How does one thank a doctor for giving you your life back? Maybe some day I will find the answer.
My story might be a common one. I am a 35-year-old professional single parent. Since the birth of my 14-year-old son I had suffered from excruciating pain. It would feel like a stabbing and twisting of my ovaries. This pain would render me immobile. I would go completely pale, and then get a burning from within my abdomen. When I was finally able to move, I would be left with a sensation that felt much like my uterus was a half-filled water balloon. My movement would result in pressure and pain on my ovaries, bladder and intestines. At times it felt as if my pelvis was going to fall right off. In addition to such extreme pain also suffered other symptoms of discomfort, which included headaches, bloating, light headedness, lower back pain, irritability and nausea. At least one day of my menstruation would result in a baseball-size blood clot. Two weeks out of every month would feel like an emotional rollercoaster. I was often left wishing I could curl up into a ball in a corner and disappear.
My pains and discomfort were not simply limited to my menstrual cycle. I found simple daily tasks such as sitting and standing to be challenging. I would attempt to stand up from a sitting position and fall back in pain, unable to stand erect. Use of the restroom had always an issue. At times, I would have pain after urination or difficulty holding the urge to urinate. Consumption of every day foods and a standard diet were followed by cramping and always resulted in a race to find a bathroom, and an immediate need to move my bowels. Chronic diarrhea was a daily occurrence. My sleeping habits were anything but normal. I was often woken by sharp pains and cramping followed by yet more trips to the restroom. I often found myself feeling tired and in need of a nap after work. On one occasion I recall sleeping for approximately 53 hours throughout the course of 3 days.
My scheduled trips to my gynecologist were not helpful in any shape or form. My primary complaints were addressed by the physician simply prescribing a host of birth control pills/ hormones. Every time I would complain about the pain he would prescribe a different pill. In total I was given 5 different birth controls, all of which intensified or worsened my existing symptoms. My conditions were dismissed as exaggerations and I was told that what I was going through was normal.
Believing most of my symptoms were not directly connected to one another I sought out a gastroenterologist. I had an endoscopy and colonoscopy performed. I was simply told they couldn’t find anything wrong. Both procedures resulting in negative findings, I was then diagnosed with having IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). The only course of treatment prescribed was release of stress through exercising and proper dieting. As well as medication to minimize cramping.
Dieting and regular exercise helped slightly however; something would always trigger the pain. My constant search for relief and or a solution to my issues and symptoms led me to taking the advice of a friend. This friend suggest that I see an infertility doctor. With a limited medical history, which I provided and no further testing, he quickly suggest exploratory surgery for endometriosis. I had only previously heard of the condition and associated it solely with an inability to bare children. Considering I had my son at the age of 20, I was not convinced and was really hoping for more alternatives. I believe surgery to always be a last course of action. I wanted to explore further options or have greater evidence as to the need for such a procedure.
Six months after my initial visit with the fertility doctor, I began dating my current boyfriend. After becoming intimate I discovered that I would hemorrhage and had pain during intercourse. I knew there was definitely something wrong. I returned to the fertility doctor and he again suggested surgery. This time he recommended a hysterectomy. As part of the procedure he would remove the fibroid that was found during a routine sonogram on the outside of my uterus. He would also perform an ablation, which burns the lining of the uterus. I could not process the thought of what I believed to be an invasive procedure. My immediate response was “NO.” He then suggested removing the ovary on the side that caused the most pain. I simply did not want to remove anything. He stated that if I did not remove it I would still be in pain. Most of this conversation took place in the hall way of his office. Apparently he was not only insensitive and lacked a level of expected professionalism but was too busy to discuss in detail the conditions surrounding the procedures.
One can only imagine how lost and alone my search for relief of pain and a normal life had become. The general consensus from both medical professionals and family/friends was that my pain was all in my head. That what was happening to me should be accepted as normal. That everyone goes through the same thing. I began to believe it. A friend suggested I might be depressed and in need of medications. This entire ordeal had been taking its toll on me both mentally and physically. I had become an emotional wreck. Still seeking a less invasive alternative I decided to go for yet another opinion. I researched endometriosis specialist in the NYC area but only found two. Dr. Seckin was the top internet search but was out of my insurance network. I again tried another infertility specialist. She first suggested I try a regimen of medicines to bring on early menopause and then another regimen of birth control. At age 35, I though, “If I’m an emotional wreck now, I can’t imagine how I would be after this treatment. Would that even help the pain?" I was also told because my pain was not solely during my period I should go see an oncologist.
With so any different diagnosis and opinions floating around I decided to take a chance and go out of network and see what Dr. Seckin had to say. This decision would ultimately prove to be a life changing experience. From the moment I walked into his office, both Dr. Seckin and his staff made me feel welcomed. They provided a clean, professional environment and more importantly a genuine consideration and understanding of both my circumstance and my pain.
He sat with me and answered all of my questions. He explained in vivid detail what he believed was happening in my body. Even took the time to carefully draw a diagram of what was occurring. This helped me to have a better understanding of what endometriosis looked like. He immediately sent me for an MRI and blood work. Unlike my previous experiences, Dr. Seckin never rushed me out of his office or made me feel like what I was experiencing was in my imagination. We discussed his revolutionary experience and procedure. He explained that he wouldn’t remove anything but the endometriosis and the fibroid that he was able to see from a sonogram. He compared it to a dental cleaning. It was my understanding that only the bad stuff will get removed. This gave me a great feeling of hope and comfort.
I had surgery 2½ months after my first visit with Dr. Seckin. It was discovered that I had stage III endometriosis, mostly surrounding my bladder, rectosigmoid, pelvis and rectovaginal septum. I also had a chocolate cyst and a baseball-sized fibroid on the outside of my uterus which was removed as part of the procedure. My recovery was a bit difficult, especially my first two menstrual cycles after surgery. Filled with both pain and discomfort I began to feel a bit pessimistic. Had the procedure failed? Had I gone through with this only to still be in pain and discomfort? With the help of the staff at Dr. Seckin’s office, my fears and concerns were quelled. The combination of my follow-up visits with the doctor, and the feedback from the knowledgeable staff were helpful in proving useful and helpful post-op support. The post-op pain an discomfort was discussed in detail and to be expected. To my astonishment, my third cycle arrived with little to no pain or discomfort. I guess I had grown accustomed to always being in pain that I found myself anticipating. To my delight the pain has yet to return. I am six months removed from surgery. I am no longer in pain, or waiting for the pain to come. I may have some mild cramping especially after I eat and can be emotional, but there is no comparison. The gluten-free diet that Dr. Seckin recommended is also helping. Overall, I am a new person. I don’t believe anyone should have to suffer through so much pain and discomfort, nor should a vibrant, active person be reduced to a shell of her former self. As stressful as everyday life can be, we should not have to be consumed by pain and constant fatigue. Dr. Seckin and his procedure can help change that.
I am so thankful for finding Dr. Seckin. Thank you for all you have done for me. Thank you from everyone in my life, you have returned to them a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a lover, and a teacher.
Franklin Square, NY