Thursday, September 3, 2009

My female problems lead to endometrosis

I was thinking about what I went through with my female issues. I thought I would share my story. My dad didn't believe in gynecologists. I think it was common back in those days to feel that way. The "he man" attitude. No man is allowed to touch my women attitude. In fact when mom was about to give birth to me, dad did not want to allow her to go to the hospital. The reason he didn't want to was because my mom's female gynecologist was out of town which means I was going to be delivered by a male doctor. I agree this is extreme but you need to understand my dad's mentality to understand what happened to me physically later on.

When I was 16 years old, my menstrual periods became very painful, caused me to vomit and had excessive bleeding. My cramps would literally cause me to curl up in bed for a day or two with the pain. I was always light headed as well. I begged my parents to allow me to go to the doctors. They were that bad. Well, my father never agreed no matter how much my mother tried to talk him into it. He told me that women were suppose to suffer with their cramps. It was part of being a woman. Translation to that is you will just have to bear the pain.

When I turned 18 years old, I finally went to see the gynecologist. I'm sitting in the gynecologist's office by myself when he tells me he wants me to get an ultrasound to find out what is causing these problems.

The result of the ultrasound was that I have ovarian cysts. Some of the symptoms of ovarian cysts are pain in the abdomen, pelvic pain, pain during your period, abnormal bleeding, vomiting or nausea. Ironically I had them all when I was on my period. Since I had the symptoms since I was 16 years old, he thought it made sense to schedule a Laparoscopy right away.

Laparoscopy is done when the cyst is small and looks benign (noncancerous) on the ultrasound. While you are under general anesthesia, a very small cut is made above or below your navel. A small instrument that acts like a telescope is put into your abdomen. Then your doctor can remove the cyst. The doctor assured me that I would have no scar except for the one in my belly button.

I remember how he described even today. They would cut a small incision in my belly button and then insert a laparoscope. The surgery is called a lapascopy because of the device they use. Attached to that is a laser to burn the cysts off. The stomach will be blown up like a balloon with carbon dioxide gas. This makes your stomach expand so that they can see the internal organs. In my case, the female organs. He said that there were not that many risks involved with this procedure. He told me that I didn't need to worry about a scar. I just wanted the pain to go away.

I believed him and had the surgery. I cleaned my apartment from top to bottom to make sure that I would not have to do anything after the surgery. Problem was I forgot to stock the food. I remember waking up groggy but feeling semi normal. I was on the pain medicine at the time. My mom was there to drive me home. During the ride, I guess my insides woke up. I was in pain. At the time, I lived in an apartment that had about 15 steps to get into. That almost killed me to walk up them. My roommates had decided not to be there as well. So I was alone for the weekend. They had told me after the surgery to keep pressing a pillow on my stomach to help the gases pass through my system. I drifted in and out of sleep after the surgery so remembering that pillow did not work at all.

Things returned back to normal. My periods became normal and less painful. Then it started again about six months later. Once again I went back to the gynecologist. Once again he sent me for a ultrasound. The result was bigger cysts. He told me that he needed to find out if these cells were cancerous. These cysts did not look the same as the first ones. I'm 18 years old. He mentions cancer to me. I become the most paranoid person in the world. I look up everything I can about cancer which makes it ten times worse. Please unless they are specific and say that they are sure you have something do not look for information. This is the one place that I think the internet gives us too much information. I think back then I went to the library though.

The gynecologist has recommended that I have another surgery, a lapatomy. He was wanting to remove the cysts to check them. A laparotomy uses a bigger incision to remove the cyst or any effected area. While I was under, he said that he would test the cyst for cancer. If it is cancer, my doctor told me that he would remove the infected parts which could be my ovaries, uterus, or something else. He again mentioned the risks of the surgery. He told me that recovery would be 6 to 8 weeks. I should expect to be in the hospital for a week. Remember this was back in the 80's. I requested that my appendix be removed since I was going to be open anyway. I had to sign a paper to have it done since it was not necessary.

This was in 1985. After the surgery, I found out that it was not cancerous. Thank God. The doctor explained that he had to cut off part of one of my ovaries because there were too many cysts and I had scar tissue. I asked why this kept happening. Why me? Why didn't other women have this problem? The gynecologist assured me that a lot of women had the same issues. He couldn't explain what was wrong with me. I decided if he couldn't give me a reason that I needed to find another doctor next time. I was already very pessimistic about it. I was scared at this point that I would never be able to have children.

Things went great for a while. I decided to go in for a general checkup. I talked to a friend and she told me she had a great gynecologist. I switched doctors. During the checkup, I experienced severe pain during the exam. He sent me for a sonogram. Now I knew that they were going to find something again. Once again, it came back that I had to have another laprascopy. So this means 3 surgeries in two years. Yes they said it was minor but its 3 surgeries in such a short period.

This surgery they found out that I had a lot of scar tissue that was intwined with my female parts. He cut through the scar tissue. I asked again why this was happening to me. He couldn't give me an explanation why. Today, I can tell you that I wouldn't accept that answer. But back then I was young and didn't know any better. My parents were not there to support me during this. Remember my dad didn't like gynecologists. At this point, neither did I.

So six months later, it happens again. This time I had to have a ovary removed completely. Still no one could tell me why this was happening. I was terrified that I would never have kids. The doubts alone could have made me sick. I realize that it was a long time ago and we have come a long way since then.

I remember feeling so completely lost. I wanted answers and no one could give them to me. I felt so frustrated and so incredibly helpless. But I couldn't focus on this at all. By this point, I was married to my first husband, Michael. He was starting to get sicker. He went blind a month after we got married. At this point, his kidneys were beginning to fail. So he took priority over anything else.

More to come on this topic


Kara @ His, Hers and Ours said...

Oh, wow!! What an ordeal you have been through, up until this point! ((hugs)) I'll be looking for the rest of the story.

Tami said...

@Kara, It was definitely a long process. I'm so glad its over