8 July 2022, by Patrina Tan

Why another surgery?

Just as I thought the nightmare was over, I was given the news that I had to go for the same surgery 1 year after my first.

In Jan 2021, I shared that I went for an open surgery to remove a 3cm cyst. I personally felt that the doctor did not put my interest before his and cut me open to “ensure” that the surgery would be clean and so that he could feel my ovaries to rule out cancer. That left me with an 8cm scar on my abdomen and it is as though I went through a caesarean birth. Subsequently, I visited another doctor to consult about pregnancy (because it didn’t happen after the surgery even though I would have a higher chance than before), and she was shocked to find out that it was an open surgery for a 3cm cyst. It could have been a keyhole! But there was nothing I could have done at the moment other than to accept my fate. I was sent for more checks only to find out that there are more cysts and some larger than the one I cut out. And it was determined that I am on the severe side of endometriosis. 

Fast forward to 2022, I went for my bi-annual check-up and more bad news ensued. Just can’t catch a break. Other than seeing multiple cysts in my ovaries, there was a slight chance that they have found a dermoid cyst. Dermoid cysts may contain hair, teeth or nerves. And it also elevated my CA125 cancer marker. This test is used to look for early signs of ovarian cancer in people with a very high risk of the disease. Imagine how depressed I was. But I didn’t let my thoughts run wild because I knew there are many forms of cancer. Some are benign and not life-threatening. I knew I had to get a second opinion before I sink into depression. This time, I did more research before deciding on a gynae. I had a recommendation from a friend whose sisters had endometriosis and managed to conceive after seeing this gynae. But unfortunately, the recommended gynae is super popular so I decided to go with the next available gynae because I don’t think I should wait and I didn’t want to leave myself hanging. And that’s when I met Dr C.

First, I was relieved to hear about my cancer marker. I was in the 70 range (up from 20s) and she mentioned that though it is concerning, a normal cancer patient’s range is actually in the thousands. And the potential dermoid cyst could be the cause in the rise of the marker. She was very reassuring and arranged for an MRI before advising further. Sidetrack to my MRI experience. WORST EXPERIENCE EVER. I am slightly claustrophobic and I couldn’t ignore the fact that I’m in an enclosed space with loud noises. It was the longest 40 mins of my life. Never again I hope.

The MRI results showed that there was indeed a new cyst in me and this time, it was 10cm. Thankfully it was not dermoid (it’s just liquid), but it is blocking the pathway to my ovaries. When Dr C told me that I should remove it, I broke. This means another surgery and it has only been a year+ since my last surgery?! I remember trying to hold it in and be logical about it. I asked about my options but if not removed, I will continue to suffer bad menstrual cramps and risk more cysts forming. So it doesn’t seem like I had a choice. Seeing how distraught I was, Dr C went through the steps with me that it will be 99% by keyhole surgery (1% is set aside for complications) and she will start me on medication after the surgery to prevent more cysts from growing. It was reassuring but knowing that the medication entails a delayed pregnancy plan, I went on the next few days feeling so much less of a woman. I felt sorry for John that he married a defective woman and I felt tired for having to go through the emotional roller coaster again. It was also inevitable to feel fear. 

Fast forward again, the surgery went better than I thought it would. I was able to walk on the first day and was discharged on the 3rd day. My wounds are recovering well and nicely. I am currently on Visanne which is said to have some side effects like messing up my menstrual cycle (it did), mood swings (a bit), tender breast (yes! sore even when my menses is not here), headaches & migraines (once in a while). Was advised to go back to Dr C if I do experience extreme side effects. But so far so good luh. This medicine is supposed to help curb the recurring cyst and I am prescribed for 6 months. I read somewhere that I shouldn’t get pregnant while taking this medication as there is a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy. So the baby-making plan will have to wait for now. But please consult your doctor ok. I’m not a doctor. Just sharing what I’ve been told and what I’ve read online. 

I’m like a broken recorder repeating the same advice to ladies but I think it is essential to go for your check-up regularly. A lot can be prevented when it is detected early. And I’m sharing my story so that you don’t have to go through it. Had I gone to the right doctor and sought the right treatment, I might have been a mother of 1 or 2 by now. But I believe everything happened for a reason. Whether there’s going to be a baby or not in the next 1 year, I’m leaving it to my body. Meanwhile, gonna enjoy our childless marriage and start travelling! 😀

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