Meet Katie Smith, a normal girl in her mid-twenties. Well, the situation she faced wasn’t so normal. When Katie was just 24 years old, something unimaginable began to grow inside her and the doctors couldn’t figure out what it was.
Katie’s stomach grew rapidly and became huge that she looked like she was pregnant. The strange thing is that she wasn’t pregnant at all. Every pregnancy test she took was negative, but her doctors continued to debunk her concerns.
Kathie is 28 years old and comes from Swansea in Wales. She started gaining weight out of nothing and within a few years she already looked like someone who was nine months pregnant. She told the BBC that she was never super skinny, but gradually she developed a belly like this.
Katie lived a healthy life and was very conscious of the fact that she had to keep an eye on her figure. She loved her curves and spent a lot of time in the gym. That’s why she was so frustrated that she was gaining weight. She had lots of questions about her mysterious condition.
Not As It Seems
At this point, Katie thought her biggest problem was whether she would be able to go to the Christmas party because she felt insecure about her body and outfit. Katie felt she was not thin enough. With this body it was hard for her to go to a party.
Too Fast To Keep Up With
Katie tried everything, but her belly didn’t stop growing. As she said, “I was exercising and eating healthy, but I was slowly getting bigger. There’s nothing more frustrating than doing everything you can for a healthy lifestyle, but still gaining an excessive amount of weight.
What Was Going On?
At first it started slowly and that’s why I thought nothing was wrong. But I couldn’t ignore it either because even though I was doing a lot of sports or following a strict diet. I was still gaining a lot of weight.
Not Just Growing
At this point, she couldn’t ignore her excessive weight gain. She began to notice that all the weight she was gaining was going directly to her stomach, and it felt different too. How would she proceed?
Her belly began to feel hard and uncomfortable. However, she remained positive and hoped that this would disappear over time…. but some things don’t always work the way we want them to. What is the reason she doesn’t want to go to the doctor?
There’s Only One Explanation
Her dress size increased rapidly and she was now a size eight. But still she was too scared to go to a doctor. She grew up with her father as a doctor so she heard a lot of stories and that scared her a bit. But she’ll have to act in one way or another.
Her Gut Feeling
She didn’t know that bigger problems were coming. Katie could only come up with one explanation for her situation. However, she was not sure if she wanted to believe it. What did she think it was?
When considering all possible options, Katie decided there could only be one reason and that was pregnancy. Her belly grew and she gained weight, she was always exhausted and had a serious boyfriend. But will her boyfriend stay with her?
If you look at all factors, all things point in the direction of a pregnancy. This possibility made Katie and her boyfriend very nervous. If she was pregnant, it certainly wasn’t planned. But considering her situation, this was certainly a possibility. There was only one thing that could rule this out.
Soon To Be Parents
Katie and her boyfriend Jamie Gibbons had been together for 10 years and they considered the possibility that she was pregnant. Although they both weren’t ready, they knew they had to at least check it out. She was stressed and curious about the results.
The Blue Stripe
When the couple saw that the pregnancy test was negative, they were both surprised. They thought the test was wrong, so she immediately took a second one to be sure. But also the second test showed the same result.
Getting Really Worried
They were surprised and decided it was time to see a doctor. What was going on here? Was she suffering from illness? Did she have a miscarriage? Hundreds of terrible thoughts came into her head and it really scared her.
Facing Her Fears
Katie had no more options and it was time to finally see a doctor. Unfortunately, she didn’t get the answer she was waiting or hoping for. The doctor simply told her that she was “just fat. At this point she saw no way out.
Following Her Instincts
Although the doctors took her concerns away, Katie felt something was wrong. However, she ignored it because it didn’t affect her daily activities. Still, she couldn’t understand what was going on.
She couldn’t stop thinking about why she wasn’t pregnant. It looked like she was pregnant, so what was going on? She didn’t fully trust the doctors and their thoughts. Did she have to ask for a second opinion? But, they were professionals, so she had to trust them, right?
If she was pregnant, the problem would at least disappear once she had given birth. Unfortunately, her belly kept growing for another two years. Every month it only got bigger and bigger until something terrible happened at work.
She Didn’t Feel Well
It was just a normal day at work as usual, when Katie suddenly became light-headed and felt nauseous. Then she collapsed. Her colleagues told her she had fainted.
A Difficult Period
After this event, Katie realized she needed to see a doctor immediately. She said, “It was a difficult time at work, and when I fainted, the doctor said it was because of stress. She had no other explanation for this incident and just had to carry on with her life as if she had experienced it before.
All From Stress?
