Chronic Illness & Endometriosis Health

The Progressive Invader: Why Surgery is Necessary for Endometriosis Treatment

woman-painEvery person suffering from chronic pain dislikes being asked “Are you feeling better?” or any variation of that question, because we know what the person asking does not understand: chronic means that it is not going away. There will be days that are better than others, and I do find solace in those days or even moments, for there will be days when the pain, nauseous or any other symptom may be too much to handle that day.  For now, I find comfort in knowing God will not give me anything I cannot handle, and reminding myself to count my blessings.

Endometriosis – The Progressive Invader

Endometriosis is a progressive condition that does not get better without surgical treatment. Currently, it also cannot be diagnosed by any method other than laparoscopic surgery. Therefore, it is one condition that baffles many people because there is not a pill or amount of bed rest that can fix it – you need to have surgery – this is an uncommon method of medical intervention.

Certainly there is something else they can do to make you feel better?
Don’t you feel any better?
You sound okay, you must be feeling better, right?
Are you sure you aren’t just adjusting to being married?
Maybe you could smoke some pot?

These are actual questions I have been asked by my family. Now, I do agree that pot would probably help, but given my job and the legality issues of procurement, I am limited to CBD oil until medicinal dispensaries open (I really hope it is soon, though!). You can see, though, that some of the questions, especially blaming my chronic pain on adjusting to marriage, sound…well, ridiculous? Yet, my family’s rationale is the mindset of many people around the world due to the lack of education surrounding endometriosis.

Many people do not understand how one can be in so much pain for such an extended period of time when endometriosis should theoretically be linked to a woman’s menstrual cycle. So, why is the pain extending beyond a 4 or 5 day period? It boggles one’s mind even more when you tell them that you only get a period once every three months! Oh gosh, well, then you should only have pain for a week every three months!
Nonetheless, I have been in constant, excruciating pain that has been unrelenting since November 2nd. There has been no period during that time and still pain. The reason?
Endometriosis destroys our bodies so extensively by building up scar tissue, binding organs to each other, twisting things (organs, veins, muscles, etc) around in unnatural manners that we experience physical pain.

No one has been able to pin down the exact cause of endometriosis yet. There are theories. Some say that blood backs up into the Fallopian tubes… some say if your mom had it, you’re more likely than not to have endometriosis, as well. But, honestly, no one really knows at this point. It is a guessing game. My mother’s generation sucked up the pain – according to her. She did not go to the doctor every time she had an ache or pain like we do now. She is suspicious of doctors. She would rather bleed out on the street crawling to a nearby CVS for band-aids than to go to a doctor for stitches. She has reasons to not trust doctors, though. She had many bad experiences.

If you think about your own experiences, you probably have at least one war story of a doctor that should have made you suspicious of every doctor from that point forward (as it did with my mom). Yet, for me (and possibly for you) I have chosen to look past the horrible experiences and hope that the next one will be my diamond in the rough!

Why Is Surgery Necessary? 

pain2As mentioned above, the only definitive way to diagnosis endometriosis is through a diagnostic laparoscopy. This is when two small incisions are made in the belly and pelvic area and a robotic device is inserted in the incision to view the abdominal organs for diagnosis. If endometrial tissue is located, the surgeon may perform ablation  or excision of the tissue. Therefore, a surgery is necessary because it is the only way to determine if one has endometriosis. Then, if endometriosis is found, it allows the surgeon to take corrective actions to alleviate the endometriosis symptoms. While there is no cure for endometriosis, minimally invasive surgery has been found to bring relief for many women.

In recent years there has been more promise shown for patients who have had excision removal of endometrial tissue, as it is a more aggressive and complete removal of the tissue. Excision surgery, or resection of endometriosis, is the removal of endometriosis lesions. These lesions are implants of uterine cells growing outside of the uterus. This surgery has been shown to improve pain in approximately 80% of women six months post surgery. However, there is a chance of recurrence within two years of the surgery if the excision is not done thoroughly.

 

Considering Excision Surgery: Eight Questions to Ask your OB/GYN

  1. How many Excision Surgeries have you performed?

  2. How will the surgery be performed?

  3. What complications have other patients experienced after this procedure?

  4. Where did you receive your fellowship training in minimally invasive GYN surgery?

  5. Will Power Morcellation be used to remove tissue during the surgery?

  6. Will Robotics be used to assist with the surgery?

  7. What is my anticipated Recovery Time?

  8. Are there other surgical options? If yes, what are they?

 


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