This is not only a story of how I got my life back, but most importantly who gave it back to me.
As far as I know everyone has one birth date. I, on the other hand, have two.
December 23rd 2014, the day in which a 23-year girl was born again. Yes, I not only call it my birthday, but more than that, I realised how important life is to me, and how God leads you to the place where you should be, with the right people at the right time. When I refer to the “right people” I mean, my family, who held my hand through this rough episode, and most importantly, the DOCTORS; some people don’t realise how prodigious their profession is. Saving a life is the most honourable thing a human being can do, and yes, I proudly owe it to Dr. Tamer Seckin. Not only he is a spectacular and talented doctor who was able to give me my health back, he is also an incredible human being who expressed how ecstatic he was to have done such goodness.
All my life, I had perfect health and I always thought I would never have to undergo a surgery of any type, or be treated for anything more than a simple flu. I practised constant sports, had a healthy diet and, at the same time, ate everything I wished for, like any other normal person.
It all started in July 2014 when I noticed I was having some constant abdominal and pelvic pain. As I worked 18 hours a day, and was barely at home I just thought it was a normal menstrual pain, however I wasn’t even close to my period week at the time, which I did not take in consideration and auto medicated myself with buscopan or any other menstrual pain relief medication. This went on for about 2 weeks; the pain would come and go and I had nausea and lack of appetite. I began to feel very weak with headaches and diarrhea. It took me two weeks to realise there was something wrong; I couldn’t focus at work anymore as I was constantly tired, so I decided to see a doctor.
Making a long story short, they diagnosed me with abdominal pain; I took painkillers as a treatment and was told to come back if it got worse. In normal days I would have disagreed with this decision and would’ve investigated further, but as I was obsessed with my job and didn’t want to admit there was something wrong with my body, I “ignored” it and literally waited for another pain crisis to come; how childish of me. A week later I found myself in an emergency room of a hospital, crying of so much pain. They took my blood, urine, ran a huge number of tests and nothing was diagnosed, again. I was given some more painkillers and as soon as the pain was gone, I was sent home. That day I felt inside me that I had to stop working for a while, but even so I went home, slept a few hours and went back to work. It did not take more than 3 hours for me to be sent home, as I could no longer hold myself up straight. There I stood, alone in my apartment ready to take a hot shower, prepared a hot water bag for the pain, and bed, and obviously first thing next day I was seeing the doctor again, where she ran some more tests, examined me internally, and nothing. She then referred me to a Gastroenterologist, who 1-week later diagnosed me with Crohn’s Disease after I had another collapse and had to be admitted in the hospital.
At this point my mother was already with me in London and we were deciding what would be the next step of treatment with the doctor, as I now supposedly had an IBD and my lifestyle was about to change. I work in a kitchen and my lifetime dream is to become a chef, and at this moment I was told that I had to stop eating everything I most loved: fruits, vegetables, meat, gluten, dairy, grains… all you can imagine. This night I cried myself to sleep; inside me I was sure there was something wrong, but I didn’t feel it was Crohn’s, and neither did my mother. She never accepted it was that. Anyway, I followed the treatment with cortisone and a more than strict liquid diet. At this stage I had not even had a colonoscopy to be sure of the diagnosis. I then travelled to Brazil, my hometown, where I had a consultation with my family gastroenterologist and I then had a colonoscopy and endoscopy. Nothing was found, so apparently I had no Crohn’s Disease. In one way I was happy and relieved, yet unsatisfied because I was SURE there was something there, which no one was diagnosing. I took my time to recover from all that pain, and went back to London and my normal life.
Work, work, work.
In the end of October I got my period, normally, but it never stopped. There I was once again, talking to my doctor and trying to find a solution for the bleeding, when he gave me hormones to make it stop. It stopped, however as soon as I cut short the pills, the bleeding came back. I then went to see a gynaecologist, which he referred me to. I was examined internally, he felt nothing different from the ordinary, I had CT’s and blood tests and NOTHING was found!!! Next treatment was to take some pills, which would stop the bleeding. It did stop actually, for around 2 or 3 weeks when it started bleeding again. At this point I was so stressed and impatient and having constant pain, and its December already. I cannot understand how all this time has passed and I am still at the starting point of this entire situation. No one could figure out what I had and so I was treated for something I DID NOT have.
I had plans to travel to New York to spend the Christmas Holidays with my family. I was supposed to fly on December 20th, but for no specific reason I decided to go on the 18th, which, at the end of the day, was the luckiest decision I could have made. As soon as I confirmed my flight, my mother immediately booked a consultation with Dr. Seckin who she was not familiar with but was highly referred to. At this stage she had no idea of who he was. My 8-hour flight was everything but pleasant, I had horrible pain and there was nothing that I could have done about it. I was stuck in dreadful turbulence of desperation. Finally, I landed in NY and there they were, open heartedly waiting for me; there is nothing like family. Just for the sake of it, the first thing my mother whispered in my ear was “I will take away your pain, I love you”, and so she did.
Moments after my arrival on a Saturday evening, I was taken to the ER of Lenox Hill Hospital, the pain was unbearable; I had exceeded all my limits. My mother was alone with me and was beyond desperate, as she had no knowledge of what was going on. It was then that she contacted our doctor back in Brazil, and he brought up the name of a doctor, which rang a bell, Dr. Albert Levy. Coincidently my mother had met him before and had a consultation but never again had contact. We called him and he picked up straight away, we explained the situation and the next day there he was, willing to make me feel better, and help.
