Kaiser may be the death of me.

Let’s recap:

In April, I was told by a substitute Kaiser doctor that he didn’t “think anything is wrong “other than normal cramps, not endometriosis pain”. He then asked me, “Are you sure it’s not a UTI?” before I lost my shit at him and demanded a transvaginal ultrasound because I had been dealing with new pain and symptoms.

I filed complaint with that doctor and days later talked to my regular GYN, who told me nothing definitive came of the transvaginal ultrasound. I told her I SAW a cyst or SOMETHING on the monitor, that there IS something there.
So she scheduled me for a doppler ultrasound on May 7.

On May 7, I SAW something on that ultrasound, too. I waited for 5 anxious days to receive word of what was going on with my body.
On May 12, I got an answer via email, in dismissive form, telling me “Your ultrasound shows 2 small fibroids in the uterus; both your ovaries are normal and there are no endometriomas noted.”

When I scheduled a phone consult with this doctor, she again was dismissive, even condescending towards me, telling me the fibroids are too small to be causing this much pain, and then she slammed a narcotic contract at me and said I had to go that route or else she had no choice but to cut off my medication.

Pissed off, I entered into the fucking narcotic contract, which now became an ‘Opaite Contract’, even though Norco and Tylenol 3 are not opiates. I was able to be put back on Tylenol 3, and I am able to renew my prescriptions through the mail again. I have no idea why it’s yes to Tylenol 3 and no to Norco through the mail. These people are morons.

At end of May and every month since, it has been the same old story: I have increased or lengthening pain. My period begins, it ends, and then a day later it starts back up again full blown for a day or three.
Just like I said before, This is what has been so unusual. This is what prompted me to ask for an ultrasound. This is what ended up being a new diagnosis of fibroids. The latest ultrasound results came back proving the increased pain I’ve been in, as well as lengthened pain flare episodes (results came back showing fibroids). This also proved why I have been eating more Norco than I normally would for the past few months.
And yet, I’m being totally fucked around by the medical establishment.

So from June until September, I dealt with My New Normal; Pain before period, period begins, horrible pain and lots of bleeding, period ends, period begins again with horrible pain, period ends.
At the end of September came a new terrifying development in all of this. I bled for 12 straight days, from September 23 until October 5.

Fed up with my local Kaiser doctors, I sought out a Kaiser doctor in SF who is either associated with UCSF (did residency there) or who specialises in Endometriosis or Fibroids.

10/7/2015  8:39 PM PDT
After reading your profile, I would like to choose you as my new GYN. I just finished bleeding for 12 days. In April 2015, after noticing increased pain and abnormal bleeding, I went to Kaiser. It wasn’t until 2 visits later, in May, that I was diagnosed with fibroids on top of already having endometriosis. I have had 2 surgeries for endo through UCSF (in 2007 and 2010), and I am still in pain. In 2014, I was sent to Kaiser pain management. They diagnosed me with pelvic floor dysfunction. Despite the fibroids diagnosis in May 2015, Dr. Shankar wanted to take me off of Norco for pain management, and said the fibroids were ‘very small’ and not likely causing my increased pain and bleeding. Now I’m on a pain contract and take Tylenol 3, because I hated Norco, anyway. 
I can’t take hormones. I won’t do essure or mirena. I would like an updated transvaginal ultrasound to check on the fibroids and whether the endometrioma(s) have returned. I am seeking your advice.

She wrote back 2 days later and scheduled me for the ultrasound, which I had done on October 16.

Once again, I was made to wait for the results. NINE DAYS before getting an answer, even after checking in asking for my results.

Back in May, the transvaginal ultrasound showed “some small” fibroids.

This updated ultrasound says “multiple small” fibroids.

The previous report says they are intramural fibroids.

This report says “intramural or submucosal” because according to Dr. Kendrick, they won’t know for certain unless they do a saline injection ultrasound or an MRI.

The report from May says there are some simple cysts on the right ovary, nothing to worry about.
The report from October says there is a 1.6×1.4×1.7cm cyst on the right ovary, “likely hemorrhagic”. For more info: http://radiopaedia.org/articles/haemorrhagic-ovarian-cyst , which says many hemorrhagic cysts resolve on their own within 8 weeks.

Given that my last menstrual cycle lasted 12 days, I have to give it another menstrual cycle to see if it will ease up.
That said, Dr. Kendrick told me by phone that if I also have fibroids in the uterine cavity, rather than embedded in the wall or poking out of the uterine wall, then I will have intense bleeding each month.

Also, on the report from May, it showed that I had a few simple cysts on the right ovary.
In the current report from October, it shows that I have a septated (divided) cyst on the right ovary, which is “likely hemorrhagic”.

This to me could be either an endometrioma, even though Dr. Kendrick said it’s not, or it could be a cancerous tumour. This is why Dr. Kendrick suggested I could do further tests:

– saline injected ultrasound
– MRI

to get more detail about the cyst and the fibroids.

Although Dr. Kendrick was not at all worried about cancer. She didn’t even want to mention it. She even said the ultrasound report shows a risk score of zero.
See also http://www.cancernetwork.com/ovarian-cancer/some-ovarian-tumors-can-be-safely-followed-ultrasound

To take care of fibroids that are in the uterine cavity, I can have a hysteroscopy and shave the fibroids off the uterine cavity.

If the fibroids are embedded in the wall, I’m fucked according to the doctor unless I:
– try Lupron
– get a hysterectomy
– go through menopause naturally

to stop growth, pain and bleeding of the fibroids.

I have been under tremendous stress at work and working long hours, so already a week has gone by since this news, but I am going to call my Kaiser plan and find out how much it is for saline vs. MRI ultrasound.

I am freaking out about ovarian cancer.

And once again, I’d like to state that I am the first to know when something has changed in my body. This process began at the beginning of this year. It has taken most of this year to get to the current news; septated cyst. A cyst which is dividing. Cell division. And I already have a cancer-like condition called Endometriosis, which is rogue cell growth.

I am in the right, here. I know there is something MORE abnormal than the existing mess going on in my body. The heinous crime is that the doctors don’t act on it as quickly as I notice it, and I lose time.

I’m afraid of losing too much time. I’m afraid of running out of time.

Anger is an energy

Time moves slowly at Kaiser Permanente.

5/21/2015 4:22 PM PDT
Hello Dr.Nguyen,

Days ago, my GYN said she would be in touch with you about a narcotic contract. I am a bit confused, but I think this means she is writing me off as to further refills from her department.

I have endometriosis with worsening symptoms. I requested an ultrasound, which discovered fibroids. This is a new development, and I believe is the source of my increased pain. However,my GYN is saying it is very minor.

I really need to find out who will continue filling my prescription to manage this pain. I am on my last Norco pills during this cycle, which has me home from work again, bedridden.

The next time this cycle is due to take me down is June 14, but I have been enduring midcycle cramping and bleeding since at least February, which is the whole reason why I requested the ultrasound in the first place. So it could be that I will need more Norco before June 14. I want to be prepared.

I await your prompt reply.

George arrived on May 20. I was off work as I mentioned, bedridden, on May 21.

And lo, in less than 24 hours, came a reply:

5/22/2015 12:19 PM PDT
Sorry to hear about your pain. I have emailed Dr Shankar and will follow up with you after I discuss with Dr Shankar. It would be a good idea to schedule follow up clinic visit with me anyways so we can discuss your medications for your pain, maybe sometime late next week (give me a chance to discuss with Dr Shankar plan of action for your chronic pelvic pain).

