(Heads up! I’m talking about the female reproductive system in this blog post. If this raises all sorts of red flags in your brain, or if you’d rather not be subjected to seeing ME and MY OVARIES in the same sentence, this might be a good time to check out something else on the internet. Ah, the internet. So many things to see! So many ways to waste time!)
Eight years ago, while I was in the midst of an angst-ridden Masters Degree program, I experienced blinding pain one evening when a large cyst on one of my ovaries ruptured. This had never happened to me before, and yet I knew it was an ovarian cyst, and I knew that it was bursting open with the glory and fanfare of ten thousand royal weddings. God save the Queen!
I had been reading a text book on my bed at the time (nerd alert!), and suddenly I was overcome with stabbing pain in the vicinity of my right ovary. I couldn’t stretch out, I couldn’t curl my body into a ball, I couldn’t sit upright, I really couldn’t stand up, and I couldn’t even cry out loudly enough for Marty to rush to my assistance. Thankfully, he happened to be coming back to the bedroom on his own accord anyway, and when he saw me doing an oddball version of Twister by my lonesome– my face contorted in agony– he insisted we head to the hospital.
Here’s the thing. I knew that there was nothing the hospital could do about this pain, and a tiny part of me also worried that I would get to the ER, only to be told that it wasn’t a cyst but rather a nasty case of gas. Inner wisdom aside, that would have sucked. (And in case you were wondering about my intimate knowledge of triage/ovarian cyst protocol, my sister had suffered from PCOS symptoms for years prior to my own incident, and one time she landed in emergency due to a particularly brutal rupture. There, she was unceremoniously sat down in a wheelchair to endure the pain in the waiting area. After 45 minutes of cramping and kvetching in public, she decided to head the eff home and suffer in privacy. Hospitals…)
Anyway. I never made it to the ER that evening, and the pain eventually subsided. I didn’t think anything further about my ovaries until last week, actually, when Marty came home from his training camp. We went to bed, everything was fine, and then I was woken up by incredible pain in the area of my right ovary about 2 o’clock in the morning. My first thought this time was “painful gas?” (so sad), but once again, my inner knowing quickly told me it was my ovarian cyst-er, back again and bursting like ten thousand tiny flowers in bloom– flowers of PAIN and SUFFERING, though.
This time, I managed to roll over onto all fours like a cat, and my pitiful whimpering was enough to rouse Marty from his earplug-ensconced slumber. What do you do at 2 in the morning when a cyst has suddenly ruptured on your ovary? In this case, Marty immediately started doing Reiki on my body, and I initiated a round of EFT tapping on myself, just like you’d imagine from a hippie granola couple like us. Ha. I breathed through the pain, tried to relax my body instead of tensing up in a cocoon of suffering (way easier said than done), and eventually managed to drift back to sleep. Same thing happened the next night, though– went to bed just fine, was woken up by anguish and general teeth gnashing, and fell back asleep after beaming love and golden sunshine to my right ovary with the awesome power of my mortal hand.
What gives, body?
Well, just like you’d imagine from a hippie granola woman like myself, I consulted Dr. Christiane Northrup (she of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom fame), and I also Googled Louise Hay, the Mother of Positive Affirmations. (Yes, I also read up on standard medical explanations for ovarian cysts, but let’s be honest– the woo-woo stuff was way more exciting. I love me some new age stuff!)
You can feel free to roll your eyes now if you wish, but I happened to be struck dumb by the cosmic significance of ovarian cysts. For one thing, they are supposed to symbolize an imbalance between masculine and feminine energies (i.e., leaning towards masculine energies like competition and achievement, sort of like what my trusted psychic told me back in June.) Secondly, they represent a need to prioritize rest, relaxation, and self-care– not like that applies to me at all. Whatever, Universe! (Ha.) Finally– and this is what really got me– ovarian cysts remind us that it’s just as important to love who we are as much as we identify with what we do. If the emphasis is always on doing things— working, exercising, cooking, cleaning, even fun things like reading, writing, knitting, or watching movies– we don’t leave any space for simply being ourselves. And as improbable as it seems in our go-go-go culture, we really do need to balance ‘doing’ with ‘being’ in order to be at our best.
As you might have guessed by now, I have a really hard time with self-care, simply ‘being’, and prioritizing rest for myself. Especially because of the Harbour and all the craziness it entails. Yes, I have a solid understanding in my mind that all of those self-care things are important (and essential!), but when it comes down to my actions, you’d be hard pressed to see any connection whatsoever between cosmic wisdom and what I actually do.
My mind says: You should really take some time off.
My actions say: I’ll only take time off if it rains non-stop for the whole damn day! Even if I have to work FOREVER!!!!
My mind says: Maybe you should treat yourself to a massage or something!
My actions say: Self-care is for wimps! I barely have time to brush my hair.
My mind says: Don’t you think you should prepare meals for yourself more often? I mean, you love to cook, and you know exactly which foods your body craves.
My actions say: Meh. I’ll start cooking again in November. Until then, bring on the oily salad dressings, heavy pasta dishes, and the Frappuccino IVs! Stat!
Perhaps my body has had enough with my Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde routine. It’s like I’ve been promising myself, ‘yes, yes– I’ll get to that self care thing… soon.’ And now my ovaries are like, “What were you saying about self care? That you’ll be doing it NOW and FOR REAL this time?” [Picture cosmic arm-twisting; cysts bursting like fireworks; tiny sacs breaking open with gusto; cymbals crashing in a feverish symphony. And make sure you picture lots of PAIN and SUFFERING. Mercy, Universe, Mercy! Tiny-ness aside, those cysts HURT when they pop!]
This must be my wake-up call? My urgent call to action? My cosmic ‘FYI, let’s end this suffering once and for all’?
Or maybe it’s just gas…