Akena’s Story: Ignoring Fibroids Can Jeopardize Fertility
“I had surgery at the end of summer. I got up the evening after my surgery, moving slowly, of course, but I was able to move around without assistance. I could concur with a lot of the stories that have already been told by other CIGC patients.” said Akena B., hysterectomy patient.
FIBROIDS OFTEN RUN IN FAMILIES & AFFECT AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN MORE SEVERELY
“My mom had a hysterectomy when she was 42. I was 12. I remember her talking about her issues with fibroids and her own menstrual cycle. I have been highly aware that this is a thing that could affect me since then. When I started having regular appointments with a gynecologist in my 20s, I realized that I was already pre-disposed to having fibroids because of my mother, this is a hereditary thing. And African American women are more susceptible to fibroids as well. The likelihood that I would have to deal with this was pretty high.”
EARLY FIBROID SYMPTOMS LED TO OPEN SURGERY
“In 2002/2003 my periods became really heavy and the cramping was unbearable. The fibroids actually became palpable to me. I could feel them. Fast forward 3-4 years later, in 2007 my fibroids had gotten so large that I had to have a myomectomy. I wanted the opportunity to have kids. It was an open procedure because my fibroids were so large. My gynecologist at the time told me I wasn’t a candidate for a laparoscopic procedure because they wouldn’t be able to get all of them.”
“During that procedure, I had to stay overnight because my blood pressure wouldn’t stabilize. I was going through a divorce. I wasn’t thinking about pregnancy. I wanted to get my life in order first.”
FIBROIDS CAN CONTINUE TO GROW
“I think I was told that fibroids could come back, and pretty quickly. In 2010 the fibroids returned. The cramps got heavier, the bleeding got heavier. I could feel them. I knew they were going to be a problem and they are only going to get bigger.”
“I really wanted kids. Sometime last year, I started looking into my fertility. I went back to the same OB/GYN. He checked my ovarian reserve, which was really low. I went to a specialist. Over time, my ovarian reserve got worse. At this point. I hear the radio ad. I was so disappointed in my OB/GYN and discouraged by my fertility specialist. I needed to try something else. That’s when I reached out to The Center for Innovative GYN Care.”
SEEKING A LAPAROSCOPIC GYN SPECIALIST
Akena met with Paul MacKoul, MD in Annapolis, MD.
“When I had my first consult with Dr. MacKoul, I ended up having to go through the fertility screening process again, testing my ovarian reserve. We talked about alternative options but ultimately, the fibroids needed to come out. The results of my test were not what I wanted to hear. My uterus was essentially non-existent. The fibroids were pressing on my bladder and would engulf it if I didn’t take care of this. Dr. MacKoul was honest, saying the likelihood that you are going to be able to get pregnant on your own is very, very low.
“Finally, I’m coming to terms with the fact that he is right. Dr. MacKoul is not all about the warm and fuzzies. He is direct with the patient. I’m lucky that I was paired with him, because at the time, that was what I needed. I needed someone to be honest, and to the point without any sugar on it. Dr. MacKoul became that for me saying ‘This is what you have to do.’ I had to emotionally be ok with what it was he needed to do. We went through everything together. We talked about all of it.”
PANIC AT THE 11th Hour
“A week or 2 before surgery, I saw on the top of my paperwork ‘hysterectomy’ and I lost it. The very nice surgical scheduler said ‘Let’s get him on the phone and make sure that you are all on the same page. This is a serious thing and I want to make sure you are comfortable with this. Everyone was very helpful and compassionate through the entire process. Dr. MacKoul called me on a Saturday evening to basically talk me off a ledge. He said that we can do a myomectomy but you’ll have to come back for additional surgery in about four years.”
It is important that women take an active role in their health and are on board with all of their health care decisions. The CIGC specialists advise patients on their best options, but it is up to the patient whether or not to have the surgery.
“I realized having a hysterectomy was the best option for my particular situation. I had to shelve the fact that I’m not going to have a kid that comes from my own body. The fibroids were so large and affecting other things on the inside that he also had to remove an ovary.”
RECOVERING FROM SURGERY AND FINDING PEACE
“My recovery has been amazing. The incisions are small, and it was nothing like having an open procedure.”
“I still firmly believe that what we did was the right thing to do. I think that God has made it pretty clear that there is another purpose for me. My advice to anyone going through this situation is give yourself permission to grieve. It’s ok to be sad about this. This too shall pass.”
“I am happy and lucky that I have been able to share this with someone who has gone through it, meaning my mom. She knew she wasn’t going to have any more children, but she had the same feelings. I’m also very lucky to have a partner now who is supportive and who wants to get through this together. And he allowed me the space to get through this on my terms. I would wish and hope that any woman has the same support system I do, and to have such a supportive team throughout the surgical process.”
BOOK A CONSULTATION
The CIGC state-of-the-art specialists are available at three locations in the DC metro area. Virginia patients can visit the Reston, VA location, and Saturday appointments are available. Maryland offices are located in Rockville, MD and Annapolis, MD.
CIGC is dedicated to providing information and materials for women to help navigate the complicated healthcare system. The CIGC founders, minimally invasive GYN surgical specialists Dr. Paul MacKoul, MD and Dr. Natalya Danilyants, MD, developed their advanced GYN surgical techniques using only two small incisions with patients’ well-being in mind. Dr. Rupen Baxi, MD is a CIGC-trained minimally invasive GYN specialist with extensive fellowship training and a respected speaker and researcher.
Their personalized approach to care helps patients understand their condition and the recommended treatment so that they can have confidence from the very start. Our surgeons have performed over 20,000 GYN procedures and are constantly finding better ways to improve outcomes for patients.