Don’t read this post if you don’t want to hear about female medical issues and yucky procedures. What you’re about to read makes even me squeamish. Why share such a personal experience? Well, you never know who might be helped by this information. Especially since much of it reads like a list of what NOT to do. While writing this chronological account of the events, it has become apparent to me how many times I, and the doctors, could have handled things differently. Learn from my mistakes, ladies.
Boiled Uterus Anyone?
The story goes something like this…
I’ve been bleeding. For a long time. A lot.
Since my (birth) mom passed away when I was young, I never knew what to expect as I approached “the change”. I read online once that women can be in peri-menopause for up to 10 years before actually reaching menopause. According to my self-diagnoses I’ve been romping through this field of weeds for 5 years now. Lord, I pray I don’t have another 5 to go!
2011 – Symptoms begin, and include poor sleep, lack of sex-drive, and bleeding. Oh, the bleeding…
2012 – I go to the doctor for help. Doctor informs me I’m anemic and should take iron. Doctor also says I’m not peri-menopausal because I’m having regular periods and no hot flashes. I don’t believe her because of said symptoms I’ve listed above. I leave frustrated.
2013-14 – I ask my sisters to describe what it was like for them to go through menopause. I compare myself to them and it seems similar. I decide I’m normal, and must grin and bear it.
2015 – I bleed more. Much more. I talk with family members again, but how do you describe what a normal amount of “a lot” of blood is? I don’t go back to the doctor (see frustration by experience in 2012). I keep iron pills, progesterone cream, and an iPad by the bed; iron pills for anemia, progesterone cream because I read about it on the internet, and iPad for the many hours I’m up at night.
Oct. 4th, 2015 – I’m taken by ambulance to the ER, after passing out in the bathroom from blood loss. I receive three units of blood and am told I’m “very sick”. Probably cancer. Probably leukemia. A GYN wants to do a D&C (the scraping of my uterus) to stop the bleeding. My oncologist hears of this and gets very upset. He says it could kill me and I shouldn’t allow the procedure.
Oct. 6th, 2015 – In the early hours of the morning, I’m awoken by a surgery assistant who has come to get me for the D&C. I tell her the procedure was supposed to be cancelled because it could kill me. She leaves. Death averted for the day.
Oct. 9th, 2015 – Transferred to another hospital. Three more units of blood. So weak.
Oct. 11th, 2015 – Pelvic exam and depo-provera shot to stop the bleeding. It works. I’m told to get another shot in three months.
Oct. 14th, 2015 – Yep. I have leukemia.
Nov. – Dec., 2015 – Spotting for 33 days. No one seems too concerned since it’s not much blood. I read online that breakthrough bleeding is normal when taking depo-provera.
Late Jan. – I’m one week late for my depo-provera shot, and start bleeding heavily. I go back to the ER, sheepishly apologizing for not getting my shot sooner. I’m given the shot and it works. I stop bleeding. I’m weak from the blood loss. I spend the next week using a wheel chair, and then walker. Over the next month, I slowly regain my strength and vow to never be late with the shot again. I mark my calendar for three months to the day, and write “SHOT” in bold letters.
Early March – Maui, baby! I’m on a much needed vacation to see my daughter. But, wait. The bleeding has begun again. It’s only been six weeks since my shot! It’s supposed to work for three months. Why? My daughter and I discuss going to the ER. She wants me to go. I don’t. I send her to the store to buy me diapers because I’m bleeding through everything. I tell her I’ll make it until I get home. It dawns on me that all this bleeding no longer has anything to do with my leukemia. I’ve been in remission for months. I’m suffering from the effects of peri-menopause gone horribly wrong.
March 17th – Back home, I call for a GYN appointment. They don’t have an opening until the 24th. I tell the scheduling person that I won’t make it. I’m losing too much blood. They’re sorry, but that’s the earliest appointment they have.
March 19th – I’m back in the ER, feeling weak and defeated. This isn’t supposed to happen. I beg them not to discharge me until they stop the bleeding. I cry to the doctors, telling them I don’t want to end up back in a wheelchair. I ask them to please just take my uterus out. I don’t want it any more. They say I’m stable enough to wait until my scheduled GYN appointment. I tell them I’m not going to make it. 15 hours later they discharge me. I call my oncologist asking for help. Maybe they can pull some strings and get me an appointment sooner?
March 20th – My oncologist sees my test results and is concerned. They call the GYN office and I have an appointment for the next day.
March 21st – The GYN doctor tells me the hormone shots aren’t working, so they want to do surgery. An endometrial ablation. I’m given a pamphlet that explains the Novasure procedure that uses radiofrequency to kill the tissue inside my uterus. They also say I’ve lost too much blood and they’d like to admit me to the hospital for a blood transfusion. I say, “Yes, please.” I feel like a vampire.
March 31st – Surgery day. Before they put me under the surgeon stops by and I tell him he’s my hero. I’m so excited to finally get this bleeding fixed. I wake up quickly from the anesthesia, and am told they weren’t able to perform the procedure because my uterus is too enlarged. They will need to try again with a different type of ablation technique. They also tell me I’m too low on blood again and will need to be admitted for another transfusion. I feel defeated.
April 4th – Second surgery day. The same surgeon stands over my bedside, but this time I don’t tell him he’s my hero. Instead, I listen to him explain how they will be putting boiling water inside my uterus, plug the base, and circulate the boiling water for 10 minutes. “Well, it’s not really boiling, it’s just a few degrees below boiling,” he clarifies. Boiled uterus. I think, how desperate I must be to let them boil my uterus. I wake up happy it’s over. On the drive home the pain sets in. I’ve been through two natural labors, with no pain medication, and the next six hours rival the worst labor pain I’ve ever felt. I writhe on the couch, with my (second) mom stroking my hair. I think I’ll go crazy. At least with labor I had a break every few minutes between contractions. As much as I hate how oxycodone makes me feel, I decide to take my pain meds. It’s a good move. At hour seven, the pain begins to subside. By hour eight, I’m feeling much better. I think, if had known how much I’d suffer, I’d have insisted on a hysterectomy!
Today, April, 13th – No more bleeding! Even though it’ll take time to know if the endometrial ablation truly worked, I’m optimistic that I’m cured.
I have a stack of diapers I no longer need. I think it’s time to go shopping for some pretty panties!