Friday, June 22, 2007

To surgery or not to surgery

This is a very much non-crochet post.

I am going to post about my recent health difficulties regarding my menstrual cycle, so if this type of information bothers you, or it's not what you want to read right now, you may want to move along to another blog. Please come back later, I don't plan to focus on this exclusively. And while being sick this past week, have made lots of dishcloths and will have pictures up shortly.

Now, back to the health issues.

I've been dealing with irregular menstrual periods for several years now. It started maybe 5 or 10 years ago? I really don't remember how long ago, it's been a while. At first I'd just miss a period ...and I'd get all excited thinking that God had blessed me with another baby (even though my husband has had a vasectomy. Sometimes those don't work...I personally know a couple who have had a post vasectomy baby).

After wasting money on pregnancy tests a few times, I finally went to the GYN and she told me it was probably due to my being overweight, that fat tissue stores estrogen and since I have an abundance of fat tissue, I have more than enough estrogen for me. Joy.

At that time, I don't remember that we started any treatment, my periods were just irregular, and not unusual for me (my normal cycles are fairly heavy, lasting about a week).

A few years later, I am continuing the missing periods pattern, up to missing 3 or 4 months in a row and then when I do have one, it's a monster. Not painful, just heavy flow and clots. Unfortunately, the doc I had been going too moved away, so I had to find a new one.

I did find one, and she was ok at first. Put me on provera 10mg/day/ for 1st 10 days of the month. This was to fool my body into making me have a regular monthly period. This worked, but like the idiot I sometimes am, I didn't continue to take the medicine. I'm just not a good patient sometimes.

Things rock on, I get to the point where I'm 6 months between periods, but now I'm spotting almost all the time and when I do bleed.. whoa Nelly. My doc decides I need an endometrial biopsy. I agree.. not knowing what I'm in for.

OMG talk about pain!! I was completely unprepared for how much that hurt. And of course it came back negative (which I could've told her in the first place.. but she was being a good doc. and doing what she's supposed to do.. making sure I don't have cancer).

I keep going to this doc for a couple or 3 more years, still having spotting between periods. She knows this (or is supposed to) and yet she prescribes antibiotics once for a bladder infection that I don't have. Turns out they think I have a UTI because of blood in my urine. I'm spotting DUH!! of course blood is going to show up in my urine!! That ticks me off a little, but I let it go.

Second thing that makes me unhappy with this doc is that a year later she wants to do another endometrial biopsy. I ask for pain meds before hand.. they don't have anything to offer. I have some vicodin in my purse from a dental procedure. I ask if I can take that. The nurse checks with the doc and comes back and says unless I have someone to drive me home, that no. I can't take it. I don't have anyone to drive me. Phooey. The nurse gives me my med back and I take it anyway. I KNOW how the vicodin affects me and it's not too strong for me to drive while taking it.

The difference is amazing. This time the biopsy doesn't hurt. I drive home just fine. And again the biopsy is negative.

What really tore it for me with this doctor is something she didn't do. Along with endometrial biopsies, she's been having me get pelvic & transvaginal ultrasounds. I get them done in the town I live in because the cost isn't too bad. My doc is in another town an hours drive away. Well, she asks me to get them done in her town.. her reasoning being is that she knows the technique they use and is more comfortable with their radiologists interpretations. I think, ok, that's reasonable and agree to get the U/S done there.

Until I go to schedule and find out what their fees are. OMG, no way. You see, our insurance on me has a very high deductible so I end up paying most things out of my own pocket. Fortunately, except for this ongoing menstrual problem, I'm generally very healthy.

I'm not going to pay this other clinic this huge fee for the U/S when I can get it done much cheaper in my town. So, I get it done where I want to do it and go back for the follow up appointment. Doc says NOTHING to me about my not following her directives. This makes me think she's lying and I decide not to go back to her.

Fast forward 2 years. I'm still having monster periods and the spotting in between is nearly continuous. I decide it's time to start getting things done and besides our community has a new female GYN. I won't have to drive an hour to see the doc. This is good. (we've had a male GYN for a while, but I don't like going to male GYN's.. I generally find them to be MCP's and unempathetic. I said generally. I know there must be good ones out there, I just haven't run across them.)

