It was January 2017 when Kelly Nappo realized that something had gone horribly wrong with her body.
"My husband came home to find me on the bathroom floor," recalls Nappo, 39. As frightening as that moment was, it was just the latest in a lifetime of endometriosis-related symptoms that Nappo's caretakers failed to zero in on. Beginning at age 15, she recalls missing out on fun biking trips to the beach and swimming with pals, as well as routinely staying home from school, all due to the incapacitating cramps that came with endometriosis. The disease raged on, unchecked and undiagnosed, for more than two decades.
"I became anemic, the pain escalated. I would physically shake, my legs went numb. I would start grinding my teeth and my jaw so badly that I got migraines. I also had extensive clotting, heavy periods."
And still, the NYC-based finance executive soldiered on. Under her pantsuits, she doubled up on pads and stuck disposable heating pads to her back and belly to help manage the pain as she leaned in during her boardroom meetings.
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Meanwhile, Nappo's longtime OB-GYN suggested she start Loestrin, a low-estrogen birth control, to reign in heavy bleeding and to decrease the size of her ovarian cysts. But that plan quickly backfired.
"I was bleeding for several months; almost five months straight."
Finally, her OB-GYN casually mentioned endometriosis: "It was like, 'Yeah, you might want to get this checked out.' She never actually sat [me] down, never educated me on the disease—nothing like that."
Ironically, a routine check-up with her GP would finally put Nappo on the right path to endometriosis excision specialist Dr. Tamer Seckin. She recalls her GP telling her about Seckin's expert command of excising as much of the endometriosis as possible. "I know of a surgeon who spends hours and hours and hours and makes sure that he gets it all," she recalls being told by the GP. "There is hope."
Within weeks of that fateful check-up, in April 2017, Nappo visited Dr. Seckin's NYC office.
"I have no idea why, I entirely trusted him," she recalls. "I never doubted that he could help me. He gave me hope after that consultation. I still get choked up about it. Had it not been for him, I don't ever think I would have the confidence or the courage to do what I needed to do. I needed to have the surgery."
Seckin suspected the ovarian cysts were endometriomas or endometriosis-filled cysts; adenomyosis, or the uterine lining breaking through the muscle wall of the uterus; and that Nappo also had frozen pelvis, a sign that the disease had advanced to the point of Stage IV Endometriosis, with lesions binding her pelvic anatomy together, making them inflexible.
During the consultation, Nappo and Seckin agreed that, upon operating, if Seckin felt it necessary to perform a hysterectomy while excising the disease, that he had her permission to do so. Seckin, "made it very clear to me he would only do [the hysterectomy] under the circumstances that it was absolutely necessary."
When operation day came, Seckin's suspicions were spot-on. Nappo indeed had frozen pelvis, adenomyosis, and Stage IV Endometriosis. He performed the hysterectomy and removed lesions in the process.
More than a year later, Napoo can hardly believe how pain-free life has become.
"It's still surreal for me to think about the quality of life that I have now today. It's completely different; there is no comparison. There is no restriction; there is no worrying."
Adds Nappo: "As far as I'm concerned Dr. Seckin saved my life. He definitely did."