It’s Friday and I’m sitting on my couch, recovering from an ovarian vein embolization, which is a super fancy name for a procedure used to address a condition known as pelvic congestion or, as I like to call it, WHY AM I GROWING TESTICLES? In my case, pelvic congestion meant that blood was pooling in the veins of my nether regions, kind of like varicose veins of the vagina, or VVV if you are allergic to alliteration. You know what happens when blood pools in a vein in your nether regions? No? I’ll tell you! That region throbs. And pulsates. And aches. With nary an orgasm in sight. And, if you’re really lucky, your crotch bulges and makes you suspect that your vagina decided to go all out Crying Game on you and sprout some tiny, faux, cranky man balls.
If you think of a vagina as Disney World (and who doesn’t?), the veins leading to the Magic Kingdom are paved with happy, healthy people of all ages waiting to get in. And waiting and waiting and waiting, times infinity, because no one wanted to sell a kidney for a fast pass or whatever that golden ticket is that allows them to bypass all the common folk and be admitted into the park first. And it’s 145° out and all of those formerly happy and healthy people start passing out from heat stroke or old age or because yelling I WANT TO HUG A PRINCESS for 97 minutes straight is simply exhausting. Pretty soon, your vein is busting at its seams with heaps of sad, sullen, inert occupants who have absolutely no intention of vacating the premises because they paid $6,773 for a day pass and by God, they’re going to have fun even if they’re a comatose pile of sweaty mess while having it.
Not a Disney fan, in case you weren’t aware.
One of the worst by-products of pelvic congestion, aside from the pain and the constant assurances to whomever I am dating that YES, FOR GOD’S SAKE, I AM A WOMAN, is bloating. Not just the regular run-of-the-mill bloating you get when you eat a little too much hummus and forget to take your Beano. I’m talking about the bloating that is akin to having a behemoth of a beached whale take up residence in your belly, but only after it consumed all of the plankton in the northern hemisphere.
There were days when I looked six months pregnant and felt nine.
I had always been grateful that even after two c-sections, I had a flat stomach, albeit accompanied by that awful “flap” that all women who have experienced the joy that is a cesarean reluctantly own until Santa leaves them a tummy tuck under the tree. But suddenly, I didn’t have a flat belly any longer and I couldn’t button my jeans comfortably and there were days when I was reasonably certain Wilson from Cast Away abandoned Tom Hanks in that ocean two decades ago, only to float his way up my vagina so he could camp out in my belly, somewhere near my right ovary.
I’d been living with this bloat and discomfort for the better part of a year because I thought it was a normal part of that magical change of life called menopause or, more commonly known as I BLED LIKE A STUCK PIG FOR 40 YEARS FOR THIS SHIT?
But this was not normal. It was beginning to affect my daily life and more often than not, I was squirming in my seat to relieve the discomfort, buying bigger pants and telling Brandon, my trainer, that I could not do various exercises because it hurt down there and then I had to elaborate on what I meant by “it hurt down there” lest he thought I couldn’t squat my normal weight because I had spent the night before getting my vagina all swollen for entirely different and decidedly more fun reasons. And then I’d go home, shower and try to find something I could wear to work that didn’t make those around me worry that my water would break all over the place if I sneezed too hard.
At my annual appointment, I discussed my situation with my ob/gyn and I simply cannot stress the importance of feeling comfortable enough with your doctor to just hop on a table, spread your legs and yell WHAT IS HAPPENING? IT’S LIKE FRANK AND BEANS, WITHOUT THE FRANK.”
I love my ob/gyn. If she, or my regular doctor, or my hairdresser or my trainer or my nail tech ever leave, I may be inconsolable.
She diagnosed me with pelvic congestion and two weeks later that diagnosis was confirmed by a radiologist and then I waited over a month to schedule the procedure because the thought of undergoing any medical procedure involving a hospital gown makes me hyperventilate.
Can someone please manufacture a hospital gown that doesn’t necessitate your ass hanging out for the entire world to behold?
Eventually, I tugged up my big girl panties and yesterday, that radiologist held the fate of my vagina in his very capable hands while never once even getting anywhere near Cinderella’s Castle. Instead, he inserted a catheter in my neck, wound it down to my pelvic region to strategically, and permanently, place a metal coil in my vein, thereby blocking it and rerouting the blood to other, more efficient veins. It was minimally invasive and other than a bruised neck and bit of cramping on my left side, there was no discomfort. My radiologist told me that my vein was approximately 12 mm wide instead of a healthy 2 mm wide and I assumed it was because I’m an overachiever but he said it was a common symptom of this condition. He also said that he fully expected my pain and bloating to all but disappear over the next month.
Ladies, listen to your bodies. Sometimes, pain and bloating is caused by something other than eating your weight in cannolis.
Not going to lie, I’m a little curious if my groin is going to light up any TSA agent’s screen at the airport. That will be a fun conversation, won’t it? I hope my kids are with me.
In the meantime, because I am ever the optimist, I am off to buy smaller, big girl panties.