My story starts back in 1999 when I went to the doctor for anxiety issues. My anxiety was situational – I had a very sick mother, had just started college and was in a not so great relationship. I guess since I was so young, short-term anti-anxiety medications were out of the question and I was given antidepressants. The problem with antidepressants is that if you are not clinically depressed (don’t have a chemical imbalance in your brain) then they can actually cause a chemical imbalance creating the very same issues they are meant to treat. I thought something was wrong, so I went to the person who was supposed to know- a psychiatrist. There, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Let me reiterate here that I had no chemical imbalance to start with. So here starts my journey as a “crazy” person. I was pumped so full of medicines that I didn’t need until basically I had become a zombie – barely able to function in daily life – and that just kept them filling me with more meds. I never questioned the doctors because I trusted them. Also, since the medication was causing the same symptoms that I was supposed to exhibit, I believed that they were correct. Maybe I was symptomatic, but through it all (hospital stays, the loss of my mother, a physically abusive husband) I was never suicidal. I just had “issues” and dealt with them accordingly by taking the medicine that I was prescribed exactly as it was prescribed. However by 2005 I was separated from my husband, was halfway homeless, still wasn’t over the death of my mother. A “perfect storm” was brewing. Add to that the addition of a new medication to my regimen that caused suicidal thoughts and BAM!
I purposely overdosed on said medication and spent the next 6 months of my life in the hospital. During that time I spent three an a half weeks in ICU. While in a medicated coma an NG tube was inserted for nutrition purposes and I was given a tracheotomy for life support. Apparently the NG tube was not inserted properly and my stomach was punctured, allowing the “liquid nutrition” to fill my abdomen for a week before it was discovered. I turned septic from infection, had double pneumonia, a lung collapsed, my kidneys and liver both failed and I developed MRSA. My family was advised to remove me from life support. However, since I was still legally married, the final decision rested with my ex and he refused to sign the papers to have me removed. I eventually began to get better. After the stomach perforation repair surgery, my abdomen was left wide open to allow the infection a way to get out. A wound vac was used. That is one feeling I will never forget and one that I pray I never have to experience again. I endured humiliating bed baths, respiratory therapists that would get angry with me when the tracheotomy tubes would loose suction and I felt as if I were suffocating, the inability to tell anyone anything because of the trach, and nurses who were so rude and disrespectful that my sister actually got one of them fired. After the six months in the hospital, I spent another month in a rehabilitation hospital learning how to walk again. A 24 yr old amongst a sea of grey-haired people with broken hips. After that was a few months of home health nurses who came out every week to check on the open wound left where my belly button had been. It was about 3 inches in diameter. Eventually, skin grew back over it. Let me add in here that as soon as I was discharged from the hospital I quit taking all of the medications related to my “mental illness”. Funny thing that for a disease with no cure, I was perfectly fine. All these years later I still do not take any kind of antidepressant. Turns out that it had been a misdiagnosis to start with.
My next surgery was in 2006 when a hernia developed where the open wound was. Since it was left completely open (the muscle wasn’t even closed back) the hernia was inevitable. That surgery was done by the same doctor who had done my gastric bypass in 2001 (I forgot to mention that, huh?). I think he was the only doctor I trusted at that point since I did extremely well with the bypass. After that, I continued to hurt in my stomach, but of course none of the doctors could find a reason for it. One doctor went as far as to say that there was absolutely no reason for my pain – it had to be in my head. He said that he could refer me to a psychiatrist or he could add me to the office’s list of drug-seekers. Needless to say I never went back there again.
In 2007 my ob/gyn found a cyst. I was told that it was an ovarian cyst. He tried to remove it using laparoscopy but said that he was unable to because of scar tissue. That was the first time I had heard any mention of scar tissue. He claimed to have removed what he could of it before closing me back up.
I had two other surgeries for “ovarian” cysts before finally being told that none of them had actually been attached to the ovary. They had all been free- floating cysts found amongst scar tissue. This was when it was explained to me that internal scar tissue is also known as adhesions – probably caused by the abdominal infection in 2005- and I apparently had a ton of it! During these last two surgeries, no adhesions were removed. I was told that it would have been too dangerous to even try.
At this point I had more information, but I wanted more. I started doing research and found out that I wasn’t alone. Adhesions affect many women around the world. It wasn’t just me and I wasn’t crazy! Now I just had to find a doctor who understood them well enough to know that they were the reason I was hurting..