Is it possible to faint from too much stress? Katie wasn’t quite convinced yet. But her doctor tried to reassure her that there was nothing serious going on and that she was definitely not pregnant.
Not What It Appears
It was impossible to avoid all the unwanted questions about her “pregnancy”. People around her noticed that her belly was growing and it was not possible to ignore it. She had to explain it to them repeatedly.
No End In Sight
Katie always responded with the same response day in and day out, “The doctors say I’m just overweight. Although she was annoyed with the situation, she also realized that her situation didn’t seem to end.
She said people were always asking her when the baby was due, and after a while, she began to lie to spare them the embarrassment. So instead she just told them she is overweight, because this is what she believed.
Katie was wobbling with a gigantic belly and she also started to be ashamed of her appearance. She even started shopping in the maternity ward because nothing fitted her anymore.
“I remember trying to shop for clothes because I needed new clothes for a party but nothing would fit. I was skin and bones on top, then this huge lump and normal legs. The only thing that would fit was maternity clothes.”
Katie was stubborn and didn’t seek help from doctors anymore. It was only after several blackouts at work, breathing difficulties, and excessive weight gain that stood in the way of her life that she sought help.
And this still wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for her coworkers who insisted she get checked out. Many people wonder why Katie didn’t take care of herself more. Something was clearly off, so why was it taking her so long to seek help?
A New Explanation
Katie went through with her life trying to avoid her situation. But enough was enough when she fainted four times! This time, the doctor reasoned her exhaustion by blaming her for her acne medication, but she refused to accept this reaction.
Time To Stand Up
It seemed as if the doctors didn’t take her symptoms or situation seriously. They continued to blame other causes and things in Katie’s life. She decided it was finally time to resist.
Enough Was Enough
She had stopped taking it for several months before and insisted there had to be another explanation. She consulted a second doctor who also said she had to be pregnant. He did numerous blood tests that all came back with no results.
Getting To The Bottom Of It
Her attending doctor concluded that the only explanation was a pregnancy, regardless of the results of the blood test and no further examination was necessary. So he ordered a second ultrasound. At this point, even walking was a difficult task for Katie and she had trouble breathing.
The Truth At Last
The doctor who saw her immediately asked them to check if she was pregnant. Was she finally getting to the bottom of it? Well, it certainly opened up a whole new perspective and approach to the situation that she didn’t see coming.
Katie watched the doctor as she did the ultrasound. When she saw her expression it was clear something was wrong. Her eyes were enlarged and she had a look of fear come over her.
The doctor asked for an advisor and Katie became paralyzed. Her boyfriend Jamie tried to comfort her, but the panic she felt at that moment was unstoppable. What was really going on in her belly?
The ultrasound screen was empty and it was clear that Katie wasn’t pregnant. However, something was still going on in her abdomen. The only thing they knew for sure was that her life was in great danger.
The possibilities were endless, regardless of whether they needed a CT to find out. Katie was logically frightened and very worried about what might come. Her thoughts went to a number of possibilities.
The empty ultrasound led to an immediate request for a CT scan that revealed amazing news. The doctors prepared Katie for what they were going to tell her. Katie and her boyfriend sat hand in hand waiting for the big news.
Definitely Not Pregnant
Katie definitely wasn’t pregnant. The reason for her large belly was actually the result of a huge ovarian mass. At this point, Katie’s whole world came crashing down, as the doctor could not confirm exactly what he was dealing with.
To The Skin
It was not an average cyst and was 24 centimeters thick and attached to her stomach. This eventually explained her weight gain, but her life remained in danger. Immediate measures had to be taken.
What Exactly Is An Ovarian Cyst?
Basically, a cyst is a fluid-filled sac that can develop on a woman’s ovary. They are very common and usually do not cause any damage, and usually disappear on their own. But Katie’s cyst didn’t disappear.
The only situations in which a cyst can interfere with a person’s life is when it ruptures, blocks the blood supply to the ovaries, or in this case, is very large. Katie’s was really big, no…extremely big.
Exploring Her Options
One month later, Katie was speaking to a specialist who went over the options available for her. The image of the consultant’s face is still ingrained in her brain. He was in utter shock at her belly.
Although he calmly explained to her that she had a large ovarian mass, his face revealed the truth. He was completely shocked. No one could have expected the size of the cyst, even the specialist.
That’s Not All
The doctor said it was possible that there were multiple cysts, and that they could be attached to organs. Katie couldn’t believe it, and yet, she knew that at this point the only option was surgery.
Although they had ruled out the other explanations, they still were unclear the effect the cyst had on her body. She definitely had side effects, and of course, they had nothing to do with being pregnant.
