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Old 23.07.2015, 22:05
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Question for the ladies - fibroids

Hi gals (and guys, if your gal has gone through this) - I hesitate to post this because it's so personal but the EF collective wisdom has come in handy many times, so...

I've been diagnosed with a uterine fibroid (just one) but it keeps growing and has changed shape. It's not causing me any major problems presently, and was discovered with an ultrasound. Because we want to have kids, and I'm not getting any younger, the doctor is recommending I have a surgical procedure to remove the fibroid sooner rather than later.

If I have the fibroid removed, the doc says I could start trying to get pregnant again in 1-2 months. If I don't have it removed, and I get pregnant, apparently it increases the risk for miscarriage substantially. I get the impression the fibroid will continue to grow if left untreated, and eventually have to come out anyway.

I've never had surgery in CH so I don't know what to expect. The worst-case scenario is they mess up and have to give me a hysterectomy. Based on the doctor's description of the procedure, they would use a power morcellator. The U.S. FDA has issued a warning about these, saying if the fibroid is cancerous, it could spread the cancer, but we don't think this is cancerous. The procedure would be under general anesthetic and I'd have to stay one night in hospital even if there were no complications.

Has anyone gone through this decision process? What did you decide? If you chose the operation, was it like in terms of pain, side effects, etc.? Were you able to later get pregnant? Anyone who left a fibroid alone, got pregnant, and then had problems?

I don't take surgical decisions lightly, so thanks for any thoughts and advice. I'm pretty stressed out.

PS - Thanks again to olygirl for this thread, which helped me feel more comfortable with the process of gyn visits.
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Old 23.07.2015, 22:22
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Re: Question for the ladies - fibroids

A friend of mine got pregnant while having several fibroids, including a pretty large one. Apparently they tend to go even larger because of the pregnancy hormones, which can be harmful the the fetus. My friend had what was classified as high risk pregnancy, and it ended up in emergency c-section at 36 weeks. She was told that normal delivery was too risky when you have fibroids. Note that both mom and baby were perfectly healthy, and she proceeded to have another baby a few years later

My aunt had several fibroids too, and they tended to bleed heavily during her cycles. She chose to have them cauterised, which solved her issues completely. She didn't want anymore children, so cauterisation was the best solution for her. She was suffering from severe anemia and dizzy spells because of the frequent blood loss.

Surgery is always scary, but I don't think this is a massive procedure. Good luck to you!
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Old 23.07.2015, 22:27
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Re: Question for the ladies - fibroids

No experience with fibroids but I know from friends that it is better to get them removed. One friend has had this, had them removed and has delivered a healthy baby

As to the more general question on having "female" operations. I had a ovarian tumor and had this taken care of in Switzerland. I have had operations before in several countries but can only praise the care I received in Switzerland. Great pre-op advice, great care afterwards.

Sorry that I cannot give you more specific information but I just hope it helps you in your decision of getting it done here.

Crossing my fingers for you it all goes well and praying for you (if I may say that)
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Old 23.07.2015, 23:40
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Re: Question for the ladies - fibroids

I know of a case where there was a miscarriage and the fibroid was identified as the guilty party. As mentioned by Melusine, the hormones (and levels) (as well as the rich diet) during pregnancy is said to have contributed to its rapid growth. The lady subsequently had an operation to remove it (in the process, the docs found several smaller ones!)- but went on to have a smooth pregnancy and a healthy baby within a year! I don't know about the pain & side effects, but she was in the hospital for 4 days and was advised not to lift anything heavy (or bend) for a long time.

If you are planning on having babies, then it would be very wise to get rid of the fibroid. Regarding the method used, you could ask for a second opinion?
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Old 24.07.2015, 21:13
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Re: Question for the ladies - fibroids

Thanks everyone for your public and private messages. <insert big hug emoticon here> Very much appreciated as I try to work through this. It just seems so...overwhelming...since I don't have children yet and do want them.

I do want to clarify this bit though:

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...Based on the doctor's description of the procedure, they would use a power morcellator.
I talked to the doctor again today, and I misunderstood. The procedure is more like a D&C and is not done with an incision (trying to keep graphic details out ). To be honest after reading up on both procedures, I don't really understand how a C is better or different from a morcellator but at least it's less invasive and sounds less scary.

Will keep you posted. And thanks again.
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Old 28.07.2015, 16:30
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Re: Question for the ladies - fibroids

Just another quick update - after reading all the public and private thoughts here, and talking with family and friends back home, we've decided I will do the surgery. It's the least invasive surgical option there is, with the shortest recovery time. Since we want kids, it is the most logical choice to give us a solid chance for a healthy pregnancy. The surgery will be in a few weeks.

