2-3 Times More Likely...

“Did I know you had fibroids?” The doctor asked on a recent visit. “No”, I said, “I didn’t know I had fibroids” What followed was a blur, follow up appointments, paperwork for testing, and talk of surgery all in less than 30 minutes. When I got home, I was in a bit of a daze but elated, I was going to have surgery.

Did you know African American women are diagnosed with uterine fibroids 2-3 times more than white women. Learn more here.

Don’t misunderstand me, I wasn't looking for a reason to be laid up, out of commission and having a major medical procedure done, I was just happy that someone finally confirmed that I actually wasn’t feeling well.

So let me back up. A few years back I told my primary physician I wasn’t feeling well. I explained symptoms, told her how I was missing work because of my symptoms and so on.  This happened often over the last few years during regular check-ups and impromptu appointments when I was really feeling bad.

Each time, my doctor would order blood work and ask me about my anxiety level.  Each time I would tell her I’m not anxious I just really don’t feel good and describe my symptoms…exhaustion, insane periods, I was gaining a lot of weight and a bunch of other symptoms. Each time, she would offer to prescribe me something for depression or anxiety and had my blood drawn which always came back normal. So I began to live with all my symptoms as if it was just a part of getting older.

I was hurt, how could they miss this...and for so long.

After my initial celebration for finally receiving confirmation that yes something was physically wrong, I then became sad and angry. I had been a patient with both my primary physician and OBGYN for over a decade.  I had been to their offices for regular check ups and exams. I THOUGHT I had clearly described my symptoms. In fact, during this last appointment, I was actually really vague with what was bothering me and said something like I feel like my body feels like it is short-circuiting.

Thinking back I had had symptoms of fibroids for YEARS and because of all the time that passed I had limited treatment options because things were so far along and options.  Instead of taking a medicine or being able to do an outpatient procedure my only desirable option to feel better and be sure the fibroids were gone left me with a major surgery, a hysterectomy, a hospital stay and the removal of almost 10 pounds (yes you read that right) of non-cancerous tissues from my midsection.

While I am thankful for the diagnosis and looking forward to not have to deal with all of the agony and symptoms, one question remains, what’s next?  Some friends have suggested I look for new doctors? Some say I need to focus on losing the weigh, although to be fair I just lost 10 pounds. Maybe I shouldn’t change doctors and need to learn to do better advocating for myself? I don’t know yet. Right now I am grateful to my doctor who diagnosed me and grateful for the surgery. As for everything else? I guess I’ll figure it out as I’m laid up recovering for the next few weeks

Unfortunately, stories like mine are becoming more and more common.  Recently Buzzfeed ran a story on 5 women whose doctors didn’t believe them. Serena Williams also spoke up after her own life-threatening health scare saying, “Doctors Aren’t Listening So Black Women Are Dying.” She credits her life being saved by the ability to know her body and ability to advocate for herself but what about when you don’t know what’s happening inside or have no family history?

Listen to one woman’s story and her path to attempt to avoid a hysterectomy