Endometriosis Excision Surgery No. 6!

Pre-surgery photo with myself, Dr. Mel Kurtulus and Dr. Matthew Schultzel

On October 21, 2020, I went in for my tag-team surgery with my fellas: Dr. Mel Kurtulus and Dr. Matthew Schultzel. Each had their own specific tasks while they worked together to make sure I was happy, healthy, and well:

  1. Dr. Matthew Schultzel was going to inspect and remove a portion of my sigmoid colon which had deep-infiltrating Endometriosis (discovered during my May 2020 surgery);
  2. Dr. Mel Kurtulus was going to peek around inside to see if I had any new Endometriosis growths since May or any scarring or other things that may need to be cleaned up.

If this sounds familiar, we did a similar tag-team effort with these two amazing surgeons back in November of 2018, but for the opposite side of my colon.

The best part? I have had ZERO, zilch, nada, no pre-op pains! The only pain I’ve had since October 21st has been healing from surgery! My November pain journal screamed of the difference in my symptoms and Endometriosis pain!

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My 5th Endometriosis Excision Surgery

A drawing of a uterus, ovaries, and intestines.
Commissioned artwork by Sarah Soward

What an incredible Journey leading up to my fifth surgery!  Covid-19 postponed my surgery date by a week but, just in the nick of time, California’s governor lifted some lockdown restrictions that allowed for my surgery to move back to it’s original date of May 13, 2020. Today, June 10, 2020, marks one month since my surgery! Already! I am overjoyed with the results and the skilled hands of my surgeons.

A medical folder with "Surgery # 5" written on it
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Share Your Story: Zoe

Zoe, a brave EndoWarrior, shares her journey with us today…even while she has another surgery pending. We wish you all of the best of luck, Zoe!!!

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I started my period by having waterfalls for periods with no regularity from age 13 but was put on the pill to manage that at age 15 and that worked. I from my teen years thankfully had no interest in having children. I am not a career woman either, I just don’t get the clucky feeling other women get when they see kids – I get that feeling when I see animals instead so I have fur babies.

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My 4th Endo Excision Surgery

"Uterus & Guts," created by Ivy Denton
@deathwindchimes 

Before I get started, let me explain the image above. A talented artist by the name of Ivy Denton created it for me (they also created the EndoGuy and PoopChuteSnakie you’ll see below). They’re taking commissions if you’re interested in throwing ideas their way! “What is it,” you may be asking yourself. It’s a whimsical interpretation of my insides: a uterus with two cervix, no fallopian tubes (hence the band-aids and floating ovaries), and it’s accompanied by it’s new buddy: an intestine missing some pieces. I think it’s adorable! Thanks, Ivy!!


On with the good stuff! If you didn’t already know, back in July 2018 during an excision surgery Dr. Kurtulus discovered a pair of Endo lesions on my small intestine . He brought in a colo-rectal surgeon, Dr. Schultzel, to look at it and decide if we could remove it then. Unfortunately, it was deemed too deep and risky without a proper bowel prep and a future resection would take place.

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Endometriosis Excision Surgery 3.0

Pre-surgery photograph of Dr. Mel Kurtulus and Lisa Howard taken by Brandy Sebastian, titled Resilience.
Dr. Mel Kurtulus and I before heading in. Photo courtesy of Brandy Sebastian; used with her permission

On July 18, 2018, I underwent my third robotic-assisted laparoscopic excision of Endometriosis by Dr. Mel Kurtulus ( of San Diego Womens Health).  As always, I love to share my experiences with you – not only to create awareness of this illness, but in the hopes that the process of my surgery (and later recovery) may help you, or others.

Before I go on, I just want to take a moment to express my joy in the above-photograph.  I am a detached head, floating beneath a fluffy warm-air blanket in the pre-op area, enjoying a wonderful moment with an incredible surgeon and man.  Thank you, Brandy, for capturing this.  And thank you, Dr. Kurtulus, for being so marvelous!

Okay, on with the nitty-gritty!

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Reader’s Choice: Pudendal Nerve Pain

A diagram of the pudendal nerve in a female human

One of our readers (who shall remain anonymous) asked if we could look into a topic: “Pudendal nerve pain-when is it endo and when is it not? Or is there even a way to know?”  So, here I go off to learn things and hopefully share a bit of that newfound knowledge.  And since this blog entry is Endometriosis-related, I’m going to keep the anatomy female (although men have a pudendal nerve and can also suffer from these symptoms).

Where’s the Pudendal Nerve?

The pudendal nerve is located back by the tailbone, and extends along the pelvic floor and around the pelvis, toward the rectal, gluteal, and clitoris areas.  There’s two: a right and a left pudendal nerve.  One or both pudendal nerves may cause issues, which we’ll get into right now!

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My 2nd Endo Surgery : Recap & Comparison

Illustration of human organs: intestines, uterus, bladder, liver, diaphragm
Yes, I’m an artist!

Well, here I am, alive and doing well!  Surgery was on September 21, 2016, and today is my 3-week surgiversary.

In a nutshell : my Endometriosis had returned, bringing with it a leaking cyst and a bunch of adhesions.  Endo had also decided to now grow on my bowel (the outer layer of my sigmoid colon) and my ureter (the tube that carries stuff from kidneys to bladder – he had to detach my ureter, clean it up, and reattach it).  AND it disappeared from my liver (doc couldn’t find any there this time).  He was able to cut out all of my Endometriosis, except for a lesion that is on my diaphragm.  He cut away all of my adhesions and put my organs back where they belong.  I’ve still got both my ovaries and fallopian tubes.  My uterus was stuck to my bowel, my ovaries and tubes were a rat’s nest, and my uterus was also stuck to the right side of my pelvic wall.  It just sounds like such a mess…But, he did confirm that my bladder’s exterior AND interior were completely healthy and Endo-free.

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My upcoming surgery

DaVinci robot for surgery
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

So, Wednesday is the big day.  I was talking to my Mum last night and she asked me what exactly my upcoming surgery entailed.  Figured I’d share it in case you didn’t know.

Endometriosis lesions (also called implants) grow wherever they damn well please inside the body.  My brain interprets them much like mushroom spores that *poof* and attach to wherever they land and grow.  However, much like an iceberg, more than just the visible tip exists beneath the surface.  Some people liken it to an invasive cancer, although not fatal.

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