My Left Ovary; Choose My Own Surgical Adventure

When my dispassionately calm and very competent rheumatologist called rather than putting the results of my MRI up on the portal, I thought–uh oh (and immediately put my cell phone on speaker for my husband to hear too.)

With an uncharacteristically shaky voice she said that the MRI she’d sent me for showed a mass of indeterminate origin. “You need to see your Ob/Gyn ASAP.” 

My WHAT? I’m a 71-year-old woman, I responded. The last Ob/Gyn I saw was when we lived in Mexico City from 1995 to 2000, or as I think of it–four moves ago.

Nevertheless an abnormal mass focuses the mind, so my husband and I reached out to our Village Hill neighborhood and Northampton Neighbors via the ListServs to ask for recommendations. For as those famous British philosophers called The Beatles expounded, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Within a couple of hours, I had two candidates to contact the next morning. 

On calling the doctors’ offices, the words “they found a mass…” brought rapid action by the Ob/Gyn doctors who referred me to Ob/Gyn Oncologists where I was quickly scheduled to be seen within days. So fast that further testing wasn’t back when I saw the doctors. 

As my right brain kicked into overdrive imagining different storylines, my left brain told it to stop catastrophizing, for as Sherlock Holmes said, “Data! Data! Data! I cannot make bricks without clay.” So I’d just have to wait for the data to imagine what protocol might be necessary.   

Seven days after that first phone call and two consultations with two oncologists later, the choice is clear as mud. Something abnormal or unusual appears to be near my left ovary. If it is a nothingburger cyst, it could be a simple clip, remove and zip me up. If poking around finds a nasty malignancy, it will be removed and more poking about will happen to ensure it’s all gone. In the worst case, they will cut me open like a spatchcocked chicken to find and remove all of the malignancy, a full abdominal hysterectomy. 

Why on earth am I choosing to share this nightmarish medical “Choose Your Own Adventure”? Because navigating words and paragraphs is how I get my brain to focus rather than fall into hysterics, with salty tears that always blur the vision of my glasses.  

And life happens to everyone. Whether the good, the banal or the terrifying, we all live through things and I want to believe sharing these moments might help others endure theirs too. 

The glorious fall weather we’re having in Western Massachusetts has certainly helped my attitude. As I go outside my home to refill and cull the neighborhood’s Little Library, leaves crunch announcing fall’s fall. Though these leaves irritate some of my neighbors, who prefer trees not to shed leaves on the ground, for me it is all a part of life’s cycles. 

So as I countdown the days until my 5:45 am arrival for the surgery, I have pages of rules to carefully follow. No supplements 7 days before, get my pre scheduled Covid test 3 days before, no shaving a few days before, no wine or recreational pot 48 hours before, liquid juice/broth diet 24 hours before and to take a shower with shower brushes (provided) the night before, afterwards sleeping on clean sheets in a clean nightgown. Last but not least, to bring my medical cards and photo ID to the hospital.  

My pre-surgery prescription is Carl Hiaasen books, engrossing streaming of shows and DVDs. As I focus on the absurdity of life, on what humanity perceives as reality, I watch pre-code gems like Ernst Lubitsch’s 1933 film “Design for Living” with a menage a trois. Who knew sex had been discovered way back in 1933?  

Live, laugh and ignore the dark dangerous corners of life where malignant realities lay. Or, at least, try to, for just as my tomato plants died leaving me with two rather sad small fruits for our shish kabob tonight—nothing lives forever. 

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    Candace Drimmer

    TIMELINE June 1972 to June 1973---Candace moves to Lima (Peru)----- June 1973 to May 1974---Candace and The Husband live in Glendale AZ----- May 1974 to August 1974---Living in Toronto, Ontario (Canada)----- September 1974 to May 1975---Living in Aberdeen SD----- May 1975 to July 1979---Living in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada)----- July 1979 to June 1980---Living in Asuncion (Paraguay)----- June 1980 to September 1980---Living in NYC----- September 1980 to November 1982---Living in Connecticut----- November 1982 to January 1983---Living in Ponce, Puerto Rico (USA)----- February 1983 to July 1986---Living in Willemstad, Curacao (Netherlands Antilles)----- July 1986 to July 1989---Living in Guayaquil (Ecuador)----- July 1989 to July 1995---Living in Connecticut (yes, again)----- July 1995 to August 2001---Living in Mexico City (Mexico)----- August 2001---Return to Gringolandia (a.k.a. United States of America)----- I was an accidental expatriate; love and marriage led me to it. One day I was a bandy-legged kid sitting atop my dogwood tree looking out of my small backyard world in 1950s New Jersey, wanting to move somewhere--anywhere, different. Next thing I knew I met a young hirsute anti-war, soon-to-be-Peace Corps volunteer, fell in love and moved to Peru in the 1970s. WHAT an adventure it's been!! NOTE: I gave up Facebook, so apologies that I cannot answer any comments since it is only set up via FB.

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