Women’s Health – Failed Endometrial Ablation

Endometrial ablation, the answer to all my productive organ woes; or so I thought. 2 years ago a nightmare was unfolding in my uterus. I had no idea what was happening to my body or if there was ever going to be a way to fix it. It took some time to get a diagnosis, and a resolution to said diagnosis. This year I was finally able to go for the procedure that was supposed to fix it all; instead I walked away with no resolution and more questions than answers.

The Diagnoses….

Initially, I was diagnosed with something called dysfunctional uterine bleeding. This diagnosis was basically the “we don’t know what’s wrong with you” explanation. In my opinion it was a cop out. At the time, the GYNs I was dealing with didn’t really see a need to do much of anything at first. They prescribed me various hormone based drugs with awful side effects and long-term adverse risks. Ultrasounds didn’t tell any stories besides the fact that my uterus was enlarged and my lining was thick.

Eventually I was sent for a biopsy a few months after this initial diagnosis. I was bleeding so bad and passing so many blood clots the practitioner had great difficulty trying to get the samples they desired. After much fuss they were able to do it and the end results as I was told was that I had uterine polyps. For context, uterine polyps are “A usually noncancerous growth attached to the inner wall of the womb (uterus)” [https://www.mayoclinic.org]

Photo courtesy of mayoclinic.org

The Remedy

At the time of my diagnosis, there was not many options available to me as far as the GYN was concerned. She told me that polyps can vary in size, grow larger then shrink again and that they didn’t want to do any invasive procedures because (you guessed it) my weight. [insert eye roll here] However, it didn’t really matter what she thought because my insurance changed and I was with a new OB/GYN practice.

With the new GYN that I was seeing, I explained everything that I had gone through and provided access to my medical records. He was convinced that he could fix my issues with a procedure called endometrial ablation (also known as NovaSure). As miraculous as this procedure sounded; I honestly couldn’t afford it.

I was bummed out because I thought I would be having my weight loss surgery and I was saving to pay for that. Both procedures cost thousands out of pocket despite having insurance. Once my wls didn’t happen in the time frame I expected; I revisited the ablation procedure with my GYN and he told me we could move forward.

The Big Day & The Big Fail

So after a series of misfortunate events leading up to this procedure [insert contracting COVID-19 here], the big day finally arrived. I was nervous but excited because suffering through menstrual cycles that feel like labor with bleeding so excessive I can’t function is not ideal. On arrival, everything was going as planned. I knew that that the GYN had intentions of 3 procedures in one; polypectomy (polyp removal), Dilation & Curettage and the ablation. Hubby got to hangout with me right up until they were rolling me back to the O.R and that kept me pretty calm.

Everything was cool, a mask was placed over my face, I was told to breathe deep and the next thing I know I woke up in recovery.

I looked at the clock and it read 4PM which I thought was odd because I was rolled back into the O.R around 12:30 PM. It was only supposed to be a 1 hour procedure. However, I was still really groggy and out of it that I didn’t ask any questions. I remember seeing my surgeon come in and tell me he would see me in discharge and that was the last I saw of him. The staff was pretty concerned because I wasn’t breathing on my own yet so they strapped an oxygen mask on me until I was more awake.

When I got back to my room, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The nurses were great, they helped me with my nausea, helped me get to the bathroom and change my pads and they briefly explained that my throat was in horrific pain because I was intubated during surgery which is not uncommon. It wasn’t too much longer before I was being rolled to hubby who was waiting in the car. When I got in the car, the energy felt off to me and the next thing hubby said to me made me understand why.

“They did tell you that they weren’t able to complete the procedure didn’t they?”

I felt like the air had been sucked out of the car.

Now What

My head was spinning but he basically explained to me that when the surgeon went in, he said my uterus was “a mess” which isn’t really a surprise. I have experienced so much trauma in my womb I don’t know how it couldn’t be a mess at this point in my life. He also told my husband my uterus was “too long” so he couldn’t see to do the ablation. He also says that they ran into a “huge” fibroid. He was able to remove some polyps that he could see and perform the D&C.

Here’s where I was seething mad. I haven’t had an ultrasound since 2019/2020. There was no visual of any fibroids nor did they show up on my biopsy. However, he could’ve given me an ultrasound any point between then and now so that he could have a more clear picture of what was CURRENTLY going on inside my uterus. Also, how was he able to perform the D&C but couldn’t perform the ablation because he “couldn’t see”.

I’m basically back at square one. I’m paying for a procedure that essentially didn’t happen. I’m bleeding like a stuck pig, I found out I have a big fibroid and instead of knowing what my next steps are I know nothing. And why do I know nothing? Because my surgeon decided that facing me to discuss my body and my health wasn’t on his list of things to do.

The Aftermath

It’s literally 2 days later and I’m still pretty mad I have to be honest. I’ve been transparent in sharing how medical trauma has had an adverse effect on me. Despite this, I try to remain optimistic because this is the body I have to live in until I leave this earth. However, this really has me feeling low and lost. I’m exhausted. I’m so tired of looking to the healthcare system for safety and answers and always left feeling like I have to do the MOST work to get sufficient help.

It’s never a straight shot with me. I’m always tangled in a web of “we can’t help because you’re too fat” or doctors focusing so much on my weight they miss the most obvious diagnoses or I don’t get a diagnosis until something is really serious. I have begged for a hysterectomy so many times over the last decade and have been denied for different reasons. But I wanted one because I knew that the issues with my uterus were never going to get better. So to be in this position where I feel like I’m going to be told “there’s nothing we can do”; I feel defeated.

I have a follow up appointment in a couple of weeks, and I’m hoping that at that point my GYN will have some answers for me.

The Wrap Up

I don’t know what my next appointment is going to hold. I know that no matter what it is I will keep fighting the good fight in pursuit of trying to live my healthiest life. I know that it’s important to pay attention to the signs my body gives me and ultimately I will always have to work harder to be heard and to be treated properly by my health care team. In this moment I feel sad and exhausted, but I know this too shall pass. Looking forward to it.

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