Uterine Saga Part Three: Gynecologist Fails

I’m setting a goal to finish this series before I go back to school in the middle of August, so here’s the next segment in the story of my uterus and why I sent her packing. If you’re new or need review, you can read part one and part two of the uterine saga to catch up.

As always, I apologize to my three male readers. I’ll write about something on fire or with big horsepower another day.

After my periods became unbearable and were predictable only in that I would start ruining clothing at the worst possible times, I asked my family doctor for a referral to a gynecologist. I should mention that before this, I was having Depo-Provera injections in an effort to subdue my uterus a little bit. The once every twelve week injection schedule wasn’t working very well, and my GP and I eventually tried different injection sites and narrowed the gap between shots to as close as eight weeks, but nothing improved.

I was only about 21, and pretty shy about all things undercarriage, so I specifically asked to see a female specialist. The first doctor I saw, Dr. L, did a quick exam, asked me a few questions, and scheduled me for a diagnostic laparoscopy as soon as possible, which ended up being about six months later. I lucked out and got a cancellation (always, always take the waiting list for cancellations with a specialist) and had the procedure about six weeks after my initial consultation.

As I’ve already discussed, the “scope” showed no reason for my extreme pain and Dr. L. told me she couldn’t help me and that there was no point in me coming back to see her again. I was devastated, because it was difficult for me to even get a referral to a gynecologist: apparently, the vast majority of the lady parts doctors in Alberta and in general prefer to deliver babies and rarely take women suffering with pain. My GP explained that specialists are often reluctant to take the pain cases, because they’re generally tough mysteries to solve. According to her, the specialists only want the cases they anticipate treating successfully.

I waited over six months to see the next OB-GYN, which is a normal wait for a non-pregnant person. During the waiting period, my pain grew to unbelievable intensity. The second gynecologist was a very nice human being but he told me that I’d been examined by a competent surgeon, and there was nothing wrong with me. He suggested that I have a baby, because it seemed my uterus was just very finicky and sensitive, and women who have children find that their uteruses start behaving after the stretching and pushing out a baby business weakens the muscle a bit. This physician said a vaginal delivery would also give my cervix a workout, and that an overly tight cervix could be part of the problem.

Did you catch all that? According to this guy, the solution to all my uterine woes was to simply have a baby. Wow, just like that, huh. To be fair, the doctor didn’t promote me immediately going out and getting knocked up (although apparently that could help) but told me to wait until after I’d had some babies to see if there was an improvement. At that point in my life, I was so young that I couldn’t yet even imagine myself with kids, and I was still in the middle of earning my education degree. There could be no sane possibility of children for me for at least five years, and there was no way I could cope with the symptoms pummeling my body and my spirit for that long. I was actually really offended at the suggestion; it bothered my deeply that I was encouraged to selfishly create another human being in hopes of solving my own problems, not to mention the fact that I was irritated by the ignorant assumption that I planned to have children. At that point in my life, I wanted a career and no kids.

All those of you out there with children who did the whole birth deal, do you remember the waiting rooms at the OB-GYN’s office? I hated being there every time I went, and I went to many different waiting rooms. For me, it was brutal to sit amongst dozens of pregnant or recently delivered women, knowing that the end of the line was probably going to involve me surrendering my uterus. As much as I had no desire to have children at that point of my life, it sucked to be surrounded by all the cooing newborns and glowing pregnant moms while I tried to come to a decision about my own pelvis.

I was one of the very few unhappy people in those waiting rooms, but they don’t have a separate spot for the people who aren’t gestating, so that’s just the way it was. Come to think of it, I suppose a number of women I encountered while I was there were there for fertility concerns or because they had recently suffered miscarriages, and sitting among all those babies must have been torture. Nobody talks about why she’s waiting in those vinyl chairs, though, so we all wrestled our own issues alone in a room full of people. What a sad thought.

