The Gains of an Endo Athlete
25 October 2018 – Patient Stories
A 2020 Update From Brandi - Positive Gains In Life
Hello my Endo Sisters! I would like to update you on my story since my surgery in July 2017.
First off, my health has improved so much! The excruciating pain that I dealt with on a daily basis, since high school is gone. After 20+ years of unanswered questions, 14 surgeries that did not provide relief, I HAVE ME BACK! It did take me some time to get use to not being in severe pain all the time. About six months post-op it finally clicked. “This is what MY normal is supposed to feel like.”
We did find out I have an immunodeficiency, and that is under control as well. This journey has taught there is a light at the end of the tunnel. With disease management, lifestyle changes, and a positive mindset. You can have you back.
I am forever grateful for Dr. McGuirk and the RAD team, Dr. Cadungog, Dr. Shakamuri, and The Yellow Cape for saving my life. Dr. McGuirk knew I was my own advocate when we met. She understood this disease and found an amazing team of surgeons that did the impossible to prove miracles do happen.
The whole process of this disease has given me the voice to advocate for others. So many who are fighting this same path. I understand the daily struggle with life, family, career, and financial burdens that also come along with this. Having a group of women to relate to makes a big difference. Finding Tara and The Yellow Cape gave me hope, when mine was lost. It is the strength of us women and our voices that are making changes to the stigma behind endometriosis. There has been progress in research, but we have a long way to go. Just remember you are not alone in this journey. You can always contact me, my ear is opened.
The Pain Was A Heavy Weight To Bear
Brandi, a previous high school gymnast, cheerleader, weight lifter, and mother of one, spent her entire academic and professional career in unmanageable pelvic pain. Severely anemic and a victim of both ovarian cysts and fibroids during her high school years, the doctors were at a loss as to what to do for her. Brandi’s obstetrician (OB) began treating her for the anemia and ovarian cysts in 1999, however, she wanted to dig a little deeper. She performed the first of Brandi’s 15 laparoscopic surgeries, and determined that she, in fact, suffered from endometriosis.
Although this was something that she was told not to worry about, Brandi knew that something wasn’t right as the pain began to intensify, causing numerous missed school days, and the need to be excused in order to change her clothes due to excessive bleeding.
Between the years 1999 and 2006, she was shuffled to and from various specialists [allergists, proctologists, endocrinologists] who diagnosed her with irritable bowel syndrome, potential Crohn’s disease, colitis, and gastritis. At one point, they wanted her to seek psychiatric help.
“They wanted me to see a counselor, because they thought it was stress. They thought I was starving myself.”
The Doctors Maintained Repetitions of Ignorance
After receiving this devastating news, Brandi was referred to another OB who was also a pain specialist — this physician had the reputation of dispensing heavy medications to combat pain instead of addressing the condition itself. This methodology of treatment did not coincide with her convictions based on the personal experience of suicide impacting her intimate family nucleus.
“I was very against going on any type of pain management to mask the disease, because that’s what it was — masking it.”
At the end of her rope, Brandi attempted to make an appointment with this new specialist, but he refused to see her because her condition was, “all in your head.” It was during this time, that what was left of her health began to wither away.
After several additional surgeries, nearly losing her house because of medical bills that the insurance company would not cover, and doing her best to cope with endo, she sought both guidance and sanity from women like herself by joining an online endometriosis forum. Through this forum, she met Tara Hilton, Founder of The Yellow Cape — a non-profit, endometriosis outreach organization. Tara told her, “You need to contact RAD,” and so she did.
The Duration Of Medical Failures Was Finally Over
Her first consultation with Dr. McGuirk was a radical shift in the normalcy that she had become accustomed to for 20+ years. Due to the lack of professionalism, genuine care, and authentic concern from the medical community up until that point, Brandi was unsure if she could trust Dr. McGuirk’s word that she could help set her feet on the path toward a better, pain-free life.
Because of the extensive internal organ damage that the invasive endometriosis had inflicted on her body, Dr. McGuirk collaborated with a team of oncology specialists in order to strategically target the culprit and assist in bringing about remission.
“We did the Whole 30 and she understood that certain things for certain people work, but for others, they don’t. I found taking all of the hormones out of the meat and the food, helped with my symptoms — the hormones in the food were causing the flares.”
Regaining Her Power
“Keep your medical records. Keep your medical records with you. They can’t say that nothing is wrong when it’s in print. Don’t give up with insurance companies. I actually fought my insurance company tooth and nail — this opened the door for the insurance company to give me a personal liaison, because of the seriousness of the disease. Women are taking their lives in the endo community, because they feel that there is no other way [out]. There are resources out there to help.”
"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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