Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Life As a Dinosaur: Introducing Bert & Ernie

It's been awhile since I last updated, but that's because I've been dealing with some new health issues. These issues aren't directly related to the AS, but they do affect it and how it's treated (to a degree).

Last spring I started having some issues with my birth control. (Dear TheBrothers, don't freak out, I won't get too graphic. Your sister does have certain boundaries that prevent her from grossing the world out too badly.) These issues (here's were I could get graphic, but won't) had me heading back to my PCP (primary care physician). After several pregnancy tests to make sure that wasn't the issue (phew!) I was sent to have an ultra sound at the end of June. This was to allow the doctors to get a better look at what might be going on in there.

What they found was a large cyst (just over 7 centimeters or around 3 inches) on my right ovary. To give you a general idea of the size, that is just a little smaller than the size of my fist. The doctors felt certain that it wasn't cancerous (because of how it showed up on the ultrasound images) and advised that we take the common course of action of waiting to see if it resolved itself.

I was supposed to go back for a second ultrasound in September, but that didn't happen. Mostly because I generally put it out of my mind (if the doctors weren't concerned then why should I be? Especially if I personally wasn't feeling that my body was telling me anything different.), and also because life just gets crazy busy that time of year (I work 50-60 hours a week in Sept/Oct, and then there are the holidays). In the meantime I tried a couple different types of birth control (to see if changing the hormone levels would resolve the issues I had been having) and going off birth control completely (to allow my body to "reset" itself).

While things did improve a small amount, the issues weren't resolving and I ended up getting the second ultrasound in February (only 4 months later than I was supposed to - I think I get that putting off going to the doctor thing from my dad). When those results came back, they showed that the cyst on my right ovary had gotten a tiny bit larger, and it had a friend move in on the left ovary (about half the size of the first one but slightly more complicated). That's right, now there are TWO ovarian cysts.

Now, I received the results online, but I wasn't able to get in to see my doctor until just over a week later (darn her for being on vacation). This led TheHusband and I to do more research on our own (we attempted to stay away from a lot of the general sites that Google can bring up and tried to stay on sites like mayoclinic.com). This is were we discovered that some of the symptoms (like lower back pain and pain near my hips after more strenuous walking) I had been brushing off as being part of my AS.

Based on what we found in our research, I initially started calling the cysts "The Timebombs". And while I was trying to be humorous in the naming of them, I realized that "the timebombs" while a somewhat accurate (they could rupture on their own or cause other serious issues) name, was a bit too negative. So, I renamed them to Bert (on the right) and Ernie (on the left). I have no logical reasoning for giving them those names other than they are roommates who occasionally have issues, and it seemed more lighthearted.

Bert & Ernie won't be hanging around for much longer though. Because the initial cyst (Bert) hasn't gone away on its own and because there is now a second cyst (Ernie) there's really only two options that I can take as a course of treatment. I can either leave them alone and hope for the best, or I can have them surgically removed. Surgery is scheduled for next Monday. It will be done laparoscopically, so it should be an outpatient procedure, but I'll still have to miss about a week of work.

We (TheHusband and I) are cautiously optimistic that this will help clear up at least some of the non-AS issues I've been having. Even if it doesn't it will help us be more certain that the lower back pain is because of the AS and not because of the ovarian cysts, which will help us make AS treatment decisions.
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