surgery required to remove it, who knows what kind of hormonal tailspin you'd be thrown into? Although I guess it's the ovaries that generate the hormones.

  7. Eek, scary! Glad it turned out not to be something that ends in cancer (or alien)!

  8. What a great post, laughed all the way. I agree 5 kilos is 5 kilos get it out! Glad you're okay.

  9. Oh, wow - bummer! at least you don't have to have hernia surgery - although putting up with a 5 kg uterus is hardship enough...

  10. Scary times, happy to hear that you don't need surgery. Guess there will be a new PR once you are 5 kg lighter :)

  11. Oh good - no alien (that's the important one), no hernia, and no awful c-word. But yikes - that's a lot of fibroids!

  12. Gosh it sounds terribly painful, but so sooo glad it's not a hernia. And yes my instant thought was ooooh what I could do 5kg less!


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