So, went to see her June 5. Had regular checkup.. including pap. She also scheduled me for mammo and U/S. Mammo because it was time for another and U/S to check the bleeding problem. I know I have fibroids and maybe they had gotten really enlarged to cause the continuous problem. The doc and I discuss me trying the provera again.

Mammo & U/S were scheduled for June 20. In the meantime the docs office calls around the 10th or so and says they need to repeat the pap.. they couldn't get enough cells because of the bleeding. I'm no longer spotting now.. I'm having a real period.. inspite of taking the provera. I tell the docs office this and they schedule me to come in on the 21st.. thinking that my test results will be in and I'll probably be through bleeding. I could tell them that I won't be finished.. I hardly ever finish.. just slow down, but it will still be a good time to talk to the doc about the test results.

Come June 12th.. I start bleeding super heavily. I'm soaking a super plus tampon every few hours, and wearing a pad. I get up one morning and the tampon I put in the night before falls out of me into the toilet along with huge clots. Grosssssssssss. I've never had that happen before. Thank goodness for those toilet wand things where you change the scrubber out between uses. That worked to grab the tampon out so it didn't go into the septic system. Sheesh.. hubby would've been furious about that.

I'm thinking that this will only be a day or so of super heavy bleeding.. I've done that before. And besides, I have to take my son to orientation at his college in a couple of days.

Orientation doesn't go the smoothest, but I get through it. I posted about it a few days ago. I think I got overtired at orientation because since I got back home, my cycle continued on, very heavy.. having to change every 2 hours (which really disrupts your sleep pattern, let me tell you) and now I'm also HURTING. My abdomen is cramping, and my back and my hips ache. What is this? I haven't had dysmenorrhea in ages. I mean, it's bad enough that ibuprofen isn't touching it, vicodin isn't helping. Skelaxin WITH motrin helps some.. what works best is vodka martinis. But I don't like to drink during the day.. and don't really think alcohol is the remedy.. but it gets me through till I can see the doc.

With all this bleeding and now pain, if someone would have offered me a hysterectomy at that point.. I'd have said.. when and where. I'll be there.

Finally by June 20, my bleeding is beginning to slow a little. I can occassionally go 3 hours between changing. I get mammo done.. there's a spot, but it clears on compression. Technologist wants me to come back in 6 months, but the radiologist says 1 year. Maybe I'll split the difference and do 9 months?

U/S also goes well. I do still have fibroids but they're very small. Unlikely to be the cause of the excessive bleeding. My endometrial lining is very thick though. Ovaries are small (normal for my age).

so, yesterday I go to the Doc, still bleeding. I tell the nurse and tell her I'd like to talk to the Doctor even if we can't redo the pap. The Doc comes in and says that the tests were good, nothing bad showed up and that in the light of my heavy bleeding she'd like to do an endometrial biopsy.


I ask if she can give me pain medication before hand. She says all they have is 800 mg of Motrin (Ibuprofen). I reluctantly agree (wishing I had brought my vicodin from home). Even with the motrin onboard, I'm scared. Upset, crying, nauseous and almost fainting at one point.

I get through it.. it's not too bad. Uncomfy, and the speculum kept coming out of me (never had that happen before) and then one time there was a quick sharp pain, as if someone had pinched me on my inner thigh.. but that was it. Not bad at all, thank goodness. One thing that helped is that I was already dilated a little from bleeding. Before, with the second Doc, she always had to dilate my cervix a little to get inside to take the biopsy. I think she also took a biopsy from the vaginal wall. I do know I'm not allowed to wear tampons for a week. ewwww.. I hate using pads.

Good and bad points about the biopsy:

Good in that IT IS OVER WITH until next time.

Bad in that I have to wait another week to get the results.

Good in that she's willing to do a hysterectomy on me

Bad in that my anatomy is such that a vaginal approach won't work.. she'll have to go through the abdominal wall.

They don't do endometrial ablation in that office (a burning away of the endometrium.. sometimes cures heavy bleeding.. sometimes doesn't), so my choices to cure the bleeding are either birth control pills or a hysterectomy.

I'm still thinking, and will have to see what the biopsy shows.. but.. if there's no cancer.. I'm considering giving the BC a try... at least until the first of the year.

Then if BC isn't working, in Jan or Feb have the surgery.. so my deductible would be met for the year.. and I'd have a whole year to get other work I need done accomplished.

