Twyla Hubbard’s Fibroid Journey
I knew something was wrong when I would get intense pelvic pain, even when I was not on my period. The pain would nearly bring me to my knees. I tried managing the pain with over-the-counter medication for as long as possible. I noticed that when I would sleep in certain positions and after intercourse, the pain in my back and pelvis was more intense.
After about three months, I met with my gynecologist to share my concerns. I had an ultrasound immediately. A fibroid of 10 cm (almost 4 inches) was pressing into my tailbone. The only two options given to me were a hysterectomy or managing the discomfort with more pain medication. I did not want to make a rushed decision. My doctor gave me pamphlets about hysterectomies and fibroids and told me to call the office when I was ready to schedule surgery.
I wondered if there were other treatment options.
I went home wondering if there were other options to deal with fibroids. I am a healthy, divorced, 44-year-old working professional with two kids. And even though I did not see more kids in my future, I was not ready to take on such an invasive procedure. Besides, who knows what the future had in store for me? My doctor prescribed a different routine for taking my birth control pills, and I managed the pain with 800 mg of ibuprofen. I did this for about a year. I started to notice lower-back and pelvic pain in the middle of the night, and my stomach started to get bigger. I tried adjusting my sleeping position, sleeping with a pillow between my legs or under my knees, and rotating multiple times during the night, only to wake up tired and still in pain. Then there were frequent trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night and constant constipation. My urine stream got weaker and weaker. I increased my water and fiber intake. I started walking more and riding my bike, yet I was still in pain.
The thought of a hysterectomy was scary.
The thought of a hysterectomy was looming over my head. I tried to talk myself into going ahead with the procedure because hundreds of women do this daily, right? My mother had done it. My aunt had done it, as well as; two of my closest girlfriends, my beautician, my neighbor next door, and a woman two streets over. Why was I making such a big deal about it? I still could not accept that no more options were available to me. My career and children’s busy schedules do not afford me long periods off work or to be in recovery for four-six weeks.
The turning point was when I woke up around 4 a.m. to go to the bathroom. I just sat there on the toilet, waiting for the urine to come. It never did. I tried meditating, jumping jacks, soaking in warm water, and massaging my abdomen. There was still no urine two hours later. The pain kicked in, and I tried to urinate, but nothing would come. You take things like urinating for granted until you can’t. Three hours later, in tears and with what felt like contractions, I finally was able to empty my bladder.
I researched fibroid treatments.
I stayed home from work that morning and researched fibroid treatments. I found literature and reviews about uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). UFE sounded like an option worth exploring. I made my appointment that same day. After an MRI, I found out the fibroid had grown to 11-12 cm, almost 5 inches. It was blocking my bowels and part of my bladder. I had my procedure three weeks later. I was awake during UFE. Barring some slight moments of minor pain and discomfort, it was not bad. I was urinating normally within two days. My recovery was one week.
My doctor told me that after UFE, the fibroids shrink and die over time. I now feel more like my old self. Constipation and painful intercourse are gone. My large stomach, which looked like I was 3-4 months pregnant, has gone down completely. The bleeding has been minimal. I’m anxious to have another MRI to see how small the fibroid has gotten.
Undergoing UFE was the best decision I could have made.
Undergoing UFE was the best decision I could have made. I am glad that there was a treatment available that was so effective. UFE fits my active lifestyle. I was also in control of deciding if having invasive and life-altering surgery, like a hysterectomy, was right for me.
Everyone’s personal journey with fibroids can serve as a source of motivation and hope for other women suffering from similar conditions. Share your story.