Health Problems Keepin' It Real Life Updates Public Journaling

I’ve been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon

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I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad

Whooosah, this was hard to write. But I hope that by reading, you can walk away with the universal truth that the failure to acknowledge something’s presence has never and will never make it go away.

Getting to the root of the problem, whether in your health, finances, or broken relationships, is the only way you’ll ever find a solution, breakthrough, or closure. Alas, easier said than done.

This took me several days to write. I’ve re-written multiple parts. Included graphic photos. Took them out. Put a couple back in. And then took others down and replaced them with GIFs.

There’s a lot to unpack here and there were several hard truths I had to face.

And though I wanted so badly to pretend like I was fine, write off my February absence as another social media detox like I literally [and intentionally] did in January, I couldn’t.

As I’m writing this, I’m still trying to heal — mentally, as much as physically.

Writing is my therapy, and ultimately, it’d be a disservice to the transparency I preach on my platform if I didn’t turn my pain into a necessary reminder to others who may also be actively ignoring their bodies’ silent cries for help.

For the longest time, I thought it was bloat or a food allergy before I found out that I had actually been traveling with a 28cm cyst on my ovaries. Click To Tweet

Please note: This photo is NOT mine (mine was drained internally before removing), but I was able to find another case which had almost identical measurements.

My cyst was 28 x 24 cm and the cyst pictured below is 30 x 20 cm.

I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad
Source: The Journal of the Scientific Society | Shankar R, Datti SN, Kumar J, Manjushree R. J Sci Soc 2013;40:180-2

THE SYMPTOMS

The sad reality of chasing a dream is that oftentimes your health becomes secondary to your goals. Though my weight regularly fluctuated, I’d always been on the thicker side growing up, so I never thought much of occasional weight gain. My baby fat didn’t leave my face until I was 23, and I was down to my lowest weight at age 25.

I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad

But between the ages of 26 and 27, I remember looking in the mirror and looking, well, fluffier than I was used to. Of course, I wrote it off as a good time. They say the best souvenirs from travel are all the pounds (kilos) you bring back home with you.

I even jokingly wrote about the Top 10 Ways to Gain Weight While You Travel as a reminder that literally no one is safe from travel weight.

26 was the age I was finally making a full-time income from my blog and started gaining regular sponsorships, passive income, and was saying YES to any and every opportunity being thrown my way.

I was having so much fun that when I noticed the weight gain, excessive bloating, and irregular periods, I figured it was due to my poor sleeping habits, constant jet-setting, and frequent timezone hopping.

Even the highly acclaimed folks at Google University suggested that constantly changing continents would disrupt my period cycle. So ta, no worries right?

 

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But there’s a big difference in being early or late for your period, and an entirely different issue if you find yourself having a period almost every week for a couple days at a time. It wasn’t normal, and yet, I normalized it because I was too chicken to face the fact that something was going on inside me.

But hey — why worry when you can just blame the flights and keep it moving! No time to take accountability for the clear signs your body is screaming at you, ain’t that right dear Glo?!

My periods were becoming so irregular, I was wearing DivaCups almost daily because I didn’t want to be out somewhere and caught off guard by it.

I continued to blame the stress of this crazy lifestyle, traveling, and everything BUT the idea that maybe there was something that needed to be addressed internally.

But the worst of the symptoms didn’t start happening until last year, when I would find myself profusely sweating in the middle of the night and having excruciating pain in my stomach.

I would take pain meds, drink a bunch of water, rock myself side to side, and usually cry myself to sleep. This happened every month or so.

I never told any friends or even family about this, because again, I cast blame to something external like the local cuisine and figured it was a food allergy or reaction to the bacteria.

I would have these painful episodes frequent enough to worry, but not often enough to seek medical help.

THE DENIAL

Months and years passed and I refused to get it checked out. I would look in the mirror each day and see it growing before my eyes, but terrified of what they might find, I chose to live in oblivion.

When they say ignorance is bliss, it’s not just a cliché, it’s a cowardly way of life, and this became my mantra.

I was living the dream and there wasn’t anything that was going to get in my way of the lifestyle I fought to so hard to obtain.