I think I'm going to ask my hubby if he can come with me to the Doc next week.


Elisa said...

Delurking . . . I had a lot of the same problems about 3 years ago. Had a hysterectomy (I was 49) and it was the. best. thing. ever. Ovaries were left in (TMI?) so I didn't go into instant menopause.

If you can work it out, I highly recommend the procedure - and not waiting 6 months to do it. Why be miserable and endanger your health? I was anemic, had restless leg syndrome (misery, especially at night), was always tired and more susceptible to every bug that was going around. Within 3 weeks, I felt like a new person.

Hope you feel better soon.

Peggy said...

I sent you a long PM at C'ville, but reading this after you sound so much like me it's not funny. Clots bigger than my miscarriage at 4 months..tampons falling out when you stand up.

Didn't mention it, but was threatening to do a self-help hysterectomy if I could have gotten ahold of a scalpel.

Lisa said...

Thanks everyone for your comments.

One reason (and a major one) that I would like to wait and give BCP's a try is to get my house straightened up enough to have someone over to help me after the surgery.

All my family lives nearly 1000 miles away, so they'd need to stay with us if they came to take care of me.

As my house stands right now.. they'd have to sleep on the uncomfy couch in the LR.

A second reason to delay is to get both kids settled good into their colleges. DD returning for her Junior year and DS starting his freshman.

A third reason (and this I didn't know till after I made the blog post) is that I found out from talking to my two older sisters that my Mom went through menopause just a little younger than I am now (mom died in '97, so couldn't ask her). AND my grandmother (whom I resemble strongly physically) went through similar problems with excessive bleeding and had a hysterectomy in her middle 40's.

Since my mom went through menopause close to my age, maybe if I give it just a little more time I'll go through menopause naturally.

My sisters know these things about family because they were born 13 and 15 years before me, so they remember things that I was too young to absorb. My parents practically had two families.

I do appreciate the feedback and will continue to evaluate my situation as time goes on. Hearing everyone else's opinions is very helpful. Thank you.

vicki said...

lisa, sweetie i feel for you i really do, i had alot of the same problems but filler with horrible stabbing pain from having endrometrosis, have they done a laprscopy on you to see if this might be the reason, is the cause of alot of womens heavy periods with the cramping nd everything. since you have had the c-setion you know what to expect pain wise, its not as bad as one thinks, personally i would have taken that first doc and told her to shove it sideways where the sun don't shine. how dare she not let you take pain meds. i went toa female gyn one time, i hated her, she was rude and while i thought she would understand much more than a male gyn, i was sooo wrong, even though it was repulsive to have a pap with the one i had the hystorectomy withm, i finally got over the shyness and figured is no diff then someone having another kind og problem , like a man seeing a women doc for male problems,. they are docs and while my primary is a male i have had females before and his assitant is a female. so i know i can go to either should i have a problem with it, although the first time i went to my doc was for mastitis in my breasts and he had to do a breast exam on me, but he made me so much at ease it was not stressful at all,. i think the first doc must have had a financial situation with the lab she wanted you to go to, how unethical, please know your in my prayers and if and when you decide please let me know if i can help in any way. i had mine at 28 so it was a long time ago, but i would do it in a min once again to rid myself of the problems i had i too had my overies left in well one of them so didn't go into change right away. god bless sweetie hugs to you

Biz said...

I had my doctor tell me the same thing about my missed periods being related to being overweight. I have lost weight and the periods have straightened out. But now I am dealing with mid-month spotting and pain during marital relations. My thoughts and prayers are with you during your decision-making. Its not always easy.

mariana said...

hi there please can u help me, i have a problem i dont start my time of the month at all i have went 2 so many doctors and all they said was that my hermones are very less in the body and my eggs r as small a new born baby,they have gave me so manyy tablets 2 help my per 2 come every month it works for few months but then i stoped coz i agained so much weight, what can i do? doctors adviced me 2 carry on with the tablets but i cant am getting bigger and bigger,can someone help?

Anonymous said...

i stumbled on your blog while recovering from my surgery for the fiber tumors. These things need to have more PSA!!! I had been going through he** for 6 months with a bad dr. Fortunately I have a saint now and we are hopeful. My thoughts are with you - and if you ever need and ear or crochet buddy - shot me an email!