The Levels of Healing, Part 2
Want to start from the beginning? Start here: http://katie-garber.com/2017/03/levels-healing-part-1/
Meeting with the oncologist in October 2016 was one of the most tense times of my life. I knew there was nothing I could do at the time, but I just wanted to know what was happening inside my body. The day before my appointment, I had told the therapist at the Good Sam Free Clinic, that I didn’t feel up to fighting anything.
I feel like that’s the word always thrown out with cancer, this idea of fighting. But I was tired and not ready to put up some big battle. Plus, in my research and experience with healing, there’s another approach you can take to abnormalities in your body – making friends with them. This goes for emotions, shadow aspects of yourself, and more. So I was ready to find out what I was going to work to befriend.
The oncologist had a very kind and understanding demeanor. He mentioned ordering a biopsy but wanted to check in with a colleague of his who specializes in ovarian and bladder cancers. After talking with that surgeon, they set me up with an appointment with him to discuss my options. I went to meet him a couple days later.
This surgeon had reviewed my scan before I arrived and his thought was that it was not cancerous, but a severe case of endometriosis and that the large fibroids were actually chocolate cysts. This sounds much more pleasant than it is.
//Just a little bit of information for those that aren’t familiar (and this is my personal take on it). Endometriosis is most often found in women in their 30’s-40’s and occurs when the tissue of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, causing pain, scarring and the possibility of cysts collecting blood during menstruation but having no way to release it. This can result in large cysts filled with old blood that form on the ovaries, which is most likely my prognosis.//
The not cancerous part of this gave me a sigh of relief. Then during an uncomfortable pelvic and rectal exam he casually mentioned, “Well, you’re probably already infertile.” My heart sank. I tried to keep the tears from pooling in my eyes. After traveling in India, one thing had become very clear to me – I want to raise children. He left the room as I put my clothes back on. I met him and my dad in another room where he explained that as a cancer surgeon, his goal is to cut everything out of me that looks abnormal. This could mean my ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus. Then he blatantly asked me, “Do you want to have children?” “Uhh… well.. Umm.. Yeh, I’d like to have that option” was all I could get out. Then he mentioned that he may have to preform a whole hysterectomy, but it would make at a challenge being menopausal at my age and then I’d have to take hormones.
Then he decided that I could possibly see his colleague who specializes in fertility and that she would have a different approach to the surgery, with a goal of living as much of my reproductive system intact to increase my likelihood of having children naturally. This immediately sounded better to me. And when I heard the word, ‘she’ I already felt more comfortable than being around this guy that seemed to be preparing me for menopause at age 31.
I met with the fertility specialist the next week. When I arrived at the center at Bethesda North hospital, I noticed all of the other patients were young women with their partners. I felt on edge as I walked in alone. The front desk manager asked for my insurance and I explained to her the one bright spot in this whole ordeal – the free clinic, who had assured me that anyone I was referred to within their system, would be free of charge to me. The front desk woman seemed to think I was making this up. She asked me to sit in a small room and wait for the office manager. When the office manager came in, she explained to me that I couldn’t see the doctor without insurance or paying for it out of pocket. I started to cry, not just for me, but for the frustration of this archaic system.
I’m already going through enough and I surely don’t want to go back to that guy that’s ready to cut out my uterus. Why does our healthcare system penalize people for having a lack of money? How can we as a first world country that think’s its the best country in the world have a healthcare system that only caters to people making a certain high figure income?
I could tell she could sense my pain, frustration and sadness. She offered to go talk with the specialist and the resident doctor that was working with her that day.
She came back in and said I could see the resident doctor. I agreed as I just wanted to hear any better news than menopause at 31. He came in the room, introduced himself, and spoke with me more throughly about endometriosis and my options. Then he said the specialist I wanted to see would stop in and talk with me briefly. When she came in, I felt myself relax. She was smart, pretty and calm. She explained that she felt that the fibroids were not life-threatening and that I shouldn’t rush into anything until I was ready. Then she offered to preform a vaginal ultrasound for me, free of charge. I felt the gratitude welling up inside as so many of distrusts of Western medicine began to fade away. She was offering to help me, knowing that I didn’t have an insurance company to bill.
As the ultrasound started she exclaimed, “Oh you poor thing.” As they moved the wand around, neither of them could locate my uterus or ovaries. The screen was just filled with an image of a huge blob – the fibroid. She was surprised that I wasn’t having any pain. From her explanation my case seemed very rare in its size and had most likely been forming over many years. I met the resident doctor in a room after the session and he explained my options were for having a resident team lead my surgery. He seemed overly eager to present my case to his fellow residents, where they would decide the best course of action to take. I felt a little overwhelmed by his excitement. I thanked him for all of his help but told him I wanted time to explore some natural alternatives first.
He said that was fine and to let them know later on if I wanted to go forward with the surgery.
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