3 December 2019 – Patient Stories
“If anyone else is out there suffering, they should come get looked at. It can’t hurt to get looked at. It can’t hurt to voice what you are feeling. Don’t be ashamed of what you are feeling and don’t be ashamed of your body. The staff at the Endometriosis & Pelvic Pain Center are there to help you.”
Allyson shows us a 9-month difference between the photo on the left and right. Allyson applied Dr. McGuirk’s dietary changes by cutting out dairy, gluten, soy and sugar.
24-year-old Allyson, had always struggled with her periods and bowels. But for most of her life, people dismissed Allyson’s pain as no big deal. As a kid, she remembers people having a difficult time empathizing with her, often saying “Suck it up, you’re fine. No big deal, I had bad periods when I was a kid, maybe if you eat better you’ll feel better.” Allyson was frustrated. No one was listening to her and her pelvic pain just continued to worsen. Eventually it couldn’t be ignored.
Looking back on her life during high school, Allyson recalls always having to go to the bathroom. “I could never just go out and have a good time with friends because I was always looking for the nearest bathroom and though they were all understanding, it was still embarrassing. Try having a boyfriend when all you can think about is where the closest bathroom is.” Between her pelvic pain and constant need to go to the restroom, she had difficulty maintaining a social life.
By her junior year in high school, Allyson’s painful menstrual cycles and bowel problems had become so severe, she often had to call her dad to have her dismissed.
“I could never just go out and have a good time with friends because I was always looking for the nearest bathroom.”
When her mother took her to see a specialist in young women’s health in Boston, her doctor strongly suspected a case of endometriosis and suggested a laparoscopy. “What does that mean?” Allyson thought. “Oh my gosh, I have to have surgery.” Deciding to move forward, she had the laparoscopic procedure, which confirmed her doctor’s suspicions. Allyson was diagnosed with stage II endometriosis. Her doctor removed the tissue and she was able to return to school after only two days.
She started taking birth control to help with her symptoms, which she says helped at the time.
Her Symptoms Returned
After a stressful year of her father commuting from Boston to Delaware for work, Allyson’s family decided to move to the First State. And while she loved her new home, her bowel symptoms returned worse than ever. Making matters more difficult, this time Allyson didn’t have the support system she built in Boston.
She says, “I am very open with my parents and told them I am not okay. I am always sick and they suggested, ‘Stop drinking coffee, no cream, no more dairy’ and even when I would cut back on those things, it didn’t help me at all.” Not only had her bowel symptoms returned, but her pelvic pain did as well.
Allyson found Dr. Barbara McGuirk after looking up centers for her unique condition online. Her vaginal pain was unbearable and frequently had her in tears. “For me, it wasn’t the cramps that were bad. It was the actual vaginal pain during my menstrual cycle that was bad. So then we came and saw Dr. McGuirk,” she explains.
“I am very open with my parents and told them I am not okay. I am always sick and they suggested, ‘Stop drinking coffee, no cream, no more dairy’ and even when I would cut back on those things, it didn’t help me at all.”
A Second Laparoscopy
Allyson found Dr. McGuirk to be very knowledgeable. After meeting with her, it was clear that she needed to have another laparoscopy. However, this time, the findings were different.
Allyson says after the surgery, “Dr. McGuirk came back and told me everything she found. Fortunately, there was little endo scarring that was removed. However, my bladder was attached to my bowels and Dr. McGuirk determined that it had to be moved.” Not only was the surgery more invasive, the recovery was much more difficult. When a laparoscopic surgery is done, doctors pump gas in your stomach in order to see everything clearly. Allyson said, “the recovery from the gas alone was the worst part, the only way to get rid of it was to get up and move, which only intensified the pain.”
Weeks went by and Dr. McGuirk prescribed hormone treatment following the procedure to treat and manage the symptoms of endometriosis. For a few months, Allyson received injections every three weeks, but eventually she noticed some negative side effects. Against Dr. McGuirk’s guidance, she decided to stop her treatment and went back on birth control. The two parted ways.
Allyson stressed that her decision was made because of the medication and says she really loved the staff at the clinic. “They have been great. I’ve always had my questions answered, and there has always been a solution or something for me to try.”
“They have been great. I’ve always had my questions answered, and there has always been a solution or something for me to try.”
New Symptoms Arise
After a couple of years, Allyson developed a chronic yeast infection that doctors couldn’t seem to cure. “So fast forward two years and I’ve tried so many different creams and medicine but nothing would take this itch away. This is no way for me to live,” she says. In addition, she was having the same bowel problems again.
Allyson states, “I hated myself. I hated what I saw in the mirror, I hated the way my body betrayed me and most of all I hated that no one had an answer for me.” She was losing confidence in her body as she put on nearly 40 pounds. Her constant yeast infections caused insecurities and serious problems with her dating life. “Who wants to date someone who has a constant itch?” Allyson said. “Though it is a completely normal thing to get and women have yeast infections all the time, I was so ashamed and thought no man would ever want me because of it.”
Recognizing the toll that the struggles were having on her daughter, Allyson’s mom suggested she revisit Dr. McGuirk. She thought that Dr. McGuirk might have ideas or suggestions that could help end the cycle and get Allyson back on track.
Revisiting Dr. McGuirk
Following a two-year hiatus, Allyson made a return visit to Dr. McGuirk and was shocked to hear her possible diagnosis: Type II diabetes. However, it all made sense. She says, “We went through all the symptoms I was having – the yeast infections, the constant sickness and the bloat. I would get nauseous almost every night and would have a hypoglycemic reaction every so often.”
