Ovary Farewell Tour

September 8, 2015

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I am flying through the air at 30,000 feet, thinking about my ovary. An ovary is a strange thing to think about on a thursday afternoon, flying through the air in a steel tube of impatient, head-phoned travelers trying to ignore the screaming baby. Perhaps the baby is why I keep thinking about it, as babies begin with that simple little ovary. It’s my 36th birthday today and sidebar, I had an incredibly fun beach birthday bash with friends to celebrate.  It was cat-themed.  Because I am a 9 year old girl.  You know you have good friends when they dress up as cats for you and drink beer on the beach.  🙂 And yes, I am wearing a cat bikini.  

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If you’ve never stopped by my little corner of the internet before, welcome! You can read past entries by clicking the home page and scrolling, or by clicking on “My SIBO Battle” above for the history of my digestive and thyrodial (yes, I sometimes make up words) woes. OR click here for the previous entry, or here if you’ve stopped by to learn about my experience with the elemental diet, or my Recipe tab if you want some yummy, SIBO-friendly recipes.

For 36 years I’ve given very little thought to that ovary, probably even far less than your average woman. Even as a teenager, I somehow doubted I was going to be a Mother. I was quiet about this doubt, because growing up in the South as a woman MEANT Motherhood, and wifeliness, and these things were (and still are) very tied into being a “proper” and “good” woman. I can recall someone many years ago talking about how my husband’s friend was marrying a “Good Southern girl” and what she really alluded to before and around that statement was that girl’s (open) desire to get married and start a family quickly. I remember thinking, “I will never be a ‘good Southern girl.'” And despite myself, feeling sort of shameful or sad about it…or maybe it was just the loneliness of knowing it was one more thing that made me not fit in, in the Southland. Either way, it was the beginning of a lifetime of defending my choice around Motherlessness.

Anyway…my ovary. My husband Joe and I have named it “Oscar.” I have a thing about namingconfuseduterus objects women’s names. It pisses me off. I think it’s because it’s a default of our culture to so naturally objectify women that we automatically attribute female names to objects. Things like boats, cars, hell even hurricanes, are given the pronoun of “she” and given a female-sounding name.  It’s one of those seemingly small and harmless things that perhaps isn’t so harmless after all.  That kind of thing fascinates me.  So I name objects with boy names. I know. I am SUCH a rebel. And I think it funny to name an ovary, something so intrinsically and overtly female, “Oscar.” We named it Oscar because it is grouchy…as in, of course, Oscar the Grouch. It has become hostile and surly and needs to find a new garbage can in which to live.  Yes, I just essentially called my body a garbage can, which isn’t a too-off analogy for it these days.  😛

Looking pregnant when you’re not pregnant. No fun.

The last I wrote, I was celebrating the fact that I had totally kung-fu chopped SIBO and H. Pylori in the balls. I have to admit, I was READY for some celebrating. After months of a crazy strict diet, becoming a bit of a hermit, feeling ill, dealing with debilitating stomach pain, and feeling lonely because no one in my life REALLY got it…I was all too ready to reclaim my former perky, adventurous, go-get-’em self. But something was still…off. I was still having symptoms. I still had intermittent digestive issues, bloating, fatigue, and back pain. At first I just attributed it to a weakened gut. I’d blasted it with antibiotics, strong herbals and antimicrobials, hundreds of acupuncture needles and B12 shots, and denied it many delicious foods and drinks. The fact that it was pissy was understandable. But after weeks and weeks of unchanging symptoms, I knew something was still up. After being mistaken for being pregnant at the grocery store AGAIN (what IS it with people at the grocery thinking I’m preggo? It seems I’m always accused of being “with child” in the same grocery store on my block, which I suppose is convenient because it allows me to slink home quickly to feel bad about myself in private. Of course this is after rubbing my belly fakely to the person that has audaciously asked when I’m due while pretending to be happy about my fake baby. I just feel like lying in that instance is a public service. No one wants to be that uncomfortable). I went back to my ND, my trusty ole girl that has been with me in this fight from the beginning and said, “What else ya got? We need to keep checking…something else is up.”

