This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for Dr. Seckin.
Almost a year ago, I had my endometriosis excision surgery with Dr. Seckin. Without hyperbole, it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. I was really afraid to write this testimonial because of lingering fears that I had before the surgery: fears that the surgery would be unsuccessful, that the disease would come back, or that the procedure somehow wouldn’t improve the symptoms that affected my life for sixteen years. Today, it has been fifty weeks since my surgery, I’m still okay, and writing this testimonial won’t jinx that.
One of the things that is sad but also wonderful about meeting other women with endometriosis is that we all have similar stories. Mine aren’t all that different. I missed most of my freshman years of high school and college because of this disease. My first week at a big internship, I left work in an ambulance. My mom traveled hundreds of miles to take care of me, sometimes every month, when I was in college and for years afterward. Endo affected the jobs I could take, the places I could live, and of course the health insurance plans I had to sign up for. I couldn’t plan ahead and I often canceled at the last minute. These baffled and frustrated people, and so affected personal and work relationships.
After the surgery, I came to understand the biggest impact endo had on my life. I felt very alone with the disease. I didn’t have a diagnosis until I was 28, and it was hard talking about the endometriosis part of my life before it had a clear label. It was especially hard to talk to people my age. Teenagers and 20-somethings are not always great with this stuff. It didn’t help that I spent several years managing pain with opioid painkillers, and was (understandably) instructed to keep my prescription a secret. I did keep it a secret. I also kept the pain and my other symptoms a secret from almost everybody, even my closest friends. Keeping such a large part of my life secret was exhausting and stressful. It was hard to feel close to people because they didn’t understand what I went through every month. It made me feel apart from people. It wasn’t until I had the surgery that I realized the social impact of having endo, for me. Relationships feel different now because there is no longer a big, awful part of my life that I’m also hiding. If I tell old friends a story, I can tell them the whole story.
This year, I’ve been able to make plans months in advance, travel, seize opportunities at work, and pursue my passions. I haven’t visited a hospital since my surgery fifty weeks ago, whereas last year I went every month. I manage regular menstrual cramps with normal amounts of ibuprofen, sometimes acetaminophen. I can go to work on Day 1. My flow is moderate to light. I don’t have that weird pain that goes all the way down my legs and up my back anymore. I also don’t have the terrible pain and symptoms related to my bowel that I used to get during my period. Those symptoms evaporated after my surgery.
Other symptoms are gone, too—weird ones. For example, it used to be impossible to roll my hips in a full circle, and even tilting them took a lot of effort. Now I can easily do both. I also used to have some chronic discomfort around my vulva, both during my period and at other times of the month. That pain is gone, too. And although this isn’t a physical symptom, I’ve also discovered that I never learned how to build breaks into my work schedule when I had endo. Endo would always inevitably interrupt everything, and I’d have to take a break. Now that I’m healthy, I actually have to schedule breaks. It’s a novel concept. But the biggest difference is that the pain is gone. The wish-I- would-just- pass-out, vomit-inducing, writhing, all-consuming, might-throw- myself-out- the-window pain is gone. And honestly, that alone would have been enough for me. Not having that pain has utterly, wholly changed my life. In the last fifty weeks, I have lived a life I only dreamed about. I am so thankful for my surgery, and I’m going to celebrate when it has been one year. It feels like my new birthday—the beginning of something wonderful. So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for Dr. Seckin, and I will be for every Thanksgiving after.
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