Okay, here is another "getting personal" blog post. If you haven't realized from my previous "getting personal" posts - these are geared toward women. My male readers may want to skip past this one :-) I know that discussion of these with my brother makes him very uncomfortable - LOL!!!
Oh, and I must remind you that I am not a doctor! You should consult your doctor concerning your specific experience. Also, everyone is different - what I experienced may be completely different for you.
On this blog topic, let me start by saying that I was never one who had horrible menstrual cycles! Many of my friends and I started taking a birth control pill when we turned 16 (don't judge - it was a choice made prior to any sexual activity). Those pills actually got me to a point where some months I would never have any sign of menstrual bleeding! When I did have bleeding it was always very minimal. I never had major cramps either!
Now to bring you to my more recent experiences. Around the time that I gave birth to my youngest is when our insurance companies (we have switched a few times) started only offering prescription insurance for generic drugs. There was even a tier on how much we paid depending on which generic medication we took. So, the option to stick with my usual birth control became very expensive!! As I started using a variety of generic medications my happy days of low maintenance menstrual cycles came to an end. Because of some migraine issues I had (another blog post coming soon). I debated about switching from the birth control pill to one of the other options offered. But, my insurance covered about zero percent of the cost of those, so I stuck with a generic pill...
Almost two years ago a major change occurred with my cycle. I'm going to attempt keeping this as "clean" as possible but we are talking about my menstrual cycle so.... Simply put, during my menstrual cycle I started losing a lot of blood. So much that I would barely leave my house for the 3 weeks (yes - 3 WEEKS) that it lasted! I was losing so much blood that it made me very weak! So, it was time to make a change!
One of my friends had went through an ablation and she was more than pleased with the results. I remember researching what an "ablation" was and thinking that it was so barbaric!!! Really!! What I read was that they basically cover your uterine wall and burn it so it becomes scar tissue!!! At the time, my issues were not big enough to even consider going through this. However, I was interested to talk to others that had gone through this process. For those that the ablation worked for - they couldn't brag it up enough!!! But, I also found a decent amount of ladies that had gone through an ablation but it didn't work for them. So, they went trough this "burning" process only to have it not work! Which they then needed to go through a partial hysterectomy to take care of the problem! YIKES!!!
Back to me and my issue: it became very clear to me that I needed to take a major step to reduce/stop my blood loss. So, I talked to my OBGYN about the next steps that I could take. He recommended a NovaSure ablation. It is the one that he prefers and has the most success with. I also found out that NovaSure is the procedure my friend had done with great success. I shared my concerns with my OBGYN since there are so many people that I talked to who's procedure was not successful. His response was that I must be talking to a uncommon group of ladies because such a large percentage of failures was not his experience. Plus, they wouldn't still be offering the procedure if there were that many unsuccessful results. Right?? None of the people that I talked to used the same OBGYN that I do so I took that into consideration. Eventually, my husband and I decided that an ablation was the best decision for my situation. My insurance approved this procedure so that I would only have a $20 co-pay. Why so cheap? They do this procedure in the office while you are awake!!! Yikes!! But, affordable....
Another decision had to be made. If I went through with the ablation, I would no longer have a uterine wall that would support a fertilized egg. But, I could still get pregnant (fertilize an egg)! The idea of having a "fertilized egg" sitting and waiting for a cozy home to grow but have no place to rest was more than I handle. So, we had a few choices: I could continue taking a form of birth control, my husband could get "snipped", or I could have my "tubes tied". At this time, the reality of this whole process really sunk in. My husband and I decided a few years ago that two kiddos were enough for us. But, we also decided not to take any permanent steps toward this (just in case we ever changed our minds). Now, were we ready to completely giving up on the idea of birthing (we could adopt, ...) more kids? We decided to get my "tubes tied" which would be done at the same time as the ablation. Now this "in office" procedure for $20 had turned into an out patient procedure that would require me to go under Anestassia at the hospital. At least I wouldn't be awake when the ablation was done (it sounds so barbaric)!
My day of testing came where my doctor needed to verify that a NovaSure ablation was going to fix my problems. During that test (which I was a wake for and it did hurt some) he slide a small camera into my uterus. He discovered that I had a small uterine fibroid. It was small enough to allow room for the NovaSure procedure but he explained that he would need to remove the fibroid. That would be done during the procedure by using a small tool to "chew" (yes - that's the word he used) away the fibroid.
The procedure: I was knocked out so there really isn't much to say about that. When I woke up they gave me some pain meds and sent me on my way. One of my close friends told me that when she had the ablation procedure done she had cramps and was uncomfortable for a day. That was about the same for me. Also, the doctor had warned me that there would be some bleeding but mostly a clear liquid discharge for a few days. That makes sense, there is a giant internal scar trying to heal inside my uterus... And, that's exactly how things went for me. Getting my "tubes tied" wasn't a big procedure in my case. There was one small incision under my belly button but they actually reused a spot that I had from a previous surgery (gall bladder removal). The only follow-up appointment I had was to see how that incision was healing.
Did the ablation work? I would love to tell you that it did but instead my answer is a great big NO!!! It helped... but I went through all of that and I still have a menstrual cycle. It's much better than it was but I really hoped to never have to deal with a menstrual cycle again! And, to top it all off, my portion of the bill (after my insurance paid their portion) was $2,000!!! Much more than the $20 I would have paid for just the ablation!!
Where do I go from here? Well, it's been a few months and my menstrual cycle still seems to have minimal bleeding. As long as it stays that way I will not take the next step (partial hysterectomy). Should I go back to my doctor and complain about the procedure not working 100%? Maybe... But I'm going to just hold on to that until my next appointment with him. I'm not sure if having a second ablation is an option or if it would even work. Plus, I don't know if I would want to put myself through that considering that my situation has improved so I'm not as desperate.
That's my story. I'd love to hear yours!