Irena’s Endometriosis Journey

My childhood

Growing up in the beautiful city of Tashkent impacted my life in a very positive way.  I have very warm and vivid memories of living there.  Tashkent is a city of four seasons; I still remember the warmth of the sun and the aroma of blooming apple and cherry trees.  I remember climbing cherry trees and eating ripe cherries right off the tree.  My father used to take me up to Chimgan Mountains, and I remember that beautiful, energizing nature.   Tashkent is home to various ethnic groups –Armenians, Uzbek, Russians, Ukrainians, and Koreans- and as a little kid, I was aware that my family was Jewish.  My older cousin introduced me to Shabbat candle lighting when I was ten years old.  I became super excited about making different wishes every time I would light a Shabbat candle.  We celebrated major Jewish holidays in my grandmother’s house, surrounded by the warmth of close family members.  

In 1998 when I was 12 years old, I came from Tashkent to New York with my mother and my younger brother.  My father could not go with us at the same time, as his mother was terminally ill.  My grandmother wished to be buried next to my grandfather in Tashkent.  Although I never met my grandfather as he died long before I was born, I always heard incredible stories about him.  My father has been coming every three months to visit us until he permanently came to New York in 2000. 

Moving to New York

In New York, everything changed, and my mother had to take over and work to make a good living for my brother and me.  At 12 years old, I felt a sudden shift from being a kid to becoming a young adult.  I took over the responsibility of looking after my brother, helping my mother take care of the household, and adjusting to the new school environment.  It was also a culture shock for me since until 12 years old, I was only Jewish, but I now discovered I was a Bukharian Jew.  In my household, we never spoke the Bukharian dialect.   

I was a timid teenager growing up, and I loved spending my time at home.  My first job at the age of 13 was tutoring a beautiful girl, and at 16, I started working as a dental assistant at my relative’s dental office.

My school years

School years were not hard for me, and I graduated with ease.   I chose my path to become a Registered Nurse.  I was so eager to go through college and obtain my degree because I always wanted to give back to my parents for all the support they’ve given me, teaching me to hold my class and hold my head high and heart strong during any circumstances.

In January 2012, I got my first job as a Registered Nurse in my most favorite-field, Labor & Delivery.  Through the years I obtained my Masters’s Degree in Nursing and began climbing my career ladder.  I have worked in various fields of nursing and always look for more opportunities to grow.

Coincidently, my passion for Maternal-Newborn Nursing crossed paths with personal obstetrical struggles.  My first son was born in 2009 via emergency C-section due to placenta abruption.  A few years later, when I was already working as a nurse, I was hit with unexplained secondary infertility.  I didn’t know how to move forward during this dark time as no one had any answers.  I’ve been through six different obstetricians and fertility specialists.  All gave me different diagnoses, and some even looked at me like I was crazy.  I’ve tried Chinese alternative medicine with cupping, and acupuncture and drank herbal teas.  Fertility specialist quickly jumped into fertility medications such as Clomid and HCG injections.  With the beginning of each cycle my hope would grow and vanish with first menstrual symptoms.  People used to look at me with sorrow; many people would ask me, “What’s going on?  Why does it take so long to have another baby?”  Although Bukharian culture is unique and beautiful, it could undoubtedly be very harsh because of the constant stigmas we face.  I worked in the obstetrical field, and I was a victim of obstetrical problems. 

Meeting with Dr.Wong

Working in this field also provided me with an incredible opportunity of meeting Dr. Raymond Wong- a one of a kind obstetrician.  A doctor who truly loves and understands what he is doing, a doctor who provides a patient-centered care.  I admired Dr. Wong’s style and decided to consult with him.  In my head I also thought this is already seventh doctor that I am going to see.  I relayed my concerns; infertility, pain in my left buttocks radiating to my left knee, bursting pains during the period, blood clots, breakthrough bleeding, etc.  Dr. Wong reviewed all my history in detail and said, “sounds like you might have endometriosis.  You know what, I came across this doctor his name is Tamer Seckin.  I’ve heard great things about him.  He’s an endometriosis specialist, why won’t you see him?”  I thought why not, he’d be my doctor #8.  I scheduled my appointment with Dr. Seckin for July 15th, 2017.  I walked by Temple Emanu-El and stopped to admire its beauty.  I said to myself what a beautiful name Emanuel-maybe one day I’ll have Emanuel.  

My surgery with Seckin Endometriosis Center

Dr. Seckin was a very pleasant and very knowledgeable doctor in many spheres.  His approach seemed interesting as, for the first twenty minutes, we just chatted about various cultures.  Dr. Seckin spoke about Turkish culture, which I was very familiar with growing up in Uzbekistan. Dr. Seckin did not rush through my appointment time and patiently listened to my story.  Then he told me a phrase that I could not forget “I am not a fertility specialist.  I take care of endometriosis.   Your symptoms scream endometriosis.  Just focus on improving your quality of life.”  I left his office thinking about my quality of life, and the moment I got home, I decided that I would proceed with a laparoscopy to identify how bad is my endometriosis.  My surgery was scheduled for September 28th, 2017.  Dr. Seckin and his team performed my surgery at Lenox Hill hospital.   My surgery was seamless. Following laparoscopy, I had two follow-up appointments scheduled: during my second follow-up appointment on November 14th 2017 with Dr. Seckin and his team, I had concerns that my period is late.  Dr. Seckin performed a transvaginal ultrasound and said, “Your uterus looks plumped.”  I looked at him and asked, “Is this a new OB terminology?”  Dr. Seckin looked at me and said, “You are pregnant!”  A sentence that did not make any sense in my head!  My ultrasound showed an estimated due date which caught me by surprise – July 15th, 2018!  (Hence, my first appointment with Dr. Seckin was on July 15th, 2017!).

Emanuel decided to show up early on Father’s day, June 17th, 2018, via C-section by Dr. Wong.   It was certainly a bittersweet experience as he was born prematurely at exactly 36 weeks and spent some time in the NICU due to respiratory distress.   Seeing my son undergoing various treatments in the NICU was very hard, but I had to remain strong, and I stayed with him every day and night until he was finally discharged.  My two precious sons are nine years apart.  The wait of nine years helped me understand that everything in life has a Divine Timing!

In 2019, I was invited to Endometriosis Ball Foundation at Cipriani Banquet Hall.  So many women that I met just like me suffered from endometriosis. All these women came from different backgrounds, but we all agreed that Dr. Seckin is not a doctor who treats symptoms; he is a doctor who gets to the cause of all symptoms.  

Forever Grateful!

Irena D.

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