Jackie Simien's cautionary tale

Sometimes it takes something severe to get you to take your health more seriously.

On what should have been an ordinary Saturday in July, 12News anchor Jackie Simien suffered a ruptured ovarian cyst that tore a blood vessel.

Even though she was in the worst pain she had ever felt in her life, she waited until the next day to go to the hospital.

What she didn't know was that because she was on a blood thinner for a history of blood clots, she almost allowed herself to bleed to death.

Now she's hoping that her near-death experience can be a lesson for everyone.

Here's Jackie's story in her own words.

"Most people in your position would not have made it," said Dr. Garrett Peel.

Hearing those words is still difficult for me. 
"It was quite miraculous.  You got here really just in the nick of time," said Dr. Sophia Burns.

Even seven months following my hospitalization for a torn blood vessel after the rupture of an ovarian cyst.

"You ended up with a belly full of blood," said Dr. Burns.

Obstetrician-gynecologist Sophia Burns and surgeon Garrett Peel took the lead in keeping me alive after I arrived at Beaumont Baptist Hospital in shock last July.

I wouldn't go to the hospital until a full day after suffering through a tremendous amount of abdominal pain and fainting at home twice.

"You know, Jackie, you and I are friends and when I saw you that sick, it  really concerned me and that's when I got our team involved to include Dr. Burns and Dr. Levine and together we worked hard to save your life," said Dr. Peel.

Cysts are not typically worrisome.

"Normally, as part of the menstrual cycle, a woman makes a cyst on her ovary every month.  That cyst will rupture open, usually two weeks after the last period.  That's called ovulation," said Dr. Burns. 

But in my case, when the cyst ruptured, it tore a blood vessel.  Because I was taking an anticoagulant or blood thinner for previous clots, internal bleeding  did not stop. 

"So Jackie, you lost about four to five pints of blood.  Almost 40% of your blood volume was gone.  Without replenishing that blood volume immediately with fluids and other blood products, most people die," said Dr. Peel.

But doctors decided to perform surgery to remove the ruptured cyst from my left ovary before my blood count reached normal levels.  My ovary did not need to be removed.

"There's lots of angels to thank and a lot of good prayer helped," said Dr. Peel.

Not seeking immediate medical attention nearly cost me my life.  Doctors say ignoring your body is one of the worst things you can do.

"It's much better to go and be checked out and reassured that everything's ok, rather than to ignore something that can potentially be life threatening," said Dr. Burns.

"I think we all learned a good lesson in Jackie not seeking treatment early enough, and certainly, I learned a lesson, too.  If there's a problem, I'm going to find a doctor quick," said Dr. Peel.

I spent five days in the intensive care unit, ten days total in the hospital, and another month at home recovering.

Some of the symptoms of a cyst rupture problem include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea   
  • Vomiting
  • Shoulder pain

Even though the men watching don't have to worry about ovarian cysts, the lesson, again, is to quit trying to diagnose and treat yourself and seek medical treatment when you know you need it.


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