While carrying my third child in 2008 my husband and I talked to my ob/gyn about performing a sterilization procedure after the birth. We were hoping to have the typical ‘cut and cauterize’ method done but our doctor said that he wanted to do the Essure procedure because it was less risky and more effective. We had a lot of questions and he explained the whole procedure in simplified form. When we expressed some skepticism the doctor said Essure was our only option. When we asked about potential complications we were told ‘there are none, it’s totally safe.’ December of 2008 I was put under anesthesia and the procedure was done. Within two days I knew something wasn’t right – there was to be no pain – and there was lots of pain – knife stabbing pain. I went to my ob/gyn the following week and explained my symptoms. After going over all of the events that had followed the placement of the inserts his reply floored me. The pain was because I wasn’t ‘prepared for the permanency of surgery’. I couldn’t figure out how if this pain was just in my head why it was so real. I never returned to see him again.
Over the next 18 months things slowly began to unravel. I started getting strange rashes and odd infections of my eyes and skin. My joints and muscles ached and I was so incredibly tired. Because of my doctor’s dismissive diagnosis, I attributed all of this to having a newborn in addition to a 2 and 4 year old. It seemed that overnight I had become old. When I would twist at the waist or bend over it felt as though I was being stabbed. I was taking the maximum amount of Ibuprofen allowed to keep functioning but after 18 months decided to go to my primary care physician to have a full physical and see if I could get some answers and perhaps some stronger pain medication.
After describing my symptoms he immediately ordered a full battery of bloodwork and cautiously warned me that he thought something more serious was happening. Several days later I was back in his office where he explained that bloodwork showed that my body was responding to the inserts by starting an inflammatory systemic cascade – my body was fighting desperately to get rid of the foreign substance in my body and because it couldn’t get rid of them it had started attacking other areas of my body. His statement was – ‘you have to have a hysterectomy within the next two weeks.’ Surgery was quickly scheduled with another gynecologist and once again I went under anesthesia and at the age of 34 had a hysterectomy to fix and remove the ‘no complications– totally safe – pain is in your head‘ Essure inserts. It was only then it was discovered that one of the inserts had perforated my uterus and had become scarred into the omentum (fat pad that covers the intestines). So the pain wasn’t in my head – every time I turned and bent I was being stabbed!
Because my body had been fighting so hard, having the hysterectomy didn’t immediately remove all the strange symptoms. By the time I was 6 months postsurgery the strange rashes and weird infections did cease and I’ve not had trouble since. Slowly my joints and muscles have started to recover thought there are times when I hurt horribly. My internal medicine doctor said that may or may not ever resolve. We just do blood-work each year to be sure that my body is settling down – and now at the three year mark things are going okay. There is much more that happened as a result of the strain that was placed on my body and the aftermath of the hysterectomy but I’ve learned a lot and have moved on.
I wish I could turn the clock back and heed my internal hesitations, ask more questions, and not allow myself to be pushed into something that I wasn’t comfortable with. If it had to happen, it happened in the best possible way – no major organs punctured, I had insurance to cover the surgery, medications, and specialists visits. My sympathy is with those who have had to suffer much, much more.