In the spring of 2018 is when the cyst grew to an utterly embarrassing size. Again, this is before I knew what it was, so I was still blaming bloat and that’s when I finally decided to take action — no, not consult a doctor, Glo wasn’t that smart yet.

Instead, she cut out all meat, bread, and dairy from her diet.

Surely that would fix the problem. These foods were most likely causing my bloat because the doctorate-level knowledge I was getting from Google said so.

 

My face subsequently slimmed down over the next few months, but I still carried this rock hard belly to the point where *if this was a video, here’s where I’d cut the camera for a cry sesh because hindsight is crystal clear and how I let it get to this point brings a level of pain and guilt that’s still hard for me to process* I started shopping for shirts in the maternity section. I had no other choice. I didn’t know what was going on, but whatever it was, I needed to hide it.

Not to mention when I would get massages, no matter the country, the massage therapist would rub my belly on cue and greet me with congrats assuming I was expecting.

Bless the universal Asian aunties who took liberty in telling me how far along I looked and giving me special treatment due to my non-existent pregnancy, by adding complimentary feet rubs to whatever package I bought.

I really couldn’t blame them. They were the only people who saw me naked other than myself, and it was very clear that there was disproportionate growth in just my belly. It obviously wasn’t a fetus, but I couldn’t fault them for thinking so.

It then became less humiliating for me to walk in and pretend I was pregnant than to be asked. I even adapted the waddle and one-hand-on-back gesture I’ve seen so many times in movies. It became my storyline during my bi-weekly self-care massages. I even made up fake names and jobs of who the father was because, small talk.

Yet and still, I denied the notion to seek further help.

THE EVIDENCE

As a travel blogger, creating content became a bit more challenging, because when you’re the face of your brand, your image is constantly at the forefront.

You might be thinking, “I never noticed you had a big stomach” and it’s because I tried REALLY hard to hide it. For every ONE perfect photo you saw on social media, there were 50 more with a massive bulge coming from my abdomen that I needed to never surface, until now…

WHAT I POSTED VS. REALITY

I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad
I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad
I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad

That Getty side-by-side will haunt me forever. I had never done any kind of red carpet event, and panicked with what to do with my hands in front of a dozen flashing cameras. Of course in trying to hide my bulge, I ended up looking like I was a proud mother-to-be. Oy.

And the first photo with my group of Sisterhood Circle mentees, I was caught trying to hide my phone trigger while taking this tripod shot, and that position left absolutely no secrets.

This was textbook to summarize how Instagram is never reality and to take what you see with a grain of salt. I never got to the point of photoshopping my pictures, but it took twice as long when shooting as I struggled to find more ways and angles to hide it.

Check out my signature arm-across-belly move I pulled in the photos below:

 

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THE CONTROL FREAK

This was the hardest part for me to write. Because I grew up in a strict Nigerian household that preached the harder you worked, the better quality of life you could obtain.

But that didn’t mention the problem-free part. I focused so much on putting in the work to ensure that I would be able to control as much of my life as possible, that I just didn’t register or accommodate room for health problems.

I tried so hard to control my destiny, my future, and the way my life would pan out.

I would do X opportunities this month. Make X amount of dollars this quarter. Grow to X amount of followers this year. The list went on.

I wanted so badly to have a hand in every aspect of my life, forgetting the utter irony in trying to control a life that I don’t even own.

It was the biggest gut-check of my life. Glo, you can work hard, do good unto others, and donate 25% of your earnings to charity, but life will still find ways to jab and uppercut ‘cho @%$ like you stole its lunch money.

Enter, le victim.

WHY ME?! WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS? I TIP REALLY WELL, I’VE SAID R. KELLY WAS GUILTY FROM DAY ONE, AND I’VE NEVER EATEN PIZZA WITH PINEAPPLES! SURELY THAT PUTS ME IN THE 95TH PERCENTILE OF HUMANITY?!

I knew this might be a test of my faith, but I was wishing for a cliff noted version of the lesson first.

