I hope my story will be helpful for the women who have problems with fibroids/adenomyosis/ovarian cysts and who are trying to make a decision either to have their uterus removed or looking for alternative options.
I am 44 years old, live in Pennsylvania, an hour drive from Philadelphia, had a uterus that was equal with 6 months size of pregnancy with multiple fibroids, which I had been diagnosed with 3 months prior to the surgery. People are surprised, but I really didn’t have many symptoms. I lived a very active life, worked 3 jobs, took care of my family and didn’t have much time to pay attention to some subtle symptoms that had been present, probably, for years. Also, I need to add that I have been in a medical field for all my life and therefore, used to taking care of other people rather than myself….
Once I found out that I had 6 months size of the uterus with multiple fibroids, I knew that surgery was inevitable in my case. The first line of treatment for fibroids in this country is hysterectomy, especially if there are many of them and they are located in different layers of the uterus. The reason for that is that the regular technique that most gynecological surgeons use for myomectomy doesn’t allow them to reach out to each fibroid tumor and remove it safely without any uncontrolled bleeding.
The idea of having my uterus removed didn’t sit well with me, even though I was not planning to be pregnant or have a baby….. Gynecologists usually tell their patients that with partial hysterectomy, ovaries and cervix are still in place. Therefore, everything is supposed to function well just without having your monthly period….. Theoretically, it is true, but not exactly…. In reality, the uterus performs many more functions besides of being a place for the babies to grow. It is very important for the sexual life, also it provides a support for the colon and bladder; helps to prevent osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Once the uterus is gone, ovaries loose a connection and stop their function that put women in menopause very quickly.
Knowing all this, prompted me to look for some alternative options that could help me. I went on-line and found http://www.alternativesurgery.com/ almost immediately. I was amazed how much an educational information that website contained. I looked over other women’s reviews and pictures of the different patient’s surgeries and decided to contact the office. Patricia Marshall, a Registered Nurse, and also a doctor’s assistant was the first person who I encountered at the start of my journey. She was a wealth of knowledge, experience, support, and compassion. She was the person who you want to meet when you feel vulnerable, confused, and ashamed that something like that could grow in your body. The fact that I have been in a medical field for all my life didn’t make things easier… Yes, I didn’t have problems to understand any medical information, but at the same time that medical knowledge made me more apprehensive and untrusting, since I had seen a lot of bad consequences after different surgeries over the years, some medical errors that could be prevented… Patricia walked me through the whole process, answered all my questions, and provided emotional support for me up to the first appointment with Dr. Del Junco Jr.
My first meeting with the doctor was brief but very meaningful. I looked in his eyes and believed almost immediately that he could handle my condition. I told him honestly that I really liked the technique of the surgery and I didn’t have any questions about it. The only two questions that I had were if it was possible to have a bikini line incision with my “very enlarged” uterus and if I could have just an epidural anesthesia without any general anesthesia or even heavy sedation. In other words, I wanted to have a very low horizontal incision that could be covered with any swimming suit and be awake during my surgery. The doctor’s responses were brief and direct. He reassured me that he would do everything possible to meet my requests, but he cannot give me any false promises, because many circumstances may come into play during the surgery. For example, sometimes an epidural anesthesia may not be 100% effective in both sides of the body and there is no other choice than to start a general anesthesia. Also, if the uterus is too high above the umbilicus and it is impossible to deliver it safely from the abdominal cavity with a bikini line incision, in this case, he may not have any other choice as to use a vertical incision. I was satisfied with his responses. I knew that he would try to do his best to make it perfect. At the end of our conversation, Dr. Del Junco looked at me and said “I think you will be fine”. That last phrase empowered me and I believed in it. I thought to myself – he has been doing it for 20 years, handling very difficult cases that other surgeons were not capable to handle. There is very little left that he had not seen before. I felt like I was in good hands no matter what happened.
After my appointment with Dr. Del Junco Jr. was over, I signed all the consents for the surgery and went next door to the Mission community hospital for preoperative clearance. Hector was our guide (my husband was with me as well); he took me for the chest X-ray, EKG, blood work, and medical clearance with Dr. Goykhman. All this process didn’t take long, since everything was so organized and everybody knew what there were doing. Everyone we encountered was extremely nice and understanding. They tried to make all this process as easy as possible for us and we really appreciated it! I also need to mention that I met with the anesthesiologist Dr. Muhtar that day and discussed my anesthesia for the upcoming surgery. After all the preoperative clearance steps were done, we still had a couple of days with my husband to enjoy some time in Los Angeles where I had never been before…
The night before my surgery, I checked in to the Mission community hospital and spent the whole night there. Leah was a registered nurse who did my admission to the hospital and was my nurse for the night. She placed my IV catheter together with Leo (charge nurse), since I had very deep veins and not easy to handle. Leah helped me to put TED hose (compression stockings) on my legs before the surgery to prevent any blood clots, since I would have to be still for some time and not moving a lot.
