What a Difference a Day Makes12:19 PM
After breaking up with my last doctor, I began the oh-so-fun process of finding a new ob/gyn. This involved a lot of intense googling until I found a local doctor who specializes in endometriosis. Righteous.
As I said in a previous blog post, they got me in right away, and so I spent a day off of work sitting in another waiting room. (That afternoon, I also had physical therapy, so it was a great day of being poked and prodded by doctors...)
While scrolling through Facebook and listening to the only two men in the waiting room talk about building stuff (super precious), my usual concerns came flooding back. What if this doctor tells me the same thing my old one did? What if this is the start of another round of going from office to office, begging someone to take my pain seriously? Or even better, what if by some shocking twist of fate I actually don't have endometriosis and I'm actually just crazy?
Soon enough, I was called back to meet with my doctor, who we will refer to as Dr. Lisa because that's not her name... I was already struck by how personable and friendly she was and, above all, how much she wanted to listen. Not to pull the gender card, but I felt like the only time I got attention from my previous male doctor was when my husband was in the room, and then, it was via information relayed to Andrew. (My husband is the one who brought that up, so I clearly am not the only person who thought this.)
After patiently listening to me rattle off 13 years of pain and other symptoms, Dr. Lisa said, "So I'm guessing you want to not be in pain anymore, right?"
Umm what? Yes? YES! That would be great! Oh my gosh, yes! Wait... you can really help me not be in pain anymore?!
You have to remember that Dr. Carl kind of kicked me to the curb after I asked for physical therapy over the menopause-inducing drug, Lupron. I wasn't even given an Advil for my troubles. But now, Dr. Lisa not only was offering alternatives to Lupron (although that option was still on the table for down the road, if I chose it), she believed I deserved pain management.
Dr. Lisa explained that endometriosis can cause other conditions, such as interstitial cystitis (IC), fibromyalgia and vulvodynia. This was completely new information to me. I had often heard in passing that women with endo sometimes experience these conditions, but I guess I never made the connection that I could have them, too. Sure enough, after a quick test, I had the last one, which is pretty much a blanket term for chronic pain that affects the vulvar area. It explained the intense pain I had with exams, intercourse and using a tampon.
After that assessment, Dr. Lisa prescribed me Elavil, an antidepressant. (Did you know antidepressants can treat pain?! That would have been super useful to know with my last doctor, considering I've been on Cymbalta for a while for anxiety...) This drug is also often used to treat fibromyalgia and other chronic pain disorders, and if all went well, it would give me some relief from the near-constant discomfort I'd been feeling.
Dr. Lisa also did a great job of calming my nerves about my fertility. She said that since my endo was only stage one, I didn't really have to worry about my Fallopian tubes being scarred shut in the next two years. Unlike Dr. Carl who was pretty much ready for me to pop out a kid yesterday, Dr. Lisa said she'd like be to have kids before I'm 35, but there's no major rush. Great news for Andrew and me, who aren't anywhere close to ready to have kids...
I left the doctor's office feeling so much better about my condition. While I will still need to go through physical therapy (which Dr. Lisa encouraged), watch my diet (also encouraged to manage what she thinks is IBS) and take medication, I felt for the first time that a doctor was in my corner. With my previous ob/gyn, I was kind of left to fend for myself and come up with my own treatment when I turned down Lupron. I mean, what kind of disease only has one treatment option?! Come on, Carl!
I'm now on day three of Elavil, and I'm already feeling so much better. While fighting off fatigue is still an uphill battle, my pain has been reduced dramatically, and I actually feel like going grocery shopping or spending a whole day outside my apartment.
I'll be heading back to see Dr. Lisa in four weeks, so we'll see how this treatment does in the long-run. While I know that my endometriosis will never be cured, it's so incredible to know there are other options out there.