This week, we are featuring guest posts by one of my patients, who was thrown into surgical menopause at a relatively young age. Many women may recognize the signs and symptoms Erin experienced. Like Angelina Jolie, she is sharing her story in hopes of helping others.
That November, I spent a very long weekend waiting for the results of a blood test that would determine whether my doctor would simply remove my diseased ovary and tumor, or if I’d need a full hysterectomy. The “C” word had been mentioned as a very likely possibility. It was terrifying. Even with strong pain killers, I was in constant agony, and trying not to think the worst. Or get caught up in an Internet WebMD-induced freak out. I was putting on a brave face for the friends who were with me, as well as for family members far away, but I was really scared and struggling not to break down like I did in my doctor’s office.
Mercifully, my CA125 test came back in a good range, and the ovary and tumor were removed. I was lucky. The tumor was borderline, but I was told it could have turned cancerous at any time. I required no further treatment. But my doctor kept a close watch on me, with pelvic ultrasounds every six months my new normal. She predicted that one day the other ovary would “go bad”, and need to be removed.
With one remaining ovary, my periods became even more intense and painful, and I bled heavily for weeks at a time. I didn’t feel well, but there was no apparent reason for it, aside from the constant bleeding. I had trouble sleeping. I was gaining weight, and tired and achy all the time. I discovered I was hypothyroid, but the thyroid medicine I was prescribed had little impact on how I felt, even though I was supposedly in normal range. I know now that these were all symptoms of my hormonal imbalances, and they were not being fully addressed by my OB/GYN. The symptoms weren’t even discussed as being potentially treatable through hormone replacement therapy.
Finally, my gynecologist suggested a uterine ablation, which I agreed to as I couldn’t go on the way I was. The ablation virtually stopped my periods, except for some light bleeding now and again, but it didn’t address the larger issue.
In December of the following year, tumors were found on my remaining ovary. Surgery was scheduled immediately. My ovary would be removed and once again tested for cancer. Since this was pre-ACA, I had to fight for coverage any of my medical costs since my “woman troubles” were always rejected as pre-existing conditions. My uterus was deemed to be healthy, and my insurance company wouldn’t approve a full hysterectomy, even though my doctor felt it would be easier on my body. I had no choice except to move forward as my life could depend on it. I cashed in some investments to pay for my surgery. Once again, I was lucky. The tumors were borderline – which simply meant they could turn cancerous at any time.
My holidays were spent in bed recovering, so I had a lot of time to think.
Recognize any of these signs or symptoms? Call our office for an appointment: 480.619.4097