She asked when my last ultrasound had been taken. I’ve had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) for quite a long time now, but over the past few years, it seems to have gotten worse. PCOS is an unpleasant, but fairly mild illness. It ovary2causes really fun things like heavy/painful periods, spikes in hormones (especially testosterone), weight gain, acne, unwanted facial hair, and mood swings. Sounds fun huh? It basically makes you so ugly and disgusting that you don’t need birth control anymore because no one wants to touch you. I hadn’t had an ultra sound for a few years, so my doc suggested we start there. Despite my digestive issues being “resolved” (so said the tests anyway), she wondered if there might be something going wrong with mah lady bits. So, off to the gyno I go! (Never a fun sentence for a woman).

ovary3As I was getting a standard ultrasound the radiation tech was making a lot of noise. Many, “Hmmmms” and “Oh, MMmm Hmmmmms” were happening. She asked if we could do a pelvic ultrasound as well to get a better look. Why not? My body has become fodder for new explorers. Er, I mean that in a non-slutty way (the slutty way would be far more fun). While performing the pelvic, I had a LOT of pain. It was extremely uncomfortable and the incessant murmuring of the tech made me think that yup…they found something weird. My body is just chock FULL of weird shit.  But alas, radiation techs are sworn to secrecy for some inexplicable reason while they make discouraging faces and probe your most private of parts.

The next day I met with my ND for the results. They found that my left ovary (Oscar) was nearly 4 times the size of my right ovary (Kanye West) and that there was a substantial growth of an indeterminable size on Oscar as well. They referred me for an MRI to get a better look at that old grouch.

A few days later, I go for the MRI. Easy peasy. Big, loud tube that screeches and clicks and clucks at you rudely. Then you’re done. The next day I again met with my ND for the results. She was very solemn this time. Serious face. Ruh roh. The growth was in fact a grapefruit-sized mass that was both hard and had fluid-filled sacks. Dammit, Oscar. She and the doc that read the MRI wanted to refer me to Oncology at the Kapiolani Women’s Center to see what my options were. Oncology is always a scary word that tends to sort of hang in the air after uttered, taunting you with its possible canceryness. But, ovary4in all honesty, I was mostly unworried. I’ve had these “female issues” my entire life and every time they find a new cyst or scary something, it turns out to be nothing. I’m young and despite my small intestine being the slow kid in class, I’m relatively healthy. I was pretty dern confident that I would see this scaryologist, and he/she would pat my head and tell me it’s “nothing” and send me on my uncancery way.

I go to see the Gyno/Oncologist. He was highly recommend by my ND, and he turned out to be really wonderful; personable, patient, and easy to talk to. ovary5He did none of the “I AM A DOCTOR AND THEREFORE GOD” stuff that has become so familiar to us SIBO folk. He told me, however, that he was quite concerned after looking at my MRI. He said he wanted to examine me. Up in the stirrups I go (again, never a fun sentence for a woman). The funny part was, I was in a teaching hospital, so there were 5 med student interns staring right at my lady junk. A few of them tried to awkwardly make conversation… “So…you live around here?” or, “isn’t parking horrible in this area?” to which I just had to reply, “Guys. You’re starting at my vagina. Let’s just skip the small talk.” They laughed and I stared at the ceiling, wishing I had the forethought to draw something funny on my pubic bone for the show.

After he examined me, he sat up, looked at me and said, “Yup. We have got to take that out. Soon.” I was surprised, really. I said, “Soooo…surgery?” and he nodded. 3 incisions, out through the belly button. Gross. The thought of pulling a tumor out through my belly button makes me wanna hurl. He told me that removing the entire ovary was ideal, in case it was cancerous (if it is, it would be safer to have removed as much as possible), but that if I was at all concerned about fertility, he would leave it. I told him that I wouldn’t be having children. He looked at me concerned, “Are you SURE? You’re only 35!” I nodded. “I’m sure.” I said. He asked again, “But what if you change your mind? Are you sure you are sure?” This is something that irks me (and I imagine any woman that chooses childlessness)…the assumption that we might “change our minds” as if we don’t understand our own wants or desires. It’s quite insulting and frustrating. If someone says, “I want children!” The answer is not automatically, “Are you SURE?!?!?! You’ll probably change your mind!!!” I looked at him in the eye and said, “Doc, have you ever been sure about something for 35 years? I have. I’m sure.” He laughed good-naturedly and said, “I haven’t ever thought about it that way. Fair enough.” I was liking this dude more and more. Besides, even if he did preserve Oscar, my PCOS is so terrible that I haven’t ovulated in over a year, making it an “almost certainty” (my gyno’s words) that I would have to go the in vitro route to conceive. I’ve always doubted I would become a Mother (but I’ve also always tried to remain open to it as well) however I certainly have never wanted it badly enough to go through THAT. I always imagined adopting orovary6 fostering if I were to parent, anyway. But I’m rambling. I think I always feel a need to explain or pander to people reading this blog that are silently judging my non-Motherly ways. I don’t know why. Ok that’s a total lie. I do know why, it’s because we still view women’s “roles” as synonymous with Motherhood. It’s still, even in these “progressive” times, strange to nearly everyone that I have not longed my whole life to be a Mother. People really have severe reactions about it, so I am almost always (because of these reactions) a little bit on the defensive about this choice, which I truly hate. I don’t want my defenses up. It seems unfair. My husband NEVER gets questions or judgmental looks or statements like, “Ohhhhh, you’ll change your mind…just you wait!” They accept his childlessness with complete approval. But if I tell someone that even though I really enjoy and like children, I just don’t think that parenthood is the path for me, they look at me like I am the Antichrist and immediately seem suspicious that I will try to kidnap and cage their children Hanzel-and-Gretel-style.