“Late next week”.
And I’m running out of pain medication, fast.

I returned to work on May 22 in level 7 pain. The pain continued to alternate between a 4 and a 7 on the pain scale throughout the weekend. Thankfully, I was off work for Memorial Day on May 25, because I spent the day in bed from continued pain, having to ration my medication.

Tuesday, May 26 found me completely pain-free. I was in a jovial mood all day. It had felt like I had endured a long, harsh winter, and that Spring had just sprung for me.

And then, the very next day, the cramping and bleeding returned. And it lasted for four days.
See, this is what I’ve been talking about. This is what has been so unusual. This is what prompted me to ask for an ultrasound. This is what ended up being a new diagnosis of fibroids. The latest ultrasound results came back proving the increased pain I’ve been in, as well as lengthened pain flare episodes (results came back showing fibroids). This also proved why I have been eating more Norco than I normally would for the past few months.

And yet, I’m being totally fucked around by the medical establishment, and denied my fucking medication.

Unfortunately, I was not able to score an appointment to see my primary doctor by May 28 or 29 as she had requested, and I completely ran out of pain medication, and suffered greatly as a result, because no one would fill a few pills for me to tide me through.

I got in to see the primary doc on June 1, when I again was pain-free.
There, I plead my case as to why I need medication over hormones and surgery. I also handed her a 4-page document on everything I’ve ever tried to manage endometriosis.

After begging Kaiser GYNs for 2 years to be put back on Tylenol 3 to manage the pain because I have side effects with Norco, and being denied, my primary doctor jumped at the opportunity to get me off of Norco and back onto Tylenol 3. She said it’s much more manageable to prescribe that one. Incredible. I can’t even.

And then, while I was still jaw-dropped over the pointless 2-year medication fight, the doctor said, “But I still need to put you on an opiate contract”.

Note that the language has changed from narcotic contract to opiate contract.

WHY, I asked. She said it’s still a controlled substance. But easier to deal with than Norco regarding red tape.

I looked over the wording of the contract, and then listened as my doctor rattled off the contents of the contract. The language is clear – I am a drug-seeker who has to be warned (twice) against getting combative with staff about meds, and who has to take regular pee tests to make sure I’m not taking any other opiates or narcotics, or illicit stuff. My doctor told me THREE TIMES how she had looked me up in the drug database to make sure I was not going to several doctors to get the same meds prescribed, and she DELIGHTED in scoring me on a risk assessment to be eligible for the medication contract (I scored a 2, whereas 4+ is denied a contract).

She told me that the pee tests are random and at any moment, I could be summoned away from work to have to do one, lest I get dropped from the contract. Interference with my life and career, much? Playing ball, much?

I took the contract home and pondered it before signing.
I read it to my partner.

I cried. I felt trampled on. I felt abused by the medical establishment once again. Forced into playing ball once again.

The very next day, on June 2, I experienced intermittent level 6 pain, and described it as adhesions pulling from the inside. This lasted two days.

On June 5, I reported for my first pee test after work, and was told it would be a $45 co-pay next time and from then on.

To pee in a cup.

I exclaimed, “No thank you!” and was referred back to my workplace, since my health care is through the workplace.

I checked in with my workplace, who said their hands are tied.

I emailed my doctor, asking why I signed an opiate contract when Tylenol 3 is a narcotic, and I informed her that I cannot afford routine urinalysis fees.

She replied the same day, surprisingly. She wrote, “Codeine is an opiate and contract is still needed. For chronic opioid therapy we do urine testing twice a year.”

So I don’t get out of the damned $45 fee, but at least it’s only twice a year.

I’m still puzzled by the narcotic vs. opiate thing.

But now I have 30 Tylenol 3.

Good thing, because beginning on June 11, I experienced crushing fatigue and full body joint pain. Cramping began on June 12 and has not let up since, even though I have not yet started my period. After four days of this pain growing stronger, today I gave in and began taking half pills of the Tylenol 3, on top of the 2,000mg of Ibuprofen I’ve been consuming for the past week.

On top of the medications, I’m still taking Probiotics, Evening Primrose Oil, Vitamin C, Iron, Magnesium (for restless leg syndrome, which plagues me ever since being on Gabapentin), cramp bark and other crap.

The pain today has been the worst in the past 5 days. I’ve been at a level 6 all day, with shooting pain from my lower back down my left outside leg, cramping into my left thigh.

I hate living this way.

Additional diagnosis and hot potato

After my last post, I waited until my regular GYN was back in the office, and called her to tell her what had happened, and that I had filed a complaint against the GYN I had to see in her absence. She apologised for his not understanding the situation. Whatever.

She then told me nothing definitive came of the transvaginal ultrasound. I told her I SAW a cyst or SOMETHING on the monitor, that there IS something there.

So she scheduled me for a doppler ultrasound on May 7.

When that appointment came around, I SAW something on that ultrasound, too. Now remember, I was sure it had to be a cyst, and I feared it was an endometrioma. But why were there multiple points of colour on the doppler ultrasound? That’s new to me.
So, when the techs left the room for a moment, I snapped a picture of it:

[technical difficulties, will try again soon]

I waited for 5 anxious days to receive word of what was going on with my body.

On May 12, I got an answer via email:

Hello,

Your ultrasound shows 2 small fibroids in the uterus; both your ovaries are normal and there are no endometriomas noted. Please see the report below for your reference.

PELVIC ULTRASOUND

** HISTORY **:
History of endometriosis an endometrioma.

** FINDINGS **:
Comparison: 06/09/2014.

Technique: Transabdominal and transvaginal images were obtained
in accordance with protocol.

UTERUS: The uterus is retroflexed, measuring 11.3 x 4.5 x 4 cm.
There is some heterogeneity of the myometrium with the appearance
some small intramural fibroids.
Fibroid #1: 1.5 cm, intramural myoma in the left posterior body
Fibroid #2: 2.1 cm, intramural myoma in the right anterior
uterine body
The endometrial echo complex is uniform in thickness and measures
1.1 cm in double layer sagittal thickness.

ADNEXA: The left ovary is normal in appearance measuring 3 x 1.9 x
1.4 cm. The right ovary measures 3.8 x 4.2 x 2.5 cm demonstrating
a few simple appearing cysts, considered to be within range of
physiologic. No suspicious adnexal lesions.

FLUID: A small amount of free fluid is present within the pelvis,
within the range of physiologic.

** IMPRESSION **:
No endometrioma is identified. A few small intramural fibroids are
seen. No suspicious adnexal lesions.

FIBROIDS?

Another fucking diagnosis?

Are you kidding me?

So now I’m up to four chronic pelvic pain diagnoses? Endometriosis, Dyspareunia, Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, and Fibroids? Oh that’s just fucking great.

So I did some research.

According to Mayo Clinic, “Some fibroids grow within the muscular uterine wall (intramural fibroids). If large enough, they can distort the shape of the uterus and cause prolonged, heavy periods, as well as pain and pressure.

“In women who have symptoms, the most common symptoms of uterine fibroids include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding (check)
  • Prolonged menstrual periods — seven days or more of menstrual bleeding (check)
  • Pelvic pressure or pain (check)
  • Frequent urination (check)
  • Difficulty emptying your bladder
  • Constipation (check)
  • Backache or leg pains (check)

 

Of course, most of the above are also symptoms of Endometriosis. But for me personally, the prolonged menstrual periods, frequent urination, and increased low back/leg pain were the triggers that told me something was not right.

