Latia’s story: Excision surgery brings hope, after 20 years of suffering

My name is Latia Lee. I am 37 years old and have suffered from “Killer Cramps” since I was 14. I was officially diagnosed with endometriosis in February of this year during my excision surgery with the amazing Dr. Tamer Seckin. I honestly thought my, “Killer Cramps” were normal. I had somehow learned to cope and push through the horrific pain I had been experiencing for over 23 years.

Post Excision Periods Bring Hope For A New Life: Latia's Story
Post Excision Periods Bring Hope For A New Life: Latia’s Story

Growing up, I constantly would tell my OB/GYN that I suffered with severe menstrual cramps. I was put on birth control as well as other medications, though, nothing seemed to help. When I started developing new symptoms, such as severe back pain, I was told that it was due to the position of my uterus. Not once did my OB/GYN mention endometriosis to me. I eventually stopped asking because she wasn’t listening to me. I now realize that missing school, work, and important social events due to my menstrual cycle, as well as planning vacations around my menstrual cycle, WAS NOT NORMAL. Neither was taking 1200mg of Advil and 1000mg of Tylenol all at once to cope with my painful cramps, which often wouldn’t even help.

I began suspecting that I had endometriosis when I started to have right lung collapses during my menstrual cycle. In between collapses, I would have severe neck, chest and shoulder pain, migraines, and “Killer Cramps”. I began to research these symptoms and it pointed to diaphragmatic endometriosis and catamenial pneumothorax. While it is rare, women with catamenial pneumothorax have recurrent episodes of pneumothorax within 72 hours before or after the start of menstruation. My pulmonologist also mentioned that it could be endometriosis and advised me to seek a new OB/GYN.

My gut told me that not only did I have pelvic endometriosis, but I also had diaphragmatic endometriosis and catamenial pneumothorax. I knew I had to find an endometriosis specialist. Before selecting Dr. Seckin, I had thoroughly researched his work and admired how much he contributed to the endometriosis community. I joined multiple endometriosis support groups and talked to other patients of his. They all said the same thing, “He changed my life!”

I vividly reminder the day I first met Dr. Seckin. I had so many emotions, such as fear, anxiety, and nervousness. But for the first time, I had a sense of hope. First the first time in years, someone really took the time to listen to me. I wasn’t dismissed as I have been in the past. He believed me and wanted to help me.

On the day of my surgery, my nerves really kicked in and I became overwhelmed. The surgery included 5 surgeons, including the 4 specialists, and ended up being 7 hours long. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Endometriosis with deep infiltrating endo. The thoracic surgeon performed a talc pleurodesis and assisted Dr. Seckin as he removed endometrial implants on the central dome of my diaphragm, while repairing holes within it. Endometriosis was also found on my liver. I needed to have my bowel resected and my appendix removed. Temporary bilateral ureteral stents were placed in my ureters so that Dr. Seckin could work on fixing my ureters, which were covered in Endometriosis. Dr. Seckin also removed a large fibroid and excised endometriosis throughout my entire pelvis.

When I read all four of my operative reports, I was shocked. Endometriosis impacted almost all of my vital organs and a total of 16 procedures were done in the operating room that day. During my first menstrual cycle after my excision surgery, I began to feel excruciating pain on my right side, impacting my thigh, hip, buttocks, rectal, and lower back pain. These were new symptoms that I hadn’t previously experienced. Dr. Seckin was genuinely concerned and wanted me well.   He was always available via phone, text, email, weekends, evening and nights to speak to me. A follow up MRI showed an endometrioma that had not been previously visible before my last extensive and complicated surgery. Dr. Seckin made a decision to reoperate. He removed a pelvic mass about the size of an egg that was so deep; it had invaded my pelvic floor muscles. The mass was located along the pudendal nerve which explained the debilitating sciatica pain that I was experiencing. When I woke up in recovery, amazingly, the horrible, stabbing sciatic pain was gone.

Recovery from these two major surgeries, that happened so close to one another, was difficult. At one point it felt as though I would never get better. Eventually though, I turned the corner. Dr. Seckin gave me my life back. I’ve already had two post-surgical menstrual cycles and for the first time in 23 years, I no longer experience “Killer Cramps”. The migraines that I suffered with for years are gone. My stomach no longer feels bloated and gassy all of the time and I don’t suffer from severe abdominal pain.   I also no longer experience the horrible symptoms of diaphragmatic endometriosis and have not had any more lung collapses. I can finally breathe so much easier. I love to sing and no longer have breathlessness, heaviness and tightness in my chest. For the first time, I am hopeful that one day I will be able to have a baby. I am so blessed that Dr. Seckin was able to preserve my reproductive organs and has now given me the chance to be a Mother.

I want to thank Dr. Seckin for his desire and passion for endometriosis research and educating other medical professionals about endometriosis. I thank him for bringing awareness to this horrific and debilitating disease. I also thank him for giving so many women their lives back, myself included. We need more physicians like Dr. Seckin who want to perfect the craft of excision, the gold standard treatment for endometriosis. I feel so blessed to have been treated by one of the best endometriosis excision specialists in the world. I pray that one day every woman suffering from this debilitating disease will be able to get the proper treatment that she deserves and needs.

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