THE DIAGNOSIS

In early February, I finally reached out to my closest friend and told her that I was scared and something was wrong. Less and less of my clothes were fitting me. The stomach pains became more frequent. And I started having random back pain on top of it.

And no matter what I ate (I swear I was on a dinosaur diet by this point), my stomach would balloon to the size of a watermelon and I found myself embarrassed to eat out or leave my apartment.

Bless her heart for being so supportive, encouraging me every step, and letting me know to consult with as many people as possible to make sure the diagnosis is accurate.

Being here in Malta by myself and going to the hospital abroad for the first time, I was terrified of what they’d find.

I was restless but found comfort in the fact that they would find SOMETHING. This “bloat” wasn’t normal and I needed answers for my own sanity and to hopefully remove or shrink whatever was growing inside.

I went to the first doctor and in my most melodramatic voice said,

I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m getting really fat, but only in my stomach. Please help.

He did some physical examinations pushing down on certain areas of my stomach and then revealed to me — “I’m sorry, but this isn’t fat. Your belly is rock hard. You’re going to need to get an ultrasound.”

He referred me to another doctor and facility and I went home that night relieved that I wasn’t entering an abnormal chapter of obesity, but still with anxiety of what other “thing” it could be.

I saw the next doctor the following day and after an ultra sound, CT scan, and almost a dozen blood tests, he pulls up my x-ray and shows me the watermelon-sized cyst that was dominating my entire belly area.

If I didn’t know any better, I would think you were 8 months pregnant! How have you been walking around with this for so long!?

Welp. Ignorance was my drug of choice, mainly. ‘Twas addicting.

I got passed onto another doctor. The shock was even greater with him, but he recalled a similar case a couple years ago from another 20-something-year-old woman.

He went on to explain that, “an ovarian cyst is just a fluid-filled sac that can form randomly, and it’s really common for women to have one or several during their childbearing years. There’s nothing you did to cause this; it just happens.”

In fact, 1 in 10 women will have ovarian cysts in their life, but in most cases, there are no symptoms and they’ll go away just as quickly as they came (that’s what she said), so most people never get diagnosed.

He also reassured me that in cases like mine, it must’ve been growing slowly over the last couple of years. It was so great to hear that, because it matched the timeline of the last time I remember my belly looking like I was used to, like this photo from Ibiza in 2016.

I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad

Thankfully, the cyst was benign, and that was the most important news I needed to hear.

But the doctor let me know that even though benign, it had gotten so big it was pushing my other organs out of place, and it ran the risk of rupturing or causing my ovary to twist and cut off my blood supply.

And alternatively, if it was malignant, I would have needed to start 6-month chemo treatments and would have had a 5-year survival rate.

Thankfully, this was NOT my situation, but with its size, he still concluded that I needed to be operated on immediately.

It was all hitting me so fast — I was ready for the diagnosis, but I wasn’t ready for the operation.

*CUE THE MENTAL BREAKDOWN*

THE PANIC

I had less than 48 hours until I would be admitted to the hospital. There was no backing out and that’s when I had to make the very scary call to my mother about everything. She was in Malta by the next day.

Over the next 24 hours, I was the living definition of an emotional wreck.

My saltwater contribution to the Earth was on par with that of the Pacific Ocean and I just felt numb.

I prayed, I cried, and I prayed some more.

It wasn’t so much the pending surgery, but the processing of the last 24 hours as a whole. My anxiety was through the roof and the friends I told tried so hard to console me but I couldn’t text anyone back without slipping into a well of tears all over again.

My own words were triggering to write and my mind kept replaying the doctor’s words.

THE PREPARATION

I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad

I was told to remove my gel manicure so that something called a pulse oximeter could be used, because if my oxygen levels dropped, my fingernails would turn blue, and polish would hide this.

Though horrible for my nail beds, I nervously ripped each gel polish off instead of getting them removed chemically at the salon.

My mom would be arriving any hour now. I cleaned my apartment and slept on the couch the night before, because I needed her to know that after two decades of scolding me to fix my bed every morning, that I still do it in my adult years.

We had only ever been abroad together twice.

