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   This is my personal story about my own experience and should not be construed as medical advice in any way.

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If you have fibroids (or know someone who does) you should read my personal story!

I’m sharing my personal story because I realize that very few women know about Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE) and not many OBGYNs recommend it for their patients who are suffering from fibroids. I want to raise awareness about UAE because I am one of the millions of women (up to 80% of women will develop fibroids) who was suffering from fibroids (at the age of 40). Fibroids are under-researched because they don’t cause problems for most women. Doctors still don’t fully understand how fibroids develop.

My fibroids symptoms were debilitating and affecting my quality of life. I experienced constant bleeding, pain and my tummy got so big it was like I was 4 months pregnant! I had to do something about them! Needless to say, I was miserable and in that physical and mental state it was challenging for me to see a good solution to my fibroids. I didn’t like the hysterectomy option because it seemed too radical of a treatment to me. Luckily I did my own research and discovered Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE) which shrank my fibroids enough so that I no longer suffer from any any fibroids symptoms. I am happy to be living pain free again!

What are fibroids?

Fibroids are defined as benign smooth muscle tumors of the uterus. My fibroids were so large that my uterus was the size of a woman who was 4 months pregnant. Fibroids are usually not a problem unless they get too large because they are benign tumors. But when they get large they can cause excessive and constant bleeding, pain, digestive and urinary problems and other issues.

Surgeons team standing above of the patient before surgery with equipment , selective focus on hand

How I avoided a hysterectomy

My OBGYN recommended a hysterectomy because my fibroids were so large. I was determined to fully explore alternatives to a hysterectomy because I wanted to avoid major surgery if possible. it just seemed liked there must be a way to shrink the fibroids. I tried herbal supplements and acupuncture, but they didn’t help enough. I discovered uterine artery embolization (UAE) and through my own research found a doctor in Houston who does it.

I want to emphasize that I found a doctor who did UAE on my own, I did not receive any encouragement or assistance from my OBGYN. This is important to note, because in this case I believe my doctor was not acting in my own best interests. My doctor may not have known much about UAE, or she may have been motivated to collect her fee for performing a hysterectomy rather than send me to a different doctor for treatment. Be aware that doctors can be motivated by money, just like any other human being.

Please remember that you always have to be your own health advocate, because your doctor may not always be acting in your best interests. That’s why doing your own research and consulting other doctors for second opinions is so important. I actually got second opinions from two other OBGYNs and they both recommended a hysterectomy. I was not surprised because as doctors they are trained to heal by removal.

Multi-Ethnic Group of Diverse People Holding Letters To Form A Health

What is a UAE?

Fibroids grow because they have a blood supply, so the UAE cuts off their blood supply by injecting a sand-like material into the uterine arteries. Before your doctor can determine if you are a good candidate for a UAE, they need an MRI to help them determine which stage of growth your fibroids are in. I actually had two MRI’s because the first one was done incorrectly. For the second MRI I went to an imaging office that my doctor doing the UAE recommended. My first MRI was done at the hospital where my OBGYN practiced. I believe my first MRI was done incorrectly due to poor staff training.

What is the recovery from UAE like?

A small incision is made for the UAE, but it didn’t bother me at all. Recovery from a UAE is extremely painful because when the blood supply is cutoff from the fibroids they will start contracting. After my UAE I spent the night in the hospital for pain management. The pain when you are recovering from a UAE is severe and it was definitely the worst pain I’ve ever experienced (and I’ve had two c-sections). I was sent home with pain medication but only took it for three days. I was able to return to work six days after my UAE.

Pain Management 630My personal warning about pain medication

Pain management is the hardest part of recovering from a UAE. I was on a morphine drip in the hospital for 24 hours, then given prescription pain medication to take at home. After one day at home I found that my pain was increasing, so I called my doctor and got a prescription for stronger pain medication. This helped me with my pain but I was very concerned about the effects the pain medication was having on both my body and my mind.

You see I didn’t just feel like I was recovering from minor surgery, I felt more like a zombie. I had no desire to do anything – not watch TV or read books or do crafts. This is highly unusual for me, to just want to lay in bed and do absolutely nothing. So I stopped taking pain medication cold turkey three days after going home. I did not stop taking the pain medication because I felt no pain, I stopped taking it because I was worried about the effects of the pain medication and I wanted to see how I would feel without medication.

I was surprised to find out that after my last dose of pain medication wore off – I had no pain!!! That’s right – I was pain free. I didn’t feel normal, but I didn’t feel like I needed strong pain medication.

The lesson I learned from my experience is that you want to take as little pain medication as possible and that you need to be aware that pain medication can have negative mental and physical effects. I felt that as long as I was taking the pain medication, I was going to feel like I was in pain. I was never going to feel “normal” while taking the pain medication. In fact, I didn’t feel normal until about one month after my UAE. I truly believe that this was because my body was detoxing from the strong pain medication I was on.

Portrait an unknown male doctor holding a stethoscope

How to find a doctor who specializes in UAE

In order to find a doctor who is experienced with UAE you first need to know what type of doctor to search for. You will find the right doctor under the category of:  Vascular and Interventional Radiology. Then you have to call each office and ask them if they do UAE because many vascular and interventional radiologists don’t do UAE.

