Death by ovarian cyst

Medical staff sent me home from the hospital while I was bleeding internally from a ruptured ovarian cyst, and I almost died waiting for care.

I was in my late twenties when I experienced a pain in my lower abdomen, unlike anything I’d ever felt before. My husband, Derek, and I went to the emergency room, and after a CT scan, a doctor told us I was dealing with a ruptured ovarian cyst. It was little more than a painful nuisance and not a medical emergency, he said. 

The nurses injected me with pain medication, and the doctor sent me home with a prescription. I hoped I would sleep for days. But the discomfort persisted despite the medicine, and my symptoms worsened.

I was soon shuffling for the bathroom with a sick feeling in my stomach. That’s when I fell. What happened next was strange and hard to explain now.

My near-death experience


What I remember from those moments is a warm light and the safe feeling of loved ones nearby. It felt as though I had landed in a spot in my grandma’s yard at the top of a big, green hill that I rolled and sledded down a thousand times when I was young.

The thing about this scenario is I don’t remember actually seeing anything but that light. Everything else was a feeling until I found the light’s source, which was overwhelming — like trying to look at the sun. I realize the next part will sound like fiction to some, but my grandma, who died when I was a teen, shouted at me frantically, telling me to run.

I turned from the light to try and find her, and that’s when I came to. My husband was kneeling over me, panicked, and my body was shaking uncontrollably. Neither of us knew what happened. He said he’d discovered me sprawled out on the floor, eyes fixed, with no pulse or respirations. As he started to lift me off the ground, I regained consciousness. I sometimes say I opened my eyes when I retell my story, but he says they never closed. 

It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I’d been that close to dying. But listening to other people describe their near-death experiences touches something in my soul that just knows — I was in that place, too.

Hospital staff started treating me for a panic attack

So, we went back to the emergency room — but this time, Derek had to carry me, cradled like a child. Our actual child, Connor, was around 4 and held onto my foot while we walked in. We were a sight for the front desk, to say the least.

I want to preface this next part by saying I know this is not the case in every situation, but the staff that night would not listen to us, and they were counterproductive to my care. When we guessed the cyst caused the severe symptoms, they argued against that. They didn’t believe that I’d really almost died, only that I’d passed out from the pain of the cyst.

Having seen notes about anxiety in my chart, they treated me for a panic attack by giving me a medication I already took daily. Needless to say, it didn’t help any symptom — least of all my panic over unexpectedly facing my mortality on the way to the bathroom.

Derek pleaded with them as I fell in and out of lucidity for hours. Excruciating pain spread through my body, and I reached a point where I couldn’t turn my head because my neck and collarbone throbbed. I was in absolute agony all over.

Finally, the doctor asked for images of my abdomen to see if anything had changed. After a CT scan, I looked at the tech who rolled me to and from the room and told her I thought I was dying. She nodded and said, “You’re very sick.” 

That was such a relief because, finally, someone believed me.

Organs were in my chest cavity that weren’t supposed to be there

I needed surgery, as my abdomen was pretty well full of blood. And the cyst, which they approximated to be 3mm, was likely still bleeding. The organs above my ovaries were starting to push into my chest cavity, hence the full-body agony. The surgeon estimated that I was within 12 hours of bleeding to death… for good.

The surgery took more than two hours between irrigating my abdomen and repairing the cyst. I needed three blood transfusions because I’d lost 3/4 of my body’s volume. I was hospitalized for three days, the first of which I could not move from the bed.

Meanwhile, our dog was so stressed out in all the chaos that she chewed a hole in the couch before anyone could get to her. And I also couldn’t work for more than a month.

This all happened in 2016, and I’ve had ovarian cysts since. But none caused me even a millionth of the pain I felt from that 3mm anomaly.

If you’ve made it this far and are wondering, I’m not bitter toward the people who thought it was harmless, though I hope they view ovarian cysts differently. Like most things, they’re not all the same.

Some people, namely my mother, have asked why I didn’t file a lawsuit to seek some sort of compensation for how long I needlessly waited for relief, inching closer to my final expiration. And the answer is lawsuits are expensive if you don’t win. But I was also happy to be alive and hold my son again, and I just wanted to move forward.


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