At 34 years old, Laura Piano has been through more surgeries than most people have in a lifetime. After years of feeling sick, Laura is “living life” for the first time, and she has a tattoo to commemorate it!
Many surgery after surgery
Laura got her period at a young age. And from a young age learned to “just deal” with the pain.
Her mom had bad periods and her grandmother had a hysterectomy at age 25.
By the time Laura was 19, she had a cyst on her left ovary that wouldn’t shrink. Her doctor went in laparoscopically to remove the cyst. She was completely unprepared for what she saw when she went in. Laura’s abdomen was full of endometriosis. The doctor did the best she could to remove what she could, but was ill-equipped to handle Laura’s disease. This was the first of many surgeries for Laura.
After each surgery, her pain would subside a little, only to flare up again shortly after. Cysts would grow back, her nausea and bloating would return and she would find herself needing narcotic pain medication more and more often. Every year and a half Laura would go in for another operation. This went on for several years.
Loss and infertility
At age 29, Laura got married to a supportive man who had stuck by her throughout her surgical journey. They were eager to start a family and due to her endometriosis diagnosis, they decided to search for a reproductive endocrinologist who could help them with their efforts.
It took months for them to find a doctor who offered solutions they were comfortable with and truly understood Laura’s past medical history. All the while, Laura’s pain was growing every day. They finally found a doctor who offered IVF treatments using minimal stimulation, which is what Laura wanted. Her first round of IVF didn’t work.
The worse was yet to come
The next part of Laura’s journey was the most painful part of all. Laura got pregnant only to discover it was an ectopic pregnancy. Along with the loss of the pregnancy, Laura also lost her right tube. She and her husband took a needed break after this devastating loss. The next year Laura had another surgery for her endometriosis with her 4th doctor.
At age 32, Laura had been through so many surgeries without true relief. She was also bearing the weight and pain of infertility. She was in a bad place. Not only was she dealing with depression, but her endometriosis pain had also spread to her back and down her leg.
She kept experiencing pain that felt like electrical shocks. Laura had trouble going to work and simply leaving her house seemed overwhelming. She felt miserable, physically and emotionally. She searched for a therapist who could support her through this difficult time and finally found a social worker that recognized how important it was to deal with the emotional aspects of endometriosis, instead of just focusing on the infertility part. This helped Laura feel empowered to search for a surgeon that could truly help her get her life back.
Vivi la vita
By the time Laura went to see Dr. Seckin, she had stage 4 endometriosis. Dr. Seckin had never seen it so deep in a patient’s back before. He told Laura he wished he could beat up the other doctors that had operated on her, because they had made her disease so much worse. Laura felt Dr. Seckin treated her disease as aggressively as an oncological surgeon would treat cancer.
Although recovery from the surgery was tough, she feels like a whole new person. Her life now includes running, trips to New Zealand, and even jumping from planes! Laura got a tattoo on her left wrist that says, “Vivi La Vita” which means “Live Life” in Italian. Laura got it as a strong reminder to never go back to that place of pain again, to always do something about it.
Laura’s strength and resilience are just two of the many traits that make her Endo Strong. She wanted to share her story so that other patients know that although life may not turn out exactly how you want and might not be perfect, it can get better. She urges endometriosis patients not to give up on life.