Battling Endometriosis Behind Enemy Lines: A Woman's Story of Survival

Battling Endometriosis Behind Enemy Lines: A Woman's Story of Survival

Paige endured her first vaginal ultrasound in an emergency room at the age of 14. She got her period at age 11, and as a freshman in high school, she started having intense ovarian pain. The ultrasound revealed that she was experiencing ruptured ovarian cysts, which her doctor tried to control with birth control pills.

Years later, in graduate school, Paige suffered frequent, debilitating pain that would cause her to drop to the floor. She had frequent ER visits for pain that included severe back and leg pain.

Paige also had many urinary and bowel issues seemingly related to her cycle that couldn’t be specifically defined by specialists. After decades of doctors’ visits, tests and pain, she came no closer to understanding her symptoms.

In 2005, during an exam for persistent pain, a doctor suspected that she may have endometriosis, but was hesitant to diagnose her because he wasn’t an “expert”. That same year, Paige had her first surgery to remove fibroids and cysts. Post-op, the doctor told her that he saw “endometriosis everywhere.” He used ablation to remove what he could, but did not even come close to getting it all, which she was not made aware of.

Paige still felt awful after the surgery and continued feeling poorly. From '06-'07, Paige was deployed to Iraq and worked for the Department of Defense as a Human Intelligence Officer, collecting valuable intelligence and recruiting spies to keep troops and Iraqis safe. Her job was incredibly intense physically, emotionally and psychologically. One of the only women working in the field, and at times the only female on a given military base, she had to continue to fight the daily pain her endometriosis caused her. This was a war zone, and yet there were no doctors that could help her.

In ‘08, on a break from being deployed, Paige saw a doctor in Texas for her endometriosis pain. The doctor immediately scheduled surgery but she was unfortunately deployed two days before she was able to have the procedure.

The culture of her work was so intense and weakness so frowned upon that Paige was forced to “suck it up” and just cope. Time to reflect or rest allowed her pain to break through, so she kept as busy as possible. She was afraid to seem like a detriment to her mission, sources and peers. She put on a happy face and made work her life while she continued to be deployed around the world.

In Germany in 2012, almost 7 years after her first surgery, Paige was given the opportunity for a second surgery. While this doctor was able to free all of her organs that were fused together or adhered to her pelvic wall and bladder, he still didn’t remove the endometriosis, so she still was in pain.

Paige trained for and completed two more deployments to Afghanistan, requiring arduous physical activity, and carrying heavy weapons and body armor for protection. Her pain was so great that she became unable to carry the body armor and instead hid the fact that every time she went outside “the wire” in the Red Zone, she did so without any physical protection in order to maintain manageable pain levels.

During her last deployment, through most of 2013, Paige was deployed to Afghanistan. She trained for a warzone: running, climbing and walking with huge belt guns, carrying semi-automatic weapons. With each step she felt like her insides were being ripped out. Her job was dangerous and her life depended on her acting “normal” and looking like a local, which was hard to do hunched over in agony. Her senses were in complete overload. At this point, Paige had several cysts rupture with medics unable to help her or relieve her pain.

In search of a better quality of life, she found Dr. Seckin on the Internet while in Afghanistan. Her friend made arrangements while she was still overseas. As soon as Paige ended her tour, she flew into Washington, D.C. and drove to New York to see Dr. Seckin. She was immediately relieved by his no-nonsense approach to explaining the disease and how it was affecting her body. She was impressed with his line of questioning, including information about symptoms she never even realized were related to endometriosis. 

Paige had surgery with him in December of 2013. Dr. Seckin found and excised endometriosis from everywhere in her pelvic cavity, taking a total of 33 biopsies. Endometriosis was removed from some of her nerves, which had caused her leg and back pain. Dr. Seckin had to rebuild one of Paige’s ovaries, and both her bowel and bladder were affected. Paige found a substantially better quality of life following her surgery with Dr. Seckin. She feels like a different person. She found a job that is much gentler on her body and geographically closer to the continuing medical care she may need with Dr. Seckin. 

