Before reading this post you may want to consider that it details some personal medical information about myself and my recent hospital experience. If you are someone who doesn’t deal well with TMI, you might want to stop reading here and go and play somewhere else – you can come back when the next post is written.
On Tuesday I noticed a painful discomfort in my vagina. I had previously had what I thought were called Barton Cysts – which had all been painful, but I knew that they could get infected and possibly need surgery to be repaired. So I looked it up, it was indeed a Bartholin’s Cyst and I would probably need to have it looked at. I poked at it, and it was tender and large, and so I went to bed thinking about what I was going to do about the whole thing. On Wednesday night it was sufficiently painful and uncomfortable to stop me going to the gym, and I decided to take Thursday off to go and see my GP and see what could be done. This was also on the recommendation of my sister who has previously had infected Bartholin’s cysts and had had surgery to resolve them.
Thursday morning dawned, and I was still in pain and discomfort so I called my GP’s office. I generally have a couple of preferred doctors there, but this time I didn’t care which one I saw – I needed this to be resolved as it was not getting better. I ended up seeing a new female doctor, who had recently finished a placement with the Royal Women’s Hospital (RWH). She called them while I was in her office, checking with one of the doctors at emergency whether I should be directed there, or to another clinic. I was told not to eat or drink anything and to go straight to the RWH with the referral letter from the GP, as I may be operated on that day. I went home, grabbed a change of clothes (just in case), picked up my sister for company and comfort and went to emergency. I was there for about 7 hours, with the company of my sister, girlfriend and one of my husbands. The assigned doctor told me eventually that I could eat and drink as surgery wouldn’t be today, but that I had to wait for the surgical registrar to come and see me to determine how quickly surgery was required.
Eventually the registrar was free and came down and saw me, examined me (ouch) and agreed that surgery was required and I’d need to be marsupialised (most awesome idea ever – even if a bit gross). So surgery was arranged for the Friday and I had to be back at hospital at 7:30am that morning (ew). We went out and had dinner, was wished well by my husbands and went home with my girlfriend as she lives close to the RWH. I slept pretty well all things considered.
The marsupialisation is actually a really quick operation – between 15 and 30 minutes – so I wasn’t worried about being under a general for a long time (and the corresponding vagueness that comes with that), but I was worried I was going to be sitting around a hospital forever waiting for the operation. Thankfully I was called in quite quickly, I thanked my girlfriend for keeping me company and went inside where I was interviewed by a nurse. She took down the relevant medical history and asked if I had any questions for me, weighed me (so they could get the drugs all right – and also didn’t comment on my weight) and told to me to change.
I barely had time to read a couple of articles in one of the many magazines in the waiting space, before the surgeon wanted to interview me. She told me about the operation, what would be done and answered my questions. Then the anaesthetist interviewed me, and was so fantastic. He went through my medical history and past operations, asked if I snored, and how badly, and then told me he was only asking due to the risk of sleep apnoea due to my hight and weight – no judgement, no further comment. He offered me a choice of anaesthetics (epidural or a general), I chose the general (despite disliking the side-effects), and then I went back to the waiting room for a couple of minutes before they called me into the theatre.
The anaesthetist talked me through what he was doing, how I should be positioned, told me that he was putting a drip in which would sting (it did a bit), and then that he was giving me a muscle relaxant and then the general. I woke up later not knowing where I was, why I was there, whether or not I was dreaming, and what was going on… I also realised that I hadn’t been given morphine because I could see (well focus, morphine makes my eyes lose the ability to focus until it wears off), and I also realised I wasn’t in any pain. I had been in constant low level pain/discomfort since Tuesday, and suddenly there was no pain. It was the first operation that I had come out of (as an adult) where I was in no pain when I woke up.
I was taken to the second stage recovery room where I was fed and given water and monitored to ensure that I was waking up ok. The wick was removed (that did hurt), and then I was invited to get dressed and move to the third stage recovery room and call for someone to pick me up. My husband came, and took me to lunch, the chemist to get the antibiotics I was to take and then home.
The staff at the RWH are fantastic. They answered all my questions, including when I can have sex next, whether my trip planned for the hot springs next week was a good idea, and how I was likely to feel over the next few days – with the exhortation to take painkillers to prevent pain versus taking them and waiting for the pain to diminish.
I’ve been in next to no pain since the operation. I have pulled the stitches once, which hurt briefly, and I am keeping up the regime of painkillers for the next few days. I am amazed that something that was so painful was quickly and easily reduced to something I am barely noticing. I am incredibly thankful that I live in Australia and can go to my local hospital and have an operation like this with it costing me nothing. I am incredibly grateful that the RWH’s staff are incredibly skillful and that they made my brief stay as comfortable as possible.
I will attempt to wait as patiently as possible for the next couple of weeks while I heal. I will wait patiently while my brain recovers from the general and the vagueness disappears. I will be soft and gentle on myself while I heal and recover, and I will make the follow up medical appointments so that I can keep track of how I’m going.
Bartholin’s cysts are not caused by doing or not doing something, they’re an unfortunate side effect of being female, that some women get to experience. I could have waited for the cyst and abscess to tear on it’s own, but then it would have been fare more likely to recur. I’m very happy with the decision I made to seek medical intervention as now I get to heal and be a marsupial at the same time.