An Open Letter From A Patient
27 June 2018 – Patient Stories
Dr. McGuirk & Staff,
Our son turned four years old today. Today, or something like it, seemed an impossible thing to even hope for six Junes ago. I came to your practice on the advice of a friend. A friend who had stolen my phone and set multiple alerts programmed to pop up loudly proclaiming, “Call Dr. McGuirk!” “Have you made an appointment with Dr. McGuirk yet?” If those alerts weren’t enough, my friend called many times asking without preamble, “What date is your initial appointment at RAD?” as if it was already a foregone conclusion that I would drive five hours to hear what I had heard before. Eventually, I set a date. All the while I felt like a hypochondriac for making an appointment with yet another doctor. I came armed with a previous endometriosis diagnosis, one remaining ovary, and sense of deep apologetic embarrassment for what would be, I was sure, a waste of your time. After all, I had heard the chorus of other medical professionals before: Women have pain, they had all said. Women just bleed, more echoed. There is no reason why you can’t have children, chirped one.
That is not what happened at that initial appointment. For the first time, I was seen. It threw me off balance. All those seemingly unrelated symptoms connected like stars in the sky forming a constellation, recognized by someone trained to see them for what they were as a whole.
February of the next year I had surgery. Afterwards at the post-op followup I remember you saying that without that surgery I would never have become pregnant. Now, you said sitting behind your wide desk, it isn’t possible to know. Sometimes the ones you think can conceive spontaneously never do and the ones who you give no chance without IVF never need more than the surgery in spite of a complex clinical presentation. There is, I realized, a balance between the science, art, and faith of medicine. Both limitless and limited.
Our son was born in June of 2014.
Our daughter was born this past February. “This was completely spontaneous?” my local reproductive specialist had questioned in June of 2017. He stood there a moment. “In so far as getting pregnant, you beat the odds,” he finished, shaking his head as he wandered away from the ultrasound room back down the hall towards his office. I watched him, his white head above his sloped surgeons’ shoulders, as he went to whatever alchemy of science and art he had next. I stood there, giddy and unsure, momentarily suspended between the past, the present, and an unknown future. With that small square of an ultrasound in my hand I remembered your words from four years earlier: there is no way to know for sure. Wherever this pregnancy goes, I thought, this baby is a gift.
June to June.
February to February.
I will now, perhaps, sound like an Oscar Award winner monopolizing the stage thanking everyone from his mother to his cousins’ sisters’ brothers’ aunt five times removed. Even if I had never ended up giving birth to my children, I walked away from your practice with both an improved quality of life and a sense of how to advocate for myself. Each time I called your nurse with questions or concerns I was given the words and tools I needed to navigate my care. The affirmation that I was not, in this case at least, a hypochondriac was invaluable to me as I traveled the health care system for other reasons. It also made me a better health care provider in my professional life. It was, in a small way perhaps, a mini-mentorship.
Thank you to you personally for the realistic yet compassionate communication you provided. I saw that it is possible to be remarkably direct and pragmatic but still communicate caring. I did not feel like I had to sift through vague platitudes with you to determine your intent. To be seen and heard was breathtaking. To be given realistic probabilities and prognosis’ was refreshing.
Thank you to your front office staff for being both compassionate and engaging each and every time I called. Whoever does your HR/PR training or hiring is a gem.
I appreciate the first impression that your office provided: the gentle environment with its comfortable seats, beautiful pictures, and coffee nook acknowledged, silently, the reality of the journey that brought people through your doors.
Finally, for you and your colleagues to live out your calling so well, so thoroughly, you must have remarkable families behind you. I wish to communicate to them gratitude for the support they provide you in your vocation. They must see you clearly and so you in turn can see us.
God bless each of you.
All those seemingly unrelated symptoms connected like stars in the sky forming a constellation, recognized by someone trained to see them for what they were as a whole.
"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!"
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
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