From the time she was 11-years-old, Annie has memories of her father carrying her from the couch to her bed when she had her period. She was always in excruciating pain and her periods were always very heavy. Her mother, at a loss for her daughter’s suffering, brought her to a gynecologist at age 13. It was at that age she had her first vaginal exam, which was incredibly painful. The doctor told Annie and her mother that she probably just had an ovarian cyst that ruptured.
Annie felt like the problem child growing up, as her sister had no issues with her period. Friends constantly told Annie to “just deal with it.” They thought she was being a drama queen and they misunderstood her pain and her inability to do things as just being difficult. As Annie got to high school, she would constantly bleed through her uniform, despite every effort to contain her period. Her parents would have to bring her a change of uniform every month. Kids would tease her and call her horrible names. Still, she would try to be tough and endure classes while being in incredible pain.
After Annie graduated high school she went to see a new gynecologist about her heavy, painful periods. He told her that some women are meant to have heavy periods and some women aren’t. He put her on birth control. Annie’s take away message from that conversation was that she was just meant to suffer. At age 25, Annie had extreme lower left quadrant pain while preparing for her sister’s wedding. She once again sought medical attention and after many scans, doctors could not account for her excruciating pain. At age 26, Annie again had severe pain. She went to another gynecologist who through a vaginal ultrasound found only a little bit of fluid in her cul-de-sac. The gynecologist insinuated that she was making all of this pain up and told her to, “Go home and think about what is wrong with you and get help.”
By the time Annie was 32, she had been told for years by medical professionals, family and friends alike that she was crazy, depressed and weak. In 2009, a friend of Annie’s who had adenomyosis, referred her to her own gynecologist after hearing Annie’s story. The gynecologist did an exploratory laparoscopy and did found mild endometriosis. Instead of using excision to get rid of it, he burned it. Annie still had a lot of pain after the surgery and a lot of issues with her bowels. Her gynecologist told her that she should see a gastroenterologist for her bowel symptoms; that it had nothing to do with endometriosis.
Annie’s pain continued to get worse as did her rectal bleeding and digestive symptoms. She would go in and see her gynecologist every week and plead with him to help her alleviate her pain. She finally begged her gynecologist for another surgery. He reluctantly agreed. The gynecologist told her upon waking that she had severe endometriosis. He warned her that she would need long-term care for this disease. He promised to help her through it and to fix it.
But, the second surgery did not help and he could not fix her. A month and a half after surgery, Annie collapsed at work and was brought to the hospital by ambulance, where she vomited for 72 hours straight. She went back to her gynecologist for help but her gynecologist told her that he wouldn’t work with her anymore. Her endometriosis was “too complicated.” He wanted to simply put her on medication to help the problem. Annie was very ill and in a lot of pain. She would go to work and then come home and sleep for 14 hours. Her parents thought she was extremely depressed. By this point, Annie also could not lift her leg, but dragged it when she walked. Annie was in bad shape and needed help. Her parents vowed to support her and to help her get the medical care she needed.
Annie found Dr. Seckin after researching endometriosis surgeons online. She was so nervous to call his office but was put at ease by his staff. Dr. Seckin knew from how Annie walked into the room that she would need surgery right away. He was outraged by how she was treated. She felt his care and appreciated the way he listened to her story. Dr. Seckin put together a team of surgeons to help with Annie’s operation, to include a colorectal surgeon. Endometriosis was rampant throughout Annie’s pelvis. Also, her femoral nerve was encased in endometriosis and adhered to her groin. That explained why Annie could not lift her leg. Dr. Seckin was able to excise the disease and give her movement back in her leg again.
Annie is grateful to the care that Dr. Seckin has given her and wishes she had found Dr. Seckin sooner. She regrets that she had her first surgeries with her gynecologist. She spent many years being dismissed and mistreated by the medical community. She feels that endometriosis patients deserve the same respect and consideration as patients with other gynecological diseases or even patients who are pregnant and having babies. She doesn’t understand why for years so many doctors did not treat with the care she deserved and why many other endometriosis patients get the same treatment. Annie is a model of strength and resiliency and is committed to helping other patients out there get the treatment they need. She hopes to spread awareness for endometriosis so no patient has to wait over a decade to get a proper diagnosis.