According to another website, “Fibroids are uterine smooth muscle tumours each developed from a single muscle cell. It is estimated that more than 30% of women would have one or more fibroids after the age of 30 but are not common in younger age groups. Accordingly increasing age up to the menopause is considered as one of the risk factors for increased prevalence of fibroids together with family history, racial origin, obesity as well as nulliparity.

“There is a 3-fold increased risk of developing fibroids with similar first degree family history. Furthermore fibroids are more common, multiple and larger in Afro-Caribbean women compared to other ethnic groups. As well body habitat is considered to be a predisposing factor. Women who weigh > 70 kg are 3 times more likely to develop fibroids than women <50 kg heavy. "[Intramural fibroids] are fibroids located totally or maximally within the muscle wall itself and form the majority of diagnosed fibroids. They could be small or large, single or multiple. They are often associated with adenomyosis. It is reported that fibroids, adenomyosis and polyps could be found together and the presence of one would increase the chance to 80% of finding one of the other two." See also Brigham and Women’s Hospital article on fibroids.

Then I emailed my doctor:

Thank you for the update. I knew something was wrong.

I need to research fibroids further, as I’ve never had this issue before. What are your recommendations – is it the same as with endo?

I need your help with regards to medication refills until I can afford to take time off of work for surgery and recovery. Right now I live hand-to-mouth, so it is not an option to afford a surgery or the time off of work for recovery. The last time I had a pelvic laparoscopy, it took 5 weeks to recover.

The GYN did not respond for 2 days, so I arranged for a phone appointment. I got her email in the meantime, and was wholly pissed off by what I interpreted as a dismissive and condescending tone:

Your fibroids are very small and in general, fibroids are very benign. It is extremely rare for them to be cancerous. Regarding the pain medications, if you need something more often than what we would feel comfortable with, we would recommend that you go into a “narcotic contract” through your primary care physician and that way, it is streamlined and monitored. Without that, unfortunately, it becomes very hard for us to keep refilling the narcotics. I completely understand your social circumstances and so, this may be a better way of doing this so you can keep getting the pills but, in a controlled way.

When she phoned me, I informed her that nowhere did I ever panic that I might have cancer, and furthermore, I already live with a cancer-like condition called endometriosis, so I know how to do my research. She apologised.

Next, I laid into her about a “narcotic contract”, telling her I have had TWO pelvic laparoscopies for endometriosis, have tried hormone therapy TWICE, and that I am not far off from menopause, so could I PLEASE just be made comfortable with pain medication for my chronic pain condition, instead of being treated as a pill-seeker?

She refused to budge, saying Kaiser GYN dept does not normally prescribe narcotics or opiates long-term. I accused Kaiser of being on a mission of preventive care, rather than taking quality and humane care of chronically ill patients. She retorted that Kaiser gives chronically ill patients the best care and attention possible. She again suggested I try the following “therapies” instead of pain pills: Lupron, Depo Provera, Mirena IUD.

NO. I WILL NOT. Furthermore, I informed her that hormonal treatments are known to aggravate fibroid tumours. What part of no does she not understand?

She again stated that the fibroids are minor. She doesn’t hear me repeat that it’s not just fibroids – that I have Endometriosis, Dyspareunia and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. That I’m in real pain with lengthening cycles of pain and bleeding.

She, like all doctors, has given up on me. Passed the buck. She told me she would speak to my primary care doctor about setting up a narcotic contract. And that was that. Another doctor has fired me for being chronically ill and unwilling to play ball.

And now I wait for the next round to fight.

Kaiser Permanente can die in a fire.

At this point, why do I bother continuing to go to the doctor, especially now that I’m stuck with Kaiser HMO insurance.

Firstly, let me tell you the difference between HMO and PPO insurance in the United States:
HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) is cheap-o basic health care coverage, with the main goal of being a preventative health care system. That is to say, they don’t want you to get sick. Patients must have a Primary Care Physician, who is in control of referring the patient to specialists as he/she sees fit.

PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) is pricey-yet-comprehensive health care coverage, with the selling point being to manage long-term illnesses and conditions. Patients can self-refer to specialists.

Now, here’s what’s going on with me:
Yesterday and today, I had debilitating fatigue.
Last night, my period started up again after I thought I was finished and was barely spotting. After intimacy last night, I noticed bright red spotting.
This morning, I woke to bright red flow.

I have a rapport with my boss, whose daughter also has endometriosis. When I told her what was going on, and that I’d be dashing off to an appointment after work, she told me that she remembered this happening to me before. I told her I did not recall, but I do have excellent record-keeping on my computer. We talked about whether I could be perimenopausal or not. More on this convo later.

So I called Kaiser to make an appointment.

The person I got on the phone told me she also has endometriosis, and immediately I rolled my eyes, because I knew what would happen next. She asked me if I’d tried hormonal treatments. I told her no, and she launched into the whole, “well, you know that hormonal suppression is one way to stop the pain…” So I told her I tried hormones and they made me suicidal, so I refused to try further hormonal experimentation. She then asked about Lupron. NO, I have not tried it. She then asked me if I’d considered hysterectomy. Yes, I have, and I have decided against it. She then had the audacity to ask me if I had been surgically diagnosed with endometriosis. YES, I HAVE. TWICE.

Here’s the thing. I’m trying to make a fucking appointment with a GYN TODAY. That’s all. Just do your job as customer service intake or whatever the hell your job is, and find me a fucking appointment.

This woman doesn’t have any right to be asking me these questions. The only questions she should be asking me are the ones on her fucking script, which are:

  • When was the first day of your last period?
  • Are you experiencing any pain and where?
  • Are you experiencing nausea or vomiting?
  • What have you taken for the pain today?
  • Do you think you could be pregnant?

 
Based upon the answers I give, she enters the responses into her computer, and it tells her whether I am eligible for an appointment TODAY.

All these other questions, I know she’s only asking because 1) she has endometriosis 2) she is a nurse, so she thinks she knows better than I do about myself, so 3) she feels entitled to give me a what-for.

Here’s a tip: just because you have the same illness as me, bitch, doesn’t mean you get to tell me what is best for me.

No, I have not tried Lupron. No I have not opted for hysterectomy. Yes, I have been surgically diagnosed and don’t fucking patronize me when I tell you I’ve had two surgeries and you say “yes, but where they diagnostic?” What the hell kind of question is that? Yes, of fucking course they were diagnostic.

There is a rampant mentality among women with endometriosis: many of these women tell other women that if they are not surgically diagnosed, then they have no right to complain about the pain of endometriosis, because it might not be endo. It’s like a fucking sorority club: you don’t get to talk about your pain unless OFFICIALLY diagnosed with endo. Then POOF! You’re in the clique. You get full title to wail and gnash your teeth about your pain, AND BE BELIEVED by the endo sister community. That is some serious bullshit right there.

I remember being belittled like that. I knew I had Endo, but I still had to fight for 11 years to get it proven surgically. Now that I’m diagnosed, I have to always be ready to show my fucking papers whenever the medical community or SOME women with endo ask me if I REALLY have endo. YES BITCHES, I DO.

And you’d think my bad experience would have ended there – that was just the nurse line to get an appointment for today. Oh no, it got worse.

