How were you initially diagnosed with Fibroids? What were the signs and symptoms?
I was diagnosed with fibroids after I was rushed to the hospital, November 2020. I was unable to walk, was vomiting, light-headed and was experiencing intense, unbearable stabbing pains in my lower abdomen that felt like period cramps x100000. I remember lying on the floor in my apartment and was unable to move. Weeks before I was rushed to the hospital I started to develop strong cramps in my lower abdomen and legs that I thought were period cramps but I simply did what I normally do: get a heating pad, take some Aleve and try to lay down.
How long did it take to receive a diagnosis and what did you doctors
I had emergency surgery after a few scans and an ultrasound because at first, the doctors at the hospital thought it could be a tumor. Hearing the word “tumor” at first completely blocked me from hearing anything else. It was not until the ultrasound revealed that it more than likely was an aggressive fibroid growth that was twisting the stem of my right ovary which is what was causing me so much pain. I agreed to have an oophorectomy and have my right ovary removed but I had a male surgeon who assumed that when I signed away the right to my ovary I somehow was not serious. I woke up from surgery with both ovaries and no pain so at that time I was content but not pleased with his decision. After healing a bit, I went to see my primary physician and she flat out told me “Courtney, at age 26, you would have been one ovary-less if I did your surgery.”
What is life like with fibroids and how do you manage it ?
I can genuinely feel that I am in therapy to work through feeling like I am living in a constant state of fear or “what if” when it comes to my health. Therapy has been extremely helpful and so has staying active and prioritizing my physical health. I am on birth control and have been since 2017 and that has been helping control the growth of my fibroids but I do have to stay on top of seeing my doctors more often so we can stay on top of any issues and be proactive. I no longer consume alcohol and it has been 2 years of alcohol free living. I also have cut down on certain foods that contribute to fibroid growth.
Have you been able to maintain your productivity despite dealing with your condition?
Yes, and I feel extremely fortunate that since my surgery I have been able to live a normal life and so far have not had any issues with my fibroids. It has not stopped my life in any way since my surgery but it has forced me to make concrete decisions about my life. I now have to start to think about decisions on whether or not I want kids or not and how
What is something about Fibroids that you wish you knew sooner? Any advice for young women dealing with fibroids?
Definitely try to get scans, tests, even if you aren’t covered or if your doctor feels you should wait longer. Fibroids grow and hide. I had a previous doctor who told me the year before that I probably had intestinal issues and because the pain I had then went away, I never asked for follow up exams, bloodwork. It took years for my fibroids to disrupt my health in a way that changed my life forever and it certainly came with a price. I had a hospital bill and copays to pay for and was unprepared, even with insurance to pay for everything. Another big piece of advice that I would share is that it is better to be proactive about the future with fibroids. Do research about your current options and never take no for an answer if you are uncomfortable.