Once when she visited me during my intern semester at Harlaxton (in the UK) and again when I flew us to Paris and she discovered that the “Isaac Tower” wasn’t all that impressive. Ahhh, Nigerian parents are a treat.

I only got about 3 hours of sleep the night before I needed to check myself in. I was restless, naturally, thinking about all the things that felt so crucial at the time like, “will my eyebrows survive the operation?”

The answer would be a resounding NO. I digress.

But real talk, when you struggle with anxiety, it’s so easy to create 10 different scenarios out of thin air. It’s an art, really. And I was putting the finishing touches on my Mental Breakdown Masterpiece.

THE SURGERY

We arrived to the hospital bright and early. Around 6:30AM to get the odd, but not horribly-tasting, laxative juice in my system to start the “natural weight loss” process.

I wasn’t allowed to eat and about 12 hours later, ya girl was starvin’ like Marvin.

I napped and journaled excessively to take my mind off my hunger, and I worked myself into a nice slumber until it was time for the operation. I walked down the halls in my latest Winter Edition Hospital Wear, freezing, and led by the hand of a nurse.

She was so sweet. I think she could read the utter fear on my face, and she made sure to hold my hand and rub my shoulder every step of the way. Nurses are the unsung heroes. I needed and cherished that so much.

I was taken to the operation floor and waited another 30 minutes for another nurse to do a quick rundown of my health conditions and prep me for the operation.

It was time.

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR.

I was not ready. But here we go.

“So, have you ever been to the Theater?” one doctor asked.

Ok, so I’m all for small talk, but what kind of question was that? Before I’m able to answer properly, I’m led into this large room with an operating table in the middle and a collage of fluorescent lights that would make for the best selfies hanging from the ceiling.

Ohhhhh, “Operating Theater.” This was the name for the surgery room.

I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad

There were about eight or nine doctors/nurses/people in official-looking coats walking around the room prepping the materials, making small talk, and assuring me that everything would be okay.

If I had eaten just the smallest piece of pie that morning, I’d have had enough ammo to sh*t my pants.

Everything looked so intimidating.

*commence le panic*

I wasn’t mentally ready, but I knew there was nothing I could do about it. This was gonna happen and it was going to happen soon.

I hopped onto the bed and on cue, a very happy lady walked in the room with a tray and I knew she was going to serve me the good stuff. The anesthesia.

I’d never had any anesthetic administered on me before, but I knew there was no way in hell I wanted to be conscious for any part of this operation, so I was more than ready for her to put ya girl to SHLEEEEP.

 

I remember her telling me how it would feel, what it would do, and how she would make sure I had ample pain killers afterward.

She injected the anesthesia through an IV line in my inner elbow vein (where five needles were poked just days before) and I remember the shock from feeling it immediately.

I faintly replied in gasps, “it burns… it burns… it bur…..” and my head fell to the right and I was OUT! Yo this stuff would be great for long-haul flights, ha. But that was the last memory I had before the operation.

Three hours passed (I learned after, since I had no recollection of it), and the next thing I knew, I woke up to the sounds of a woman giving birth to the left of me.

Wait — where am I? Who is she? What’s going on???

I wasn’t able to turn my head — well, I was, but for some reason I couldn’t. I don’t know if it was because I was still in a state of shock, but I remember eyeballing as many things in my direct line of sight and peripherals, trying to contextualize the aftermath and if everything went okay.

There were so many noises and people pushing my bed from one place to the next, that I became overwhelmed by the sights and sounds and felt my eyes welling up with tears.

Of joy? Relief? Exhaustion? Pain? I wasn’t sure, but I was nervous and just wanted somebody to tell me everything went okay. I could also barely keep my eyes open, so I don’t think they thought to speak to me at that moment.

I felt numb from the chest down and was terrified to move the slightest bit to experience the pain that I knew was waiting to be felt.

I remember going in and out of consciousness, and hearing the faint sounds of the heart monitor flatline every time I would pass back out.

They put the oxygen mask on me and next thing you know, I woke back up in my hospital room and heard the ever familiar sound of my mother with this slightly peculiar plea,

“CAN I WIPE HAH NOSE?”
“CAN I WIPE HAH NOSE?”
“CAN I WIPE HAH NOSE?”

