[Health Rx] How to Handle a Bartholin’s Cyst Pt 2 – Marsupialization

🦘I am more Kangaroo than you 🦘

Georgia O'Keeffe, "Mother of Modernism"

Not even a week and a half after I saw my OB/GYN to get my Bartholin’s Cyst lanced, my Bartholin’s Cyst procedure not only reversed itself – but became worse. For the record, with this type of issue – a recurrence is more common than you would hope. In my support group, some women have had 30+ lanced, or dozens of surgeries; it is depressing and isolating, and feels hopeless. There are no clear answers for us and there is no common fix; no one understands how they’re caused or how to truly treat them…but pretty sure if we were men someone would have made a one time pill for this shit – ANYWAYS.

Admittedly, I’ve been a bit bummed and borderline depressed every since my Bartholin’s Cyst Abscess came back after getting it lanced the first time. So, I figured it couldn’t hurt to finally go through the gauntlet of the recommended homeopathic remedies.

What I tried:

Best Organic Sitz Bath Soak For Postpartum Care Recovery & Natural Hemorrhoid Treatment, Soothes Relieves Pain Reduces Discomfort, 100% Pure Epsom & Dead Sea Salts Witch Hazel Lavender Essential Oil
  • Sitz Baths 2-3x a day with Epsom salts
  • Hot showers with a wash rag of Witch Hazel
  • Hot water bottles CONSTANTLY (but PLZ be careful, I definitely passed out with it one night and got a second degree burn on my leg…)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – applied to a warm wash rag; though, I really do NOT prefer how that makes me smell!
  • PRID – A homeopathic drying salve, this is supposed to assist in relief from the cyst. Thankfully, my husband used to play baseball and said it reminds him of that; so, guess that’s a win? Either way, it made my nether regions officially smell like a farmer’s market.

Though the swelling and constant discomfort went down initially, eventually after a week of the homeopathic treatments the entire Bartholin’s Gland became inflamed and as hard as a rock. I was excited to try the at home methods because I didn’t feel I do not feel nearly as rushed into it as before – however, it wasn’t long after that I came to the conclusion I had to go through a more invasive surgery to get the issue truly handled.

Fast forward to the next Monday, and I’d spent all morning trying to track down a doctor in the Pacific Northwest that not only understood the issues I was dealing with, but was more or less an expert on the Bartholin’s Glands considered with how little is truly known. I scoured the internet for OB/GYN surgeons in the area, and specialty OB/GYN; even trying out of the box ideas, like finding a Urogynecologist in the area and seeing if they could refer me to another clinic.

Being relatively new still to the area, I simply don’t have the bandwidth for that type of medical knowledge up here – but finally realized, that I’ve made friends, colleagues and coworkers with a handful of fantastic fems in the area and decided to hit them up to see if they had a good recommendation; and I’m infinitely grateful they did. When Danny and I moved into our current home last year, I became instant friends with one of the people that used to live here, she still comes around to hang out with our neighbor and the three of us have had some socially distant wine dates over the Summer; being sick of my own body shaming, and my ego, I spilled the beans to both of them and they didn’t skip a beat with recommending an amazing doctor at the University of Washington’s OB/GYN clinic.

Calling last Monday, I was told that the doctor they were pushing wasn’t available for a few months, but -as it turns out – there was a doctor available the day, and she just so happens to be an Associate Professor at UW and she is their resident surgeon on staff, and only comes in on Mondays. After reviewing my files, as well as a thorough examination – we determined we needed to do a more invasive type of surgery, this time – we would be going for a marsupialization.


 • ↠ Marsupialization ↞ •

Management of Bartholin's Duct Cyst and Gland Abscess - American Family  Physician

What does it mean to get a Marsupialization?

Well, besides being a really neat word that makes you feel like a hybrid human-kangaroo; Marsupializations are performed both if drainage isn’t effective, or the cyst is too large or infected for a Word Catheter to make sense. This can happen either in an OR using general anesthesia, or as I found out – it can also be done within your OB/GYN’s office using local anesthesia like lidocaine shots. Word to the wise – if you have a quick metabolism: you will burn through the anesthesia quickly and need more; let your doctor know! Besides the initial series of shots, I had to get about 15 more during the course of the procedure because my body ate through each shot within minutes.

