Healing and Hope After a Lifetime of Pain
10 May 2018 – Patient Stories
Lauren always lived an active lifestyle, running six miles a day and dancing on stage, until pelvic pain associated with endometriosis brought her life to a standstill. It was a hard pill to swallow, says the 22-year-old performing artist.
“Feeling the pain taking that from me was something that was very emotional and heartbreaking,” Lauren reports.
Unfortunately for Lauren, endometriosis runs in the family. Her mother had been diagnosed with the condition several years before Lauren started looking for answers. But her mother’s firsthand knowledge of endometriosis symptoms was a blessing as well, finally leading Lauren to the truth about her chronic health problems.
“Feeling the pain taking that from me was something that was very emotional and heartbreaking.”
A Cycle of Health Care Indifference
According to Lauren, she was diagnosed with precocious puberty as a child, and her pelvic pain symptoms started at about age 8. Along with pelvic pain, Lauren suffered from bowel issues that seemingly had no cause. She endured the pain for years before seeking treatment.
Once diagnosed with endometriosis, Lauren thought that she would soon live a pain-free life, but the initial surgery failed to relieve her symptoms. She was then referred to specialists, who prescribed pain medication but did nothing to treat the root cause.
Some even went so far as to imply that Lauren may be a hypochondriac, prescribing pills for depression.
Lauren initially fought against the depression diagnosis, but as her pain worsened, she resigned herself to the fact that she “was always going to be looked at as crazy.” In a last-ditch effort to find relief, the young woman decided that a full hysterectomy was her only viable option, even though she knew it would mean never having children of her own.
Signs of Hope
Her hysterectomy consultation with Dr. Mark Cadungog proved to be a life-changing moment; the obstetrician-gynecologist wanted a second opinion before performing a full hysterectomy on such a young patient, so he referred Lauren to Dr. Barbara McGuirk.
In fact, Dr. Cadungog told Lauren that he didn’t want any part of taking away her ability to have children unless it was the only option left. Lauren remembers Dr. Cadungog saying, “If I were to remove your ability of having children, I would ruin your life and have no business having a medical license.”
His caution proved fruitful. From the moment she met Dr. McGuirk, Lauren felt hopeful that pain-free days were close at hand.
“It was very welcoming. I was very much at peace in the environment and with the staff. It felt like I was in the right place for the first time.”
Lauren says that Dr. McGuirk is an “investigator” dedicated to finding the source of pain in her patients, which she does via a combination of thorough examination and open communication.
Strong, candid communication is imperative to those seeking pain relief, Lauren believes. After years of dealing with specialists and hospital staff who treated Lauren as a burden rather than a patient to help, her experience with Dr. McGuirk was a breath of fresh air.
“Dr. McGuirk identified portions of my pain and could tell me exactly the reason why I was having that pain. She was able to pinpoint exactly what was going on with my body and translate what I was saying so I could understand what was actually happening with my body.”
Dr. McGuirk viewed photos from a previous surgery which displayed Lauren’s colon on the side wall of her pelvis, further suggesting she had endometriosis. Lauren remembers Dr. McGuirk saying, “It is all recorded in film and you have been suffering all this time. No one took care of this for you.”
Living Life to the Fullest
To prepare for surgery, Lauren was put on the Whole 30 diet and treated with Lupron. The medication helps regulate hormones in order to lower a patient’s estrogen levels.
When her surgery date finally arrived, Lauren was nervous, per usual. But she knew that the surgery was her best shot at the alleviation of her pain, and she persisted like a champion. Post op, Lauren knew right away that the surgery had been successful.
“From soup to nuts, my experience was wonderful. Right after surgery, I woke up and the pain was gone. It was miraculous; it was completely gone.”
Since that amazing day, Lauren’s outlook on life has done a 180. The realization that she can live a pain-free life is something she won’t ever take for granted.
“It is humbling to be a part of this radical change and be able to live a life that I have always craved – normalcy, and I am so thankful,” Lauren says. “I have my life back. I can do whatever I want to do when I want to do it. Go to a movie with friends or go white water rafting – all of those things, I can do now.”
Further, Lauren received an additional blessing as a result of the surgery. Having her own children is once again a possibility.
“The hope and reassurance that I will have the opportunity to have my own children is both emotional and thrilling for me at the same time,” she says.
Lauren remains hopeful that others suffering from the debilitating effects of endometriosis will find relief, as she did. She recommends RAD’s Endometriosis & Pelvic Pain Center to anyone suffering from endometriosis who wants to become whole again.
“Don’t give up fighting,” implores Lauren. “You are not crazy, you are not a hypochondriac. There is something wrong inside of you, and the great thing is that we know what it is.
“Being treated as a woman is something very important, and being treasured as a woman is very important,” she says. “And that is something that, after years of struggling, I finally found in RAD’s Endometriosis & Pelvic Pain Center and I found in Dr. McGuirk.”
4735 Ogletown-Stanton Road
Medical Arts Pavillion 2, Suite 3217
Newark, DE 19713
Eden Hill Medical Center
200 Banning Street, Suite #240
Dover, DE 19904
© 2018 Endometriosis & Pelvic Pain Center - A Division of Reproductive Associates of Delaware