She’s Nigerian, for those that don’t know, so insert the accent.

And at that point, I had no idea if my nose was out here running like a marathon or what, but I quickly sided with #TeamWipeHahNose.

Eyes barely able to stay open, I felt her lift my oxygen mask and proceed to do her mom thing. I passed back out again shortly after.

The doctor came in later to let my mom know that the operation was successful and that the scar would slowly heal and close over the next few months. I believed his confidence, but when I looked down while he was changing the bandage, this is what I saw…

I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad

I tried so hard not to cry, especially because I could see the look of worry on my mom’s face. I needed to pretend I knew that this is what it would look like and of course, it was still too early to determine the size and final outcome of the scar.

Internally, I was bawling and couldn’t recognize my stomach. It was still bleeding several hours after and the pain was unlike anything I’d ever felt before.

The operation was a Laparotomy Cystectomy, usually reserved for removals of ovarian cysts, of an ovary, or fibroids and/or adhesions.

I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad

You don’t realize how much you use your core for basic movements, so when I got up for the first time and felt the throbbing pain hit every nerve of my body, I broke down into tears yet again.

Not knowing how long the pain would be this bad or when I would be able to walk normal again (I was only able to manage to crouch), set my mind into a downward spiral.

Sitting, standing, turning, laughing, coughing, sneezing, EVERYTHING EFFING HURT. The best way I could describe the pain is like someone had a hold of each of my organs and would squeeze it really hard everytime I wanted to move.

The pain made me depressed rather than happy that the surgery was over.

The next few hours were a blur as nurses came in every couple hours to check my heart rate and then they hooked me up with a thingy majig that injected pain killers into my vein and it was magical. I was allowed to give myself a dosage every 6 minutes and I was temporarily transported into a virtual reality that greatly decreased the pain and put me into a deep slumber.

I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad

I slowly started implementing soups and soft veggies into my diet to help trigger a bowel movement that would allow me to be discharged in the next couple days.

One morning I woke up and felt something particularly special brewing inside. I know we can all relate *inserts Taco Tuesday GIF*

 

Alas, it was just gas. Betrayed by my own body yet again.

Back to the drawing board I went — requesting fruits, soft fish, yogurts, and anything else they’d allow me to eat post-op.

But this violent combination soon backfired as I was greeted with diarrhea the following morning, but hey, my bowels moved right? Nevermind the fact they missed a step or two, they still moved.

And it was enough to convince them to discharge me that afternoon. In my mind, I’m thinking I could bounce back in about a week. I didn’t even bother to look up the 6-8 weeks’ recovery time or consider my friend who said it took her 5 months to feel completely back to normal after her operation.

My next appointment would be in 10 days where they would remove the staples, and in the meantime, my mind was set on finding a way to catalyze my recovery.

THE PAIN & GUILT

On a scale of one to ten, the pain was around twenty for the first week and by that point, I had lost all hope that I would be back to any kind of routine again for the rest of the month. I would take the painkillers religiously and overall felt pretty defeated.

It took me two weeks to be able to stand up straight again, and there was very little motivation to do anything — read, write, talk, answer emails, etc.

I let my WhatsApp messages pile up to around 80 from friends wondering why I wasn’t posting, if I was okay, what was going on, etc.

Here I was, finally with this literal weight off my non-literal shoulders, and the relief I felt was fleeting at best.

My lips had swelled to botched lip job status a la Kylie Jenner, my face looked like I’d been hit by a bus (on purpose), and I had a newly deformed belly button with a scar that ran down from under my chest to the top of my Virginia (yes, sorry Virginia, you’ve just been euphemized).

I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad

The staples over the scar looked like a train track with dark red accents from the dried blood that leaked out, so looking at myself in the mirror became an emotional experience I dreaded each day.

Here I was, almost able to stand straight again, on the road to recovery, and trying to come to terms with my new surgical tattoo.

But the joy was missing. I was still an emotional wreck, and I couldn’t pinpoint why.