Positive vibes are appreciated.

Now I need to get cozy with Google Translate, as the hospital has sent me a massive packet of information, all in German.
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Old 28.07.2015, 17:03
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Re: Question for the ladies - fibroids

I have no experience of your situation, so can't offer any advice, I just want to say I am thinking about you. I hope all goes well, wishing you lots of luck. X
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Old 28.07.2015, 17:46
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Re: Question for the ladies - fibroids

*sending positive vibes your way*
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Old 28.07.2015, 18:15
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Re: Question for the ladies - fibroids

I have no advice or input to offer, but I just wanted to wish you the best with the procedure and a speedy recovery!
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Old 28.07.2015, 21:05
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Re: Question for the ladies - fibroids

That's a really good idea, about the list. Still, as I recall, when I was in recovery, the nurses spoke enough English for me to understand, even in my semi- deranged state. Will be thinking of you!
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Old 28.07.2015, 22:23
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Re: Question for the ladies - fibroids

If you need help with translations, feel free to PM me. I'd offer to help you translate on-site, but as the surgery probably isn't on the week-end (that's usually reserved for emergencies) I can't do that.

A piece of advice: Ask your doctors what you're allowed to consume after surgery and take huge supplies of that with you - e.g. chocolate, your favorite soda, cookies, teabags... that way you're prepared for a post-op binge just in case. Also money for a cab in case you can't be picked up, aren't allowed to drive and don't want to get on public transport.

Important phrases:

"Ich benötige jetzt Schmerzmittel." - I need painkillers now.
"Die Medikamente sind zu stark." - The meds are too strong.
"Die Medikamente sind zu schwach." - The meds aren't strong enough.
"Ich brauche jetzt einen Arzt." - I need a doctor now.
"Ich habe Durst/Hunger." - I'm thirsty/hungry.
"Ich habe Schmerzen im [point to location]." - My [location] hurts.
"Wie funktioniert der Internetzugang?" - How does the internet connection work (in case you want distractions )
"Können Sie bitte ____ kontaktieren" - Could you please contact ____?
"Wie sind die Besuchszeiten?" - How are visiting hours?
"Wann kommt der Arzt?" - When is the doctor coming?
"Bitte helfen Sie mir." - Please help me.
"Bitte sprechen Sie langsamer." - Please speak slower.
"Sprechen Sie Englisch?" - Do you speak English?
"Wie muss ich dieses Medikament einnehmen?" - How do I take this medication?
"Wie geht die Behandlung weiter?" - What kind of treatment will be used as of now?
"Wann muss ich zu meinem Gynäkologen/Hausarzt?" - When do I have to visi my gyno/GP?
"Wann darf ich [Schokolade, Kekse, Saft] essen/trinken?" - When can I eat [chocolate, cookies, juice]

Best of luck!
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Old 28.07.2015, 23:25
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Re: Question for the ladies - fibroids

Glad it's not the morcellator...that thing looks scary even if under skilled control.

Let me know if you need translation help on the info package - I'm female and not squeamish Speak decent enough German to get husband through his major surgery decision making and hospital stay.

Don't worry too much about needing German in hospital. Of course it's great if you can manage a few words, but Mr HH found that pointing and saying "ow", pointing at the bathroom etc was enough. The nursing standards in Switzerland (or at least in St Gallen, Baden and Bad Zurzach) are excellent, with a high nurseatient ratio.
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Old 29.07.2015, 17:03
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Re: Question for the ladies - fibroids

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...Ask your doctors what you're allowed to consume after surgery and take huge supplies of that with you - e.g. chocolate, your favorite soda, cookies, teabags... that way you're prepared for a post-op binge just in case. Also money for a cab in case you can't be picked up, aren't allowed to drive and don't want to get on public transport.

Important phrases:
...
I never thought about taking along a stash of favorites for post-op. I usually get ravenously hungry in the middle of the night after a surgery, and low-salt crackers are great for that as well as tamping down nausea. No need for cab money, as the OH is going to be there or be in BIG trouble.

The fun bit with phrases - it's one thing to know how to ask for/about something. Another to understand the instructions that come back to you.

I am sure I'll be fine. I just know that I'm in quite a fog after general anesthesia. I thought a little cheat sheet could help. I'm mostly thinking in terms of after visiting hours/overnight, when OH has gone home. I try very hard not to ring for anything, because I hate to be a bother. But if I do need to ring, I don't want to waste the nurses' time by not making my needs clear.
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Old 29.07.2015, 19:39
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Re: Question for the ladies - fibroids

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I don't want to waste the nurses' time by not making my needs clear.
It's the nurse's and the doctor's JOB to make treatments clear to you and to listen to you making your needs clear, however long it takes. She/he needs to understand your needs to be able to address them, so do not ever feel bad about taking however much time you need piecing together your questions.

