Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Around 2006, I started experiencing various issues with my digestive system. Every time I would complain to my primary care provider, he would just tell me to take fiber pills. He seemed to feel this would fix the problem, even though it did not. When I noticed it got worse over PMS, I told the provider, but he basically made it sound like it was all in my head. He thought it was a coincidence or just m imagination. Because he had a degree in medicine and I did not, I trusted his judgement and let it go once more. Not once did he ever investigate by examining my abdomen, and internal or an ultrasound.
Then in the summer of 2008 I started to have issues with my legs going numb. I saw another provider at the office who sent me home with a list of exercises for my back. There was no real examination. No tests. Nothing…. except a piece of paper with exercises.. And I did them….faithfully. It helped a little but not entirely.
It was September of 2008 when, during PMS, I got really sick. Nausea, diarrhea, and flu like symptoms. I had just started a new job but managed to get an appointment with yet another physician at the practice. This was a female doctor and this trip turned out completely different than all the previous ones. She actually listened to what I had to say. She did not discount it. Instead she investigated. She examined my abdomen and did an internal and thought something did not feel quite right, so she sent me for an ultrasound.
Usually when I have gone to either my own ultrasound or a family member, I chat with the technician about what was being displayed on the screen but this technician carefully sidestepped my questions and I left there with fear niggling in the back of my mind. When the doctor called and told me they found a mass, I was not surprised. I knew this was why the ultrasound technician could not discuss it with me. I was sent for an MRI where they discovered a teratoma but even the gynecologist thought surely this was a (rather large) benign tumor. I had this feeling it was more but kept it to myself. It was decided I would have it removed along with a complete hysterectomy so on Halloween of 2008, I went in for the scheduled surgery. They had told my husband three hours but when that came and went, he started to get worried.
After four and a half hours, I was finally moved to Recovery. The tumor had grown and she had called in a gyn-oncologist to assist her with the surgery. In fact, my gynecologist told my gyn-oncologist to go through my right side while she went through my left. He started to panic when he couldn’t find my right kidney…. that they apparently forgot to tell him I didn’t have.
The bad news was that it was malignant after all but we had to wait a month before getting the final report. It turned out it was a Stage 3a Germ Cell Tumor. My gyn-oncologist was fascinated with it. It was rare because most women who get germ cell tumors are below age 25. I was 40. He actually used my tumor to start the county’s first Ovarian Cancer Study group between he and other gyn-oncologists. I asked to see it. It looks like a roast. Seriously! First thing I thought of when I saw the photo.
I had to go into the hospital for the months once a month for inpatient chemotherapy. Believe me. It was not fun, especially when I had a reaction to the one drug! IV’s didn’t work so great. The chemo totally ruined them and, to this day, I still have issues with giving blood.
And my numbness in my legs? It was from that thing putting pressure on my spinal cord! All that digestive issues stuff? Mostly from the cancer. And guess what?! I found out that the digestive issues and getting ill during PMS was in fact a sign of Ovarian Cancer, after all.
And what if I still could not have gotten a doctor to listen to me? I would probably be dead. That female doctor literally saved my life and for that i am forever grateful!
After it was all over, I sent my doctor’s office a letter thanking the one who did listen to me and admonishing the others to listen to their patients because they do know their own bodies and that i was not going to ever let that happen again. It took a long time to trust doctors again and that still is a struggle.
But I have learned to stand up for myself and don’t back down. Be the squeaky wheel and force them to find answers. Sometimes your very life depends upon that!