I’m going to start in the middle of this story when the doctor told me over the phone that I needed to get one of my ovaries removed.
“The whole ovary?” I asked.
“Yes, at your age it’s just easier to take out the whole thing,” she told me.
You can function perfectly fine with just one ovary, but hearing that you have to get an organ removed is…unsettling.
That was in the Spring.
A few months earlier I’d spent the night in the emergency room experiencing some of the worst physical pain of my life.
One morphine drip, one (useless) x-ray, a CAT scan, a second trip to the hospital and a lot of pain meds later, I finally had a diagnosis:
A large benign ovarian cyst that would have to be removed at some point.
The doctors sent me home with a pain med prescription and instructions to “wait and see.” After a few days of lying on the couch watching a steady stream of Mike Tyson Mysteries (that show is a thing of beauty if you’re whacked out on opiates. Just saying) the pain subsided.
That was in January.
A few weeks later, the pandemic erupted and well, you know the rest.
Throughout the first few months of the pandemic I was having a cyst related pain attack on a monthly basis. When these attacks happen, the pain is unbearable. Impossible to keep it inside, screaming out loud pain. It feels like my entire lower torso is being gripped by the jaws of life; my organs twisting and turning on themselves.
After the second attack, I was put on a waiting list for surgery, but with Covid I had no real idea when I’d actually get this thing removed.
When these attacks happen (usually during ovulation), all I can do is lie on my side in bed, with heat packs wrapped around my mid-section and wait for the next round of pain meds to kick in. I turn on my salt lamp, plug in my ear phones and listen to podcasts, slipping in and out of sleep as I wait for my timer to go off (the signal to take more drugs).
(I’ve struggled to listen to my usual diet of murdery podcasts during the pandemic; preferring slightly lighter fare. When I’m sick I keep things extra light. My go-to’s are Scam Goddess and RPDR podcasts like Race Chaser)
I breathe and wait.
Because that’s all I can do.
While I still feel like I’ve been run over by a truck for a few days every month, I haven’t had any severe pain attacks since late spring. I also have a surgery date to get the cyst (which is now 4 x 3 inches in size) removed. I’ll be going into surgery on November 19th.
When I think about my experience of 2020, I always come back to those first few pain attacks and how they forced me to become intimately acquainted with the concept of uncertainty.
I didn’t know when/if the pain would end. All I could do was sit with the discomfort and embrace the small things that brought me comfort, like the soft glow of my salt lamp and the soothing banter of drag queens coming from my headphones.
If that doesn’t sum up 2020, I don’t know what does.