Ysabel Balagot

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Finding out that I needed surgery came out of the blue for me. It was a few days before my 19th birthday and I came in for a check-up for a totally different thing. I found a lump at the back of my ear and my right nipple started to have a pinching kind of pain. The OB-Gyn that I first went to then advised me to take some tests including a transrectal ultrasound. They found two benign cysts—one on each ovary. One was 5cm and the other was 8cm. It all came as a shock because I felt completely normal aside from the pain I was complaining about in the first place. I was even physically active in school the week before.

The doctor then advised me to undergo open surgery as soon as possible. Already crying, I did not know what to do. She said that it had to be open surgery because of the size of the cysts. So in short, I had no choice. If not attended to right away, it could cause serious damage to my ovaries. We then scheduled the surgery.

Leaving the hospital, my parents and I could not believe what just happened. They wanted to get a second opinion so I got another transrectal ultrasound elsewhere and got the same results. Being certain now of the results, my parents and relatives still wanted to get a second opinion about the surgery.

Referred to by one of their friends, I went in to see Dra. Rebecca Singson in St. Luke’s Medical Center in the Fort. She told us about another option, which was relatively new in the Philippines—robotics surgery. At first I was asking all sorts of questions when she said that she would only have to cut 4 approximately 1-inch incisions. How were 5cm and 8cm cysts going to fit through a 1-inch hole? She then explained how the procedure goes and said that she has done it many times in the past for different kinds of cysts. She said it was a less invasive kind of surgery and even more accurate than a laparoscopy. Persuaded, we scheduled the surgery.

Doing more research and weighing in the pros and cons of both types of surgery, we then canceled the first one. On February 13, 2013, a Wednesday, I was admitted in St. Luke’s and had my surgery at around 6pm that night and was back in my room by around 1am the next day. When I woke up, I could already talk a little and was placed on a soft diet. It was quite painful to laugh though as my visitors would always try to. They took me out of morphine after two days and I just had oral medication to help with the pain. Although more than the pain of the incisions, I complained more about the gas pains I felt due to the gas they used during the surgery.

I stayed in till Saturday morning as my doctor even joked that I was already overstaying in the hospital since her 89-year old patient stayed even shorter than I did. It then took me less than a week to go back to school. I went back that Tuesday and was able to catch-up on the things that I missed, especially since it was exam week. It was still pretty difficult to walk my normal pace but I managed to go up and down the stairs to the 3rd floor of my building. The next few days became easier and things slowly went back to normal. The pain slowly disappeared as well.

Now that it’s been around 2 months since the surgery, I am feeling as fine as ever. I’ve already resumed to my usual activities and have even done some physical exercises as well. Choosing the robotics surgery was a really good decision for me. Open surgery would have been more invasive which would have required me to stay longer in the hospital and hinder me from going back to school right away and catch up on things as quickly as I did. I feel very lucky to have been able to have undergone this kind of surgery and fully recover.

– Ysabel Balagot, 19 years old

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