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How I Traveled Out of State to Avoid a Hysterectomy – My Fibroid Journey

Leanna H. | July 20, 2020

By Leanna H. Patient contributor published with permission and consent. This blog post does not reflect views and opinions of Acessa Health

It is 2020, no women should hear that hysterectomy is the only option to treat their fibroids. Other procedures that are less invasive with shorter recovery times are available.

But that is exactly what happened to me. I was only offered hysterectomy. I had to advocate for myself, travel out of state, and fight to keep my uterus. I am so glad I did.

My only option

In 2017, I found out that I had fibroids. The stress was more than I could handle. I always worried about the fibroids growing bigger.  

My first doctor told me that my only treatment option was a hysterectomy. I was heartbroken. Under complete shock, I hesitantly agreed to the procedure. I thought, if this is my only option, what else could I do?

Keep Looking & Do Your Research

I believe in fate and faith. Right before the day I was supposed to get my hysterectomy, I got sick and the doctors had to delay the procedure. It felt like divine intervention stepped in.

Suddenly, I had the courage to say, “Stop! I am not comfortable with this procedure.”  Right away, I started research on treatment options. Thankfully, I found the Acessa procedure.

The Acessa procedure appealed to be me because it was a less-invasive laparoscopic surgery that has a shorter recovery times than a hysterectomy.1  Honestly, I didn’t want to go through the long, drawn-out, and painful recovery often associated with the extremely invasive hysterectomy.

My Treatment Journey

Now armed with my new knowledge, I was ready to find an Acessa trained physician. Even though there weren’t any physicians near me in Tennessee offering the procedure, I connected right away with Dr. Soyini Hawkins with the Fibroid and Pelvic Wellness Center of Georgia.

Unfortunately, I also discovered that my insurance provider is one of the few that has a negative medical policy and thus would not cover the Acessa procedure.

My next step was to file a grievance with my insurance company asking them to cover the procedure. Fast forward six months, still with no answer on my grievance, an ultrasound showed that I could no longer wait to have my fibroids treated – I decided to go ahead with the Acessa procedure and pray the finances worked out.

I just knew I could not go through with the hysterectomy.

I made the four-hour drive to Atlanta and had the procedure done the same day! Some people might call this impulsive, but believe me, it was not. I had done more than my fair share of homework, and I was very comfortable with my decision.

My Surgery

The procedure took place on November 1st. I drove four hours from my home and felt completely at peace knowing I followed my gut to find the option that worked for me.

Everything with the procedure went well. Dr. Hawkins discovered that the fibroid on the right side of my uterus was larger than expected and pressing on my entire right side. She was still able to treat it without any complications.

Only one week off work

I was very sore the first week, but by the second week I was back to moving around, albeit a little slower than normal. After a month or so, my strength came back, and I felt back to normal. After three months, I felt great. Through all this, I only had to take one week off work.

At my three-month checkup, I got a clean bill of health. As of now, my symptoms are completely alleviated, and I have zero right side pain or intense pressure. All that I am left with are two small scars and, quite possibly the best part, my uterus!

My Lucky Day – Insurance decided to cover the procedure!

The surgery went great. Dr. Hawkins was amazing. The only piece left was the finances. I was still appealing my insurance company to pay for the procedure.

Together with the insurance support team at Acessa, we called weekly to check if the external appeal had been approved.

The day I found out that my insurance company was going to pay for the procedure, was one of the happiest days of my life.

Honestly, it felt like an answered prayer. I couldn’t help but cry!

Navigating Insurance Challenges

How did we navigate the insurance challenge?

For me, the appeal was overturned on what is called an “external appeal”, which means that a doctor not associated with my provider approved the procedure. In my opinion, it is beyond frustrating that a doctor within my provider’s network could not approve the procedure and we had to go to such extreme lengths to get what we need. The whole time I was thinking, “It should not be this hard to avoid a hysterectomy!”

Time for a change

Recently, a co-worker started experiencing severe fibroid symptoms. I told her about Dr. Hawkins, but unfortunately, she had an emergency hysterectomy. She simply ran out of time to fight for the insurance approvals currently needed to have the Acessa procedure. She saw what I went through and how long it took me to fight the insurance company. As a result, she felt that she truly had no options left.

It is unfortunate that two women with the same insurance provider, but in different states have vastly different options.

It is time for every woman to have access to all her options.

You have options

You need to be your own biggest advocate. If you go to a doctor and they tell you your only choice is a hysterectomy, if it does not feel right, speak up. Yes, there are some women, because of the size or number of fibroids, who will only have a hysterectomy as an option. But, before you agree to a procedure that you are not comfortable with, please do your own research and get a second opinion to see if there are alternatives right for you.

Sources:

  1. SG Chudnoff, et al. Outpatient Procedure for the Treatment and Relief of Symptomatic Uterine Myomas. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2013;121(5):1075–82

Disclaimer

This is a personal story of one result. Individual results vary. Information contained on this site is not to be used as a substitute for talking to your doctor. You should always talk to your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Acessa Health encourages patients to seek medical attention for typical and atypical symptoms associated with fibroids to help achieve and maintain good health with as high a quality of life as possible. Although many patients may benefit from the Acessa Procedure, this treatment is not for everyone and results may vary. You should talk to your doctor about the potential benefits and risks and whether this treatment is right for you. Information contained on this site is not to be used as a substitute for talking to your doctor. You should always talk to your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

This document is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or official guidance from payors. It is not intended to increase or maximize reimbursement by any payor. Hospitals and physicians are solely responsible for being in compliance with Medicare and other payor rules and requirements for the information submitted with all claims and appeals. Acessa Health does not warrant or guarantee that the use of this information will result in coverage or payment for any particular therapy. Before any claims or appeals are submitted, hospitals and physicians should review official payor instructions and requirements, should confirm the accuracy of their coding or billing practices with these payors and should use independent judgment when selecting codes that most appropriately describe the services or supplies provided to a patient. ICD-10 codes and CPT codes and descriptions only are copyright by the American Medical Association. All rights reserved. The American Medical Association assumes no liability for data contained or not contained herein.

Risks and complications associated with the Acessa procedure include, but are not limited to: skin burns from the dispersion of radiofrequency energy, mild intra-operative bleeding, transient urinary retention or urinary tract infection, adhesion formation, post-procedural discomfort (cramping, pelvic pain), and transient amenorrhea, infection, injury to adjacent structures, vaginal bleeding and temporary anemia, blood loss requiring transfusion or hysterectomy, pneumothorax, wound dehiscence, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolus, treatment failure, and complications related to laparoscopy and/or general anesthesia including death. Insufficient data exist on which to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of Acessa procedure in women who plan future pregnancy. Therefore, the Acessa procedure is not recommended for women who are planning future pregnancy. There is limited data regarding pregnancy following the Acessa procedure, if you become pregnant following the Acessa procedure, you should contact your doctor immediately. Rx Only2

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