The second gynecologist was also unable to help me, so I waited about another eight months while my family doctor (who rocks) sent letter after letter to specialists who refused to see me. I thought I was losing my marbles because the pain was so severe that I had trouble standing up straight on a regular basis, and the drugs that were supposed to help me fell short. By this point, my uterus was essentially creating a mini labour most days, clamping down at regular intervals. I had to quit using tampons because my uterus was contracting hard enough that they were forced out, as ridiculous as that sounds; I was left trying to cope with monsoon strength periods with winged super maxi pads as my only line of defense.

During this time, I found the Diva Cup, which is the greatest invention known to women with ugly periods. I’m not going to go into details due to the “ick” factor for my more delicate readers, but suffice it to say that the Diva Cup saved me. This marvelous little device, which is far healthier for women and also for the environment than the traditional period survival supplies, allowed me to get through my days without waddling awkwardly to the bathroom every hour or so to change my mattress pad, or worrying about leakage that could destroy my clothes or my stint as a student teacher. The Diva Cup people don’t know who I am, and this is clearly not paid advertising: I’m just a grateful customer who would not have survived a couple years of my life without that little silicone thinger.

I finally got my appointment with the new, third gynecologist, and my awesome grandpa (man, I miss that guy) drove me to the appointment and waited the more than two hours in the vinyl chairs with me while the specialist popped out to deliver a baby who refused to do so. When I met Dr. W. at long last, he was the first specialist I saw who actually gave me some hope. While he did bring up me having a baby, he actually listened to the reasons I gave for that being a poor option and definitely not a solution.

I knew I had found the right doctor at long last when he said, “Kay, I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but I’m going to do everything I can to find out, and I won’t give up until I find a way to help you.” Bless that man. It took almost another two years for us to find a solution, but it helped so much to finally have a gynecologist who was willing to work with me.

Things got much worse, though, before they improved. Stay tuned for more overshares.

copyright 2011:  http://bluespeckledpup.com

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Carol says:

    Wow Kay. You should submit your story to a woman’s magazine, or the AMA. I am so sorry about all of the pain and suffering you went through, and the evil bad doctors, but I am looking forward to hearing the rest of the saga, to find out what worked for you. Good info for other women to know I am sure!!!!

    1. Kay at Blue Speckled Pup says:

      Thanks Carol. I am a healthy woman now, thankfully, but it took some serious effort to get here. I wouldn’t be opposed to having it published elsewhere, but I haven’t been actively seeking it as of yet.

  2. Cinderella says:

    Oh my goodness – the difficulty and suffering you had to go through over time before you finally found that third obgyn Dr. W ! Ugh.That in itself is stressful, let alone when people who are supposed to be knowledgeable either have no answers or the answers are stupid, like go have a baby!

    I’m sorry it gets worse before it gets better. 2 years to find a solution? Oy. My empathy.

    Your writing is interesting and you drew me in – I’ll be back for more, Blue Speckled:)

    1. Kay at Blue Speckled Pup says:

      It ended up being over four years by the time I had the surgery, but it’s been almost that long now since they took my uterus out and gave me my life back. Thanks so much for your encouragement: I really appreciate it.

  3. FL Liz says:

    I had a gyno tell me that since they were taking out my uterus, they might as well take the cervix/ovaries because those cancers are hard to detect and I wouldn’t have those worries anymore. I have no family history of either ovarian/cervical cancer and I’d be tossed, un-gently, into menopause.
    I suggested he also cut my boobs off so breast cancer wouldn’t be a worry. He didn’t find that funny.
    I ended up with another doctor: keeping the working parts, losing the damaged uterus and have been fine since (crossing fingers)
    I’m so sorry you had to go through all that you did. Very well written account.

    1. Kay at Blue Speckled Pup says:

      I was lucky that Dr. W. let me keep my ovaries because the were healthy. Menopause at 25 did not sound like a good time for me. It amazes me that some doctors continue to insist on practices that are harmful to women, not the least of which is pushing choices based on a “general rule” instead of what’s best for the specific woman. The only thing that will change it is women who stand up for their own health and well-being.

      I’m so glad you’re feeling better. Getting rid of my uterus was such a huge improvement for me. Thanks for stopping in!

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