So, what exactly is the Marsupialization Procedure?

After the lidocaine shots, your doctor will use a cold knife to open the gland and drain the cyst. Once the cyst is drained, the area is everted, cleansed and stitched back together using 4-6 stitches to form a small pouch – hence, the term marsuipialization. All in all it takes about 30 to 45 minutes either in the OR or in your doctor’s office.

How to you After Care for it?

Very happy to have taken these last few weeks off work to recover from both surgeries. After the first procedure reversed, I’ve been hesitant to get my hopes up – there’s still a 5-15% failure / return rate. But, after 14 days of doing the least, I’m finally feeling on the mend, minus a little discomfort when I sit thanks to the placement of the gland, and residual inflammation from the incisions and the stitches. I took two weeks off of work, and absolutely recommend that for anyone that gets this procedure done. There is a vast amount of initial discomfort, including issues with going to the bathroom, walking and sitting – and stress does not help; so very glad I’ve taken the time for myself to heal properly. work.


I now have a deeper respect and understanding of my body and mind after feeling the rollercoaster of emotions from the past few weeks. I’m lucky to have such an amazing partner to not only handle this with me, but to handle me going through this. Next time someone says “tough as balls” – please remind them it should REALLLLLY be “tough as a pussy”; between periods, childbirth and poorly researched unique OB/GYN issues- the amount of pain, pressure and discomfort women deal with is phenomenally incredible. Massive respect to all my pretty mommas and badass babes; we run the world.

Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) | Pink Spotted Lillies | 1930s, Paintings |  Christie's

[Celebrate] International Women’s Day

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

As a child, one of my favorite things was to sit in my parents laps while exploring my sorted multi cultural history.  Though today’s world has become more and more of an ethnic melting pot, back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Mixed Families were fewer and further between but within that caveat of a childhood – there was so much to explore on each side of the family.  Starting when I was in elementary school and going much into adulthood, one of my favorite past times has been learning about and contextualizing my complex family history, on all three sides.

When I was three, my parents split and my father remarried – though i don’t consider myself the product of a ‘broken home’ by society’s standards – I definitely didn’t have a normal upbringing, but my parents always implored how important it was to embrace your roots – no matter where they led. but, for as much as I learned about his side of the family, my grandmother’s parents trials and tribulations leaving Lithuania and Ireland on my father’s side, and into the throws of slave history in Southern, Creole African-America on my Mother’s Side, and a family lineage that I’ve fallen in love with time and time again.

In a predominantly patriarchal society where men are more often than not named after their fathers, and the fathers before them – I’m proud to come from a long line of women that were named in honor of each other.  Yep, my mother, her mother and my great grandmother were all named Lola – I broke the mold by matriculating over to Amanda, but in the back of my head I just can’t help it, and in the depths of my heart I can feel it: I’m a Lola, too.  And then, on my mother’s father’s side of the family – my great grandmother Anita Scott Coleman honed in on life in the American South West and became a prominent author of the Harlem Renaissance, and one of the only women, speaking out about the trials and tribulations of African American culture.  Emblazoning a path that both my mother, and myself, were privy to.

My mother, who deserves an essay or three just about what she’s accomplished in her lifetime, has been one of the biggest role models – if not the role model for my lifetime.  Growing up in Compton in the 1950’s and 60’s with her nose to the books, my mother became valedictorian of her high school and went to both Stanford Undergrad and Grad school on scholarship.  A vital resource in the maths and sciences, she’s not only helped me propel my love of both into both a college major and then into career, but she was a math tutor for my classes growing up – touching the lives and brains of peers left and right. Beyond just being a mother, she was my mentor, my peer and someone I’ve always aspired to be regardless of our differences. Nurture being just as important as nature, I was as influenced by my step-mother as I was my birth mother.  Separating when I was less than two years old, I never had a full grasp on the idea of ‘divorce’, but over time I became increasingly aware of the influence my step mother had in my life – from her calming presence to her endearing anecdotes and nurturing personality.