Although the doctor was unsure of what/how big the cyst was, he decided that there was something that had to be done. He couldn’t believe all of Katie’s other doctors had turned her away with a “you’re fine” response.
One Thing For Certain
One thing her doctor was certain of was that she would lose one ovary. In addition, depending on the location of the cyst, she may be hospitalized for longer. Katie felt like she was signing her life away.
Katie’s mother lives in Australia so she decided not to tell her anything about this whole situation, not to worry. But since the mystery has finally been solved, she felt it was time to let the family know.
At this point, it was too much for her to go through this alone so she called her mom and her sisters to be by her side. Katie had battled alone for the majority of this medical situation, but she felt it was enough.
Ready To Go
Within two days her mother arrived, but unfortunately, her dad had to stay back in Australia. Even with the time difference, he was always just a phone call away. She had all the support she needed and was ready for the dreadful day.
The doctor informed Katie that in 4 weeks’ time she would be set for surgery. The time finally arrived and Katie was ready for surgery. In the short time between her initial consultation and surgery, her stomach grew another five inches.
The high-risk obstetric consultant she was called said that the surgery was a necessity and that he would cut her open from her sternum to her pelvic bone, like an old-fashioned Caesarean section. Those were reassuring words!
The Day of Her Surgery
The day finally came in the blink of an eye. Katie got a surgical gown and a pair of socks. She put them on and was taken by the nurse. Her body was completely paralyzed, knowing that a giant needle would be inserted into her body at any moment.
Uncomfortable and Struggling
Katie was so uncomfortable and struggling that she had to be held by two nurses. She didn’t want to stop moving and they had to insert the needle into her. She says she really felt like she was dying.
The Wait Continues
The doctors expected the surgery would only take an hour or so. But it took five! Her family patiently awaited the end, fearing for Katie’s life. However, the doctors managed to remove the cyst.
Back To Normal
The cyst was huge and the weight surprised everyone. Eventually this ginormous thing was removed from Katie’s body. She couldn’t wait to get back to normal!
Minutes To Hours
She was extremely terrified but knew this was the way to get back to her old life. The surgery was supposed to last 90 minutes, but hours passed by before she was finished. Her friends and family waited in angst.
The cyst came out to 60 pounds! If you struggle with understanding how much 60 pounds is, then it’s equivalent to seven babies! Katie woke from surgery surrounded by the hospital staff showing her pictures of what was inside her for so many months.
Treated Like A Celebrity
Katie was overwhelmed and confused when she woke up from surgery. “I remember still being groggy from the anesthetic as they wheeled me back to the ward and excited hospital staff was shoving photos in front of me,” said Katie.
The cyst accounted for a third of Katie’s body weight and she began to realize the impact it had on her life. She couldn’t do the things that were once so normal for her. It was a real burden on her life.
Losing The Cyst
Once she was lacking this excess weight she noticed that it was making easy tasks in her life seem difficult, like driving a car or walking upstairs. Losing this cyst essentially brought her back to life.
She was in utter disbelief that she was carrying so much weight around! After seeing the photos she said that “It looked like a massive pile of ice cream so I called it Mr. Whippy!”
The doctors were blown away by the size of Katie’s cyst. She was a true medical phenomenon! She along with the entire medical staff could not believe what was living inside her for so long.
Katie was released four days later and had the support of her mother and boyfriend. Although she was dreading this process, the after effect made it all worthwhile. Smith doesn’t even remember life without an extra 60 kg!
Katie has a 30- centimeter scar that extends from her sternum to her pelvis from the surgery. Not long after the procedure, she was already able to walk around easily. She couldn’t wait to start her new life with all the changes it brought. One drawback of the surgery was that Katie lost her right ovary, but the doctors informed her that this wouldn’t affect her having children.
Aside from her scar, Katie’s stomach is also covered in stretch marks, which are daily reminders of this experience. Regardless, Katie prefers the stretch marks to a 60-pound lump growing in her stomach.
A New Katie
Katie’s family came to visit her soon after the surgery and they were shocked to see her new appearance. She was so thin, basically half the woman she was before the surgery! Katie was so happy to be back to herself.
Katie recollects on her recover and says it has been more or less smooth sailing, with some hiccups along the way. She says that her health is definitely much better than last year, both physically and mentally. Katie says she doesn’t think she could have done this without her family, friends, and coworkers and tells herself how lucky she is every day for her support network.
A year ago, Katie would never have shared her story. However, since then she has only grown more comfortable in her body. She is now sharing her story and is a true inspiration to us all!
Despite going through this difficult experience and the reminder from her scar and stretch marks, Smith finally has her life back and has been reassured she will still be able to have children without her right ovary. She is so thankful for her surgeon.