Good Samaritan Free Healthcare Clinic Tag

After months of deliberation, intuitive work and healing, I am having surgery on Friday, March 24th at Bethesda North Hospital at 12:30pm. The surgical team will be making a vertical incision from my pelvic bone to at least my belly button to remove 2 separate ovarian fibroids, one in my pelvic bone and one in the right side of my abdomen. They are each about the size of a grapefruit. At this point there is not a clear game-plan of which fibroid they will remove first, but they know my desire is to keep as much ovarian tissue as possible.

The doctors expect I’ll be in the hospital until Sunday or Monday and then have a 6-week recovery at home. I feel as safe and peaceful as I could imagine feeling 2 days before a major surgery that’s full of a lot of if’s. And just sharing this has already helped me tremendously. Thank for anyone reading along and I will be sure to post as I’m feeling up to it and regaining my health.

I know a lot of you may ask what you can do to help. I’ll happily accept loving messages here or on facebook, flowers, visits while I’m in the hospital, but most importantly, I ask you to hold me in light, love or your thoughts/ prayers (to me it’s all the same, when based in love). I would appreciate this most a half hour before the surgery, during the procedure (please send any goodness to my surgical team that you’d like), and after to aid in quick healing. If you wouldn’t mind putting the intention out there that my ovaries remain healthy, intact and functioning I’d appreciate it greatly!

Thank you for your continued support on my journey. The last couple years have been very unexpected but I can see how they’ve lead to love, strength, courage and gratitude. And I’m honored to share snippets of this with you!

Want to read more about my prognosis? Start here:

The Levels of Healing, Part 1

The Levels of Healing, Part 2

The Levels of Healing, Part 3

 

At the end of November 2016, I had an appointment with my doctor at the Good Sam Free Health Center. I told him of my plans to try some natural alternatives. He agreed but wasn’t so hopeful. So we made a deal. I’d get another CT scan in January to see if anything had changed.

For the next 3 months I focused on healing my physical body as well as my emotional, mental and spiritual bodies. I knew to have any chance of curing the endometriosis, I had to get to the root cause of why this was showing up in my life and at this time. I worked on bringing light to areas of my life that I had kept hidden, even from myself. My engrained reaction of feeling responsible for other people, my shame of being a woman, my anger of being on this spiritual path, my anger at those that have hurt me and let me down, my anger at myself for not always protecting myself, my resistance to releasing the past, my tight-grip on what I thought my life was supposed to look like now, my resistance to accepting what had happened and where I’m at currently.

This was a time of going deep into who I am, what I believe in, what supports my faith and what matters most to me in this lifetime. It was not easy and it continues to not be as easy as I would like, but the deeper I go, the more strength I find deep within my being. More strength to speak my truth, to stand up for what I believe in and to stand more courageously in who I really am.

I coupled this inner emotional, mental, and spiritual work with a mixture of acupuncture, reiki, shamanic healing, angel work, yin yoga, castor oil packs, painting, drawing, creating pottery and eating a mostly vegan diet. I began to notice a shift in the kind of people I was attracting into my life – an eclectic group of strong, loving, gorgeous women. They (you) have been unbelievably supportive during this time in helping me to learn more about what I’m capable of and how loved I am here on this planet. It’s been remarkably comforting and every time I think of these amazing friends, I am in awe of how quickly this powerful formed to support me.

So after months of hoping everything would shrink and wishing that I could avoid having surgery, I went in for a second CT scan in mid-January. My doctor called the next day. The fibroids had grown in size and he recommended surgery as soon as possible, before they turned into something worse. I agreed and went to meet a resident doctor at the Faculty Medical Center at Good Samaritan Hospital.

I had never been to this area of the hospital before and as soon as I walked in, I noticed a striking difference. The waiting room was outdated, the few toys for children were worn and dirty. I went in the bathroom for a urine sample and there was a bloody bandage on the floor and the exam rooms had broken blinds, dingy lighting and grime on the walls. This was not the care I was used to, because I, gratefully, had health insurance for the majority of my life. This area, I found out, was where Medicaid participants could get care and people paying out of pocket could a discounted price by working with resident doctors.

