So, today I had an appointment with my gynecologist and surgeon, Dr. Mel Kurtulus. It was to discuss my Endometriosis symptoms, which I felt have been worsening. My (two) July periods, and my August period were horrendous. Going through my 2017 Pain Diary, March and April were also up there on the pain scale. I was all prepared to go on in and ask for another surgery…and possibly a hysterectomy just to rid my life of periods (since that’s when most of my pain is present). I know it’s not a cure, but it would most certainly help some…
Then, last Thursday evening I started my period: the night before I was to leave for a family camping trip…I was devastated. I expected to be fully-medicated the entire weekend. I packed my Naproxen Sodium, my Tylenol 3 with Codeine, my Tramadol, and my Zofran. BUT…surprise surprise…my period cramps NEVER rose above a 1 (on a scale of 1-10) for pain levels! I didn’t even have to take an Ibuprofen…the ENTIRE weekend! (Insert elated exclamation here)
WHAT? I contemplated canceling my appointment for today. I mean, if I could have ONE good period in the midst of horrendous ones…maybe surgery wasn’t required. In fact, I knew it wasn’t. But…I didn’t cancel. I wanted to let my doctor know about the good news!
So, in I went. And I was greeted with his customary smile and handshake. Closing the door behind me, I immediately let him know I was going to be his easiest patient all day. I proceeded to tell me about my previous heartfelt determination to come in and ask for surgery, followed instantly by my good news about my most recent period. And again, he smiled. I told him how amazing it was how quickly hope resurfaces just because I had a pain-free period. How it brought about this sense of…I struggled to find the right words, so my doctor found them, “I can do this.” And it’s true. He asked about my previous period pain levels and rather than struggle to remember, I handed him a 15-page printout of my 2017 Pain Diary. And he took the time to go through EVERY page and every line, commenting here and there about my notes. He didn’t seem impatient or put-out or annoyed. He genuinely took his sweet time. He asked about my pain pills, if they’re working, if I wanted to go back on birth control, etc.; to which I answered each one.
And our plan with my Endometriosis?
- Continue to monitor my pain, symptoms, and diet. We discussed diet some (and he gave me a few questions I’ll ask Merritt Jones at her Optimal Nutrition & Endometriosis workshop).
- Take pain pills, as needed. Starting with Naproxen Sodium, and if those don’t kick in to proceed with 1/2 a Tramadol and a Zofran. Tylenol 3 doesn’t work well for my pain, so I consider it out of the picture.
- If my symptoms and pain become unmanageable by medication and become consistently worse (the key word here is “consistently”), then we will discuss surgery.
Those are the only two choices with this disease:
- Symptom management (whether it be medicine, diet, acupuncture, etc.), and
- Surgery to remove as much of the disease as possible…but always with the risk of recurrence.
And that’s it. And I’m okay with this plan. As is he.
I apologized for not canceling my appointment since it was just to confirm what I already knew…and he brushed it off. He smiled gigantically, once more shook my hand, let me know this was a “social visit” and I could come back at any time. He loved these kinds of appointments. And as I was leaving his office, he insisted that I let him know if there was ever anything he could do to help our Endometriosis Support Group or any of our gals. He genuinely cares.
But why am I sharing all of this with you right now? Well, because I am so overjoyed, elated, and uplifted by the understanding and relationship I have with my doctor. I feel confident enough to face my next period head-on, with no fear or dread. And YOU can have a similar relationship with your doctors. Just take the time to talk to them. Be patient when they are running behind. Forge those important bonds and trust with your healthcare providers. And if you absolutely despise or distrust your physician, find another. There are good ones out there. Ones that will listen. Ones that will understand. And ones that care.