My sophomore year of college I started getting ovarian cysts, more than likely caused by the hormones in my Mirena IUD. (Read about that experience here.) They stayed relatively small and would come and go, not causing too much trouble. One in particular grew very large, to the size of a golf ball. I went to the campus health clinic because I knew something was different this time. I had come to recognize when I had a cyst—I knew what it felt like and what the symptoms were. This time I knew it was a cyst, but I was in quite a bit of discomfort. The nurse did a pelvic exam, one hand inside me and one overtop my left ovary. She pushed slowly and I wanted to jump off of the table.
“Definitely a cyst”, she said. “And a decently large one.”
She sent me to ER for an ultrasound because she thought I could be in danger of it rupturing.
I was not happy to hear that I needed to go to the hospital. I was going to college in New York, and I had already established a negative relationship with this particular hospital at the beginning of the semester. I had developed a UTI at the beginning of the year, and went to the campus health clinic to get treated with antibiotics. They gave me Bactrum or Cipro or one of those common antibiotics. Well my problem is that I have immunity to most common antibiotics—from being so sick as a child (mainly with UTI’s and kidney infections) and being prescribed so many. They simply don’t work on me any more. After a week on antibiotics, I was getting worse, and went back to the campus clinic. Not having any other brand of antibiotics on hand, they referred me to the ER.
So I was sent to this hospital I’ve never been to, a bit scared to be dealing with all of this medical and insurance stuff for the first time on my own. I have a fever and haven’t felt well in a week. I pay my $150 to get into the emergency room and I am given a doctor who, well there’s no way to put it, was a giant a-hole. She handed me a cup to pee in, told me to go have a cup of coffee with my friends, and come back in an hour. First of all, coffee has to be the worst thing someone with a UTI can drink. Secondly, I wasn’t exactly in a feel good mood to go skipping around town with my friends. I waited around the ER until my pee results came back and I was surprised when they didn’t show anything.
“See there’s not a thing wrong with you.”
“Well I have been on antibiotics for a week. Is it possible that those antibiotics are skewing the results?”
“Nope, you are perfectly fine.”
“With all due respect, mam, I have had both UTI’s and kidney infections many times. Since I was 6 months old. I know what a UTI feels like. And I know what it feels like when it progresses to my kidneys. I am not getting better, I am getting worse.”
…And I am not making this up, she said “You need to stop being a drama queen.”
She then handed me my dismissal papers and told me to leave.
There I was in a medical setting, in tears, and it would be far from the last time that would happen. I worked hard to help pay my way through college. My parents were also struggling to provide every bit they could. We were a near poverty level family, and I was going to literally the most expensive college in the nation. I was already feeling so much guilt about spending $150 to go to the ER, and it was like I just threw that money away. I was freaked out about the money, and to top everything off, when I got back to my house, I realized the hospital HIPAA papers I had been given, weren’t even my own, and that my own information had also probably been given to someone else.
Fast forward forty-eight hours. I was in so much pain and my fever was nearly 103 degrees. I stumbled back in to the campus clinic, and they were very confused why I hadn’t been treated, when clearly, I was not well. They contacted the on call doctor and arranged for a security guard to take me to the ER. When I was admitted, I was given an IV of fluids and Levaquin, and had to stay
3 days in the hospital because the infection had progressed that far.
As you see, I had a bad taste in my mouth. Horrible experience with that hospital.
So back to the cyst story. I had to go back to that dreaded hospital for an ultrasound of my ovaries. The ultrasound sound did confirm a cyst that was multiple times larger than the ovary itself. I followed up with a local gynecologist who, because of its size, suggested surgery. My little stay in the hospital the semester before had met family’s “max out of pocket” for our insurance. This being January, and the start of the new year for our insurance, I couldn’t agree to go forward with a costly procedure, putting thousands of dollars on my parents again. I figured it probably would burst, but maybe, just maybe it wouldn’t.
Just a couple weeks before this, I had started taking a yoga class at school. I really loved it and I loved the instructor. I confided in her about my cyst, and how I wished to meditate about it. She told me to develop a mantra, and I focused on it not just during yoga class, but throughout the day, and it was my last conscious thought each night before I drifted off to sleep. I would envision the cyst shrinking, until it finally disappeared. My mantra was, “Everything fades. Disappears. Works out. Ends well.” This is my current day mantra, and it applies to more than a cyst. I find it comforting to focus on how everything is temporary, and everything happens just as it should. Saying it reminds me that this too shall pass and that everything happens for a reason.
I believe in the power of positive thought. Emotional health and physical health are intertwined, and you cannot get a grasp on one with out the other. I encourage everyone to choose a mantra that is personally meaningful. Set a timer on your phone so that you can close your eyes and block everything out, even if it is just for a minute, and say your mantra to yourself. Don’t just say it, but visualize it, feel it, say it with meaning to each word. Shut your office door, go to the bathroom, go out to your car…just for a few moments during your day. Let it be the thought you start your day off with. And when you fade off into an unconscious state each night, let it be your last thought that blankets your mind.
Surely enough that cyst vanished.
On a side note, I think it’s really important to feel beautiful and accept yourself fully. If you struggle with this, make a point each morning and night to look into the mirror and say “I am beautiful. I accept myself exactly as I am”. Do this for a minimum of 3 weeks and see if you feel a difference in yourself at the end of this time period. Rewire your thought process and form a new healthy habit!