My assigned GYN is not in the office until Monday, so they just gave me the first available doctor for the time frame I could manage. When I got to my appointment, I was a little miffed that nobody told me that my gynecologist for today would be male. Apparently there is no communication between the intake nurse and the GYN on staff, or else he can’t be arsed to read the intake report before seeing his patients. He asked me the same questions. When I told him no I have not had Lupron, he said “Why not?” in a patronizing voice. I told him with pursed lips, “because it’s my decision”.
I am tired of explaining to these motherfuckers the multitude of problems associated with going on Lupron.
Lupron is a male prostate cancer drug being used on women when doctors don’t know what the fuck else to do. We get bone loss, we get deepening voices and hair on our chests and faces. We get worsening pain. We get permanent debilitating joint pain.
I am not going to be your fucking guinea pig to end up with even worse problems than I am already dealing with. And yet, these motherfuckers keep pushing the goddamn Lupron on us!

But no, all I tell this doctor is, “because it’s my decision”. You are lucky I spared your fucking head today, sir.

He thinks out loud: I could be perimenopausal. He might recommend an endometrial biopsy.
He opted to do a pelvic exam, which I granted. He told me I am not currently bleeding, which is a pile of shit. He pulled out the speculum and told me that there is barely any blood on it. I told him I have been bleeding bright red all day, so if he is unsure, he can wait…there’ll be more. He inserted his fingers and asked me where I felt any discomfort, pressure or outright pain. He described my bladder and I told him it was uncomfortable, bordering on painful. He then told me that he really doesn’t see a problem internally as far as endo goes, but the bladder sensitivity could be something else. I know what this means and NO, I DO NOT HAVE A URINARY TRACT INFECTION. I’ll bitch more about that in a minute.

When he was finished, it appeared as though he was wrapping up our little visit. Oh hell no.
I told him, “This is what I would like you to do. I would like a transvaginal ultrasound ordered.” He looked startled, and said, “ordered?” I replied, “given” as I pointed to myself still in stirrups.
He paused, then told me he was just about to go ahead with that, and he seemed miffed that I would demand something from him. Oh REALLY? I thought you were dismissing me like everyone else. HMO doctors are hateful little creatures.

During this whole visit, his minion kept coming into the room without warning, which invades my privacy as I lay there in stirrups. He sent her out to get the ultrasound equipment as I scrambled to cover myself back up again. She rushed back in and didn’t even close the door as they began setting up for the ultrasound. I stared at her and then finally said, “Close the door.” Both she and the doctor looked at me, then the doctor gave her an impatient look and repeated for her to close the door.
At this point, I was about to lose my shit and set these people on fire.
But I needed answers, so I allowed the ultrasound to begin.

He had a look at my right ovary, which showed a very large black hole. I asked him what it is. “It measures half an inch”, he said. That’s about 1.5cm.

I then told him that I have a history of endometriomas. He replied that it looks like just a follicle to him, but he will mark it. Good. You do that.

At the end of the ultrasound, he reiterated that he does not think anything is wrong “other than normal cramps, not endometriosis pain”.

At this point I could no longer hold back my judgmental glare.
I am surgically diagnosed with endometriosis, and you are telling me that I don’t have endometriosis pain, just normal cramps? WHAT. THE ACTUAL FUCK. IS WRONG. WITH YOU.

But it doesn’t end there.

He then asked me something I knew he was going to ask, because I have had this fucking question asked many times previous to my surgeries.

“Are you sure it’s not a UTI?”

I gave him The Teacher Look.

I told him evenly and firmly, “it’s not”, at which point he put his tail between his legs, and literally held up his palms to me to let me know that I got my point across. He then said he’s not very well versed in knowledge of endometriosis (OH REALLY), and he even went so far as to acknowledge that I might know more than he does on the subject, to which I openly replied, “I do.”

What I don’t have to tell you motherfucker, since you were not interested in reading my surgery reports, is that I have endometriosis on the bladder reflection, which means my bladder is easily irritated when you poke at it with your fingers or with the vaginal ultrasound wand.
So, you might want to check the fucking surgery report before asking me if I have a fucking UTI.

At this point, I was expecting him to ask me another common question:

“Have you ever had an STD?”
If he had asked me that question, I would have leapt up off of the table and murdered him outright.

Instead, he mentioned offhandedly something nearly as infuriating:
He said I should really consider hysterectomy, or pray that menopause does not give me worse problems than the endo already does, because I have refused hormonal treatments, Lupron, and hysterectomy…and opted to just stick with narcotic pain management, which is frowned upon.

TRANSLATION: YOU ARE AN ADDICT.

In general, I am really tired of doctors. I’d really like for that pain transference device to be invented, so I can show these asswipes A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A WOMAN WITH ENDOMETRIOSIS.
And when they are screaming in agony, or literally dying from this pain, I will tell them all of the things they have told me and my endo sisters throughout the years.

I really miss UCSF. I fucking hate Kaiser, I hate starting over, I hate HMOs. The whole reason I am stuck in Third World Healthcare again is because my excellent medical benefits went out the window when my ex-spouse cheated on me and divorced me for the whore.

Now, I have Kaiser through my workplace, which as I mentioned is HMO hell. The exam room I was in today was behind office desks at the back of the building, in what looks like used to be a closet. The furniture in there looked to be at least 25 years old, badly scratched up and in need of paint. Actually, that furniture reminds me of the office furniture aboard the USS Hornet… A WWII vessel.
I would say that the health care provided by Kaiser is roughly similar to WWII healthcare.

Have I mentioned that I miss UCSF?

When I got home, I remembered the convo I’d had with my boss earlier in the day, and so I scoured through my iCal and photos of my whiteboard calendar to see if I could find any easy reference to this in the last few years. I check out my calendar notes first, before going meticulously through my blog entries, because I don’t always know what keywords to look for at first. Looking at patterns in my cycle via the calendar gives faster insight for me, oftentimes.

I finally found it – it was just 11 months ago – my boss was right – this has happened before. In May of 2014, my period stopped and then a day later started up again. I went to Kaiser and got a same-day appointment (at the time, with a new GYN since I was new to Kaiser). A transvaginal ultrasound revealed a 4cm fluid-filled sac. I was in even more pain last year than what I’m going through this year, and of course I was… last year it was a 1.5 inch cyst. This year, it’s a half-inch cyst. Either way, it causes me to bleed outside of my usual cycle.

So I have my answer, and I have a pending complaint against one Dr. Hong Kim, and a further complaint against the Kaiser healthcare system for letting me fall between the cracks when my regularly appointed GYN is out of the office.

And as far as cysts go, all I can do is Wait And See.
Will it reabsorb? Or is it an endometrioma?

And then I’ll take it from there…by going to see Dr. Andrew Cook down in the South Bay. He doesn’t take insurance – it’s out-of-pocket. After all I’ve been through, I’m ready to go this route.

2 months later…

I continue to marvel at the lack of being bedridden since starting on Gabapentin.

My most recent endo pain flare began last week, with intermittent stinging pain in the uterus and left ovary, which lasted for a couple of days.

Then, without warning, george showed up yesterday, a day earlier than I expected. Then the crushing fatigue set in.

I consumed 1,200mg of Ibuprofen yesterday, and another 1,200mg today, and managed to get through the work day. I have gone to bed early for the past two nights – I’m in bed now and will be heading to sleep very soon. The full body fatigue is as I said crushing, and it is a symptom of endometriosis.

Ya know, I have a rant.

One of the big things my ex told me he was leaving me for was because “you have a need to let people know you’re in pain, all the time.”
He was referring to me posting when I’m having an endo flare, about me having specific friends who also suffer with endo whom I can relate with, and my ongoing endo blog.

What also really pisses me off is… had I listened to my doctor years ago, and started taking Gabapentin, I might not have been in this divorce boat, because I’d not be bedridden and therefore not such an invalid in my husband’s eyes.

