Long time no #Periodically, but don’t fear I’m back with another exciting instalment of “WTF is happening in Hilary’s pelvis” – I’m sure you were all anxiously waiting.
So we left off with the discovery of two cysts, one functional (good), one hemorrhagic (bad) on my right ovary. The protocol is to wait six weeks to see if they go or grow. I also had a blood test taken the day after the first internal ultrasound and was informed there was something in those blood results that I needed to see a doctor about, but typically (#ToryBritain) the first available appointment was six weeks away. Conveniently though, it was scheduled for the day after the follow up ultrasound.
I had a couple of really rough weeks in the middle of the wait for “answers”. I was both stressing about what was wrong with my blood (who tests for PCOS and Ovarian Cancer, says something’s wrong but doesn’t tell you what?!), dealing with a sudden and random horrible outbreak of acne and a flare-up of top-notch pain. I was pretty miserable company for a fortnight (sorry friends and family – thank you for not disowning me).
Let’s throw it back to November 2016 for a second, where the first blood results I had to search for a problem revealed nothing. I did have slightly higher levels of androgens (male hormones) than normal, but nothing that warranted suspicion of PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). So when they found the cysts and something in my blood this November, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had just noticed symptoms of PCOS really early, and the androgens were now at a higher level and had been picked up in my blood. So what does any sane person do in this situation? I GOOGLED. I’m actually glad I did as I quickly learnt the surprising fact that despite the name, polycystic ovaries does not involve many cysts. It involves much smaller bubbles of fluid that grown on the ovaries in abundance. I don’t have that, so I relaxed. But my hairy disposition and sudden acne break out didn’t help calm my PCOS suspicions.
Now because life is cruel, the six weeks came around and I was due on my period the exact same day as the internal ultrasound. While offering some potential technical problems, it also meant I was super on edge as I tried to suppress my PMS in the hope of postponing my period (this actually worked remarkably well but it also postponed and intensified my PMS, would not recommend). The internal ultrasound goes smoothly albeit painfully, and the sonographer immediately says “oooooh no,” as she sees that the hemorrhagic cyst is still there. “That should have gone,” she said. Problem is, it didn’t grow either, which, she explained, means it’s unlikely I will be referred for any kind of treatment. So I have a “persistent hemorrhagic cyst”.
The next day I show up bright, early and menstruating for my blood test results. Happily, it was nothing too serious, just that my iron levels are a tiny bit low, which is consistent with having too heavy periods. Unfortunately, I hadn’t seen this doctor before, and having to explain all my symptoms all over again mid the hormonal meltdown I was having, resulted in some really attractive sobbing as I explained the last few years of pills, pain and frustration. This sobbing only worsened when she informed me that contrary to what I’d been told, Dr C never actually got around to referring me to a gynae in Essex. I explained to her that a big part of my frustration is that in 2015 I ran a marathon, in 2016 I ran a marathon but in 2017 I need a lie down after a dog walk. Not being able to have sex isn’t great either obviously, but exercise is a really great way of feeling like you have some control over your body, it’s difficult losing that control.
However, the sobbing seems to have worked as Dr E has referred me to a local hospital, which should be quicker, and like the God she clearly is, she gave me something. I remain a little perplexed that no one has ever even offered me the medication she prescribed before, as its literal purpose is lightening menstrual flow and potentially easing period pain. It’s non-hormonal and I take it only when I’m on – pixie dust, clearly (Mefenamic Acid IRL). I can’t say I’ve noticed a huge difference thus far, but my period pain has been a little more manageable. I can’t take ibuprofen with it, which makes me nervous that if it doesn’t work then my main source of pain relief is out the window, but we’ll give it a good ol’ college try.
There are lots of frustrating things about this situation, but the two I’ve learnt this week are that the combined pill might stop the cysts from growing in the first place but that no doctor wants to put me on it because of DVT and breast cancer risk factors. The other is that both the sonographer and Dr E’s response to my pain outside of my period has been to say, “yes, sometimes cysts can be painful”. Trying to communicate to them that whatever is causing my pain, cyst or otherwise, is really painful often is proving difficult.
So with a bit of persistence, like the pesky cyst, I’ve managed to get something to help with period pain, iron tablets that should help with sleepiness, and hopefully a decent and quick referral. It’s not exactly good news, but it’s something.