May 2015: Women's Bodies / periods / sisterhood

A Match Not Made In Heaven: Ovarian Cysts & Free Healthcare

Let me tell you something about ovarian cysts: they suck, especially if they’re too small to be taken out or taken care of. And here’s the kicker — my healthcare won’t cover it. I’ve had three ovarian cysts in my life: one I did not realize was a cyst, one on my right ovary and the third one being on my left ovary. And let me tell you – it does not feel like two centimetres when you can feel cramps way up in your abdomen.

If you’re wondering what ovarian cysts are, they are closed, fluid-filled, sac-like structures that occur for multiple reasons. The most common type are follicular cysts which form when the follicle crows larger than normal and doesn’t open to release the egg – these can resolve spontaneously. There are also corpus luteum cysts and these are an area of tissue within the ovary that occurs after an egg has been released. If pregnancy doesn’t result from an egg releasing, the corpus luteum normally breaks down but it can fill with fluid or blood – these often produce no symptoms. In short, they’re little sacs on your ovaries that make you feel like you’re going to die.

Let me take you back to September of last year. Day’s going fine and then right in the middle of my ten hour day, I get an immense pain in my side. I get sent home and I’m in pain for the duration of my time at beauty school. I should have gotten it checked out sooner but working different days to my boyfriend made it hard to find a good time for an appointment. I just wanted to get done with school, get my cosmetology license, and figure this all out later.

Fast forward to November, I’m working a full time job and I get horrible stomach aches alongside the regular pain. At this point, I feel like I’m ready to give birth to the next spawn of Satan and I finally give in and go to Planned Parenthood because they’re my homies. I’ve been going there for birth control and general reproductive health issues since I was 16. I’ve had a long relationship with them and I love them to death.

So next thing I know, I’m getting asked the whole “are you sexually active?” shtick and then they tell me I’m getting a pelvic exam. I was not prepared to have my first pelvic exam this day and I was not expecting it to be so quick. Normally, they’re quick and painless but when you have someone pushing on your abdomen to feel a mass that may or may not be there? That’s just uncomfortable and hurts a hell of a lot.

I’m referred to an ultrasound tech in a hospital a few towns over and that may have been the most invasive experience I’ve had in my entire life. You have to drink thirty two ounces of water before you go in and you can’t pee. I almost peed myself. When you do go to pee they do the invasive ultrasound where they make sure you have all the blood going to your ovaries and ovarian torsion isn’t happening.

I was referred to a gynaecologist and this is where the situation gets rough. There are no gynaecologists within a 25 mile radius that will cover me because I have free health insurance – how twisted is that? I could go get an ultrasound and a pelvic exam at no cost to me but I can’t have a specialist look at me because it doesn’t cost me anything to see them. Why is Viagra covered under state and free healthcare but my ovaries aren’t?

My cysts are three times smaller than required to be taken out so I can’t get it taken care of. It makes my periods even more miserable, it makes me feel nauseous all the time (no, I’m not pregnant) and I’m sick of feeling like shit all the time. I am not worthy of specialists’ time all because I don’t make enough money to pay for private insurance.

It’s been seven months and I want to charge my cysts rent. It’s getting worse and I can only get it taken care of if these rupture or ovarian torsion develops. So if I’m not almost dying, I’m not worthy of being taken care of – I’m pissed.

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– Brooke Elise

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