I’ll start with the basics. Two weeks ago I had laparoscopic surgery to remove two pretty large (but not gigantic) dermoid cysts; I affectionately referred to them as my lil aliens . I was pretty out of it for about a week and have spent the last week resting and getting back into the swing of things. I would say that a week off work due to pain is necessary and another week off if you can to get some rest and not overdo it would really help you. The pain is still there but it subsided greatly by day 11. I still can’t walk very far, but I was given the clearance to start easing into light exercise. Even though only minor slits (five in my case) are made, the core is pretty traumatized and bruised, and the bounce of running really intensifies any pain. I can’t run yet, but I’ll report back when I can.
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First, let me express my dismay at all the terrible advice on the Runner’s World forums and in the Runner’s World columns.
I ran across this lovely advice column for a beginner runner after surgery. My first question is: what type of surgery? Knee surgery, gall bladder surgery, brain surgery? Laparoscopic or 10 inch scar with staples? Nerve surgery or endometriosis removal? Each will have a different timeline for getting back to your normal routine and how hard that will be. The ease into it advice is pretty safe but not really that helpful when looking for specific answers.
But what really, really floored me was this forum topic: Dermoid cyst and laparoscopy surgery. I hope the OP got her dermoids taken care of and didn’t listen to the horrible advice given by the posters. All the posters are really helpful offering information about their cysts leaking and rupturing and how that’s not a big deal. Well, with a dermoid cyst, that is a HUGE deal. If a dermoid is leaking, you will get an infection and could die if its not treated. And there is no alternative treatment for dermoids, not even hormones. It’s removal. A dermoid is not the same as other cysts. I tried to register and post what another poster finally did last week, but I wouldn’t get registered for some reason.
In the end, I asked my doctor and stopped looking online; he assured me the recovery would be exactly the same as my last laparoscopic surgery to have endo removed. I didn’t run back then, so I don’t know when I’ll be able to run again or how long it will take me to ease back into it.
Now back to my experience.
My training with the lil aliens has not been so great. There’s pain, fatigue, and dehydration and unexplained total exhaustion. At least I have them to blame. I was really starting to feel bad about my lack of improvement. I only seemed to get worse over the last year. It became harder and harder each run.
The first twinges of pain started late last summer while I was doing an Herbalife challenge to lose weight I gained after arm surgery (Ulnar Nerve Transposition number 2). When I say “twinge”, I mean I spent hours laying on the floor crying. Acupuncture kind of helped, but I could tell something was off. I assumed it was my endometriosis flared up from the Herbalife. My Herbalife counselor suggested it was the running. Except I had just gone through a year of running long distance prior to surgery with no pain, running three miles shouldn’t give me pain all week in my abdomen and lower back. Needless to say I stopped Herbalife.
In October, the pain in my abdomen got worse and a new pain, just under my right rib cage, came along with it. And my poop turned green. I was in the middle of a bunch of half marathons and training, and hoped it would go away. It didn’t. I hoped that the green color was from the large amount of nuun I was drinking.
In November and December I ran my races and had a doctor’s appointment. Then my Chewie got sick. I spent the next couple of months nursing him. It was a full time job taking care of him and my health took a back seat. In that time, the spastic colon started. Bloating, pain, diarrhea, you name it I had it. I figured it was due to stress and it would go away. It didn’t. I also had to pee like every three minutes. I spent a lot of time in my bathroom and would really like to change out the tile.
I ran my last half of the season in January (with many, many bathroom breaks) and took a break completely from running, the nuun, and eating for training. I hoped the attention to my body would help some of the symptoms. Then Chewie passed away and I went on my yearly vacation to Hawaii. With the stress reduced, none of the symptoms stopped. In fact they got worse.
The pain became almost constant and my finicky colon meant I could only run in mile loops from my house so I could stop and go to the bathroom. I couldn’t even go to the lake because I discovered that bathrooms locked more than once. Mile loops, sometimes two miles. I didn’t run much. I lost ten pounds, at least.
