When you spend a year of your life in and out of doctors offices and hospitals, those settings will probably always spark a little post-traumatic stress. Ever since I went off the pill two years ago, I’ve had some hormonal symptoms appear from time to time. When I was younger, I was diagnosed with Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome which caused me a ton of symptoms, the worst of which was extremely painful periods. My doctor attributed this to the fact that I was overweight, which was something that sparked my desire to get healthy. In 2009, I went on the pill to regulate my symptons of PCOS, and it certainly helped. I was on the pill from then until 2016 when my gastric pain started. I got lost in literature about the pill and how it could cause gut problems. I listened to several online podcasts that aimed to help women understand that the only thing the pill was doing for us was masking the symptoms rather than treating to root cause. While I do agree with this, I also feel that some women simply need the stuff, and there’s not much else that can alleviate their pain, hair-growth, and acne quite like the pill.
Fast forward to the present, and i’m just one month shy of being off the pill for two years. Every once in a while, I get irregular periods, but my body has been able to regulate itself and return to a normal state after only being normal with the help of hormones for the past 7 years. My acne didn’t come back, my hair growth in weird places didn’t come back, and my severe menstrual cramps didn’t come back. Sure I get cramps and the occasional zit, but its nowhere near as bad as it was in 2009 when I was 180 pounds.
Despite this positive change, I have also developed some new symptoms that I never experienced while I was on the pill. The first is pain in my left breast. I have been feeling this on occasion for the past 6-ish months. It comes at random times, and is only on the left side, and is extremely tender to touch. This worried me quite badly and of course, I convinced myself I had cancer. I had heard about women getting sore breasts during their period, but I had never experienced that before, and it being only on one side and NOT during my period majorly freaked me out. The other symptom is occasional ovarian pain. It doesn’t really happen during my period which of course has been a huge source of stress for me. Sometimes it hurts when I sneeze which I found to be so strange. Once again I got lost in online research, which I told myself i’d never do again, but how can I help it? My biggest fear was that I had endometriosis, which a lot of my symptoms aligned with. However, because the pain is not severe or constant, I knew there were other possibilities.
Two weeks ago, I went to see my doctor for my annual physical. This doctor is an absolute angel, and was actually recommended to me by Dr B., the saint who helped me fix my gut issues. She told me that my blood work was the best she had seen all month, and that she could tell I take amazing care of my body. She then asked if I had anything I wanted to discuss, and I shared my experiences with the breast and ovary pain. She explained that a lot of women often get pain in their larger breast 10-14 days before their period. I sighed with relief because the pain is always in my left breast which is the larger one, and the pain is never actually DURING my period. She explained that the cysts in our breasts swell up causing pain or tenderness, and that caffeine can actually intensify it. It made perfect sense. I’m a coffee fiend indeed. I then explained the ovarian pain and she essentially had the same answer. She said that we can develop cysts that usually are not a threat, but can swell up before our periods. I told her I felt much better because my symptoms matched perfectly with her explanation. She said she wasn’t worried about my breast and didn’t want to investigate further because often times that can lead to a breast biopsy where it’s not needed, and I certainly would like to avoid that. I trusted her opinion enough. I told her that the ovarian pain was more concerning to me, so she agreed to send me for a pelvic ultrasound.
So this brings me to my post-traumatic stress. Yesterday, I went to the hospital for my ultrasound. I changed into a gown and laid on the bed waiting for the sonographer. A familiar feeling that I have been lucky enough to not feel for over a year now. The woman came in, poured the cold jelly on me, and began the test. She took her photos, and then it was time for the pelvic portion. I laid there while she used the probe to take photos inside my uterus. It seemed like three hours, even though it wasn’t. I have had this imaging test two times prior to this, and it didn’t seem this long. I was looking up at the screen, trying to make sense of the images I was seeing. I saw holes that she was highlighting and writing down the measurements for. I didn’t know what any of it meant, but naturally, I always think the worst. The test felt far too long for anything to be normal. Finally, she was finished and said she was going to go show the doctor, and that she’d be back. What felt like an hour passed, and she came back in and said I could go home. I was trying to read her facial expressions but my fate wasn’t written on her face. I’m sure I will be okay, but I’m just scared. I’m too used to this feeling.
When I left the hospital, it was pouring outside. The sky was dark much like my mood. When I finally got home, my boyfriend came and held me because he knew I was scared. The flood gates opened and I sobbed to him. He reassured me it was going to be okay. He told me to talk to my body and say nothing is wrong, you’re going to be fine, we aren’t doing this again. He didn’t let go of me until he heard me say “It’s going to be fine, I am okay.” I am so grateful for this man. He has taken care of me and helped me through some of the darkest times and I wouldn’t have been able to survive any of this trauma without him.
I share these experiences in hopes that someone going through the same thing will read this and feel better. Maybe there’s another girl out there with the occasional breast pain that could breathe better after reading my story. Hopefully when I get my results, I can come back to my blog, my safe space, and make another girl feel better about her strange ovarian pain. We are humans, sometimes our bodies don’t cooperate. Its okay to be scared and worried, but practice optimism, strength and hopefulness, and help your body get through. Today, the sun is shining and I won’t let my fear drag on.