Several tests were taken and some diagnoses were given but nothing I was convinced of. All of this just made me more nervous and insecure. It was then that one of the residents decided to do an internal ultrasound to see if she could detect something. She told me I had to be admitted as my fever was still very high and my blood tests showed a high level of inflammation. She then asked me if I preferred to be admitted by the gynaecology centre of the hospital, or if I had a private doctor to whom they could contact. We then mentioned about my upcoming appointment with Dr. Seckin on Monday. She stared at me with indignation and asked if I had endometriosis. I did not understand why she would ask such a question, so I immediately questioned her in surprise. She then told me that Dr. Seckin was an endometriosis expert, which to be honest, made me very curious of my health situation. She was then happy to contact him, as he practiced in the hospital.
After 12 hours in the ER, I was finally admitted and taken to my room. First thing next morning I was booked for ultrasound, and during the session Dr. Seckin walked in, introduced himself and from that moment on all the worries and stress of the current situation suddenly faded away and out of nowhere, I trusted his knowledge and instincts. He examined me; he asked about my past and how everything started, took his initial conclusions and ordered some other tests. I admit that for a moment I was incredibly frightened but at the same time I found a new sense of security in Dr. Seckin.
Tests were running and we found out that I had a huge inflammation in my right ovary and that it was almost three times bigger than normal size. The suspicion was of an abscess around the ovary and indeed it was. I was then prescribed some very strong antibiotics IV to try and penetrate across the abscess during my stay in the hospital, and if it worked I would be going home. However, there was no change except for the fact that my fever went away. On December 22nd, Dr. Seckin came to see me and as soon as he came in I was sure he was going to say I needed to do a laparoscopy. He was serene and explained to me the fact that the abscess was the size it was, and by studying the CTs and exams, it might be compromising my right tube as well, and the only way he could absolutely be sure of what was going on was by seeing it with his own eyes. I, personally, am never in favour of surgeries, even because I have never had one. We talked for a while and again, I can’t explain how, but I agreed with his advice immediately and in doing so I felt like a large weight was lifted off my shoulders.
8am on December 23rd, I woke up and straight away was taken to the operation centre. There I was prepared for surgery and I had a chance to talk to Dr. Seckin and his team. I was then very nervous and asking him a thousand questions which I already new the answer and the last thing I told him before I went into the OR was that I has faith he would cure me. Soon after there was I walking into the operation room, just for the fun of it I have to say that I almost ran away when I saw all the equipment around me. Seconds before I was put to sleep, Dr. Seckin asked me what was my favourite dish to cook and I remember telling him it was a Comfit de Canard and I promised I would one day cook it for him, and then I slept. Now I understand he made me feel peaceful and happy before undergoing the surgery, as he knew I was extremely anxious and scared. Not only he’s physically a surgeon, but he is also a father of patients.
The operation took longer and was more complicated than expected. Dr. Levy, who kindly stayed in the OR with me and watched the surgery, left as soon as it was over and straight away went to speak to my mother. She recalls that the first thing he said to her was that I was blessed to be in Dr. Seckin’s hands, and that what he had just done was of extreme competence and professionalism. Soon after, Dr. Seckin arrived to speak to my mother and told her he was not expecting the abscess to be that big but happily he was able to clean the whole thing and I was crystal clear, but unfortunately to do so he had to remove my right tube as it was already perforated and spreading the infection. Finalizing the conversation he mentioned that in a week or so, if nothing was done, I could have collapsed and there would be no way back.
As a woman, it is obviously not the easiest thing in the world to accept that I had to remove one of my tubes, as my greatest dream is to become a mother. Of course I can perfectly give birth with only one tube, but still, it was way too many emotions running through me. The most important thing was that I was cured from all of that suffering and pain I had been having for six months. My recovery was very good; I had a bit of pain during the first three days, and every other day after that, the pain faded tremendously. Dr. Seckin was always in contact with me, and so was his office, which made me even more comfortable and secure.
On January 5th 2015 I had my first appointment with him after the laparoscopy. All went perfectly well; we talked and talked and he explained the surgery to me, showed me pictures and told me how blessed I was. He then explained I also had a bicornuate uterus and above that, that I had endometriosis. This word scares me, but I could not be in better hand than his. Never in my life I imagined I would be this comfortable with a health problem this size, as I am now. And this is because I am sure there is a solution to it, there is cure and there are doctors in this world who are willing to fight against the odds. And specially, there is Dr. Seckin, who comforts me and treats this endometriosis of mine as a normal situation, but in the same time with a lot of care and devotion. I can’t thank him enough, and I don’t think I will ever be able to.
To any woman who has endometriosis or any similar health problem, please don’t think of it as it’s the end of the world, because it definitely is not. There is never a problem, only solutions. I, personally, have close friends and family friends who have endometriosis, and have healthy and beautiful children. I speak about children because not being able to have them is one of my greatest fears. But now, learning about the disease, and having amazing treatments, I am sure there is nothing to worry about anymore. Also, I know people who are now clean and cleared of it, absolutely cured.
To finalize, I would like to thank my mother and family for all the support. I know it might have been even more painful for them than for me. And of course, THANK YOU Dr. Seckin, once again, for saving my life. I am happy to say I will now have to see you every four months, for further treatment and soon will be cured.