To be perfectly clear, just because I have made this choice does not mean that I don’t respect your right to have children.  I love my nieces and nephews.  I love my friend’s kids and love being auntie.  I will jump up and down with you when you tell me you are pregnant and buy your child ridiculous gender-neutral toys (because that is what Auntie Katie does), and I will cry with you when  you suffer a miscarriage or when the in vitro doesn’t work, and I will fight for your right to breastfeed in public (because boobs do not exist solely for men’s pleasure!). I will hardCORE go to bat for any Mom out there, because they do not get even a tenth of the respect they deserve.  I simply would like the same respect for my chosen path.  Perhaps now that Oscar is movin’ on out, this will be a built-in excuse and that disdain will turn to pity. In fact, I’m certain it will. But I refuse to be pitied. Instead I will always make it clear that I have chosen this path for numerous intelligent reasons, and that should be enough. Maybe one day it will be. My biological clock is ticking, and I really find that sound quite soothing. I’ll just let it tick. Reader, meet soapbox. Stepping down now. Damn, this thing is high…

Good God I’ll probably turn 45 and suddenly decide I’m DYING to have a freaking baby and will have to delete all of this.  I’ve always been a late bloomer, after all!  If anyone would get pregnant with one ovary gone and another covered in cysts, believe me…it would be me. 😛 Anywho, we scheduled the surgery for the 8th of September, because I’ve had a fun vacay planned to Portland and Denver for awhile. I’ve taken to calling it my #ovaryfarewellltour. Ya know, show him the sights


#ovaryfarewelltour in full effect in PDX!

before he leaves the womb. The oncologist believes that the residual bloating I’ve been experiencing (despite clearing SIBO and pylori) is due to the growth. He said that because of its size, it could be causing other issues as well, as it is pressing against my transverse colon and bladder. This COULD explain so much! I inquired about the possibilities of cancer and he simply said he didn’t know, and we wouldn’t know until he got in there. It’s strange but again, I am weirdly not worried. I feel like it’s silly to waste time worrying and freaking over something that very well may be benign. I’ve spent enough time this year hyper-focused and obsessed with my health and my future. I just don’t wanna do it anymore. Whatever comes I’ll handle it. Er, I hope. But just in case, don’t judge me if my next entry is a self-pitying mass of fear and overwhelming anxiety. 😛

So now, I have to get into the next thing, which has been HUGE for me! H-U-G-E I tell ya!  I posted about it in the SIBO forum but I have to mention it again. Some of you have heard me talk about the Illeocecal Valve. Check out this nifty little blurb about it from this website:

“Between the small intestine and the large intestine is a sphincter-type valve called the Ileocecal Valve (ICV). The purpose of this valve is to “prevent backflow” from the Large Intestine, once any material leaves the Small Intestine. Not all the contents entering the digestive tube are going to be absorbed as food. In fact, much of what is ingested and processed continues to flow through the tube for eventual elimination. At the point where the small intestine ends, it sends its watery waste products into the large intestine.

IF things “are normal” the ileocecal valve:

– Remains closed most of the time.
– Opens briefly to let the contents of the small intestine exit.
– Closes again quickly to prevent any materials in the large intestine from leaking back.


This very important anatomical structure does an unheralded job. The Ileocecal Valve is such a major cause of digestive symptoms for people that the problem has reached epidemic proportions; yet, outside the chiropractic profession, its function and importance are practically unknown. Problems with an open ileocecal valve (Ileocecal Valve Syndrome) are extremely common in today’s society yet its symptoms are often misdiagnosed. Very few health practitioners understand the significance of the ICV in digestive problems.”

