Thursday, September 4, 2014

At 30, It all Goes Downhill Fast: Cyst

Within a month of our moving back to North Carolina, my husband was offered a pastorate in Taylorsville.  We gladly accepted and headed off to begin our new adventure. 
            Now that James was finished with school, I went off birth control with the plan to begin trying to have a baby within the year, but not to be in any big hurry since we were just starting out in a new place at a new church with new responsibilities.
            We had been in Taylorsville for right at a year when we moved from a rental house to a mobile home we bought.  I’d read that major changes in life were prime times for pregnancy to occur—for whatever physical or psychological reason, I don’t know, but apparently it’s true.
            I was so excited to find that I was pregnant with our first child! 
            To say that I was excited is a massive understatement.
            I had not acquired a full time job during our first year in Taylorsville, but right about the time that we found out we were going to have a baby, I was offered a full time job at a local Christian school, teaching high school English (ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade) as well as Spanish I and II.  Why the Spanish classes?  The school needed a foreign language teacher and of all the teachers on staff, I was the one who had taken the most foreign language classes in college.  
            So I started the 1998 school year with great expectations, high hopes, and excitement to such a degree that I didn’t know if my life could get any better.
            When I was approximately eleven weeks or so along in my pregnancy, I had my first ultrasound.  I hadn’t decided at that point whether or not I wanted to know the sex of my beloved baby, but I was ready to see him/her and to hear his/her heartbeat! 
            After the ultrasound (which was wonderful since I got to see my little peanut), I met with the doctor who informed me that I had a cyst on my left ovary and he wanted another ultrasound scheduled for four weeks later.  He didn’t think it would be anything we needed to be concerned about, but he wanted to be sure that he (the doctors’ group I was part of) kept an eye on it, just to be sure.
            I settled in to a routine and really began to enjoy teaching even more than I ever thought possible even though it is all I have ever wanted to do in life—besides be a wife and mother.  I knew that I was doing what God had ordained me to do with my life—I was fulfilling the gift He had given me by being a teacher.  I absolutely loved my job—and my students.
            Soon after Thanksgiving, I had my second ultrasound.  I went back to school when it was over because no one told me any different.
            I was teaching away when the office called and told me I had an important phone call that I needed to take immediately.  I went down to the office phone and heard the receptionist from the doctor’s office telling me that I needed to get back there as soon as I could.  I told her that I needed to finish out the school day and that I would be there as soon as I could after school.  She said that I really needed to go ahead and come on back to the office NOW.
            I can’t remember for sure, but I think I told the principal what I’d been told and I left immediately.
            I was informed by the doctor that my cyst had grown a centimeter a week between the time of my first ultrasound and the second.  Because it was growing and was at that time the size of a grapefruit, he wanted to do surgery as soon as possible to remove the ovary, and, as he said, possibly part of my fallopian tube, depending on how severe the cyst was.
            I told him that we started Christmas break within the next two weeks, so we could schedule the surgery for just after it started.
            He said that we couldn’t wait that long.  It had to be within the next day or so.
            Wow.  That sounded serious.
            Somewhere in there, he used the term “tumor,” but he mostly called it a cyst.  He gave me some pamphlets, but even to this day, I don’t fully understand what it all meant.  What I knew was that I was halfway through my pregnancy and the doctor wanted to do major surgery.
            I put my trust in him (but more importantly in my Lord and Savior) and scheduled the surgery for just a few short days later.

            Since I was pregnant—right at twenty-six weeks or very close to it, I was not allowed to be put completely under anesthesia.  I was only given an epidural.  There were two nurses on standby who were there specifically to listen to the baby’s heartbeat periodically throughout the surgery to be sure that all was well with the baby.
            I was awake for the whole procedure.
            I remember the doctor opening me up and saying to his assisting doctor, “There’s the baby.  He looks great!”
            I think I called out, “I want to see him!”
            I don’t remember if the doctor told me “not now” or if all of that is something I dreamed, but what I do remember is that I was not allowed to look.  I was not given a mirror or any way of looking.  I couldn’t have seen anything anyway; I didn’t have my glasses on.
            By the time I was put in recovery, I was sound asleep.  I’m told that I spoke with the doctor, but I don’t remember that at all.
            When I woke up, the doctor said that he had had to remove my left ovary as well as part of my fallopian tube and that it was “benign”—no cancer—and that I would still be able to get pregnant and have more children even though I only had one ovary remaining.
            I was in the hospital for a few days mostly so they could monitor the baby.  I was sent home to rest and recuperate and enjoy the Christmas holidays.  My first Christmas as a Mommy!  Just because my baby wasn’t born yet didn’t make it less true and I was excited.
            As a side note, a few fun things happened over the Christmas holidays during my recovery.  My sister came for a few days to be with me since I obviously couldn’t go anywhere.  She wanted to do something to help me, so she and her husband got out my Christmas decorations and put them up for me.  While Katie was standing at the window, putting up some lights, my husband came home.  I was sitting in the glider rocker across the room because sitting was all I was allowed to do.
            Katie bent over to pick up a new strand of lights and as my husband walked by, he grabbed her butt.  He said that he thought she was me from that angle.
            To this day, that’s one of the funniest moments ever.  It hurt so bad to laugh but we couldn’t stop!
            This is a little gross, but no one told me that after a surgery, you often have trouble using the bathroom.  I was completely unprepared for my first true bowel movement when I got home.  Because of the incision I had running the width of my belly (from one side to the other, just as if I had had a caesarean) and the growing baby inside me, I had no reach.  I couldn’t wipe.  I called out to Katie to come help me, but she couldn’t do it.  She told me she loved me more than anything, but she just could not wipe me.
            Katie did bring me a spatula in an attempt to help.
So what did I do since we were the only two at home?! 
            I wasn’t going to use a kitchen spatula for something like that and not be able to use it anymore, so somehow or another, I bent and twisted and twerked (no, not really) until I was able to take care of business.

            By the time school started back in January, I was ready to be back in the classroom.  I hadn’t been released to do much of anything, so I did an awful lot of teaching sitting down.  My students and boss understood, so we continued on with great excitement and anticipation for the second half of the school year and the joy of inviting a new baby into our home in just a few short months.

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