I have suffered shaming and guilt all of my life – first through my parents, then with the endo, and now with my ex. Part of my rage is because he shamed me by having not just an affair, but holding it in my face, in the clubs, for my friends to see and ask me about. He lied to me when questioned. He lied for months until he got sloppy. And then he cites one of the reasons for leaving me was that he doesn’t like me being vocal about my illness.

So instead of being shamed to silence, I will remind the world of my blog’s name: I WILL NOT SUFFER IN SILENCE.

More to the point, I will react like O Ren Ishii upon one’s attempt to shame me into silence.
He got publicly castrated and financially burdened.

Dear New Year: You’re Doing It Wrong.

A New Year is supposed to be a time of New Beginnings, New and Wonderful Things.

Instead, the year starts off with a horrible diagnosis, hate-filled and self-serving drama, more clashes between “protesters” and police, and well, the same old same old as far as my endo pain.

The horrible diagnosis is Stage II squamous cell carcinoma for my father. The news was received on January 4th. I spent 48 hours trying to get as detailed information as I could, but it was all couched in panic and high dramatic emotion from my father and step-mother. I keep being told “it’s melanoma, but the doctors say it’s not.” Well, squamous cell carcinoma is by definition non-melanoma skin cancer. It’s dangerous if left untreated, and the doctor did tell my dad that if he’d gone for a few more months, it could have been fatal. My dad and his wife are acting like it IS fatal.

It’s been hell on all of us, emotionally, to get dad to calm the hell down and take charge of his emotions and get some courage up for the treatment ahead of him. He’s chosen to take an experimental chemo treatment called Efudex for two weeks, and then he will have a Mohs surgery on February 27 to excise the cancer, which is on his temple. He’s already had upwards of 16 other cancerous lesions excised and frozen off the surface of his back, chest and hands. Now what remains is the one on his temple. He fought for over a year to get treatment, but his small-town doctor did not take the lesions seriously, and kept telling him it was psoriasis.

The hate-filled and self-serving drama relates to endometriosis support groups on the Internet. There have always been a number of splinter groups forming once a new group springs up. There have always been nasty women saying nasty things about other women, going so far as to blame women as being attention seekers and drug addicts. YEAH, JUST WHAT I WANT IN A SUPPORT GROUP. GO HUMANITY! WOOO!!! This is nothing new – it’s been going on since before I even discovered online support groups in 2007, after my first surgery.

There’s (again) been a rash of women who opened up and admitted to being suicidal, ever since an endo sister did try to end her life in December, and gained the top headlines so to speak in some endo forums as a result. The nasties lashed out, saying the others who were suicidal were just attention whores. Can you believe that?!?! OMG. Here you are, finally able to say, YES, ME TOO, I’VE BEEN IN A DARK PLACE, PLEASE HELP ME, and what you get in return is being called a drama queen attention-seeker.

Then there are those who are actually bitter about not getting replies to their posts or questions in the forums in a timely fashion, who instead of re-posting the questions until they do get an answer, simply go around bad-mouthing the group for not paying attention to them. GROW THE HELL UP, PEOPLE. There are hundreds of people on some support groups, and thousands of people on other support groups. If you post something and nobody replies to it, think of the following:

  • What time of day is it – maximize your posting for a time frame in which most people will likely be on the computer. Keep a world time zone chart handy!
  • Either bump or post your question or story a second time if you have gotten no feedback the first time.
  • Write to an admin on the support group to elicit further help to getting your story or question some air time.

 

It’s not rocket science. People need to stop being so selfish and childish. The support groups are made up of people who suffer from the same illness – not of 24/7 on-call doctors and psychologists FFS. We are there to support each other, but we are all in pain, we are all enduring family stuff, we are all trying to get work done in some fashion, and then we come to the support groups online to help ourselves and others like us. The ones who are being abusive need to be expelled.
It’s a good thing I’m not an admin, and I have been asked plenty of times to help admin different lists over the years. I’d have kicked off hundreds of people by now, I swear. I have gone through many online support groups; they start out well enough but almost always devolve into a damned Lord Of The Flies novella. It’s sickening. You could be reading this rant in the year 2000 or in the year 2027 and the same frustration will still be there. Humanity often remains so very disappointing to me.

The clashes between “protesters” and police reference is regarding the continuation of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, specifically the branch of it that is going on near where I live. Here we are, three months later, aggressive protests and police brutality still happening, and still no direct words from the President of the United States. He was mic-checked in November in New Hampshire, but again, spent but a sound byte of time on the entire movement:


 


 

The Governor of the State of California finally broke his silence on the occupy movement on December 27, when he said he will do everything in his power, just shy of bringing in the National Guard, to keep the Port of Oakland open, should the protesters try to shut it down a third time.

Governor Brown also said, “I think the Occupy movement is focused on city halls and universities and maybe other institutions…It’s an expression of disapproval and discontent, but it’s not incorporated into the political process at this point, at least not the political process where you vote Yes or No on an initiative.”

 

The same old same old as far as my endo pain is just that. I’ll write up a separate journal entry, as this entry was mainly to blow off steam.

Sickest I’ve been in a year

I did go to work that next day on March 10, and I worked nearly the whole day before the pain decided to come back and bitch-slap me one last time. I left an hour early. So this month, I’ve only missed one day and one hour of work total on account of george, and once again I was never fully bedridden during this cycle. That’s two months in a row now!

This is really great post-op news!

Next period is April 1st (ha-ha). We’ll see how it goes. I remain hopeful.

The main complaint for this month is attack of the killer viruses.

February 28th I came down with the flu, and that was on a Monday. I went to the doctor, who listened to my lungs and remarked that he heard “crackles.” He listened again but I had a coughing fit, and that seemed to clear things up. I joked that he’d have to wait for the next build-up before determining “crackles” again.

The doctor asked if I’d had my flu shot. I said no, because I’m allergic to eggs (flu shots are created using chicken eggs, did you know?). He then suggested I try Tamiflu. I told him I have previously examined the drug and its side-effects, and decided that my sensitivity to meds, coupled with dealing with autoimmune disease, did not make it appealing to chance multiple side effects on the off chance that the flu might be lessened by one or two days.
The doctor asked what autoimmune disease I have, so I told him I have endometriosis. He looked annoyed, put down his pen, looked at me and said, “Endometriosis is not an autoimmune disease.”

My jaw dropped. I politely told him that the confirmation on this is fairly recent, so yeah, it’s actually an autoimmune disease. Meanwhile, his intern student doctor, standing to my left, murmured under his breath, “yes, it is an autoimmune disease.”

The doctor retorted angrily at me, “It is NOT an autoimmune disease!”

I thought for sure his next comments would be something about endometriosis MERELY being painful period, and why don’t I try some Midol to ease the cramps…he was at that level of condescension.

I told him “First of all, I’m the one with the disease, so I’ve done my homework, so yes, it IS an autoimmune disease, and secondly, there has been proven anomaly on chromosomes 1 & 7, WOULD YOU LIKE COPIES OF THE STUDIES, since I am subscribed to medical journals?”

The intern again quietly agreed, “it is an autoimmune disease.”

The head doctor wanted to hear none of it. Red-faced with rage, I informed him that I’d be inserting the studies into my medical file for his education.

THIS IS THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, AND YOU ARE IN A SUPPOSEDLY DEVELOPED NATION, IN A SUPPOSEDLY HIGH-TECH DOCTOR’S OFFICE, TELLING ME WITH YOUR IGNORANCE THAT YOU ARE NOT UP ON THE LATEST MEDICAL RESEARCH?!?!?!?!