I met with a resident surgeon who was thorough but kept coming back to the last CT scan showing a mass inside the fibroid. And again, the cancer word came back, as did the possibility of having an oncologist surgeon attend my procedure. I began to feel heavy again. I was frustrated that all of the work I’d been doing hadn’t been visible in this last scan and now we were talking about cancer again. I was angry that my work appeared to be counterproductive – growing masses and possibly cancer. At the end of the talk, I agreed to having surgery. The doctor said he’d present my case the next week and I should here from him with-in two weeks to schedule my surgery. I didn’t really connect with this doctor, but I liked that he explained as much as he could and even drew some diagrams for me.

After 2 weeks, I heard back from him. It was a Wednesday and he had just gone ahead and scheduled my surgery for the next Tuesday, Valentine’s Day without even telling me who’d be in the surgery or what the plan was.

“Uhhh… well, I’m going out of town that day. I’m going to California to visit my sister. You said that we’d schedule it after you called me back with the game plan, so I didn’t think this week-long trip would be a problem” I explained.

He seemed annoyed. “Well do you have any other trips planned?”

“No. You had said it’d be a month out, so I didn’t even think to tell you this would be an issue.” I said. I was trying not to cry while sitting in a little Indian restaurant, previously enjoying some paneer. He abruptly got off the phone with me and said he’d call back. I could feel the tears begin to slide down my cheeks. Maybe I don’t want this guy leading the surgery. He was kind of a jerk and not very communicative. Why is this so freaking frustrating?! Why is this happening?! 

At that point it became obvious I wasn’t ready to undergo surgery yet.

I flew out to San Francisco as planned and tried to leave all of my worries in Cincinnati. The next week, I received a call from the Good Sam Health Center. The social worker asked if I had the surgery which was scheduled for Valentine’s Day. I explained to her I was traveling so I couldn’t and I hadn’t heard back from the doctor yet. She called the residents’ nurse to check with them. While I was on the line with them, I asked who would be leading the surgery. I was told it’d be the gynecological team and not even the doctor I saw last. I asked her to set up an appointment with them, which she did.

As I hung up the phone, I was pissed that they would have had me go into surgery and not even consider that I’d like to meet the team that’d be cutting me open beforehand. It made me doubt with this whole process, but I tried to keep an open mind for my meeting with the next surgeon.

Luckily, my acupuncturist gave me a sheet about preparing for surgery with a list of vitamins, homeopathic medications and recommended books. I ordered one called, “Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster” by Peggy Huddleston. It helped me to understand the whole process of surgery and where areas I could be more proactive about my health and wishes. It also included a CD with mediations to help you relax and visualize the outcomes you want after surgery.

I started to feel empowered again while reading this book and listening to the meditation. I brought my long list of questions to the next appointment. This doctor was youthful, attentive and kind. She listened to all of my questions and requests and had thoughtful responses to each one of them. I felt safe and respected with her. She said she was the 3rd year resident on the team and that the 5th year resident would be leading the surgery. Later that week, I heard from the 5th year resident surgeon. She was very honest and thoughtful on the phone, as well. I finally felt like I was in good hands. But then she mentioned me going to see a fertility specialist again, incase I still wanted to consider trying to freeze my eggs. She explained that during the surgery, they may have to remove both of my ovaries and that they wanted to make sure I had gone through all of my options beforehand.

For the next week, I debated this option. And I kept coming back to having children naturally or making the decision to adopt at some point. I find the possibility of women freezing their eggs to be implanted at a later date an incredibly remarkable miracle of our current medicine, however, I know that this is not for me.

While at meeting with the reproductive specialist, she explained that they couldn’t even freeze my eggs now anyway, because they weren’t able to locate my ovaries. After another vaginal ultrasound showing the big blob and maybe a speck of my uterus and I was feeling confident in my decision to have surgery with this team as soon as I could.

 

Read more here:

The Levels of Healing, Part 4

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.

 

Read more here:

The Levels of Healing, Part 3