Update: The Washington Post recently covered this story in their Health & Science news. You can read the online version here.
Period pain. Ovulation pain. Searing back and leg pain.
Ever since 2014, mom-of-two Elina Kharnak just knew something wasn't right within her body.
Noticing the pains were cyclical and all occurring around her periods, the Brooklyn, NY-native, and finance executive smartly began researching endometriosis and visited three OB-GYN's who pooh-poohed her suspicions about having the disease.
The back pain worsened, and a visit to a urologist revealed she had lost all function in her left kidney.
Convinced endo was the culprit, Kharnak, 49, met with Dr. Tamer Seckin in February.
"I just remember sitting there with him and Dr. [Karli] Goldstein, and they really heard me," recalls Kharnak. Seckin told Kharnak he believed she not only had endometriosis and that it likely attacked her kidney, but adenomyosis.
Surgery day came in April, and Kharnak was in for a 10-hour long procedure.
Seckin's predictions were spot-on. Kharnak was diagnosed with Stage IV Endometriosis, the most extensive expression of the disease, and adenomyosis, a condition in which the lining of the uterus bursts through the muscle wall of the uterus. “I had nodules on my bladder and on my bowel."
Her kidney had swelled to four times its normal size and was beyond saving. Endometriosis, "throttled my kidney. It attacked my ureter, and it killed my kidney. When I had my surgery, not only did we have to do excision, but I had a [total] hysterectomy. I lost my uterus, my [fallopian] tubes, my ovaries, my cervix and my left kidney. That had to go too."
Post-op, Seckin told Kharnak that if there such thing as a Stage V Endometriosis classification, she'd easily fit the bill due to her organ loss.
Despite the severity of the disease progression, the procedure was a success, and Kharnak says she's still in awe of Seckin's mastery at excising the disease, no matter the extent of organ involvement.
"I went in knowing that, because of the kidney and everything else that had to come out, that this could turn into a real open-up surgery, but he's a genius. He's such a genius. I have six laparoscopic incisions. I did not have to have abdominal surgery. He did it all laparoscopically and vaginally. He's a miracle worker."
After taking a 12-week short-term disability leave, Kharnak says she's back at work and adjusting to life with one kidney.
“I have to see a nephrologist every six months. I check my blood pressure every other day,” said Kharnak, who is more prone to hypertension and UTI's now.
Still, Kharnak says she feels like a new woman and plans to treat herself now that she's on the other side of her nightmare.
"I'm planning a trip" she shares, adding that Seckin recently cleared her for vacation. "Sometime in August."
I’ve seen many obgyns over the years explaining my monthly symptoms during my period...but eventually it became a daily struggle with these pain. It feels like a poke here and there near my right pelvic region. I was given birth control pills for the past ten years but honestly, it didn’t help at all. I was in bed whenever I had my period. I was previously sent to GI doctors for possible appendicitis but it was ruled out from imagings…
Dr.Seckin is so much more than a surgeon. His passion for helping endometriosis sufferers and determination to improve the quality of life in all of his patients is undeniable. I remember when my gynecologist first told me I needed a laparoscopy. Her exact words were "I can do the surgery, but if you were MY daughter- I'd send you to him." From the first day I met him he took the time to explain endometriosis to me since I knew…
I was there for hysterectomy but then I found out that I also had endometriosis.My both surgeries went excellent and I feel great!.I am so thankful to Dr.Seckin and all his team for making my journey smooth!
I am a physician who suffered from deep infiltrative endometriosis. I needed laparoscopic surgery, so I went to see my former gynaecologist and he performed the procedure (a surgery which he supposedly does hundreds of times a year) last November. I had severe pain again when I had my period in January and was advised to go on taking a low hormone dose anticoncipient pill. My symptoms came back quickly and got worse in a few months’ time. I went…
After years of excessively painful periods, a serious loss of quality of life, and a series of uninformed and uninterested doctors, Dr. Seckin and Dr. Goldstein turned my life around. I was told I woke up from my surgery almost a year ago with a smile on my face, and I haven't stopped since. Before I heard of Dr. Seckin, I was experiencing almost daily terrible pain to the point where I had difficulty walking, inability to eat, inexplicable weight…
Dr Seckin and his team gave me back my life! Tomorrow will be 1 month since my surgery and I feel great. Dr. Seckin, Dr Liu, and Dr Goldstein are not only beyond words talented and amazing Doctors, but they are also genuinely wonderful and caring people. I cannot say enough great things about Holly, Asiye and Kim as well. They were all caring, kind, patient, and took the time to listen to me and explain anything I needed to…
Dr. Seckin and his staff spared me from years and years of heavy periods and unbearable endometriosis pain. After having surgery with him (my first) I can now function like a regular human. No more eating NSAIDs like candy and calling out sick from work. Thank you, Dr. Seckin!