I started talking recklessly to myself, “Get over yourself, Glo. Here you are with fully-functional limbs, a lifestyle that allows you to take a month off, and you’re crying over a scar?! GET A GRIP. There are people with ACTUAL problems suffering!”

I didn’t know which was worse. The self-pity or the guilt from the self-pity.

My mom had flown back to the states already and I was alone again, but by choice.

I say by choice, because the friends I told all offered to fly down, but them having to see me in such a pitiful state only made me feel worse.

The reckless talk started again, “Why should they have to pause their life and their problems to accommodate mine?”

Self-pity can be the most feminine of canines and for someone who is a control freak and didn’t know what the end date would be for the pain, it was a dark and suffocating place to be.

I tried so hard to find purpose and meaning behind it all. I cried out to God to please let there be a reward or purpose. I desperately needed there to be one. I could hardly bear the notion that this all happened just because.

Immediately after my emotional prayer, I opened my devotional and this is what it read…

I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad

Ohhhh, the waterworks. Here, right in front of me. Literally moments after crying out for meaning. God winked and humbled me in the best way possible.

I had the best sleep I’ve had all month that night. I cried myself to sleep again, but it was tears of gratitude and praise that God’s hand was in this all along, and if He couldn’t get me to stay still on my own, there needed to be another way.

Touché.

THE FRIENDSHIPS

When friendship is a verb, it really puts into perspective how fortunate I am to have people who know just what to say and how to hold space for me as I was just trying to process and move on. These people were my Fab 5 of February and I’m blessed to have them in my life.

Samantha, I adore you. You’re the first person I told and you were an integral part of each step of this mess, helping research, be a soundboard, and remind me to document and journal this process the way I have. When I needed a second opinion on anything, you were my go-to gal, and I’m so glad I get to reunite with you in a couple short weeks.

Erin, you kept me so grounded and encouraged me at some of my lowest times. To have someone with your level of emotional intelligence in my circle is both an honor and privilege, and I feel so blessed to call you a friend. You recently delivered a hard truth to me that solidified why I need someone like you in my life. Not want, but need. I can’t appreciate you enough. Thank you.

Jodi, my angel on Earth, you reminded me that, “you’re allowed to be an emotional wreck. Don’t fight the emotional aspect of it, because it’s necessarily overwhelming.” From someone who’s dealing with her own chronic pain, I felt so humbled that she took the time to phone chat with me and share therapeutic resources. She made me feel so seen and heard and was willing to meet me at whatever point I was at. I worried that I wouldn’t have much to say, because I cried every time I tried to speak about it, but she reminded me that even having someone on the other side of the phone to hear you cry, was a part of the healing process. She was right.

Bevan, this gem of a human being, was also one of the first people I opened up to about the stomach pain, bloat, and overall concern that something was wrong. He checked in with me daily, even if just to share a funny meme or new Netflix binge-watch. I didn’t always have the mental strength to answer right away, but your genuine care and willingness to help in any way possible was so appreciated. You are the literal cheerleader and ray of sunshine everyone needs in their life and I’m so grateful to have had you as a source of comfort during this hard time.

Zim, my mentor, sister in Christ, and boss guru. You have this motherly tone and soft-spoken grace to you that made me feel at ease. I would listen to your voice notes on repeat and if there was ever a time to learn that my house was on fire, I’d want someone like Zim to break that news, because you have a way of making everything sound manageable and part of God’s plan. I needed that spiritual booster from someone who can relate from all fronts.

This was on top of the hundreds of DMs and messages that came in the form of random check-ups and notes of affirmation. I wasn’t ready to give everyone else the context I had given the others, but just know if you messaged me at any point, I accepted the virtual hug.

“I’m here if you ever need to talk,” several messages read. But the problem is, I wasn’t. In fact, talking about it was the last thing I wanted to do, because I was still in a really delicate mental space and reliving everything was too triggering for me.

Someone would ask if I was okay and I wasn’t, so I would start crying.

Someone would say they missed my laugh, and I did too, so I would start crying.