Whenever I look back on my upbringing with my adult onset hindsight, the trials and tribulations of my teenage years and calamity of college behind me,  I’m continually blown away by the notion that I’ve been surrounded by intelligent, independent, loving, charismatic and creative women my entire life;  women that have done more than pave the way for my family line to excel in the great beyond, but they’ve had a complete affect on the exterior world as well.  Now that I’ve had ample time to process the cross cultural melting pot that’s defined where I’ve come from and all of the idiosyncrasies that amass into who I am in the context of today’s society, I’ve become overwhelmed with pride for the female predecessors who’ve paved the way for the women of today and have fought for gender equity and equality, as well as a host of other social rights – not to mention, the right to vote and the right to choose. 

The nuanced difference between ‘Gender Equity’ and ‘Gender Equality’is an important facet of Women’s Rights.   Gender Equity implies that men and women are given the same resources and programs within society, a way of promoting gender ‘fairness’ and implying a world of equal opportunity regardless of your given sex. A byproduct of  Gender Equity, Gender Equality correlates to a society where men and women can cohesively have access to and enjoy the same facets of society; it seems one cannot exist without the other.

 

Though I don’t necessarily think that women need a day set aside from men to honor their achievements, every now and again it’s beneficial to give ourselves pause and understand the brevity of our history, the circumstances that we fought against and others that we conquered. The irony, at times, is that it feels like women can hold our gender back as much – if not more – than men do.  Be it ‘slut’ shaming, body shaming or gossip behind each others backs, the catty behaviors we engage in with each other wage small battles between us women instead of focusing on the bigger gender inequality ‘war’ at hand and speak volumes on our personal self-esteem.  As women, we can accomplish more together than we can as individuals – but that’s only if we have each others undivided support, not their indifference.  Instead of talking about them, talk to them – if there’s something you don’t understand, don’t immediately dislike it – seek to be engaged. Women as a whole can’t be propelled forward if we’re trying to hold each other back. We can influence the world to be collectively better through creativity, courage and charisma instead of cold shoulders and callous behavior.  Not to mention, It’s the 21st century, and it’s time to embrace our independence, intelligence and sexual identities.

Within every vertical of society, from science and technology to sports, women have been valiantly leveling the playing field while defying the odds and overcoming adversity. In 1896, Wyoming became the first state to give Women the vote, in 1916 the United States elected the first woman to the House of Representatives, and now in 2016 – there’s a chance we could see our first woman president. Billie Jean King put Women on the map in the Tennis world decades ago, fast forward to modern times and we have Becky Hammon as the first female coach in the NBA working as a Part Time coach for the San Antonio Spurs while the Buffalo Bills have brought on Kathryn Smith as the NFL’s First Full Time Female Coach.

If you’re still in the mood for inspiration, fantastic creative females like Nina Simone, Maya Angelou, Etta Jamesand Amy Tan seep their literature and music in their femininity while historical figures like Harriet Tubman, Sally Ride, Mae C. Jemison, Florence Nightingale, Susan B Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Marie Curie, Margaret Mead, Rosa Parks, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Page and so many more have caused our society to have in depth, personal and social reflections and explorations on what it means to revel in femininity. These are w omen that not only taught me grace, beauty, independence and determination, but that it’s more than okay to fight for what you want, it’s mandatory if you are seeking to change the way the world accepts you. It’s the 21st century and it’s time to stop seeing gender as a quantitative category that defines and holds back members of society and instead see it as a platform to engage.

Whether old or young, a mentor, a parent or a friend – celebrate the women in your life by discovering their passions and providing support while they unleash themselves on the world.   In honor of International Women’s Day, I’ve included a fantastic TED Talk from Reshma Saujani entitled ‘Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection’ – an important piece of advice for women and the men who love, cherish, admire and learn from them.

Who are the most influential women in your life and how are you choosing to celebrate them today?

Celebrated annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day is a chance to honor the dedicated, driven, determined women working for gender equality around the globe while at the same time, revel in Women’s achievements across cultural, social, economic and political spheres, in addition to gender equality.

 For more on International Women’s Day, head to their website and socials:

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