Before Hawaii in April, I finally made it my doctor. I was tested for gluten intolerance (gluten is still safe in my body), parasites, and a number of other fun options. In early May, with no test results reporting anything, I went to a GI doctor who told me the pain in my lower left abdomen was a torn ligament because there are no organs that low in the abdomen. We’re talking about an inch below my belly button on the left side. A pulled muscle or torn ligament that hurts when I have to poop and makes me nauseous? She sent me for a colonoscopy because my mom has Ulcerative Colitis. After being poked and prodded for a month, the colonoscopy was a breeze but turned up nothing. The GI doctor suggested I take probiotics (which I had been taking since the Herbalife last Summer).
I went to my Gynocologist because hey maybe all these crazy symptoms are just my endometriosis after all. He suggested my birth control could be the issue, but sent me for an ultrasound of my abdomen and gall bladder just in case it was something. I think I was crying in the exam room, because he hugged me when I was leaving.
I’ll admit, I put off the ultrasound until after the Duvall Double. My training may not have been going well, but I was determined to finish those races, even though the pain, which I chose to ignore.
A strange growth on the ultrasound meant another MRI (with dye this time) to check my abdomen out because apparently the last MRI only looked at my colon. Not one, but two dermoid cysts were discovered on my ovaries. One the size of a golf ball and the other the size and shape of an extra large egg.
Finally a diagnosis. Perhaps it won’t fix all the issues, because there were so many, but it’s a good start. And I’m not above saying that I felt a little vindicated that my torn ligament really was something causing pain. At this point, my pain was excruciating. I spent entire days not moving from the couch and barely worked through the fog. I ran when I could, focusing on shorter interval workouts rather than real distance.
Timeline from Ultrasound to MRI was three days. My MRI results were back that evening and I went in to discuss options a couple days later. Surgery was to be immediate. I was seriously expecting to suffer through training and get the cysts removed after Dumbo Double Dare on Labor Day Weekend.
Seems dermoid cysts are pretty dangerous. They don’t dissolve back into your body, and if they leak or rupture can cause serious infections or kill you. Since mine were obviously causing me discomfort, surgery was imminent. Running probably didn’t make the aliens happy, but then again, neither did sitting on the couch watching tv–or eating or breathing really.
I actually ran every other day right until a couple days before surgery. Once I knew what was causing the pain, and understood it really wasn’t in my head, I took it easy, aiming for 13 minute miles, not worrying about speed.
So within a week from Ultrasound to doctor’s appointment, I had a surgery date for a few days later. I had the surgery, the doctor saved my ovaries (because its better to naturally regular hormones), scraped some endometriosis off the back of my uterus, and removed some scar tissue from my Fallopian tubes. The blue plate special he called it.
I’m two weeks out from surgery. Can I run? No. Can I racewalk? No. Can I walk faster than your grandmother? Probably not. I ran five feet in the back yard with my dog and was in ridiculous pain. I get tired walking super slow, shuffling really. I still can’t really lift anything with accompanying aches, although restrictions have been lifted with the advice to ease into things and avoid strenuous exercise. Every now and then, dizziness on the verge of vertigo overwhelms me. I can still feel my dissolvable stitches under my skin, and a couple are even poking out of the cuts. I have a feeling when the stitches are gone, much of the tenderness will go with them and things will be healed enough to move fast again.
I plan to ramp up my walking to train for the Dumbo Double Dare and add in some running or racewalking as I can. I don’t expect to be very fast, but I hope to finish both races. And if I don’t, I’ll probably piss some people off and take the medal anyway and be totally bummed that I won’t get the extra DDD challenge medal.(That one, even if they offered it, I wouldn’t take. It’s a challenge after all. Sometimes the race is really more about the journey than the finish, but a challenge is a challenge, no reward for failing, no matter what the reason.) Although I have my costumes and plan on rockin’ the race, albeit very, very slow!
To answer my own question that I spent hours searching for the answer to: When can you run after ovarian dermoid removal? Not within two weeks that’s for sure, and probably more like four, maybe. I wouldn’t expect any distance right away, but that should improve fairly quickly once the pain goes away. I’ll report back.
I have a 5k on Saturday. I’ll be walking.