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.”
"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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