My nd has been talking to me about this because one day, on a whim, she decided to manipulate the valve to close it. I was having stomach pain that very moment and was very bloated and frustrated. She had me lie down and proceeded to push in on my right side and move slowly back and forth in little waves (video of how to do this found on my SIBO Guide page, under Websites/Videos). It isn’t pleasant and hurts when someone pushes on it, but once it actually closes, you feel relief. Sometimes it’s very small at first, sometimes almost imperceptibly so. But a few minutes later I noticed that my stomach pain was subsiding, and my bloat had decreased. She encouraged me to try it at home on myself, or have my husband do it.

The next time I got that weird pain, I dutifully laid down to dig weirdly into my stomach. The things we do, I swear. Anyway, try as I might, I couldn’t “close” it. I ended up nearly giving myself a bruise from pushing so hard. I had Joe try it and he was even worse. He pushed so hard and was digging so deep it was like he was trying to find a buried treasure. We were laughing so hard (in between my screeches and yelps because it felt like he was pushing straight into my kidneys). 😛 The next appt., I asked her to show me again and to explain it in detail. That’s when I videoed it to share with you all. Shortly after that appointment, I left for Portland, Oregon to visit a friend. I had PLANS for Portland. Mainly of the food-and-booze variety. I wanted to test out my new sibo-free belly. I was ready to indulge and drink bourbon and eat my body weight in cheese. My nd


Gluten and coffee and cheese, oh my!

instructed me to try to close the valve before eating and again afterward. Luckily, the friend I was visiting (Celina) is super comfortable with the body. She’s a yogi and reiki master and when I explained she would have to close my valve multiple times a day, we had a good laugh and she was like, “Well…lay down. Let’s do it!” Aren’t good friends who will close your intestinal valve the best? Haha again…the things we do. It would sometimes take awhile to get it, but when we did, it helped SO. MUCH. I mean I really indulged people. I had gluten. I


My fantastic Portland buddies! ❤

had beer. I had donuts. I had coffee every single day (I’ve been off coffee and well, ALL of these things for nearly 8 months!). I went out and partied for my birthday and even ate at an all macaroni and cheese restaurant ‘Dis girl wasn’t playin’.  Only a few times did I have pain ( I THINK I am tracing the pain to my digestive enzymes) but each time I did, we worked on it and it subsided quickly, along with much of the bloat. It’s like some sort of weird SIBO switch. DISCLAIMER: This is ONLY going to help you if it is actually your problem. Meaning, this technique will only provide you relief if you are actually having illeocecal valve disfunction. ND DISCLAIMER: My ND wants to be clear that she is not recommending this treatment to others without personal consultation.  This massage technique was recommended to me during my individualized treatment plan and she would recommend you seek medical care/advice from a doctor or educated practitioner before attempting it.  So basically, try it at your own risk.  It certainly made my vacation more fun. 🙂 And it’s a hilarious memory for Celina and I for many years to come. I’d eat and then say, “Close mah valve, gurrrrl!” and she’d get right to work.  When you have friends like that, you can’t really complain too much about life.  🙂

I also began to notice another pattern while on vacay. I only had stomach pain every now and then (about 3x times while on the trip) and the foods I had eaten when the stomach pain came on were not consistent. Then, BING!  A light went on and I remembered that with each of those meals, I had taken digestive enzymes beforehand.  A while ago I was taking Protease as a biofilm disruptor, which I learned really hurt my stomach.  Many people can take these without issue, but for some reason, it gave me terrible stomach cramps.  I have now tried 3 different brands of digestive enzymes and finally realized that all of them have high levels of Protease.  Why didn’t I put this together before, you ask?  Because I am a moron. The connection never made its way into my brain.  I had slowly convinced myself that tomatoes were the culprit, but once I realized the enzyme connection and stopped taking them, I tolerated tomatoes with no problems at all.  I tell you this in case YOU are experiencing some pain and are currently taking enzymes.  It seems that NDs and doctors ALWAYS recommend these and for many people I think it can be extremely helpful.  But some of us are just too sensitive.

So that’s where I am. I have now moved on to Denver to finish this entry and just indulged in a mocha and small sandwich. It’s so fun to eat again, I can’t even tell you all. I even indulged in Portland


Mah drunk-on-a-rooftop-in-Portland face. 🙂

with a spicy mango, orange, jalepeno infused vodka drink. YUM. And shockingly, no problems whatsoever. F-U-N I tells ya! Those things are highly problematic for SIBO, so right now I’m feeling on top of the world, despite Oscar telling me otherwise. He’s an old bastard anyway. I just love thinking of my ovary as a grumpy, pissed old man. (For those of you reading my blog for the first time…yes, I’m weird)

