Once upon a time, I boarded a plane for a work-related trip. What happened next surprised me big time.
Earlier that day, I had experienced some light abdominal pain. I honestly texted my best friend that I thought I was ovulating, but was really confused because I was hurting in my lower back from it, and I thought I had already ovulated. I went about my morning, minding my own business, and kept my pain to myself.
Fast-forward to the plane: as we prepared to take off, I suddenly realized that I felt feverish. I texted my husband and let him know that I was afraid that I was getting sick. It seemed to come out of nowhere and I was really unhappy that I went from feeling completely fine, sipping on my Starbucks, ready to fly to this conference for work… to having body aches, the chills, and like I had the flu. I had zero “sick” symptoms, just the symptoms of a fever. And when I say it came on fast, I’m talking minutes. I was completely fine and suddenly I wasn’t.
The flight attendants came around to offer drinks and snacks, and I declined. Me. Declined free snacks. That’s how you know I was not feeling okay.
At some point I got up and went to the bathroom (I hate airplane bathrooms) and going pee hurt so bad. As the pressure lifted, I realized just how bad I felt. I knew I was either ovulating or had a cyst, but wasn’t sure which one just yet. I returned to my seat, hoping to sleep the rest of the flight.
Before I knew it, it hit. The sweats began, and I suddenly realized that I didn’t have much time to make it to the back of the plane to ask for help. I was nauseated, and no longer feeling chilly, but was having hot flashes. I knew it was my hypoglycemia and that I only had so much time before I’d fall over and embarrass myself in front of a plane full of people. All I kept thinking is “I can’t be that chick to cause an emergency landing!” I got up slowly and made my way to the flight attendants stationed in the back, where I calmly asked for a ginger ale. I didn’t want to make a scene. I just wanted to be taken care of in private. Thankfully, they recognized that something was very wrong and that I was losing the color in my face. They were quick to act.
At some point, I ended up on the floor in the back of the plane with an ice pack on my neck and orange juice in my hand. I quickly drank two glasses of juice and an entire can of ginger ale, and before I knew it my blood sugar stabilized and I was starting to feel better. However, my abdomen was not having it.
I swelled up pretty quickly. I looked pregnant. My pants felt extremely tight and it literally felt like I had peed myself, except it wasn’t pee… it was clear fluid.
I wasn’t on fertility medication leading up to this event. But this? This felt similar to when I had mild OHSS on Follistim, except this time, nothing was mild about it. I was scared. Embarrassed. Thankful that the flight was full and that I got stuck sitting in the 4th row from the back near the flight attendants. Thankful that I was in the back of the plane where no one noticed my event, instead of in the front where everyone would have seen me on the floor. Thankful that one of the attendants also had hypoglycemia and knew what to do. Thankful that I didn’t end up completely blacking out or throwing up, even though my vision got blurry and I was certain I was going to hurl all over the place.
This entire event was the result of PCOS. The hypoglycemia? That was an endocrine reaction to whatever was going on with my ovaries. It might have been triggered by the pain… it might have been triggered by anxiety… either way, it was not normal. The fever feeling? Apparently it’s a symptom that can come with cyst ruptures – a symptom I have never had before. When I googled questions about the excessive fluid I was losing, that was when I discovered that sometimes a fever is a side effect of a cyst rupture. That must have been one ridiculous cyst.
I was exhausted the rest of the day. My ovaries felt bruised and like rocks. My abdomen was swollen and hurt to touch. My jeans no longer fit. I took plenty of Ibuprofen and drank Vitamin Water to stay hydrated, but I struggled. Big time. My head hurt from the blood sugar episode and I felt so fatigued.
I’ve had a lot of weird things happen as a result of PCOS, but this event on the airplane was by far the weirdest. I don’t know if the pressure in the plane made it worse or if it had an impact at all. Either way, I hope to never experience that again. Next to my miscarriage, it was the most painful event in my PCOS journey. Worse than when I was on Follistim and released 7 follicles at the same time. This topped the cake.
The days following included a lot of soreness and bleeding (thankfully relatively light). It took a couple of days for my jeans to fit me again, but thankfully I happened to pack a pair of jeggings that were very stretchy and technically a size too big. I wore those most of the trip.
It’s now been almost 6 weeks since this incident and I’m feeling a lot better. After about 3 days of bleeding, I got a little bit of a break before an actual cycle started up again (and it seemed like I was bleeding for forever). This whole event really threw my body into a crazy whirlwind of intermittent bleeding and hormone imbalance, but I feel like I am finally getting back on track.