17 July 2018 – Patient Stories
Briana, a 21-year-old woman with an affinity for sports, basketball in particular, always looked forward to her time on the court. When a foreign, debilitating pain began to encroach on her athleticism during her high school years, she knew that something wasn’t right.
“I didn’t play at all during my senior year because I was always in so much pain. It was a hard time — I was miserable,” Briana shared.
A Conditioned Acceptance of The Abnormal
For years, Briana struggled to overcome an unknown culprit that inflicted pain and discomfort on her body, since she started her cycle at the age of 13. From the start of her cycle on, she suffered from numerous urinary tract infections (UTI), chronic constipation, and pelvic pain which caused her and her mother to search for answers. As she looks back in time, Briana recalls a moment in the journey towards a pain-free life back in 2015, when she and her family were returning from a Disney vacation.
“On our way back from Florida, I got really sick on the train and I had a high fever. I was 105 and shaking. I was in pain. Luckily, there was a doctor on the train. He said, ‘You need to go to the hospital. We need to call an ambulance.’ We were able to stop the train and I was transported to the hospital. When I got to the hospital in Jacksonville, the doctor said that I was really constipated and that’s why my fever was so high. He said that [he believed] my menstrual cycle and the pain and discomfort in my uterus and bowel were all related.”
Briana sought a cure and a management program for her increasing pain from 5 different specialists, to no avail. A battery of medical tests and a preconceived diagnosis that she was simply “born this way,” left her feeling fearful and lacking in hope as well as trust. Briana’s mother saw her daughter deteriorating at such a young age, and began vigorously researching conditions that have the potential of causing this kind of chaos in Briana’s body. Through her research, she came across the endometriosis disease which compelled her to find a doctor whose main focus is to treat this disease at the source, not mask the symptoms. Shortly after the search began, they came across Dr. Barbara McGuirk, a pelvic pain specialist and trending endometriosis expert from Delaware.
Truth Began to Emerge
She described her first meeting with Dr. McGuirk and the staff at RAD’s Endometriosis & Pelvic Pain Center as passionate, caring, and patient. This was a type of compassion that Briana was not accustomed to experiencing, and touched her in a profound way.
“When I first got to her office and we started talking, I was very emotional. I was ready for someone to tell me what was wrong and what they could do to help me. She listened to what I was saying until I was finished talking, explaining my history and symptoms— telling me exactly what was going on. [Listening] is so important because doctors [in the past] never listened fully to the details.”
One of the most impactful moments of her first consult with Dr. McGuirk was when Briana received her diagnosis. After years of crying out for help, her cries were finally heard.
“After everything that I’ve been through and have dealt with since I was little, Dr. McGuirk knew exactly what my body was battling. When someone says that you’re diagnosed with something, sometimes you’re saying to yourself, ‘Is this true? Can I believe them?’ But in that moment, I knew that she was right. I didn’t have a doubt that she wrong because she knew from the start that something was wrong with me, and she knew that it was endometriosis — I finally got what I wanted to hear.”
Targeting The Source
Briana went on to receive hormone suppressant therapy, and implement the Whole 30 diet into her everyday life prior to surgery, in an effort to reduce her estrogen and progesterone levels which foster a pro-endometriosis environment. The initial surgical procedure was scheduled for March 24, 2016 and the findings after four-and-a-half hours were astonishing. Her bladder was crushed on her left side and her intestines were collapsed, making it extremely difficult for her body to pass urine and stool as designed.
When she awoke from the procedure, Briana felt great. The lower back pain and discomfort that she had endured for so many years was gone. Unfortunately, over time, the hormone suppressant medication was no match for Briana’s strong estrogen and progesterone levels early on in her path to remission. Because of this, the pain in her lower back returned, indicating that more endometriosis had grown to replace what had been removed months prior.
“Dr. McGuirk wanted to do a cleanup surgery, so I just had my second surgery done a couple of weeks ago on May 23rd. Since that surgery, I feel like a whole new person. I feel like the Zoladex is working and slowing the growing process of the returning endometriosis down. This operation helped a lot.”
A Conditioned Acceptance of The Normal
Briana is now focused on catching up on the life experiences she has missed out on since this disease attempted to relegate her to the bench as a teenager. She is beginning to engage the world in a whole new way, since she was liberated of pain after her recent procedure and new course of hormone therapy.
“At such a young age, you don’t want to sit home, curled up on the couch — miserable. At this time of your life, it’s important for you to do things, go out and experience life. I am happy to say that after my recent surgery, I can go out now and have fun and enjoy myself. It’s a feeling that I’m not use to yet but I know I’ll get use to it!”
Compelled to share her story with women who seek to reclaim their lives from this disease, Briana believes, “It’s important for the women that are struggling now, whether they know what they are going through or not, to not give up. It shouldn’t be an option to give up because there’s an answer out there, and there’s someone who’s willing to help you. I also want women who are struggling in my situation to know that we’re here for each other and we’re here to be friends. We are here to help each other overcome this disease — we understand each other. The more people know about this disease, the more women experiencing these symptoms will get help.”
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Medical Arts Pavillion 2, Suite 3217
Newark, DE 19713
Eden Hill Medical Center
200 Banning Street, Suite #240
Dover, DE 19904
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