From your post, it seems like the most important phrase for you would be:

"Bitte erklären Sie mir das nochmals, und zwar langsam." Please explain this again, slowly"

as well as

"Wie meinen Sie das?" - "What do you mean by this?"

Last edited by glowjupiter; 29.07.2015 at 19:53.
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Old 29.07.2015, 19:42
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Re: Question for the ladies - fibroids

Do you have a smart phone/iPad or something like that? They have translation apps, easy to use. And take your cheat sheet for the common questions
But I´m sure they will have (and get you) someone who speaks English if necessary!
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Old 28.07.2019, 20:59
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Re: Question for the ladies - fibroids

I am so sorry this has happened, thank you for sharing your ordeal, my heart aches for you.

Having had (thankfully benign but still health-impacting) fibroids myself, I noticed there seems to be a general "wait and see" approach, whereby the gynae speculates that you will take the initiative yourself if matters get worse. However, I feel like hormonal issues can get worse so gradually that you may keep putting things off or not want to make a fuss, like the often cited frog in the water that heats up gradually until the hapless amphibian is cooked. And of course, the popular "if in doubt, take the pill" view is not necessarily helpful, often just being a superficial solution.

Like edot said, women's health is clearly just not considered as important or we would have more and better research on these things. Mind you, we still get the privilege of paying higher insurance premiums because doctors will happily treat symptoms until the cows come home but looking for the root cause is a different story.

I believe that owning a more complex machine (aka body) compared to the other half of the population requires the mindset of a skilled mechanic. You need to understand what is going on and how you can influence it for the better if nevessary. I love how technology has helped me with this, I use Tempdrop and Ovuview to keep track and my gynecologist really digs having data to work with.

Contrary to the common narrative, It is not normal for your menstrual cycle to negatively impact your life. It is not normal to feel tired all the time or be in agonising pain on a regular basis. I know we try to grin and bear it and for the most part try to hide what is happening because there is so much social stigma attached. I know people, even women, don't like talking about it but we deserve better.

So like 3wishes says, if in doubt, be the person who demands a better answer or a second opinion. Pay attention to what is normal for YOUR body, document it. The literature talks about averages and standard deviations; make sure you have your own data.
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Old 28.07.2019, 23:17
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Re: Question for the ladies - fibroids

I am so sorry to hear your experience, 3Wishes. Really. My heart goes out to you. Thank you so much for sharing. We do not talk enough about women’s health!

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Having had (thankfully benign but still health-impacting) fibroids myself, I noticed there seems to be a general "wait and see" approach, whereby the gynae speculates that you will take the initiative yourself if matters get worse. However, I feel like hormonal issues can get worse so gradually that you may keep putting things off or not want to make a fuss, like the often cited frog in the water that heats up gradually until the hapless amphibian is cooked. And of course, the popular "if in doubt, take the pill" view is not necessarily helpful, often just being a superficial solution.
...
Contrary to the common narrative, It is not normal for your menstrual cycle to negatively impact your life. It is not normal to feel tired all the time or be in agonising pain on a regular basis. I know we try to grin and bear it and for the most part try to hide what is happening because there is so much social stigma attached. I know people, even women, don't like talking about it but we deserve better.

So like 3wishes says, if in doubt, be the person who demands a better answer or a second opinion. Pay attention to what is normal for YOUR body, document it. The literature talks about averages and standard deviations; make sure you have your own data.
I’m not having an easy time with Gynaecologists in CH, have definitely experienced a “wait and see/take the pill” approach. I don’t at all feel in good health in this way, but two have completely dismissed my concerns and told me to take the pill and watch my symptoms melt away...I’ve refused the pill for a few reasons, among which family history with female problems and the fact that I already have a small list of autoimmune disorders and I’d hate to mess with my hormones without having any tests done showing a real need... if any of you have recommendations for a good Gynaecologist (French or English speaking) in Fribourg/Payerne région (would consider driving to Bern or Lausanne) that would be very much appreciated.
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Old 29.07.2019, 01:46
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Re: Question for the ladies - fibroids

My heart goes out to you 3 Wishes! Thinking of you and so sorry for your what you have gone through. I cannot imagine how you feel and what you have gone through but wanted to let you know how much others will benefit from your post.
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