I am not going to hide that I didn’t sleep too much that night, even though nobody bothered me. I had never been to a hospital as a patient before and never had any surgeries like that in my life. That made me very anxious…
The morning of my surgery arrived. I was taken to the operating room about 6.45 a.m. by the operating room technician. He was very nice; he said in Spanish something like “I am taking the queen to OR”. It made me smile…. I was very happy to be the first case and not to wait till noon to have my surgery. In the operating room I was greeted by Dr. Muhtar and had my epidural catheter placed shortly afterwards. One of the operating room nurses placed the Foley catheter in me to help the urine outflow, since I was not planning to walk to the bathroom very soon. The epidural was 100% effective and I didn’t even feel how the Foley catheter was placed. Soon, I was numb from my rib cage down and couldn’t even move my legs. I was really happy about it. That meant that I didn’t have to have any general anesthesia. My surgery started about 8 a.m. I could watch it on the monitor on the right side from me. I felt a lot of tugging and pulling, but it didn’t bother me. Dr. Muhtar was very attentive; he was with me the whole time during the surgery making sure that I was OK and did the best he could to keep me as comfortable as possible.
My surgery lasted about 3 hours. The pathology was very extensive… Dr. Del Junco Jr. together with his two assistants took out of my uterus 349 fibroid tumors that were different sizes and shapes, removed some area of endometriosis on the back of it, and repaired ligaments that were overstretched due to the weight of my heavy uterus. His unique technique (placement the tourniquet over main arteries of the uterus, using different lasers, and injecting the medicine that makes blood vessels narrow) allowed him to remove all the tumors safely without any blood loss, and put my uterus back together without any problems. He managed to make a bikini incision for me and deliver my uterus safely. It was not easy…….. I was amazed by his patience, tenacity, stamina, efficiency, and thoroughness at the same time. He paid very close attention to all the measures to prevent adhesions as a consequence of any opened surgery as well. He stayed very focused the whole time and did very little talking. I appreciated everything very much!
Soon after the surgery was over, I was taken to the recovery room for the next hour, where I was trying to start moving my feet gradually. In about four hours after the surgery, I was walking twice around the unit with nurses next to me. The Foley catheter was out at the next morning and I was free to walk whenever I wanted. By the third day, I didn’t require any help and was ready to go home. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t need any pain medications at all. My abdomen felt sore and bruised, that was normal after the surgery, but I didn’t have any escalating pain that I wouldn’t be able to tolerate. All nurses that I had at night and during the day took a good care of me. They were always available right away, when I needed any help. I would like to acknowledge all of my nurses: Leah, Leo, Cynthia, Lida, and Princess. I really appreciate your help guys!!! Please forgive me if I forgot somebody’s name.
Dr. Goykhman was coming daily to see me, making sure that I was OK after the surgery. We could speak Russian with him a little bitJ. Thank you, Dr. Goykhman, I really appreciate your help! Dr. Del Junco stopped by a couple of times – right after my surgery and on the third day postoperatively, making sure that I was walking and progressing well. He was really pleased with my progress and recovery after such an extensive surgery.
Now, I am back home in Pennsylvania, almost 3 weeks postoperatively. The swelling of my abdomen is completely gone. I still have some tenderness and numbness that would be normal for a while. My wound is healing very well and I am building up my stamina and energy level every day. I am watching for my first menstrual period. It may take a couple of months sometimes for the cycle to restart. I am hoping that it would be short, light, and painless. I weighed myself the other day and noticed that I got lighter by 10 pounds after all my fibroids were removed. I don’t have pressure in my abdomen anymore and I am looking forward to a new life.
The reason I decided to take the time to put my story together, in addition to what I mentioned before, is because I had a very good experience with the program and wanted to acknowledge every member of the team for their hard work. I would like to thank everyone for a good care of me. I don’t have any doubt that I made the right decision to come to California to Dr. Del Junco Jr. and his team for my surgery.