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Treatment for heavy periods put busy mom back in action

By The Health News Team | March 29, 2024
Mom throwing baseball to her son

As a military wife and working mom, Andrea sometimes finds herself laughing at how busy this season of life is. Between her 11-year-old son’s baseball games, 7-year-old daughter’s soccer games and a career in the biotech industry, there always seems to be a lot going on.

Andrea’s family also enjoys spending time outdoors with their two dogs and soaking up all San Diego has to offer. It’s quite a difference from Virginia, where they lived until her husband received orders to relocate from the U.S. Navy. Despite the busyness, Andrea loves all of it, especially cheering on her kids. But heavy menstrual periods have always loomed, threatening to spoil everyone’s good time.

“I’ve had heavy periods my entire life, but after stopping birth control, they got really bad,” Andrea says. “I can’t count how many times I’ve been unable to sit through my kids’ games because I’ve had to run to the bathroom constantly to change my tampon and pad. There’ve been so many times I couldn’t join my family at the pool because I didn’t know if there would be a bathroom.”

Tired of living her life dictated by her cycle and avoiding activities when she knew she would have her period, Andrea reached out to her friends.

“I did a lot of my own research and realized what I was experiencing wasn’t normal,” Andrea says. “I talked to my friends, and they said they weren’t having the ultra-heavy periods that I was. That’s when I knew I needed to see a doctor.”

Seeking a solution to get back in the bleachers

In doing online research, Andrea found Dr. Ray Kamali, an OBGYN affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, and made an appointment. “I saw he had a lot of good reviews and remembered seeing his office when I would bring my kids to the pediatrician just down the hall,” Andrea says.

At her appointment, Andrea’s medical history was reviewed. She had a biopsy to rule out cancer and an ultrasound to see if she had fibroids, which she did. Then she met Dr. Kamali and discussed treatment options.

“They said I could try an intrauterine device or have surgery,” Andrea says. “My surgical options were ablation or hysterectomy. I knew I wasn’t going to have more kids, so my preference was to have a hysterectomy.”

While Dr Kamali says he always tries to manage patients’ needs with the least invasive options, Andrea had been dealing with bleeding that was affecting her quality of life for a long time. She was interested learning about her surgical options.

“In the past, a hysterectomy required multiple hospital days and large surgical scar,” Dr. Kamali says. “With the advent of robotic laparoscopic surgery, our patients are able to go home a few hours after surgery with incisions smaller than the fingertip.”

Robotic-assisted surgery: Doctor directed and extremely safe

Dr. Kamali explained to Andrea that she would be having robotic-assisted surgery at Sharp Chula Vista’s Outpatient Surgery Center. The benefits, he explained, included going home the same day, very small incisions and a fast recovery.

On the morning of her surgery, Andrea felt nervous, but was put at ease by the friendly staff and the warm blankets and socks she was given. Her kids were more nervous, however — mostly about the robot.

“My son asked, ‘Mom, what happens if the robot makes a mistake?’” Andrea says. “I reassured him that it’s still the doctor performing the surgery and that it’s great technology. They were relieved when I came home that afternoon feeling pretty good.”

After the surgery, Andrea had some soreness and bloating when she got home, which she was told to expect. But she was pleasantly surprised that she was able to stand comfortably and walk upstairs that night. Andrea was also amazed by the small size of her incisions.

“Dr. Kamali told me I could expect small incisions because of the minimally invasive nature of robotic-assisted surgery,” says Andrea. “But I didn’t realize how small they would be. The biggest one was about an inch long, and the smallest was about the size of a fingernail.”

A smooth path to recovery

According to Dr. Kamali, Sharp Chula Vista employs the enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocol to help improve surgical recovery and outcome. It’s a multidisciplinary approach to patient care that aims to optimize a patient’s experience before, during and after surgery.

“This includes education and preparation prior to surgery, a combination of pain management and anesthesia techniques to reduce the need for narcotics, and early ambulation and activity,” he says.

Now, less than two months after her surgery, Andrea considers herself fully recovered. She’s back to work, exercising and cheering on her kids at their games — and thrilled she no longer has to worry about missing a single score.

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