Someone would ask for tips to help plan their Thailand getaway, and I would start crying. Of course they had no idea what was going on, but was I nothing more than a content machine or Google search box? No asking about my well-being before listing out your questions and needs? TRIGGERED.

Everything was triggering and muting the notifications for all messages and social mediums became the solution.

THE RECOVERY

At this point, I honestly just wanted to sh*t. I’m sorry to be graphic.

It took me eight days to sh*t. Eight long days. And man, I had to work to birth that sucker out too. Diarrhea began looking like the sexier alternative.

Meanwhile, it still hurt to cough, laugh, sneeze, or anything.

Again, you don’t realize how much you use your abdominal muscles until your stomach has been cut open and you’re reminded of it with every movement you make.

It gave me zero will to want to get up from the couch. And because of the pain to laugh, I resorted to war documentaries and dark films where humor had no place in its production.

The painkillers also had me on a vicious 3-hour nap cycle and days would fly by effortlessly as I cocooned myself in a blanket on the couch, leaving my apartment just once in two weeks for water and fruit.

I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad

My mom’s leftover food was running low and it hurt to stand for too long to cook anything, so I missed a few meals. You can see in the photo above, that the kitchen wasn’t that far from the nest I made on the couch, but it would take me hours to work up the strength to walk over there.

Man, I was pitiful. I had no desire to move. No desire to work. No desire to talk to anyone.

As days went by, the messages increased, and again, I was left feeling triggered, not ready to open up, and isolated by my own self-pity.

I was in this barrel of depression and it was lonely and dark. I looked everywhere around me and saw nothing but my problems, losses, and pain.

Forgetting that if I just looked up, in a literal and spiritual sense, I would see the light. And if I dared to just start taking a couple steps at a time, I could peek over the edge of the barrel and be reminded of all the beauty, light, and blessings that still existed on the outside.

Some days I was making progress and would find myself peering over the edge multiple times a day, and then something would happen or be said that knocked me right back down to the bottom of the barrel, which would subsequently take me a few days to get back to that edge point.

It was an exhausting cycle trying to force myself to find joy in this season.

I was trying to rip off the band-aid on a wound that hadn't yet healed. Click To Tweet

I had found my reason and knew that God was trying to keep me still, but why was I still struggling so much with moving on from that?

Because I’m stubborn, that’s why. I was still resenting the fact that I could put myself in favorable positions and work hard all my life, but I will never have the final say in anything. And pain medications aside, THAT was the toughest but most necessary pill to swallow.

THE UPDATE

I finally woke up one morning, put on make up to disguise the train wreck I felt like, took a picture, and shared a vague update on social media to let people know why I was absent and that I’d be back soon. And that’s when the messages of support came flooding in.

Reminders of the joy and value I brought to people’s lives. Fun memories shared with others around the world. Affirmations to take as much time as I needed and not to rush this chapter.

I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad
I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad
I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad
I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad
I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad
I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad

It’s crazy how I can tell myself every day how great and worthy I am, but the minute you hear those words from someone else, is when you actually believe it.

Erin reminded me of the power of saying affirmations while looking in the mirror. It’s so easy to echo blanket statements for the practice of self-love, without any real conviction behind it.

These messages really helped me find my footing again, so thank you to the hundreds who sent them. I’m so sorry I couldn’t reply to everyone, but I was enveloped in love and felt hugged from around the world.

THE LOSS

Because this post is as transparent as it gets, I’m going to keep it real about another aspect. I lost over $15,000 in canceled travel jobs in February, and while it’s not just about the money, I was also saddened about the bridges I might’ve burned and trust I could never get back by breaching contracts just days before a campaign.

That level of unprofessionalism is something I never want to taint my track record in this industry, and I felt most guilty about inconveniencing brands to pivot with a replacement.

On top of that, I spent almost $10,000 in overall medical expenses and though the process took some time, with the help of you guys and social media, Allianz has honored my claim and have remimbursed the bulk of the expenses.

Needless to say, it was an expensive and stressful month, which was another level of mental drainage that felt like a gut punch from an unsuspecting stranger.

