My name is Melissa Barron, I’m a 24 year old music major at UTA, and I have a disease called endometriosis. Endometriosis is a condition in which the layer of tissue that normally covers the inside of the uterus, grows outside it. It is very rarely life threatening, however the most well-known side effect is severe pain. I highly recommend you watch the short two minute video I posted of my doctor explaining what the disease is and the surgery I’m going to have.
In August 2013, I was diagnosed during my first laparoscopic removal, which provided pain relief, however the disease grew back. I went from taking ibuprofen for pain relief, to an opioid, to multiple opioids with little success. In March 2017, I had my second surgery. Despairingly I found no pain relief this time, and the pain has been slowly worsening over time. After seeing two very dismissive gynecologists, I looked for help on the internet and found a different type of surgeon, a world renowned endometriosis excision specialist with a much higher success rate. A few weeks ago, my mom and I had a 3-hour consultation with Dr. John Dulemba in Denton, where he explained in detail all the different options available for endometriosis (from pain management to surgery). You can visit his Facebook page here.
The typical removal of endometriosis is by ablation, surgically burning it off, however he specializes in excision or “cutting” out the endometriosis. With ablation there is a 60-80% chance that the endometriosis will grow back. However, with excision the lesion isn’t just removed superficially, but the tissue surrounding it and beneath it are also excised. He equated it to the movie Titanic: if you burn off the surface of the iceburg the Titanic will still sink; it's what is underneath that is the problem. Dr. Dulemba also searches everywhere for the disease, from the bowel to the liver to the lungs, as endometriosis can occur in many different organs. In the past 6 months he has had 3 patients who have endometriosis in their liver, 4 that have it in their lungs, 9 on their diaphram, and even a girl recently with it inside her intestines. He also performs what is called a second look, a second surgery 3-5 days after the first where he goes back in to remove scar tissue and adhesions that form. The first surgery will last up to five hours, while the second one should take less than half an hour.
Here’s the problem - insurance considers this type of surgery experimental. This is an article explaining why it is not covered by insurance, even though it is the gold standard for treating endometriosis. Right now my options are to do nothing (not something I could live with), continue to increase my opioid intake, or have surgery. If those don’t work, I can have a hysterectomy, but I’m not willing to give up the possibility of having children just yet.
His personal fee is $5500 paid upfront by July 25th for both of my surgeries. The first surgery is scheduled for Friday, July 28th, with the second on August 2nd. I am hopeful that insurance will still cover a portion of the hospital and anesthesiology expenses for both surgeries, which my parents said they can repay in installments. I offered to help them by taking only a couple classes at UTA this fall or even skip a semester since they are still paying off my dad’s most recent surgery for Barrett’s Esophagus. With my Dad’s upcoming retirement I’m worried about them being able to pay my medical bills, and so I'm swallowing my pride and asking for help.
- Geoff Hibbs
- Brittany T
- Brian Chandler
- Jerry and Elizabeth Chandler
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