Which doctor to see in Houston, Texas

If you live near Houston, I highly recommend Dr. Syed Raza at Premeir Vein and Vascular Center with offices in Houston (near Katy) and Cypress. I was impressed with how professional his staff were and with how quickly I was able to schedule my appointments and schedule my UAE. I felt like the procedure and recovery were well explained to me and I felt very comfortable with everything. My UAE was successful thanks to Dr. Raza and his staff. I am eternally grateful to them for helping me achieve better health and avoid major surgery.

Healing

If you suffer from fibroids, I wish you the best of luck in your journey of healing! I hope that by sharing my personal story I helped you understand UAE as another treatment option that is available.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment with your experience living with fibroids or about a time when you had to be your own health advocate.

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Whipped Cream Canister Recall

by Freebies4Mom on June 23, 2017 6:57 am

whipped

Do you have a gourmet whipped cream canister similar to the one shown in the photo above? If you do, stop using it and dispose of it, because it can be very dangerous.

It came to my attention because a bizarre headline caught my attention in the news:  “Fitness model dies in freak kitchen accident” A whipped cream canister exploded and hit her in the thorax causing cardiac arrest which she dies of. When I looked at the photo I realized that I had this gourmet whipped cream canister in my kitchen – and so did my mom!

I couldn’t find any official recalls, but according to the news article, these do-it-yourself whipped cream canisters “rely on gas capsules to pressurize a metal container canister, which creates the whipped cream. Under some circumstances, those capsules can be expelled like a bullet at high speed.” So basically they are dangerous and you should not use them!

This is the first death attributed to their use, but many injuries have been reported. They have been sold under several brands – mine was from Illy and the one in the news was from Chantilly. Please help spread the word and tell your family and friends about this recall!

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Why I have a date with my dermatologist every May…

by Freebies4Mom on June 13, 2017 12:03 pm

SkinCancer is scary. Skin cancer is scary. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a less scary type of cancer because it’s a fact that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.

I visited my dermatologist in May (the month of my birthday) to have a skin cancer screening and I learned why it’s so important to have this annual screening. I was aware of the Self-Check and have been doing them – but my approach to the health of my skin was that I would see a dermatologist only when I had a concern about something specific (and not as a preventative measure). My approach has changed after seeing a dermatologist and talking to her while she measured my moles (and wrote them down). I now understand the value of having a trained professional look at my skin every year in order to catch subtle changes that may indicate precancerous conditions. I am not trained to catch the subtle changes that she can catch – and that’s important when you’re trying to prevent skin cancer.

My dermatologist told me:

“most people come to me when there’s an obvious change, like a mole that’s bleeding – and we want to catch skin cancer before it gets to that stage”

Then I read a few facts to further educate myself, and drill it into my mind that my annual skin cancer screening is not something I can skip.

 

I now have an annual date with my dermatologist every May (the month of my birthday). It’s a gift to myself to invest in preventative care that will improve my health and help me keep my future medical expenses lower. I’m going to ask you again, because it’s so important for you to answer this question:

Have you had your Annual Skin Cancer Screening? 

If not, please contact your insurance company or use the Skin Cancer Foundation’s physician finder to schedule an appointment.

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4 Ways to Squelch A “Want”

by Freebies4Mom on June 8, 2017 12:00 pm

TipsThere was this purse I saw on Amazon that I instantly fell in love with and thought “I have to get this purse, it is so ME!”. But I didn’t buy it because the pricetag was over $200 – and I’ve never bought a purse that costs anywhere near that much. ]

I squelched my desire to buy it by printing out a picture of it and filing it away (so it was out-of-sight and out-of-mind).  Well, I found that picture a few months after I printed it and guess what? I no longer want that purse – and now when I look at it I think “Those zebra stripes are so NOT me”. I am so glad I didn’t buy it when I wanted to, but held onto it as a “wish” that might be granted or denied at a later date.

I’m still shopping for a new purse – but instead of browsing online for the “perfect” purse I’m looking in the Goodwill Store for the “perfect” gently-used purse.

Here are four tips to squelch a “Want” on your list:

1. Print It and then Forget It

2. Ask for it as a Gift

3. Go Frugal

4. Just Say No To Yourself

It’s ok (and even healthy) so just say no to yourself! You can make do with what you have – and many times you will find that what you have is plenty!

We get bombarded with “buy more” messages every day so it’s easy to think that we need to upgrade something when we don’t really need to.

Having less helps us appreciate all that we have that much more! Don’t you think so?

4 Ways to Squelch A "Want"

Me with my gently used purse I bought at a Garage Sale

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speech313Where can you take the kids this summer that’s air-conditioned, educational, fun and FREE? The library!

We are fortunate to live in Houston and we have three public libraries within a 15-minute drive of our house. During the summer, our library hosts wonderful kids and teen activities including everything from crafts to magicians. Plus we can of course check out books and movies.

Our library also hosts a free Summer Reading Program where kids get rewarded for reading and yours probably does too!

But my favorite thing about planning an outing to the library is that while we are there we are not tempted to spend money! As long as we return our library books on time, the library is a very frugal place to go.

Why are you taking your kids to the library this summer? Please leave a comment to tell me!

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