Jill's Fibroid story

By Jill

Before Dr. Joanna Hatfield removed my fibroids, I had tried other options. I got a UFE (uterine fibroid embolization) in 2003, which removed some bulk, but it was short-lived. My uterus grew even beyond the original size within seven years. I was hesitant to make appointments with surgeons at another local hospital who recommended hysterectomy. Naturopathic remedies such as tinctures didn't help. Then I developed a relationship with OHSU's Center for Women's Health (CWH). I found the doctors there  more open to waiting and seeing how to proceed with my condition. 

The tipping point came in 2013 when I couldn't wait to use a restroom while doing a fitness activity: That caused a lot of distress! I realized I could no longer live this way. I could not lean against the sink to do dishes. My abdomen was warped into the shape of a five-month pregnancy. My periods were long and heavy. I had anemia and felt weak. I got an appointment for imaging so that preparations for a surgery could be undertaken. Imaging showed about 20 tumors of varying size and location. Some were the size of peas, others as large as an apple.

I met Dr. Hatfield soon after and gained a trust with her. She didn't even wrinkle her face or act like it was a problem when I said that I was wanted to save my uterus. She said she had done hundreds of surgeries removing tumors. She said mine would probably take a long time but she would, unless it was clearly not possible, save it. I was 46 years old when she performed the surgery.

Imagine my joy when I woke up and was told that the surgery was a success. 

She removed the fibroids in the interior with a trans-cervical resection, which vastly reduced the length of my periods to only about three days in length. She removed at least 14 other tumors by being able to isolate and operate on the uterus via a Pfannenstiehl incision, which eliminated all the other symptoms I had. I'll never forget the picture that was taken of at least 14 tumors, lined up like a specimen exhibit. A pound of tumors!

You should probably be healthy and fit, and have discipline to follow through with long-term recovery. You have to devote yourself to recovery. About three months after my surgery, my lower back muscles had become unstable and sore. This is because my lower abdominal muscles had not been used for a couple of months while I was in immediate post-surgery recovery, and my lower back muscles had overcompensated. Physical therapy helped greatly, and I was very motivated.

It has been 2 1/2 years since my surgery. I don't have to adapt my life around my uterus. I just live my life  normally and  never even think about it. I am so grateful for Dr. Hatfield.