Sometime back in the late 1980s I went to the bathroom to urinate and a pain shot through my lower pelvic area that hurt all into my teeth. I stumbled from the bathroom and fell across the bed. The severe pain subsided and I never gave the pain another thought. I was having regular periods and was not sexually active so I had no reason to question whether I was pregnant. Fast forward two years later when I felt a small lump in my abdomen. Still I ignored the lump. I ignored it until I was sitting in a dentist chair in 1992 when the dentist asked the usual pre-dental work question of “Are you pregnant?” and I said no. He asked are you sure? I said positively. He said why is your stomach so protruded? He then asked kindly and professionally if he could feel the lump. He then strongly suggested that I have the lump checked out. Long story short I was diagnosed with fibroid tumors.
After 13 years of enduring backaches, swollen feet and ankles, acid reflux, excessive, never ending periods, avoidance of white clothes, always wearing tampons and heavy pads, I had three fibroids removed. One fibroid the size of a soccer ball weighed 12 pounds. Two other fibroids, each the size of a grapefruit, were also removed. But before I had the fibroids surgically removed I tried every alternative remedy available. Since I was living in Los Angeles when the dentist told me about getting the lump checked out I called Fred Price ministries and asked for a healing session. I went and had a “laying on of hands” session at the church. Nothing worked–not fervent prayer, not laying on of hands, not fasting, not taking a host of herbals remedies—nothing. In 1993 I had surgery scheduled in Los Angeles to have the fibroids removed. When the doctor told me that he would removed the fibroids and said, “I cut you open and gut you like a fish” I came to Amarillo for the surgery. In Amarillo I found a female doctor who understood my concerns. After a series of CT scans and biopsies revealed how invasive my fibroids were, and they there were benign, not cancerous, I scheduled another surgery. The large one was inside my uterus, the two smaller ones had attached outside my uterus. All three were protruding into my lower back and abdominal cavity forcing aside intestinal organs and causing digestive and heart issues. My feet were permanently swollen because the fibroids were constricting vital blood vessels. All three fibroids had developed blood vessels that had attached to other organs allowing them to continue to grow. The Amarillo doctor explained that she wanted to remove the fibroids and not “gut me like a fish.” I went into surgery at Northwest around 7 a.m. in 1995 and came out of surgery 6 hours later—a full 14 pounds lighter. The doctor showed me a picture of my large fibroid. I was shocked. She explained how all the blood vessels had to be surgically “snipped” in a way that would not caused me to bleed to death. (I have given my own blood before the surgery in case I needed an infusion.) I was left with one ovary, no uterus, no cervix, no appendix (since no one knows it purpose anyway,) less one hernia near my navel that had caused it to protrude, and I was thrown into premature menopause. After about a month of healing, I felt great—never felt better in my life. Thank God for one Amarillo female doctor who knew exactly what to do.
Gussie Thompson has written a new book entitled, “Hope Beyond Fibroids.” Her book chronicles her 10 year plus ordeal with fibroids which prevented her from conceiving and having a child. Statistics say that at least 80 percent of black women will develop fibroids tumors. The same statistics say that at least 70 percent of women in the general population will develop fibroids. What exactly are fibroids and what causes them? Fibroids are tumors—cellular growth—that start small and continue to grow. It is believed that the woman in the Bible with the “issue of blood” had a fibroid that caused excessive bleeding. Years ago fibroids were called “female trouble.” No one knows what causes fibroids to develop as tiny growths that attach themselves to female pelvic organs and then proceed to grow. I have no idea what triggered my fibroids except that years ago I ate a lot of eggs, but that is not a suitable explanation. Some have speculated that eating lots of meat, especially pork, and fatty foods can cause fibroids. The largest fibroid ever removed from a human body was 150 pounds—the size of a whole human.
Part of the problem with fibroids is thought to be women’s health—or a lack of interest in women’s health, especially black women’s health, by a white male dominated medical profession. Some speculate that if 80 percent of white men had fibroids there would already be a cure. Add to this black women’s health and you have a good picture of why black females continue to suffer and endure fibroid tumors in such great numbers. So what are the symptoms of fibroids?—monthly periods that seem to never end with heavy bleeding. Other symptoms–lumps in the pelvic region, pain in the lower back, digestive issues especially acid reflux, and especially at night when foods seems to travel back up the esophagus. You feel full and bloated. Your clothes no longer fit around your waist and stomach. Over time as fibroids grow your abdomen will expand to the point where you look pregnant. Gessie Thompson explains that she had painful intercourse because of the pressure inside her pelvic region from invasive fibroids. She had a miscarriage because of constricted space inside her womb caused by growing fibroids. Fibroids cause anemia—causing you to want to eat dirt, starch, or ice cubes.
According to Ms. Thompson the modern medical approach to fibroids is non-invasive surgery that does not “gut a woman like a fish.” The earlier the detection of fibroids the sooner non-invasive surgery can remove them. Years ago the thought was that women who had children did not get fibroids. That is absolutely not true. I know of one woman with 8 children who now had four large fibroids. She is living with hers because she is afraid of being cut open and “gutted like a fish.” So she endures back pain, anemia, heavy bleeding, being careful where she goes—and not wearing a white dress. Women with fibroids can experience a sudden heavy flow of heavy bleeding after sitting for long periods where blood stains can be left behind on chairs—and blood can literally gush out.
Ms. Thompson was on television this week talking about her new book, “Hope Beyond Fibroids.” She is urging everyone to support the online “white dress program” to urge President Obama to declare a national fibroid awareness month. Essence Magazine is also soliciting personal fibroid stories to begin to focus on the problem of fibroids for all women. Do you have fibroids? Don’t ignore them. Get an annual pelvic exam and take action if you suspect fibroids. Don’t wait like I did. I was lucky. I did not suffer any long lasting effects from ignoring fibroids. But if you want to have children you don’t want to run the risk of not being able to conceive or carry a child to term because of fibroids. Pay attention to your own body.
Copyright 2015 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.