human, being

It sucks being a girl: Part II

Once again, to my readers, this may be TMI, so proceed with caution.

Last Thursday, I finally got the ultrasound to see if there are any structural issues that have been creating my ultra-heavy periods with ultra-heavy PMS. Today, I had a visit with an ob/gyn at University of Colorado Hospital to get the results.

I have a small, dimed-sized fibroid, but the doctor doubts that it has any involvement. Fibroids are generally caused by an overabundance of estrogen. I’ve had an issue with an overabundance of estrogen for my entire reproductive life, which is why progestin-based birth control works so well for me. But I don’t want to take it anymore.

Her recommendations were this: progestin (Mirena, bc pills, Depo), uterine ablation, hysterectomy or living with it. She heard my objections to anything progestin-related. “How about you schedule the workup for an ablation on the way out?” she said.

Now, I have to admit that this particular doctor was not my first, second or third choice. Looking at her picture and reading her bio on her UC Denver page, I could tell that she’s by-the-book Western medicine. So I’m not surprised by her recommendations. I’m just disappointed that she was completely closed off to anything other than fake-hormones or surgery. I mentioned the acupuncture I’ve been receiving from Debra Kuhn, but she gave me a blank stare.

I asked the doctor specifically if she thinks my hormones are out of whack, and if they are, what they’d do to get them back in whack. She said it’s hard to tell because blood-derived hormone levels aren’t accurate. (Obviously, very Western because there are many other ways to test hormone levels throughout your cycle, and the least invasive one is journaling your symptoms and how you feel). She said bcp are the only thing they’d give to women my age. I asked her about my horrible PMS for the past two months, and she basically shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “comes with the territory,” then once again said bcp are the answer. Having been in a wide variety of bcp since I was 16, I can tell you that those hormones make my PMS worse in many ways, so they are NOT the answer for me.

Uterine ablation essentially is frying the endometrium with a laser, with a balloon filled with hot water, or using another method. This kills the tissue and causes heavy bleeding to stop. The doctor said about 90% of women are satisfied with the results–less or no bleeding. However, for the 10% who are dissatisfied, they may actually get worse. The procedure is done under general anesthesia, too, so it is not a “no biggie” surgery. Not that I want more children, but it is nearly impossible to maintain a pregnancy after this procedure.

The whole thing seems very invasive to me … so invasive that I am feeling like a wimp for not being able to deal with my period nowadays. But then, this is day six, and I am no longer deeply depressed and anxious, I am no longer bloated. I am no longer nauseous and frazzled. I am not longer cramping. I am still bleeding, but it’s not the flood it was on day 1. The acupuncture seems to have helped to balance out some of the irregularity, but the bleeding was still much heavier than it has been since I was a teenager.

On Saturday, as I lay on Debra’s table, I could barely handle a single needle going in. She had to put them in in stages–I was so ultra sensitive. Eventually, the needle between my eyes and the ones in my anti-nausea points calmed me down and dissipated the nausea. I stopped crying, eventually, too. I was that emotional and wiped out that I couldn’t control myself. By the time I left, I was feeling more myself. She used cups on my back to help relieve my cramps (she let Lauren help put them on and take them off, which my kiddo is still talking about) and needled my neck some more, which killed my headache and the end of my nausea. I feel so grateful that I found her, because she really can make me feel better. However, I’m still a bit of a skeptic about the long-term benefit of acupuncture, that it will “stick” (no pun intended). It’s expensive, and while I’m dedicated to trying it for another month to see if we can continue to change my bleeding level, I don’t think I can go weekly after that. I’m paying $260 a month right now.

Debra’s encouraging me to take herbs to regulate me further. I’m curious about them, but to be honest they’ve not done much for me in the past. The herbs she gave me for my IBS had no noticeable effect. The nasty raw herb tea she had me brew to get my massive bleeding slowed down in January, though, totally worked. My other issue with herbs is that they only work if you take them religiously, and I can’t take them with the handful of pills I swallow each morning and night. Despite really needing my daily Zyrtec so my eyes don’t swell up in reaction to whatever’s in the air, somedays I still forget to take that pill. I’m not the best at remembering, and taking things in the middle of the day, as I’d have to with herbs, is problematic at best. It requires planning ahead for days when I’m working, or not working. Yes, I’m avoiding. I admit it. They are also an extra cost in a time when our household income is down by 25%.

Debra has a new naturopath at her practice. She’s calling the her now to get her opinion on what combination we may do to help me get back in balance. My friend Nicoleta has been seeing a naturopath, and my friend Helen swears by hers too. Seeing Jamie would be yet another expense. However, the cost of the ablation would be at least $500, so I’m trying to convince myself that it’s a wash. I’ve been curious about naturopathic medicine for a while, but despite my Eastern/complementary medicine leanings, I still have doubts about possible qwackery. After all, in Colorado naturopaths aren’t licensed or regulated. Yet, I want to get to the bottom of this, because what is happening to me each month is not normal for me, so something is not right.

I had so hoped to come out of today’s appointment with a precise and clear explanation about what is happening with me, and with a course of action I can live with. The doctor had no solid explanation about what is going on with me, so the mystery continues.


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