At about 10 p.m. last Wednesday night, my 17-year-old daughter told me her stomach hurt. Like cramps, but really intense and centered on the lower right part of her belly. She couldn’t stand up straight.
By 11 p.m. she had a fever of about 101.
By 12 a.m. she was puking.
At 1 a.m. we were in the E.R.
The doctor was worried about her appendix, but said that the pain wasn’t exactly right. He tested her urine for an infection, and didn’t see signs of one. Eventually he sent us home and said if the pain is worse in six hours or not better in twelve to come back.
After a few hours of sleep, the pain changed. It was still severe, but not as bad as the night before. On Wednesday night she couldn’t sit still because there was no comfortable position. On Thursday morning it only hurt that bad when she stood up. And the pain centered on the right side was gone. Her period was two weeks late, so we thought maybe it was just awful backed-up-period cramps. Worst cramps ever.
By the next morning, things hadn’t changed at all, so by noon on Friday we were back in the E.R. It took until 4 p.m. to see a doctor. She still had a fever and was still throwing up anything she tried to take in.
The doctor ordered a CT scan and saw an orange-sized mass in her pelvic area that might or might not have been attached to her ovary and might or might not have twisted.
We live in a teensy town. There was no available Ultra-sound technician or OBGYN. So, after a lot of considering, and no improvement, the doctor said she needed to go to a bigger children’s hospital. In Las Vegas, 250 miles away. Adrienne and her dad flew on a medical plane and Kevin and Ruby and I drove.
The next morning, after lots of tests and pokes and needles and tears, the OBGYN said Adrienne needed to have the cyst surgically removed. Even the ultrasound didn’t make it clear whether or not the cyst was affecting her left ovary, since it was so big that it blocked the ovary all together.
The surgery happened just about an hour and a half later. It took less than an hour. The mass was a huge paraovarian cyst. (That’s a cyst that forms around left over cells, paraovarian cells, that decided Adrienne would be a girl instead of a boy at conception. It’s common to have them. Sometimes pea-sized cysts form around them and are usually unnoticed. An orange-sized one is unusual.)
The cyst was bleeding and had twisted on it’s stem. It had a place on it’s wall that was weakened from the pressure, and was on the verge of rupturing. That would have cause internal bleeding and lots and lots of pain. Her ovaries weren’t involved, except for being very close.
We’re home now. And she’s healing well. It’s amazing how the human body strives for health.
Since Friday I’ve slept in a car, sitting up in a chair, on a chair that opened into the most uncomfortable bed ever, and on an air bed.
And all that time, sitting, waiting, whispering to my baby that she’s a warrior woman whose body will heal, watching her do things that scare her the most with bravery and grace . . . all that time, one of my most persistent thoughts was that life has to change after something this intense.
We are not immune. We are not invincible. If we don’t take care of ourselves now, while we are healthy, we won’t be for long. And I don’t want to spend time in a hospital bed, or in a chair next to one, if I can prevent it by making our health a priority now. And the one way I can make major headway in that direction is with food.
I’ve done really well on giving up dieting. I think it’s a first step. I have no idea whether or not I’ve lost or gained weight. I know my clothes still fit. I know that I flew without incident two weeks ago. I know that it matters less and less to me, which is a big positive.
But we still have cupboards full of nutritionally negligible foods.
And I fed my children Ramen Noodles for dinner tonight, because by the time we got home it was too late to cook and our fridge is empty of fresh food anyway.
Things are changing. I’ll tell you how tomorrow.