Growing Older and Period Changes

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My name is Amy McGaw. I am 48 years old and generally good health. I have a bad hip and my knees have problems. I am considered overweight /obese (5 feet tall and 165 pounds).  However, I consider myself a little pudgy, not obese like some charts show me. I am a double D and they never consider this in the weight charts.

 

Period Pain

Since I was 12 years old my periods have been fairly regular, 28 day, 5 days long every month, but I have always had horrible cramps. I was put on prescription strength Motrin at age 16.

At 18, I had jaw surgery and told the doctor my only concern not being able to take my period pills (the prescription Motrin), so he prescribed me liquid codeine. I can remember that period clearly….it was a Saturday morning when it hit me. I lay at the top of the stairs outside my bedroom, when I started feeling the cramps. I took the codeine, but it took a while to kick in. In the mean time I was “dying” and getting hotter and hotter. My father was outside mowing the lawn and I can remember laying there stripping and yelling “help me, I am dying.” Then the codeine kicked in. This was the first time I had ever had codeine. For most people it knocks them out; not me, it made me hyper.

After the codeine kicked in, I started my house chores that normally would take me at least 2 hours. That morning it took me only 45 minutes. My father joked he was going to give codeine to me each weekend to get my chores done.  A few later I was told I had endometriosis. At age 28 I had my one and only child, a little girl born by c-section.

Unusual Changes in my Period

Now that I have shared a little of my reproductive background, I will tell you why I am writing this now. Last year I had my usual exam, including blood work to see if I was close to menopause. Everything was fine, not even close to menopause yet.  At the end of last year, I had my usual period, started on a Wednesday and was done about 5 days later.  Then, a week later exactly, I started bleeding again. I didn’t just spot, I had another full period.

I called my doctor’s office and they ordered blood work. It came back fine with nothing out of the ordinary.  He told me if it happened again to schedule an appointment.  It was fine for the next few months, no extra periods.

February was my annual exam and everything was fine, doctor didn’t see or feel anything out of the ordinary. Two weeks later was my regular period and guess what…two weeks later another full period. So I called his office and asked if I could have an ultra sound, he authorized the ultrasound because it had only been a few weeks since I had seen him, but only on the condition I come into the office to go over the results. Friday, I was in having an ultrasound and Tuesday afternoon in his office going over the results. The results, I have a 4.3 cm cyst on my right ovary and a polyp in my uterus. My doctor, Dr. D wanted to do a Hysteroscopy and D&C, to remove the polyp but wanted to leave the cyst alone.  But the problem is my insurance would not approve to have Dr. D do the procedure. So here I am trying to figure out what to do to get the procedure approved by my insurance. I figured out I would just go to the OB/GYN in the family practice office I go to. So I make an appointment, another week away. Since Dr. D’s office had faxed the test results over to the other doctor’s office but they hadn’t received it I decided to get a copy for myself.

Now I read the Gynecology Report prepared by an Ultrasound tech, not a radiologist:

  • Retroverted Uterus (I knew this)
  • Thick EM
  • No Focal Polyps Seen (No crossed out by Dr.sp and Prob. Polyp hand written)
  • Lt Ov Wnl
  • Enlarged RT OV with Septated Cyst =4.3 CM
  • NOFF or Masses Seen

With a note written by the doctor “Probable polyp in endometrium.” So I start to Google…Google first the words Septated Cyst.  Everything I find for Septated Cyst says cancer, OH MY GOD, cancer and he wanted to do nothing about it. Then I Google size of cyst and see anything smaller than 3 cm you leave it and mine is 4.3 and again OH MY GOD he wanted to do nothing. Now I do have a history of getting cysts and they go away on their own, but this time it makes me wonder. So I will just wait until I can see the new doctor. In the meantime, I start making a list of questions. Such as, would a full hysterectomy be good; could I be bloated from this or it growing (or just stress eating and getting fat)?

New Doctor

I go to the new doctor, Dr. G.  He asks me why I am there and I explain the entire situation. His first comment was he was not comfortable doing the procedure off test results by an ultra sound tech that is almost a month old. He was concerned about the fact that Dr. D did not want to do anything about the cyst of that size, the note by the tech. So his plan of attack: to have blood work done to check my markers for ovarian cancer and a new ultra sound.  The ultrasound was to be done at a radiology office to be read by a radiologist instead of a technician. Dr. G wants to check to see if the cyst is still there and the size of the cyst, if it has grown. With the blood work, he wants to see if there are any markers for cancer. If so, he would refer me to a GYN Oncologist, if not then he would do the procedure. If the cyst is gone he would leave the ovary alone. If the cyst is still there would likely have to remove the ovary.

The Waiting Game

I walked out of the exam room feeling good but scared at the same time. I scheduled the ultrasound which would take a week, and then a week from that scheduled an appointment back with Dr. G.  I proceed into his waiting room to wait to have my blood drawn. So now I am back to my waiting game.

Leaving work that night it hit me, my eyes started leaking and wouldn’t stop. What if I have cancer? How much time off work would I need? What sort of treatment? Will I be able to support my daughter and myself on just my disability? Will my boyfriend want to stick around with a sick woman? What will happen to my daughter if something happens to me? I just want to get home and call my dad and have him tell me everything will be just fine and that he loves me. But I can’t, my dad passed away two years ago. Then again my mind goes back to my daughter, she is 20 years old. She can’t lose her mom yet and be alone. Then it switches to my brother, when should I tell him? My brother is my healthcare POA so I tell myself I need to make sure to tell him before anything happen.

So now I wait, and every night I wake with a small stomach ache, and Dr. G is not sure if it is because of this. Now I start having pains in my left ovary, I figure it is sympathy pains for the right ovary, just to make myself laugh. Another week and a half of waiting and my friends tell me and I remind myself I can’t worry yet, I have to not think of the worst. In the meantime, yes there will be tears every time my mind wonders.

All is Well

No cancer. My markers are clear, and the cyst is gone, not only that, but the polyp is gone. All is good. I was so relieved. It was interesting, even the second doctor had said he thought he was going to be giving me bad news. So my options to regulate the horrible periods were, birth control, Medroxypr AC, or that procedure that stops them all together. We decided to go with the Medroxypr AC, 2 weeks on 2 weeks off. I asked about testing to see if I was in menopause. He said why, we know all the bad stuff isn’t there and chances are that is what is happening. So why not just treat the horrible effects of it. I had never been so scared about my health and to find out the doctor was worried also made me realize it was OK for me to be scared and not just an over-reaction.

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1 Comment

  1. Glad you didn’t have cancer and the cyst went away so no surgery needed! Women too often lose ovaries for benign cysts when all that needs to be removed is the cyst (cystectomy).

    I lost all my sex organs (uterus, ovaries, tubes) for a benign ovarian cyst. My gynecologist used ovarian cancer scare tactics and rushed me into surgery and then removed everything despite a benign frozen section. I caution women to be aware of the overuse of female organ removal. Also, the CA-125 test isn’t very accurate in diagnosing ovarian cancer especially in pre-menopausal women.

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