This is the second doctor’s office I have chosen in this city. I see I may have to fire this office, too. Sadly, I’m certain that all local doctor’s offices are this stupid. When I was leaving the exam room, the intern held the door for me. I smiled and quietly thanked him for backing me up. He grinned and replied that he was looking forward to the heated debate on the topic. It seemed like he was trying to tell me that he’d be in trouble for agreeing with the patient, and that it wasn’t his first run-in with the doctor. Ugh, poor intern. I sincerely hope he makes it out of med school in one piece.

When I got home from the doctor’s appointment, I called the office and told them to put it in my file that I will never see Dr. James E. Eichel again. As a matter of fact, my husband reminded me that the reason he left that doctor’s office the first time around in search of another family practice was because of Dr. Eichel’s condescending attitude.
I did a background check on him, nothing comes up. But take it from me and my husband, the guy’s a total asshole. Also, check out doctor reviews on the web – numerous people have found him to be condescending and rude.

I was so angered by this doctor telling me that my debilitating chronic illness is not in as valid a category as he feels it should be, that it has taken me 24 DAYS to write about it, and even now, this is the best verbiage I can find without using a string of expletives and then throwing something across the room.

So that was Monday, February 28. I took the whole week off of work to get better. However, by that Friday, the flu had turned into bronchitis. I was back in the doctor’s office, and again a doctor listened to my chest. By now I was seriously wheezing, too. The doctor said she heard “crackles”. Hm, this is the second time in a week that word was used, so I asked what it meant to detect “crackles.” She said it means pneumonia at worst. I asked if Dr. Eichel had put it down in my chart that he’d heard crackles back on Monday.

GUESS WHAT.

He made no mention whatsoever!

ASSHOOOLLLLLLLLLLLE!

So I was sent to the hospital for a chest x-ray. Thankfully, it came back normal. However, I was diagnosed with bronchitis and put on an inhaler.

The following Monday is when I got my period. I went to work that week, and only missed one day of work, and took it as easily as I could given the bronchitis and menstruation. I hacked a lung every day, and alarmed the students some of the time with my coughing fits. Being outside for a couple of hours each day didn’t help either, what with the cold, wet weather we’re having.

Ten days later, just as the bronchitis was clearing, I felt well enough to go dancing. We got home late, and I got about three hours of sleep, got up and went to work.

By the end of the day, I had a sinus infection. Go me. :(
Three days later, I had an ear infection.

Friday, March 18 I was back in the doctor’s office. The doctor, thankfully my preferred doctor this time (April Fredian), walked into the exam room, took one look at me, and sighed, “you got it, didn’t you.” She told me that this flu-turned-bronchitis-turned-sinus-infection is a really nasty thing she’s seeing in a third of her patients, and even she did not escape it. She estimated that I will be sick for another month and a half.
Dr. Fredian examined my lungs (clear) and my ears (left eardrum inflamed, could rupture), and my nose (more allergenic than viral). I was told all I could really do was take anti-inflammatory meds and hope my eardrum didn’t burst. She gave me codeine cough syrup and suggested I try Afrin for the allergy-ridden nose. I asked if antibiotics would help with the ear infection – she said if by Sunday my ear still hurt a lot, to get on antibiotics. I asked what kind, cuz I still had a z-pack at home. She said the z-pack would do, and then amended her prescription, saying if my ear still hurt by Saturday, that I had her permission to take the antibiotics.

So on Saturday, the ear still hurt, and I started the antibiotics.

Today was Day 5 of the z-pack – the last day – and dammit if the sinus infection and ear inflammation didn’t get worse. WTF.

So I’ll be back in the doctor’s office again tomorrow for further advice. I’ll be demanding ear drops or something. UGH, I just want to be well again.

March 17 was 90 days post-op, and I had promised myself by March 1st I’d be back in the gym again, toning up after all that downtime from surgery. And BAM instead I get a month of wheezing and staggering amounts of lung and sinus butter. I cannot believe the head and chest can produce so much phlegm. It’s disturbing.

Oh, to go back to endo for a moment – my husband and I were intimate on March 20 and I did experience dyspareunia afterwards, but it didn’t last more than a couple of hours. It was sharp, intermittent pain – the type I thought would get worse and last for days as usual. But it didn’t! YAY!

Going back to the ear infection – yesterday I was so depressed by not being able to get back into the gym that I literally cried.
The ear pain got so bad today that I had to plug my left ear for the last hour at work, and I felt like crying from the resonating noise (I work in a preschool in daycare mode this week, so you know it’s anything but quiet).

I got home and took Tylenol 3. I’ve been in a stupor ever since, but at least I’m dissociated from the screaming tinnitus (both high and low drone pitch simultaneously in both ears, plus the pounding eardrum pain in the left ear).

That’s all I’ve got. Great news on the endometriosis – keeping that in mind through this depressing flu season crap.

Second Laparoscopy: Day 26 post-op

Wednesday, January 12, 2011. One o’clock pm.

I AM SO MAD!!!

I got a copy of my December 28 blood test results to take to my doctor appointment on Wednesday, and right there in bold text, it shows my red blood cell count is low and my eosinophil white blood cell count is through the roof! The eosinophil count was 1,900!!!
‘Normal’ is 15-500! It was flagged as HIGH and everything, in bold text! How could these people miss it?!?!?

I had puked my guts out on December 26th, and I had pain and bloating under the diaphragm, as well as itching all over my trunk from December 26-28th. I was having all sorts of issues and my surgeon’s office kept saying ‘you’re fine’. At my post op on January 5 I was still getting ‘you’re fine’, even though I felt like crap.

Then Monday January 10 I get a call from them saying “uhhhhh can you get a new blood test”?

How can they let THIRTEEN DAYS go by before really studying my blood test results and seeing some kind of major infection going on!

At my January 5 post-op appointment my surgeon’s assistant said “so and so got the results and said it looked fine.” The surgeon asked, “Do you have the paperwork?” The assistant replied “No, it’s at the front desk.” Instead of going to the front desk to get the paperwork, my surgeon asks me, “Do you want to get more blood work done?” I looked at her funny and said, uhhh, no…if you think my blood work was fine…” And my surgeon replied, “Oh! Well okay, you’re fine!”

I am SO MAD! I am kicking myself for not saying GO GET THE DAMNED PAPERWORK YOU LAZY ASSHATS!

ARRRRGGGGHHH!!!

After I settled down from my rage a little bit, I went outside and climbed the stairs to the building I live in. I ascended the stairs SIX TIMES. This is a first. My previous record was three times, five days earlier.

Firsts for today:

  • Climbed stairs 6 times.
  • I lifted a 19lb box of school work and carried it from the bedroom to the kitchen, spent the afternoon doing homework. Then I carried the box back to the bedroom and lifted and put it atop a 46″ tall dresser. This is the most weight I have lifted since surgery, and it did cause some discomfort, but I wanted to test my limits.

 

Complications/Complaints:

  • Dizzy and weak after stair climbing – despite a full meal an hour beforehand.
  • Mild to moderate pelvic and low back pain all day. It got bad enough at times that I wanted to take Tylenol 3, but I’ve become seriously revolted by the stuff since my big scare on December 27.
  • Still having diarrhea – this time after dinner. It could be food sensitivity, though; I ate sushi, and some of it had avocado, which has given me diarrhea since 2010 when I became more sensitive to things in the latex family. I had also drank some miso soup, which I have had sensitivity to as well. After dinner, I had cow’s milk ice cream (w/ 2 lactaid pills). So much food – I was plagued by internal gas and too full a feeling all night – it finally simmered down by 11:30pm.
  • I’m PMSing. I can seriously feel the uterus thickening. I’ve begun to have major sugar cravings. I found and ate ALL the chocolate in the house. I drank sugary pop twice that day. I am angered at the drop of a pin.

