Behind the Oopherectomy

So. An oopherectomy is a pretty intense surprise for the casual blog-hopper or twitter-friend. For me, and my mothers with cancer pals, it’s no big deal, but here’s a bit of the skinny, the story behind the story if you will..

Oopherectomy = removal of the ovaries and, often, the fallopian tubes connecting them to the uterus.

Oopherectomies are done for different reasons.  Sometimes they’re done preventatively, to cut a woman’s cancer risk.  If the woman carries the BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 genes that connect breast cancer and ovarian cancer, and the woman has already had breast cancer, the ovaries often come out right away.  Sometimes the uterus is taken too (a hysterectomy), but, as far as we know, uterine cancer is not connected to ovarian cancer or breast cancer.  The trick here is as far as we know — for scientists have only uncovered a few genes that predict cancer risk with any level of success.

So I opted not to even do the gene testing, and take the ovaries out preventatively.

Or at least I thought I did.

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you’ve heard me complain (sorry!) about an ache in my abdomen, where my ovaries are, that comes and goes but mostly is with me all the time.  On Saturday, the ache became more than just an ache.  It got stronger and stronger by the hour, despite the medicines that I took to dull the pain.  (The motrin prescribed by my GP (!!!!!) didn’t help.)  At about 5:00, a sharp stabbing pain in my pelvis took over all my thoughts, and I gave in and called my GYN.

He listened carefully and said, “Oh, Susan.  You shouldn’t have waited this long to call me.”

And with that, he sent us to the ER for emergency evaluation and probably surgery.

I called my mother and father to come watch the kids overnight, called L to see if I could drop them off for a dinner/playdate right away, called Stimey to ask for some help with the next day’s plans, and we got in the minivan and went.

WonderDaddy dropped me off at the ER to stand in line, then took the kids to L’s house.  When he got back (five minutes later), I was sobbing in a wheelchair.  The pain had kept increasing until it was almost more than I could bear (and I’ve borne a lot recently); a kind hospital volunteer noticed and tucked me in a chair, despite my protests (“I don’t want a chair. I’ve spent too much time in one this year.”)  But it was more comfortable, so I was glad of it.  When I got checked in, I was told that my GYN had called ahead, that the tests had been ordered, and I would be taken into the ER as soon as it was my turn at the ultrasound.

They were as good as their word.

A few nurses later (my GYN is AWESOME and feared by the nurses — when he walked in and one was mid-shot, he thundered, “ON WHOSE ORDERS?” and she scuttled out of the room without complaint.)(I later found out that as she left she leaned over to my husband and said, “I got a little into her — hopefully that will help with the pain while she’s having her tests.), we had had 7 vials of blood taken and were on our way to the ultrasound and the spiral CT.

The tests were easy (I mean, really.), and it was back to waiting.  I was finally dressed in the dreaded hospital gown, but I was in so much pain at that point (despite 3 rounds of the meds) that I didn’t care what I was wearing.  (Funny thing: when we were first brought back to the room, the nurse said, “Take off your shirt and bra and put on the gown.”  Confused, I said, “you do know the problem is in my ovaries, right?” and pointed to the area in question.  Rattled, she responded, “Yes, but I said to take off your bra and shirt.”  Okey-dokey.  And let’s not even get into the bra question.  (To hold WHAT up exactly?)  I did as I was told, as weird as it was to be undressed in the healthy areas and fully dressed in the part that HURT BEYOND BELIEF.)

Oh, this is getting long.  Sorry about that. I’ll skip over all the waiting part and just say that

six hours after the tests, I was admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay and surgery in the morning.


17 Responses to Behind the Oopherectomy

  1. Amy says:

    I am so sorry that you had to go through this, but won’t it be a relief to not worry about ovarian cancer? I’m remembering how you decided to do the double instead of the single mastectomy, and how it turned out, against the odds, to be exactly the right decision even though you didn’t know it at the time.

    All my love and prayers for speedy healing and a pain free future.


  2. tracey says:

    Hope you’re recovering well…

  3. Here’s to healthier days ahead! Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  4. Spacemom says:

    Yikes! I have been twitterless lately. Very crazy
    But I am so sorry you had to deal with dimwits and pain.
    I once had OHSS and dear g-d did that hurt. I can’t imagine the pain you were in….

    Hope you get some rest!

  5. Michele says:

    I wish you a speedy recovery. Here’s to healthier days ahead!

  6. Michele says:

    Ha! I just saw that ‘isn’t it pretty to think so’ and I have almost the same exact comment almost reversed =)

  7. What had happened that caused the dull, normal ache to suddenly become excruciating? Why did that nurse ask you to take off your TOP when that wasn’t the problem??

    Were the ovaries and fallopian tubes removed via a laproscopy? I understand the recovery is much quicker that way and goodness knows you have been through ENOUGH this past year already.

  8. ilinap says:

    Sending prayers for quick healing and happy days ahead.

  9. Gidge Uriza says:

    OMG! I hope you are feeling better! I know I had an ovarian cyst rupture once and I thought I was dying on the spot.

    Feel better!

  10. Gill says:

    Hope you are feeling much better by now. I have had the type of ovarian pain you describe and it is not at all nice, so I really feel for you!

  11. Bon says:

    dude. i’m so sorry about the emergency, hope that all will be healed and well soon enough.

  12. Susan K says:

    For those of you all who care for Susan, just let me say I saw her yesterday – at work – complete surprise to me – and she LOOKED FABULOUS. You would NEVER know she had been sick and you would certainly never know she had JUST had surgery.

    She is amazing – and is not just telling us she is doing OK. She really is.

  13. Sarah S. says:

    Hope you are feeling well!

  14. Leann I Am says:

    Oh my goodness! It’s been too long since I’ve stopped by! What a scare you had!

  15. Ronna Dewey says:

    I stumbled upon your blog while looking for IBC information. I am glad you are doing well after your surgery. I just wrote about IBC on my website at
    I hope you continue to do well. Best wishes.

  16. […] add water I’m in menopause this weekend.  Instant menopause, since they took my ovaries, so there’s no gentle ramping-down of the hormones (if there ever is), and there’s no […]

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