Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Harkleroad sad, depressed & pissed off about surgery

Just as Ashley Harkleroad seemed to get her act together and make the most of her undoubted talent, her career got a sudden, unexpected blow. The 22-year old beauty from Georgia underwent a sugery to remove her right ovary on March 31 after a frightening episode during the Sony Ericsson Open.

"The good news is that if I want to have babies, the doctors said no problem," Harkleroad told the reporters. "If I couldn't, I'd be really depressed. "It was still hard for me mentally. I felt like something had been stolen from me. First I was sad, then I was depressed, then I was pissed off. But I'm OK now," she said.

The problem started during her second round match against Virginie Razzano at the Key Biscane tournament in Miami. She experienced some abdominal pain, but chalked it up to menstrual cramps and tried to treat it with over-the-counter pain medication.

The discomfort worsened, and Harkleroad underwent a diagnostic ultrasound that showed she had a blood-filled cyst on her ovary.

"The advice I was given was that I could play with it as long as I could deal with the pain," she said. "So I took four Aleve and two Pamprin and went out for my third-round match."

Harkleroad nearly won her 3rd round match against Elena Vesnina, having lead 4/2 in the deciding set, but she was not playing freely, because of the pain.
"I really should have won the match," Harkleroad said. "I was moving tentatively on the court, because in the back of my mind, I was worried about making [the pain] worse."

After she got back to the hotel with her boyfriend and coach, Chuck Adams, Harkleroad spent several hours vomiting, unable to eat or drink, and grew progressively weaker.

"I finally looked up at him and said, 'Call 911,'" she said. "It's the first time I've ever been in an ambulance, and I had a panic attack. My hands and tongue went numb. It was so scary. I just wasn't sure I was going to make it."

The cyst had ruptured. Harkleroad said she bled internally, affecting her liver function, and wound up losing more than a quart of blood. She was rushed to Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables, Fla., where Dr. Luis Mendez performed emergency surgery. Afterwards, she said he cheered her up by telling her he had spared a small fish tattoo on her right hip. Harkleroad spent two days in the hospital and several more days confined to bed rest but said she is healing quickly now. A talented clay-court player, she hopes to return to tournament play in Prague the week of May 5 and start preparing for the French Open.


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