Today I am feeling bitter.

My friend Jeanne over at Chronic Healing wrote an article that I simply must describe here.

Her article, titled “Endometriosis Patients Viewed As Cash Cows?“, addresses a rhetorical question that’s been brewing in my own mind for quite some time.

I am subscribed to a number of news alerts, medical journals and publications (as is my friend Jeanne). Every so often, I’ll see something like, “Newly published market report on Hormonal Contraceptives – Since the 1960s, hormonal contraceptives have been widely used as effective birth control in the developed world. Although they are mainly used to prevent pregnancies, they can be used for treating other conditions such as acne, endometriosis, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. In 2008, the hormonal contraceptives market was worth $6.2 billion across the seven major pharmaceutical countries.” (Nov. 27, 2009)… and I’ll think to myself, “Hm! Me being sick sure does make a lot of money for some people! Amazing how I’m still not well, and how these companies are booming!” But then I let it go without bitching about it on my main Living With Endo site.

The latest such news item was titled, “Global Endometriosis Market to Grow to $1.1 billion by 2017 Says Latest Report“, and Jeanne checked her news alerts before I did, and had something to say about it:

Yet another “endometriosis pipeline assessment & market forecast” has been released. Who is looking out for the endometriosis patients in this world of people trying to make money off the backs of endometriosis patients? With 89 million endometriosis patients worldwide, I wish I knew of an endometriosis organization that had my back. Sadly, I don’t feel there is an organization that fits this description.

I took the discussion to my facebook page, where I had an exchange with my friend D.

D: _everyone_ who has a chronic illness is seen by big pharma as a revenue stream. I know this for a horrible fact.

Steph: yes, it is true. Jeanne touched on that in her article, as she has multiple chronic illnesses.
There’s just this wave of people cheering on endo organisations and doctors, without really doing background checks so to speak, and so her article is a wake-up call for people.

D: to expand, I can’t speak to the subject of nonprofit interaction with patients and profit, but from where I’m sitting (…the corporate “for profit” managed care industry…) there is a definite emphasis on “managed care” and specifically not on curing anything. The people running these companies would never outright SAY it, but they have a vested interest in making sure people stay sick, and stay dependent. Cures for ANY of the big life-changing-but-manageable illnesses (Diabetes, Endo, take your pick, theres lots more) would instantly dissolve multibillion dollar businesses PER DISEASE. You can be damn sure the companies running those businesses don’t want that to happen.

I’m not usually one for tinfoil hats, but in this instance, it’s really really hard not to wear one.

D: The magic words are “cure” vs. “managed care”. If you see “managed care” the likelihood is that money comes before wellness.

Of course, if you see “cure” first, then it’s just as likely they won’t have a dime to their names to do the research with…yay American medecine.

Steph: this is why whenever I see anything for my illness and my father-in-law’s illness advertised or discussed from A Certain Corporation, I roll my eyes. I know for damned sure they don’t give a rat’s ass about us getting better.

In fact, the stuff touted for endo care from A Certain Corporation, as well as any private, public, for profit or not for profit joint at this point so far has only been full of people who lie, cheat and steal at our expense, with drugs that only hurt us worse, not help us.

This INCLUDES the biotech firms doing DNA studies on us – they SAY they are doing this for a cure, but you read their quarterly earnings reports or studies published in medical journals (I’m subscribed to several) and all you see is language indicating they want to be FIRST to use the DNA studies to create a new DRUG THERAPY, not a f***ing cure.

There’s two endo orgs slinging mud as we speak, because one got all pissy that the other was first in publishing data. So the other went and did a smear campaign on the integrity of the data. It’s ugly business being so charitable towards us poor, helpless little females with endometriosis.

Then there’s the doctors, who sit on the technical advisory boards for several competing organisations and biotech firms at once.
Hello, conflict of interest? Hello lining your pockets, much?

Lastly, there’s the butchers, making money off of maiming us further (*cough*nezhat *choke*metzger *ahem*there’s more).

It’s slow work, but I’ve got a database going on ALL of these choads.

You are most certainly justified in the tinfoil hat.

Be sure to check out Jeanne’s article, titled “Endometriosis Patients Viewed As Cash Cows?

If I wasn’t already bitter enough, I went searching for images of a retroverted uterus, because I’m wondering if half the clotting that happens during menstruation is due to the retroverted state of my uterus. While searching the interwebs, I happened across The Household Physician website, which shows the following treatment for a retroverted uterus:
howtoreplacefallenwomb

Click to enlarge, and note how the caption specifically says that AIR will hold the uterus in place until a pessary can be placed.
The website of course offered no dating of the material which it espouses, so I did some digging and found the original work over on Google Books, by the same title; The Household Physician

This book was published in 1895. It is important to note that 115 years later, pessaries are *still* being used to “treat” a retroverted uterus.

I guess I should be thankful that leeches are no longer being used.

leeches-gyn-treatment

 
I’m going to ask if it is possible for my surgeon to surgically correct my retroverted uterus during the laparoscopy.

But honestly, you’d think that in 115 years, the medical establishment would figure out how to help instead of torture women. We remain second class citizens (or worse in some parts of the world) as far as health care goes.

And that is my bitter rant today.

So there’s going to be a second surgery.

On Friday, September 10th, I started feeling low pelvic discomfort/fullness. I had the need to ‘check’ myself all day to see if menstruation had begun.

Saturday morning, my husband and I were intimate, and I experienced pain as I often do. :( I noticed bright red bleeding right afterwards. I assumed this was just the little pool of blood that sometimes leaks out from the cervix and sits at the end of the vaginal canal right before menstruation begins. Within half an hour of intimacy, I experienced uterine cramps which lasted all day. However, as I had hoped, the bleeding turned to spotting quickly enough, and then stopped by afternoon. For the pain, I took 600mg Ibuprofen in the late morning, then took half a Tylenol 3 and more Ibuprofen in the late afternoon.
My husband and I went to a housewarming party that night, and I brought my heating pad with me. I did need it. :( I took another half a Tylenol 3 around 9:45pm, and got all the codeine effects – dizziness, fuzzy-headed, super sleepy, heightened sensitivity to light and noise, etc. Those things don’t mix well with a very alcohol-ladden house party. We were home a few minutes before midnight…on a Saturday night…because of my pain. LAME.

The night out, despite the pain, was not too bad. I had my usual bout of social anxiety, and I was a bad girl and took a few sips of whiskey (it had honey it it, how could I not?). As we were saying we wanted to leave, the hostess said she needed to re-introduce me to a friend of hers, who also has endometriosis.

So I talked with another endo sister and stayed awhile longer at the party. ;)
She highly recommends Dr. Cook down in Los Gatos. He’s the guy who only accepts one’s money, not insurance, but the woman I talked to last night is three years post op and says the pain has not returned. She had stage IV endometriosis, and had to have one ovary removed, as well as part of her vagina, her cervix and her uterus. She also had to have part of her bowels resected, because of the endometriosis. Really bad stuff. I asked a lot of questions about the one ovary thing – since I am convinced that I’ll have to lose my left ovary eventually (this is twice now that it’s been pulled by adhesions to my uterus).
She told me that because she had so much removed, her body freaked out. She told me that although the endometriosis pain disappeared, she had to contend with nerve damage on her bowels, and all of her organs trying one by one to shut down on her. She ended up with asthma and skin lesions and extreme fatigue and all sorts of stuff, which took over a year to clear up, and only with the help of some kind of metabolic therapy. She said she was dying a slow death. To this day, three years later, she still has issues with either keeping in or letting out a bowel movement, I forget which.
Despite such horrific issues, she says she’s glad she had the surgery.