Denver and Portland brought great times with old friends, LOTS of food andovary13
 booze, trail  running and huffing and puffing while running in the altitude, hours of Dr. Seuss reading with my friend’s adorable little girl, hanging with my aunt and uncle and cousins, and catching up with some of my favorite people in the world – my friend Sarah and my friend Celina. My friend Celina is in so many ways, my complete opposite.  We are so vastly different that we often


Celina and I

laugh that we even became friends.  But I LOVE our differences. She challenges me to look at the world through an entirely different lens.  She forces me to look at things that make me uncomfortable or to notice things I would never otherwise notice or contemplate.  Likewise, Sarah is one of the most self-aware people you’ll ever meet. She constantly challenges me to break out of my little Katie world and to push beyond my usual thought patterns, which can lead toward self-ridicule and anger at myself. We had many intense conversations about our life choices; why we remain entrenched in the same destructive spaces, why we ignore our higher selves and how we cling to denial out of fear. It stirred up quite a bit in me, honestly, and I need some time to work through it. But despite a surgery looming and some weird life


Sarah and I

choices that I need to work out in the next few months, I’m so grateful in this moment. No, not for food (ok, not ONLY for fun food) but for…life. For the ability to move outside of myself, to not linger any longer in self-pity or shame about that self-pity. Not gonna lie about it, this year has SUCKED health-wise, but in so many ways it’s been eye-opening. I had my major crutch, my drug-of-choice, my main coping mechanism taken away: FOOD. My entire life I’ve relied on food to soothe, to calm, to celebrate, to cover up pain or anger or fear. Having that taken away has been incredibly difficult and also eye-opening. It’s forced me to really learn to concentrate on other joys in life more, and to focus more inwardly on my feelings instead of just eating them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I’ll still be an emotional eater, but I think I’ve finally learned to look at my relationship with food in a healthier way, as well as (and probably even more importantly) learned to look more closely at my reasons for using food as my emotional savior.  I’m still muddling through all of this, but I can honestly say that all of these health issues, while being a total bitch, have also shown me some things that I needed to focus on; like my attitude, my great privilege in this world, my tendency to self-loathe, my desire to grow and be


Contemplating mah life in the CO mountains

a better, more empathetic and compassionate version of myself, and my fear of failing. These are things I would eat away. These are things that I need to dive into, instead. Seriously, I am NOT one of these “everything happens for a reason!” people…in fact that statement makes me viscerally angry (work with child sex abuse like I have for awhile and see if you can EVER say that statement again), but I DO, wholeheartedly believe that we can grow and learn and push our boundaries in the face of frustration and difficulty. I am proud to say that I am doing that. It might have taken me awhile and I might have spent one-too-many days holed up in mah “bed cave” (that’s what my husband calls it…when I get REALLY down I lie in bed with the shades drawn with my cat and binge-watch things like “Keeping up with the Kardashians” or “Project Runway”…don’t judge me!!! And simultaneously feel sorry for myself while hating myself for basking in self-pity), but I’m facing it and that’s what matters. We all have to move through those stages in order to get to acceptance…which is something I’ll talk more about next time.


The hubs and I on our trip. 🙂

Fast forward 4 days and I’m at home, finishing up this entry.  Today is my surgery and I’m less nervous than I thought.  I’ve never even had so much as a stitch, so this is all unfamiliar territory to me.  I was super healthy right up until the day that I wasn’t.  And while I know that surgery and the removal of Oscar will come with it’s own set of issues, I am hopeful that I will finallyoscar15 get some relief from (other) issues.  It’s time to heal and recover and get back to my Katie self.  Some friends and I went out for one last toast to Oscar yesterday. Cheers Oscar…it’s been real.  But now you gots to go.  Rest in peace, ya grouchy old bastard.


#byebyeoscar #ovaryfarewelltour

4 Responses to “Ovary Farewell Tour”

  1. […] tube removed, due to a large tumor that was found via ultrasound and MRI (see previous entry here for details on Oscar the Ovary). The surgery went splendidly (not that I remember any of it as I […]


  2. Anna said

    Katie, could you plaese write mi what kind of enzymes are you taking? I was taking 2 different brands but each of them after 2 or 3 days of taking was causing heartburn…I’ll be gratefull for giving me an answer.


    • Hey Anna! Actually I do not take them at all anymore. I found that I reacted to protease (have me stomach cramps) and nearly all digestive enzymes have protease. If I find one that is reputable without it, I would gladly try again! If you do not have this sensitivity (it is supposedly rare), I suggest integrative therapeutics or Z-Carb enzymes. 🙂


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