In the spirit of sharing personal experiences around reproductive health, here is a window into my week–a week filled with swelling, infection, scalpels, heat pads, pain and frustration. Oh, my poor, poor vagina.
For 5-6 years I’ve had a Bartholin Gland Cyst in my lower labia. No big deal. Usually it’s the size of a grape, and although I can feel it from the outside, it gives me no discomfort or trouble.
And to be clear, this type of cyst is benign, common, and of no serious concern medically. It’s merely a clogged duct that will likely drain itself over time.
Unless you’re me.
Last weekend, it began to swell. And swell and swell and swell. And hurt and hurt and hurt. By Wednesday, I found myself at the OB/GYN, wimpishly asking for help. I’d been doing all the right things–hot baths, compresses, resting. So I fully expected the doctor to take a look, reassure me, and send me home.
Instead, he and the nurse gasped when I opened my legs. She quickly assembled a tray of equipment and he superficially explained what was about to happen. The cyst was too inflamed for anesthetized surgery at the hospital, and instead he would “incise and drain” it. What he really meant was that he was about to slice my vagina open and squeeze the cyst mercilessly with his fist.
All I remember hearing was, “Seven blade, please.” And then ensued 15 of the most painful minutes of my life.
And the kicker? In order for the cyst to continue to drain, a catheter was inserted, which will stay in place for 4 weeks. That’s right–a catheter inside my vagina, draining cyst-goo out my hoo-ha for a month.
I went back to the doc Friday, because after 2 days of “healing,” nothing had improved. I was given the option to have him go back into the cyst with a plyer-like instrument to break up the infected tissue (ha!), or to have immediate surgery, or to wait the weekend out for improvement and go ahead with surgery on Monday if needed. I reluctantly decided to wait, thinking I should try to be patient, despite my aching desire to just get this ordeal over with an have the surgery right away.
Maybe I’m being a melodramatic wuss. But in the time since this procedure happened on Wednesday, things haven’t improved much. I’ve been flat on the couch for 4 days, unable to sit, stand or walk due to the pain. And if I’m not healed by Monday morning, I’ll be admitted to the hospital for surgery to remove the entire cyst. At this point, I wish we’d gone ahead with that yesterday when the doctor gave me the option.