It’s been a whirlwind but I’m back and finally starting to feel like myself again! To recap, I went in for laparoscopy surgery last week to have a large complex ovarian cyst removed from my left ovary. The cyst was discovered back in June during an ultrasound and had been increasing in size over the last six months. It was initially about the size of a walnut and had progressed to the size of an apple by December. I have experienced symptoms such as painful periods, irregular menstrual cycles, mood swings, painful bowel movements, urinary incontinence, nausea and fainting to name a few.
My doctor’s suspected that I was suffering from endometriosis, a condition that occurs when the tissue lining the uterus, the endometrium, grows in other places in the pelvic cavity, such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries and bowel. Just like the endometrium, this displaced tissue thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle, but is not able to exit the body. It becomes trapped and overtime forms adhesions, endometriomas (cysts) and scar tissue on the surrounding pelvic tissues and organs. There is no blood test, ultrasound or scan that can officially diagnose endometriosis. Laparoscopy surgery is the only way to find out what’s really going on inside the body.
Endometriosis is classified into four stages: minimal (I), mild (II), moderate (III) and severe (VI). However, the presence or severity of symptoms does not always correlate with the progression of the disease. It is possible for a woman with stage VI endo to have minimal or no pain whereas someone with stage I can have debilitating pain and symptoms. While we know that daughters and sisters of women with endometriosis are at a higher risk of developing it themselves, we still do not know what exactly causes it. There are many theories such as The Sampson’s Theory, The Vascular Theory and among many alternative practitioners, the belief that it is an autoimmune disease.
I’m happy to report that my surgery was a HUGE success and I am officially endometriosis-free! Based on my symptoms and the surgeon’s estimation, we expected to find full blown stage IV endo with adhesions and scar tissue all over my pelvic organs. My surgeon prepared me for the worst possible outcome and even reserved extra time for my surgery. I cannot tell you how surprised I was to wake up and find out there were NO other signs of endometriosis in my entire pelvic cavity. Other than the cyst on my left ovary, which has now been removed, everything looks remarkable and healthy! I could not have imagined a more positive outcome and consider myself extremely blessed.
The four stages of endometriosis provide a useful tool in determining how progressed the disease has become. Generally when someone has one or more endometrioma, it indicates moderate to severe endometriosis. It is quite rare to find an endometrioma with no accompanying adhesions or other diseased tissues. While it is possible, it could also indicate that the cyst is not an endometrioma but rather a hemorrhagic cyst. Hemorrhagic cysts are blood-filled cysts that resemble endometriomas (both physically and symptomatically) and can often be mistaken for one another. While both are undesirable, a hemorrhagic cyst is not a chronic condition like endometriosis. It may indicate a hormonal imbalance, but once addressed is less likely to reoccur.
Given that I had undiagnosed hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s for many years, it is possible that this could have contributed to or caused a hemorrhagic cyst to develop. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I’m feeling pretty hopeful that the biopsy will come back negative for endometriosis. I find out the result in five to six weeks so keep your fingers crossed and the good vibes coming! I sincerely appreciate everyone who has reached out since my last post to provide support and encouragement leading up to my surgery. It took a lot of courage to tell my story and it means a lot to me that you took the time to read it. Looking forward to sharing the next chapter with you!