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How My Husband Helped Save My Uterus – My Fibroid Treatment Journey

Acessa Health | October 27, 2020

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

 

Finding Out It’s Fibroids

My fibroid story begins a lot like those you have heard before. I was at my annual exam with my OBGYN when he asked me how my periods were. “Ya know, the norm. I bleed heavily for a week or two, and I have cramps and bloating.” Well guess what? THAT’S NOT THE NORM.  Like many women before me, I had no idea I should not have been experiencing those symptoms. Um hello – why did no one tell me sooner!? He suggested an ultrasound to see what was up with my uterus, and that is when we found out. It was fibroids.

My Fibroid Treatment Option (Singular)

My doctor immediately suggested we come up with a treatment plan. The surgeon explained both a partial and total hysterectomy to me. A partial hysterectomy means the surgeon only removes the uterus, but your cervix and fallopian tubes are left intact.1 A total hysterectomy would remove everything – the cervix, uterus, and bilateral tubes. Unfortunately, there was a catch. The surgeon would not know if he could do a partial hysterectomy until after he was operating. I could not commit. I left disappointed and chose to hold off on a fibroid treatment plan. I just wasn’t happy with the option presented to me, and I didn’t feel confident about moving forward with it. I decided to go home and hope my symptoms didn’t get worse.

There Might Be One More Option..

A year passed and suddenly I was at my annual exam again. My doctor and I preemptively scheduled an ultrasound since we already knew I had fibroids. The doctor saw the fibroids were growing larger, and decided it was time we come up with a plan. He suggested something called Acessa. I had never heard of it, but he told me it was minimally invasive, that I’d only be down for 3-5 days, and that I’d keep my uterus.2 SOLD. But guess what? There was another catch. My doctor had only performed Acessa one time in an experimental trial. He loved the technology, but for me to get the procedure, he would need the hospital to buy it, and that would take time. The option sounded so great that I decided to wait. And wait I did.

Back To Square One

Another year went by and I was at my annual exam again (is anyone keeping track of the timeline here!?) The fibroids were growing, and my doctor suggested we should no longer wait to treat them. I asked about the Acessa procedure again, but unfortunately it was not the news I was hoping for. The hospital would not be able to purchase the Acessa technology in the time frame I would need to treat my fibroids. We were both upset. I’m pretty sure he wanted Acessa as badly as I did. Knowing it was time to do something about my fibroids, he put the option of a hysterectomy back on the table. I was disappointed, but what else could I do? We tried, but we failed. This was my situation. I scheduled the hysterectomy.

Husband of the year goes to…

I went home and broke the news to my husband, Doug. I’ll never forget his reaction. “Unacceptable,” he said. “You’ve waited this long. You’re not settling now. Tell me everything you know.” I told him the little information I had gathered from my doctor, and he took off! He spent days researching the procedure. What is it? Who performs it? Where is a doctor near me? Who takes our insurance? Everything. At this point, he was doing all of the research on his own. At the time, it felt like a lost cause so I didn’t help. I had already settled on a hysterectomy, and I didn’t want to be disappointed again.

Finding Acessa

To my surprise, my husband found a surgeon about three hours from where we live who was willing to take me on as a patient. We scheduled a consultation, and he took the day off to drive me to Baltimore to meet Dr. Shiller. I connected with her instantly. She was so knowledgeable, so passionate, and made me feel so confident about my decision to get Acessa. I was relieved to know the wait was worth it. Nearly 3 years later, I received the fibroid treatment option I felt confident in. I learned after the fact that women wait an average of 3.6 years to treat their fibroids.3 I could not believe it. I was one of those women.

 

My Recovery

Six weeks after my consultation I was in surgery with Dr. Shiller. Because we traveled, she asked us to stay in town a few days so I could make my follow up appointment. My surgery was a Wednesday, and my follow up was scheduled for the Monday after. The recovery wound up being much easier than I anticipated. Since I was doing well, Dr. Shiller rescheduled my follow up for that Friday. I was so excited because my son was stationed at a Naval base nearby. My speedy recovery meant I was granted extra time to spend the weekend with my husband and my son instead of recovering in the hospital. It was the perfect surprise ending to the trip.

My Advice for your Fibroid Treatment Journey

Like many women, I went through hurdles to get the fibroid treatment option that felt right for me. Despite how long I waited, I feel like I am one of the lucky ones. I had so much support from my husband, Doug. Honestly, if it were not for him, I would have gone through with the hysterectomy. I would not have researched. I would not have traveled. I cannot imagine what it must be like to go through this journey alone. Choosing how to treat your fibroid symptoms is a very personal decision, but that does not mean you have to go through it by yourself. If you are uncertain or feeling unsure about the options presented to you, I suggest starting with these steps.

  1. Seek a second opinion. If you’re only hearing one option – more importantly, an option you aren’t happy with – ask someone else. It never hurts to ask.
  2. Educate yourself. The more you know, the easier it is to ask questions, and it’s so important to ask questions when it comes to your health. And who knows!? On your path to educate yourself, you might just find a friend to talk things through.
  3. Find your support group. This one is important to me, for obvious reasons. There are amazing support groups available online, and if that is not your jam, try talking to a friend. You might be surprised at how people step up.

Smiling after choosing Acessa as my fibroid treatment option

Sources:

  1. Abdominal hysterectomy. (2019, July 25). Retrieved July 06, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/abdominal-hysterectomy/about/pac-20384559
  2. SG Chudnoff, et al. Outpatient Procedure for the Treatment and Relief of Symptomatic Uterine Myomas. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2013;121(5):1075-82.
  3. Borah, Bijan J. et al. The impact of uterine leiomyomas: a national survey of affected women, American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, October 2013, Volume 209, Issue 4, 319.e1—319.e20

Results May Vary

This blog post does not reflect views and opinions of Acessa Health

This is a personal story of one result. Individual results may 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 fibroid treatment information.

The Acessa ProVu system is cleared by the FDA for the treatment of symptomatic uterine fibroids under laparoscopic ultrasound guidance.

The Acessa procedure is generally safe but complications may occur and can be serious. 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 anaesthesia including death.

Insufficient data exists 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.

Please consult with your doctor to understand the risks and benefits of surgery and find out if Acessa may be right for you. Rx Only. 

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