To determine if Dr. McGuirk’s suspicions were correct, Allyson had blood tests completed to find out her insulin, glucose, and hormone levels. Her tests came back revealing a silent blood sugar problem known as insulin resistance. Insulin resistance increases the risk of Type II diabetes.
After asking Dr. McGuirk what she could do, Allyson said, “She was like,’You have to change your whole life.’ And I said, ‘What do you mean? I don’t live a bad life nor do I eat that poorly’ And she said, ‘Well you need to cut out dairy, gluten, soy and sugar. Apply the keto diet and intermittent fasting to your life if you want to feel and look better.’” Allyson did just that, she changed her life and started new medications to help with endometriosis pain.
A Better Life
Five months later and Allyson is experiencing a better life in so many different ways. She is on a successful treatment plan to manage her endometriosis and Dr. McGuirk’s lifestyle recommendations have helped with her weight loss, bloating and energy levels. Allyson is now living a pain-free life and finally has the ability to maintain a normal social life! She notes that her work performance has also has seen a significant improvement.
After losing 30 pounds, Allyson says she looks and feels great and credits Dr. McGuirk for this. “Look at me. I left Dr. McGuirk and had to come back. She has helped me in ways other doctors couldn’t. I don’t know what else to say other than thank you. If anyone else is out there suffering, they should come get looked at. It can’t hurt to get looked at. It does not hurt to voice what you are feeling.”
Allyson stresses the importance of knowing that other symptoms arise because of endometriosis. “I never thought in a million years I would gain 40 pounds in such a short time. I never thought that because I have endometriosis, I would become a Type II diabetic. People hear the word “endometriosis” and think it strictly means bad periods and not being able to have kids. That is so false and I can not stress that enough. Don’t be ashamed of what you are feeling and don’t ever be ashamed of your body, fight for yourself always. The staff at the Endometriosis & Pelvic Pain Center are there to help you.”
“Look at me. I left Dr. McGuirk and had to come back. She has helped me in ways other doctors couldn’t. I don’t know what else to say other than thank you. If anyone else is out there suffering, they should come get looked at. It can’t hurt to get looked at. It does not hurt to voice what you are feeling.”
Allyson pictured with her dog Cooper
Allyson pictured with her 18-year-old brother, Kristoffer, who attends Coastal Carolina University.
"After a friend recommended, I saw Dr. McGuirk in April of 2019. On my first visit after explaining my symptoms I have had for over 20 years, Dr. McGuirk and I worked on a plan, she explained everything, offered reassurance that I was not crazy and she could help me. I had surgery in September and have enjoyed freedom from many unwanted symptoms since. I am so thankful for Dr. McGuirk and her team, especially Mari who was also a huge support for me throughout it all. Thank you all!"
"After becoming a patient, Dr. McGuirk performed a successful endo excision surgery and immediately started a treatment plan that restored my quality of life. I haven't felt this good in over 20 years! She really cares and is so passionate in helping those battling endo. She truly takes the time to explain everything to you and has such a great bedside manner. I've seen the pain in her eyes when she sees us suffering because she truly cares and wants to help us all. I feel amazing now and can actually enjoy life."
"Dr. McGuirk has been phenomenal. My daughter is 15 and underwent four surgeries and many other failed treatments for endometriosis within 2 years. As soon as my daughter was seen, Dr. McGuirk had a treatment plan and knew exactly what needed to be done. My daughter has been pain free since May and is living a teenage life again. Dr. McGuirk and her staff truly care about her patients and spend as much time as needed with you to explain and answer any questions. I can't thank Dr. McGuirk enough for giving my daughter back her quality of life."
"I don’t think I can express how much Dr. McGuirk changed my life. Before meeting Dr. McGurik, I had been living in chronic pain from endometriosis and after 4 surgeries nothing changed. My last doctor literally just gave me pain meds and sent me on my way. Not with McGuirk! Every appointment she takes time to thoroughly listen and understand what is going on. Through diet, surgery, and suppression I am now completely pain-free. I woke up from my surgery feeling completely different. She knows chronic pelvic pain and she is definitely someone you can trust."
"I suffered with my Endometriosis for many, many years - I am SO thankful for Dr. McGuirk and the wonderful staff at the Endometriosis & Pelvic Pain Center! She performed my laparoscopic excision surgery back in Nov. 2015, and that marks the day I got my life back! Dr. McGuirk and her staff are always quick to respond whenever I have any questions or concerns, and they're so professional and kind - it's obvious that they love what they do! I highly recommend them - they changed my life!"
"I have been a patient of Dr. McGuirk's since 2011. It's frustrating going from doctor to doctor to figure out what's wrong. I was fortunate to find Dr. McGuirk and she understood the constant pain I was going through. I was diagnosed with endometriosis. She has helped me to be come pain free and be able to get back to my life."
"Dr. McGuirk is an amazing doctor and I am so grateful that I found her to help me fight my battle with endometriosis. I have been to many doctors over the course of my treatment and I can confidently say that Dr. McGuirk is the one who gave me my life back!
Dr. McGuirk is a rare breed of doctor--capable of sitting with you even while you cry your eyes out discussing the struggles of life with endometriosis; capable of empathizing with you while rejecting the notion that a pain level of 4 is ‘not that bad’; capable of making you feel like she has all the time in the world to sit with you while you process; capable of delivering on her promise to help.
Dr. McGuirk saved my life and for this I am eternally grateful!"
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