My opinion is: given the choice between knowing the behaviour of my illness and not knowing if I will die from all the pain and suffering caused by a surgery such as described above, I will always choose my illness. Given the choice between a one year recovery and my current illness, I’ll take my current illness because I miss less time off work and thusly less money. Given the choice between possible permanent nerve damage from surgery and my current illness, I might prefer my current illness. Depends on where the nerve damage, is, I guess. I don’t think I would like to have to live with bladder or bowel control issues for the rest of my life. That stuff isn’t supposed to happen until I’m elderly. :p

For over a year now, I’ve been going on about needing excision laparoscopy to properly treat my pain, and now that I’ve talked to a woman in person who has had excision done, now I am chickening out. This is silly. I can easily get just as much nerve damage from electrocoagulation surgery as I can from excision surgery. Hell, I can get organ damage just from the laparoscope going into me. So this fear stuff needs to stop.

…there’s something else. When I did a search on my blog for how many times I mentioned ‘excision’, I read back through my entries and got really mad. You know, the human brain forgets things, and there’s something to be said about that. I feel like had I just left all those feelings forgotten, then I wouldn’t be so angry as I am right now with doctors who wrote me off, with all the time I waste trying to find the right specialist, only to be slapped in the face by people saying stuff like, “DO YOU LIKE BEING IN PAIN? THEN GO GET ANOTHER ELECTROCOAGULATION SURGERY” or “I TOLD YOU ABOUT THIS PERSON A YEAR AGO, WHY DIDN’T YOU LISTEN TO ME”.

If I hadn’t read through my old blog entries, then I might not be so mad as I am right now at my husband. But the thing is, forgetting also destines one to repeat history. And this is recent history – the blog entry I’m referring to is from February – only seven months ago. We’re in a cycle, and it does no good to keep forgetting that the finances issue is a HUGE issue. I DID go to school this summer after my husband insisted that I go, and insisted that our tax return money would cover it. When the tax return money ran out towards the end of the summer and my husband had to foot $1,000 more of his own money, all hell broke loose. We’re still reeling financially and emotionally, and then I get told I must have another surgery ASAP.

Back on February 4, I said I could EITHER have surgery OR go to school because we don’t have enough money to do both. This was before our tax return. Once we got the tax return filed on February 20, my husband said I should go back to school, and I agreed. We both thought at that point that surgery could wait.

Who knew that surgery would be deemed necessary the same year? There was no way of knowing that.

But the same frustrations I expressed about our finances are still at the forefront of our relationship today. We did have that talk back in February, and he did say that he would support and help me and that he would stop being wishy-washy. The one point we did not cover was him also promising not to be grudging or angry when I need money. He never made that promise and his behaviour is still that of grudgingly handing over money when I need it.

Last Wednesday, when I got the surgery summons, I told my husband we needed to talk about finances and planning for the surgery. Friday night, we had that talk. Once again, we got into our modes. He wanted to pledge chivalrous yet ambiguous support for me during and after my surgery. I wanted to run the numbers. I broke out the calculator and my recent timecard and compared it to my earnings before summertime to get an estimate of money that could be saved between now and December, while telling my husband about bills and groceries and things that would need to be taken care of. He sat there, eyes glazed over, zoned out, then began playing a video game on his iPhone.

While running the numbers on my end, and noting his lack of engagement after he initiated the talk, I kept working but did not look at him as I spoke, telling him, “Here’s what I need for you to be doing. I need you to go through your bills and expenses and the last three months of the grocery bills, and tell me roughly how much money you have at the end of the month each month, so that I know what you have to contribute towards the surgery, since you said you would in fact take care of me during and after surgery.”

He stopped playing his game, stared at me for a moment while I continued to work without looking at him. Then he got up in a huff and stomped off to the computer room to run his numbers in angry silence.

And this is how it always goes. He’s all talk and then when it comes time for action, he gets his panties in a twist.

He DID do his numbers and we DID compare things.

The end result of my own assessment was that I cannot afford to save money for surgery to cover the co-pay (up to $1,400 out of pocket) AND any post-op care, AND bills that will still be coming due after surgery while I’ve been off work without a paycheck.

My husband’s assessment showed that he was left with just over $200/mo out of his paycheck, if he had to continue to cover all of the groceries, cat maintenance, and all of my bills post op.
I asked if my husband could set aside money out of his paycheck every payday from now until mid-December in order to have that padding available – to cover all the expenses for up to 2 months post-op. He shared that he has about $1,476 left over after bills are paid each month. I asked if he could carve out $400/mo from now until mid-December (leaving him with $1,076 total in the bank each month, but saving $1,200 to cover me), since my bills due on top of everything else are about $316/mo ($632 if he had to cover me for 2 months).
He replied that he could logically swing it, but would feel uncomfortable doing so, in case other emergency expenses came up. He said it would be cutting it too close.
The end result of his assessment is that he cannot afford to save money now to cover me post-op in December.

This pushes my surgery out to either spring break, which is one week optional work in March, 2011 (holiday daycare week), or sometime in the summer 2011, which is a fixed amount each employee can work during the summer, anyway, due to low enrollment.

At first, I was silently very angry with my husband’s refusal to save $400/mo from now until December. But I calmed down and realised that yes, $1,076 really is in fact in the red for two people, should any tiny emergency crop up. It’s just not doable, and I have to accept that.

After doing our assessments on Friday night, I did not feel any better about how we both emotionally handle things related to finances. I still do not trust that my husband will make good on his word to be there for me. It’s all on me to save the money towards the surgery co-pay and taking care of myself after surgery. I have to start saving now.
When we got married, we agreed to keep finances separate. We only got the joint account to pool money for the honeymoon. That was the only reason we got that account. And even then it didn’t really work out so well – I still put a bunch of shit on my credit cards, and used my money, and he still used his money. The fact remains that he is very guarded over the ginormous amount of money he makes in a year, and is resentful that he has to foot all of the rent and groceries. He makes roughly sixty-five thousand dollars more than me each year, and so when he has to split his income in two to support both of us, he gets pissy.
I make sixty-five thousand dollars less than him each year, so when I easily run out of money and need something, I get all pissy when he won’t just provide the money. I don’t look at it as a spoiled princess or entitled bitch thing. I look at it as a fracking charity thing.

Another thing I found out from my assessment is that missing two or three days of work each month loses me roughly $4,000 every year at the current pay rate. At my highest earnings in the dotcom days, I was losing up to $7,200/year of my paycheck because of missing work due to endometriosis. I posted a study about this on the main Living With Endometriosis site back in April, 2010. My personal cost is much higher, but I don’t know if their costs were net pay or gross pay. My assessment was gross pay.

I still feel the same as I did back in February: “I think it’s best that I just go back to pretending that this is what all women go through every month, and stop trying to treat something which ultimately probably can’t be treated, anyway. I won’t die from my condition. No matter what I’ve tried in the last 23 years, nothing has worked anyway, so why bother to continue trying to fight it. I don’t have anyone but myself to help me financially and emotionally, anyway. Same as it ever was.”