My tryst with an ovarian cyst – discovery & diagnosis

(This is the first part of a three-part series about my experience from the discovery of the dermoid cyst, to my harrowing experience in the various hospitals of Bangalore, to the final laparoscopic removal by Dr. Deepak Rao of Rashmi Hospital).

I look forward to Christmas holidays more than the average person. The holidays for this one festival also coincides with the end of the last session of the year at the Alliance Française. Which means that it also comes at the end of a grueling month of wrapping up the session, last-minute revisions, end of session evaluations AND the December session of the DELF exams. So by the third week of December, I’m quite desperate for a week of idle decadence. A week where, even if I couldn’t travel and get out-of-town, I could just put up my feet, read several books, indulge my gourmand senses, meet some friends, redo the house and generally feel the year-end cheer.

But life had other plans for me this year. So while the world was busy attending one Christmas party after another, posting recaps of the year gone by, and planning what they would do on New Year’s Eve, I was busy shuttling between clinics, diagnostic laboratories and hospitals. It all started in the last week of class, with the annual team dinner, which led to a bout of indigestion. I ignored it for a couple of days, but finally succumbed to the husband’s nagging, and agreed to be dragged to the doctor on the morning on the 25th. Little did I know that nearly a decade of avoiding doctors was going to suddenly come and bite me in the a**!

First stop: Soukya, the holistic health centre, where the doctor realised that I am suffering from more than just a simple indigestion. I was dispatched for the first of many tests, a seemingly harmless ultrasound.

Second stop: Lotus Diagnostics, where I found myself standing with a bottle of water and hopping around in acute agony, while the receptionists looked like they couldn’t care if my bladder blew up in my face. After an excruciating wait, I was finally summoned into the scanning room. What followed should have been a painless experience, but went down as one of the most uncomfortable experiences of this entire nightmare. Everyone from the receptionists and the various assistants, to the radiologist were impolite, and almost crude in their way of dealing with me, devoid of even the most basic professional behaviour. I left with my diagnosis of an abnormally large cyst and an advice to get an MRI done to confirm the findings of the ultrasound, as well as a blood test to measure the level of CA125, which would indicate if the cyst was cancerous.

Back to Soukya, where I was put in touch with a gynaecologist. She had just undergone a cataract, and wouldn’t be able to conduct any procedure. But she was keen on taking me on, and pushed me to go ahead with the MRI immediately. I didn’t see any way out of it, so off we went to get an appointment.

(Image used only for illustrative purposes)

Third stop: ClinRad Diagnostics and Research centre, for my first blood test in years and well, hopefully the only MRI scans I will ever need. It took nearly three hours to get through the multiple MRI and CT scans needed to provide a “proper diagnosis” – three excruciatingly painful hours, for not only does one have to lie still during the scans, one also has to somehow tune out that hellish cacophony emitted by the machine at work. In the beginning, I convinced myself that it sounded like an EDM concert, but by the end of the first hour, it just felt like I was caught in a war zone. I have to admit that I wasn’t the easiest of patients, finding it difficult to stay still after the first scan, which lasted 45 minutes. But the technicians and assistants were amazingly patient, giving me the much required breaks and shifting their schedule to accommodate my need for mental and physical peace in between the scans.

24 hours later, armed with the report confirming that I had an ovarian cyst the size of a rugby ball, I contacted the doctor again, who promptly asked me to get all the preoperative checks done and get myself ready for a major surgery. Now remember, she still hadn’t seen me (or the MRI scans).  Actually she hadn’t even spoken to me. She was just interacting with my husband. We decided to go ahead and get the tests done anyway, and scheduled an appointment to meet her colleague, who would be performing the surgery at Manipal Hospital.

Given the nature of the cyst, we were also advised by friends and family to consult a gynaec-oncologist. So while waiting to meet the obstetrician-gynaecologist of Manipal, we went off for a consultation with the city’s top gynaec-oncologist.

Fourth stop: Mahaveer Jain Hospital, a hospital that lives up to the Indian stereotype of a chaotic mass of corridors, designed to depress the patients and their families. The gynaec-oncologist’s consultation room was in the same wing as the specialist for head and neck injuries, and the waiting room was not really designed for any efficiency at all. But this was a renowned doctor, and this was the only place where we could see him immediately. We waited 45 minutes to see the doctor, but he took one look at the scans and dismissed us, saying the cyst was completely non-malignant.

Relieved by his confident dismissal, we went back to Manipal to finally meet the doctor who would apparently operate on me…

You can read the next two parts of this series here:

  1. My tryst with an ovarian cyst – laparotomy v/s laparoscopy
  2. My tryst with an ovarian cyst – laparoscopic surgery by Dr. Deepak Rao


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