Listening to My Body May Have Saved My Life

This post is sponsored by HCA Midwest Health.

A few months ago, I began having significant right lower quadrant pain. I messaged my primary care (Dr. Nicole Niemann) on the HCA Midwest health portal (such an amazing way to keep in touch with your physician!) on a Friday asking if I should go to the ER — I didn’t want to improperly utilize healthcare resources, but I was miserable!

She messaged be back almost immediately and told me to wait it out and gave me a list of things to look out for that would warrant an emergency workup. My pains that day ended up subsiding, but didn’t completely stop. The pains were always localized to one area, but were intermittent – lasting between 30-45 minutes each time, but didn’t even happen every day.

As much as I wanted this to be nothing and to be able to handle this myself, after two weeks of consistent symptoms, I made an appointment with my primary for a formal workup. Dr. Niemann was great, listening to my symptoms and never discounting this pain or situation as anything other than important. We started with basic testing, but results from those warranted further follow up. After multiple rounds of tests, it was determined that I had what was described as a mass on my right ovary. My primary care physician referred me to Dr. Elise Abicht, with Town Plaza Women’s Health with HCA Midwest Health, for a surgical consultation, as we weren’t exactly sure what we were dealing with just yet. 

Upon initial meeting, Dr. Abicht took a significant amount of time explaining and even drawing out what my workup revealed. It was determined that this mass was likely a benign tumor, and given my consistent symptoms, needed to be surgically removed. Dr. Abicht made it clear that while this wasn’t an emergency, she didn’t want to wait too long to do this surgery as the mass appeared to be very close to the blood supply of my ovary. We scheduled my surgery for two days later and had pre-op labs drawn that day.

The day following that appointment, Dr. Abicht called me herself to discuss my pre-op lab results, which revealed more information, and indicated we could be dealing with something more serious, like a germ cell tumor, which could be malignant. I was terrified, but Dr. Abicht spent time easing my mind and was confident in her plan. She had already discussed my case with another physician, and they had agreed to be available to help, which was comforting. Despite how scary that conversation was, I was confident that she was going to do her best to help us navigate this issue.

It was determined after surgery that the mass was actually a hemorrhaged ectopic pregnancy, which we were all surprised about. Dr. Abicht spent a significant amount of time talking with my husband and describing these results while I was in recovery – and given what we thought we were dealing with, this was actually best-case scenario. Dr. Abicht followed up with me via a phone call, two days after surgery, and again at my two week, post-op appointment, and focused not just on my physical recovery, but also (and to me, more importantly) my mental recovery. She spent time during those conversations talking about how important it was to process what I had been through, given the ups and downs of my situation, and learning more about me as person.

I look back on this situation, that only spanned about five weeks, and am so thankful that I trusted my gut and made that initial appointment, it’s hard to think about what could have happened had I continued to manage the pain alone!

Dr. Abicht reflects something that we need more of in healthcare – true human compassion and I would recommend them to any woman for their care. Based on my chance experience with her, I have changed my women’s health management to her care at Town Plaza Women’s Health.

My name is Lauren Alquist! I’m 37 years old from Peculiar, MO. My husband, Aaron, and I have 2 beautiful girls together: Teagan (7) and Emerson (4) and a Siberian husky mutt named Atlas Duke. We love being outside and spend a lot of time throughout the year camping around Missouri! In my spare time (that rarely exists with a competitive gymnast in the house) I love reading, staying active, and true crime podcasts!

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