How my Ovarian Cyst Helped me Make Peace with my FUPA (and other Reflections)

A look back at the ways my life exploded after my lover’s dick knocked a cyst the size of a grapefruit loose from my ovary. By Cat Damon. Main image by Sandy Kim.

It’s been almost four months since I had my right ovary, an ovarian cyst, and a fallopian tube taken out. So far, the lasting effects have included getting into a relationship, ratcheting up my houseplant number to 30, and making peace with a semi-permanent FUPA.

I now have a red scar as long as my hand bisecting my lower torso like a shelf, which becomes particularly noticeable when I overdo it on pasta. Some pubic hair pokes out over it, but not enough to cover it up. My doctor told me that scar tissue pulls in on itself, and that’s why I have a shelf-shaped lower stomach. I could massage it to loosen up the tight scarring, but pulling at and kneading what’s essentially a C-section is not my kind of kink.

The hospital called me a week before the surgery to ask about my will and general attitudes about death and dying. After this, I made a point to ask people what possessions of mine they wanted in case I died during surgery. I separated my cats to give to different friends like they were Solomon’s baby. My parents agreed to throw a party and let everyone take whatever they wanted. I left my bed to my sister because her furniture is true garbage. I told my boyfriend he could have my prize houseplant.

The dude who knocked my cyst loose during sex in March stuck around and became my dude, who took me to the ER a few weeks before my scheduled surgery in May. I cried in his car as my ovary twisted around on itself and then tried to ban him from entering the emergency room with me. After I was cleared hours later, we ate pizza and drank Miller Lite in a badly lit late-night restaurant. He was the only person I felt really comfortable talking to about the surgery. About what I would look like, how long it would be before I could have sex, whether or not I could still have children. Nothing is a big deal to him, and not in a minimizing cool-guy way. He processes things slowly and quietly and makes bad jokes at appropriate times. He had to go to California for 10 days, missing the surgery and the gnarliest part of recovery.

The worst part about the surgery itself was the OR nurse’s insistence on doing the pre-op intake in front of my parents. Ordering a pregnancy test while simultaneously informing your father that no, you did not quit smoking isn’t the most relaxed way to go into an ovariectomy. I held onto this big crystal my friend Sophie’s grandmother found in a cave in California and made a bunch of shitty jokes as I got wheeled around in a gurney. The next-worst part was the shaming my parents gave me for my guttural cussing every time I had to move my body after the surgery. It truly felt like my incision would open up any time I moved my body. And as an aggressive over-hydrator, the only way I could cope with constantly peeing after being sawed open was by cussing profoundly. “Do you have to say ‘G.D.’?” my mother asked sotto voce, looking over at the nurse to see whether she was crossing herself at my demonic roaring. “Why not just damn?”

The next week was a warm cocoon of painkillers, princess cake, and hanging out with my friends and my mom. I think it’s good to have someone around to nurture you in the way you need after a surgery like that, and my mom is that person for me. She kept forgetting to tell me I shouldn’t do things like water my plants or carry a cat, and kept photographing the bruising which swelled from my clit to my tits to send to people. She’s not sentimental or clinging, but hyper efficient and SO fun. She understood, if not provided the template for my need to be A Tough Guy and make jokes about what a fucked-up gargoyle I looked like. She hung out while friends brought over cake and weed tincture. “You drank your weed and I smoked my wine!” she cackled one night as I capped off a substance-y evening of rosé, painkillers, and liquid marijuana.

I can’t think about early summer without being gut-punched by gratitude for her and for the buddies I have. Friends who were happy just to hold hands in bed, or bring over whole cakes with “Get better, wild man” written in cursive. They wanted to see pictures of the cyst, which clocked in at the size of a grapefruit, and brought joints wrapped up in jewelry boxes. My boyfriend came back at midnight a week after my surgery, and we fucked even though I wasn’t supposed to have sex for a month after surgery. I felt mostly-fine at that point, and continued to heal at an almost freakish pace— I think this was partially due to the miraculous healing power of clitoral orgasms.

Three weeks after my surgery, I went to the wedding of two of my close friends. I bought my first pair of Spanx as to not look pregnant in my black linen sheath dress. I got cocky and overdid it with a toxic combination of Aperol Spritzes and aggressive disco, and threw up all over myself on the bus ride back from the mountaintop venue. That was the only big recovery glitch. My boyfriend’s dick did not, in fact, bust through my incision as I had feared, and my month-after post-op was anticlimactic and boring. In total, it took me one week to feel mostly like myself, two weeks to not need painkillers, three weeks to remember I am mortal and incapable of chugging fizzy cocktails, and a month to be told it was safe to do all the things I’d already been doing. And apparently the rest of my life to lose the FUPA.  

Read Cat Damon’s previous post about her cyst HERE :)



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