At 35, Paige is undergoing IVF because the endometriosis destroyed her chances of conceiving naturally. Paige is eager to share what she has learned, particularly with so many younger women who are not aware of the severity of endometriosis and its effect on fertility and quality of life. She urges all young women, especially those with endometriosis, to be screened by a reproductive endocrinologist to test their ovarian reserve before turning 30. 

In retrospect, Paige advises that knowledge is power, and combined with technologies such as egg freezing, women can make the choice to preserve their fertility while they still can.

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  • Angela Aro

    I have struggled with endometriosis and adenomyosis since first starting my period at 13. I was diagnosed at 21 and what followed was a series of unsuccessful surgeries and treatments. My case was very aggressive and involved my urinary tract system and my intestines. After exhausting all of my local doctors I was lucky enough to find Dr. Seckin. We…

  • Emi O

    Seckin and Dr. Goldstein changed my life!

  • Kristin Sands

    Like so many women who have tirelessly sought a correct diagnosis and proper, thorough medical treatment for endometriosis, I found myself 26 years into this unwanted journey without clear answers or help from four previous gynecological doctors and two emergency laparoscopic surgeries. I desperately wanted to avoid the ER again; a CT scan for appendicitis also revealed a likely endometrioma…

  • Wilfredo Reyes

    Dr. Seckin literally gave my wife her life back. I am eternally grateful to him for his generous, determined spirit to see that Melanie finally live free from the prison bonds of Endometriosis.

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    I am so grateful to Dr Seckin and Dr. Goldstein. My experience was nothing short of amazing. I was misdiagnosed with the location of my fibroids and have had a history of endometriosis. Dr. Seckin was the one who accurately diagnosed me. Dr Seckin and Dr. Goldstein really care about their patients and it shows. They listened to my concerns,…

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    When I think of Dr. Seckin these are the words that come to mind. Gratitude, grateful, life-changing, a heart of gold. I feel compelled to give you a bit of background so you can understand the significance of this surgery for me. I am passionate about Endometriosis because it has affected me most of my life and I have a…

  • Jaclyn Harte

    Dr. Seckin and Dr. Goldstein radically changed my quality of life. They treat their patients with dignity & respect that I've personally never seen in the literally 25+ doctors I've seen for endometriosis. This summer, I had a surgery with Dr. Seckin & Goldstein. It was my first with them, but my 5th endo surgery. I couldn't believe the difference,…

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    I was in pain for 2 years. I was getting no answers, and because dr Goldstein and dr seckins were willing to see and treat me I'm finally feeling almost back to normal. They were very down to earth and helpful in my time of need. Dr Goldstein was easy to talk to and caring, she took care of me…

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    Dr. Seckin is one of the best endometriosis surgeon. Every time I go to the office, he really listens to me and is always concerned about my issues. Dr Seckin's office staff are a delight and they always work with me. I feel I can leave everything to them and they will take care of it. Thank you to the…

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    Fast forward 5 years to find out incidentally I had a failing kidney. My left kidney was only functioning at 18%. During this time, I was preparing all my documents to send to Dr. Seckin to review. However, with this new information I put everything on hold and went to a urologist. After a few months, no one could figure…

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    I'll never stop praising Dr. Seckin and his team. He literally gave me back my life.

  • Erin Brehm

    I had a wonderful experience working with Dr. Seckin and his team before, during and after my surgery. I came to Dr. Seckin having already had laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis 5 years prior, with a different surgeon. My symptoms and pain had returned, making my life truly challenging and my menstrual cycle unbearable. Dr. Seckin was quick to validate my…

  • Anita Schillhorn

    I came to Dr. Seckin after years of dealing with endometriosis and doctors who didn't fully understand the disease. He quickly ascertained what needed to be done, laid out the options along with his recommendation and gave me the time to make the right decision for me. My surgery went without a hitch and I'm healing very well. He and…

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    Dr. Seckin brought me back to life! I am now 3 weeks into my recovery after my laparoscopy surgery, and I feel like a new and improved woman! Being diagnosed with Endometriosis, then 25yrs old in 2015, and discovering the severity of my case being stage 4, made me devastated. Dr. Seckin's vast knowledge of the disease, sincere empathy, and…