THE HEALING

You have every right to deal with every part of you that makes you human. -Dr. Joy Harden Bradford Click To Tweet

Imagine us to be these complex creatures, capable of varying emotions, some better than others, but all equally magical in their own right. And here I was only focusing on one end of the spectrum, trying to suppress the negative.

I wanted so badly to create a storyline of how life could try to knock me down, but I got right back up.

And the truth is, I did — eventually. But I needed to share that before I could get back up, I had to confront my demons, and that looked like a whole lot of crying and flailing around on the floor like a dying fish.

And that was okay too.

I even changed my hairstyle, as this symbolic rebirthing and turning of a new chapter. But all that ended up happening was I hated the style and it made me look sadder than usual. That notable “Glo” spark wasn’t going to be found in a new hairstyle.

I've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad

I finally came to terms with the fact that I AM NOT SUPERWOMAN nor is that a burden I needed to bear. Because in my humanness, I can remind you guys that no matter what level of success someone has reached, they’re not immune to life’s hiccups — though I’d like to think this was more like projectile vomit.

It wasn’t until a friend invited me out for a meal that I finally accepted that I needed human interaction. I hadn’t cooked or eaten in a couple days and the combination of food and a friend sounded perfect.

I desperately needed to save myself from this hole of pity that I dug deeper into every morning.

I walked several laps around my apartment that afternoon, trying my best to walk normal and hide any hunch I still had in my shoulders, leaning forward to alleviate the pain of straightening my spine.

We went to a nearby pub and I felt the need to preface why I wasn’t at my best, so she didn’t feel like it was something she did.

She was incredibly sympathetic and invited light-hearted conversation to the table. The night went on and it was so great to eat food again. I’d missed it. And that’s when out of nowhere, something really funny was said (I can’t even remember what) and I let out the belly cackle that my Instagram Story audience knows me for.

And it hurt SOOOOO bad. And yet so good. Immediately after the cackle I let out a screech of pain and put my hand over my stomach. UGH. So painful.

Hearing myself both laugh and scream in a matter of seconds, was both embarrassing and hysterical, so we laughed even more!

At that point, the joy of hearing myself laugh for the first time in three weeks exceeded the pain from the act of laughing, and I just let myself cackle, surrendering my pain to the moment.

Laughter truly is medicinal — and it became my own self-delivered therapy.

It’s what I do. And I’d deprived myself of it for too long. I needed to remind myself of the happiness that comes from laughter and to find ways to make myself laugh again, even if just from the inside to avoid the pain.

Don't try to put the puzzle together. Simply show up with your pieces in hand and allow someone else to help walk you through the journey. -Dr. Joy Harden Bradford Click To Tweet

Another gem I learned from the Therapy For Black Girls podcast was the importance of just showing up, pieces in hand, and allowing someone else to walk me through my pain.

THE LESSON

If you learn anything from this, please know that you too, are not Superman or Superwoman. Your body isn’t immune to even the most random medical cases. To women especially, 10% of you reading this will have had an internal cyst or are currently growing one.

If you’re experiencing any symptoms like stomach pain, irregular bleeding, or unnatural bloat, please see a doctor.

This site gives a really comprehensive breakdown of treatment, causes, and steps moving forward.

Please take care of your body and it'll take care of you. Don't wait too long to get checked out if you know that something feels wrong. Click To Tweet

Confronting health issues are scary and when you’re halfway across the world, the process can seem even more daunting, but I’m thankful to everyone at the hospital in Malta for their wonderful hospitality, to live in an era where modern technology can diagnose and treat this immediately, and to feel so supported in this season, even if my “strength” looks a little different.

People would call me brave for chasing this lifestyle, but true bravery is putting your health first, and not being afraid of what you can’t control in life.

Thank you so much for reading. XOXOI've been traveling with an ovarian cyst the size of a watermelon | The Blog Abroad

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Expensive dreams with an affordable hustle. Glo is on a mission to show others that there's a world of knowledge out there that can't be taught in a classroom. Let's explore a life beyond our imaginations to reach new heights and gain new perspectives. There's no way in hell I was put on this Earth to just pay bills and die. Newsflash: neither were you.

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