First, let me say if I had first known about Dr. Lee and the Acessa procedure before, I would not have wasted a year trying for everything else. I strongly believe this treatment should be available to all women with fibroids as a safe alternative to more traditional treatments like myomectomies and UFEs.
Dr. Lee and his staff are knowledgeable, friendly, and personable. As a scared woman not knowing if I could keep my uterus, I was made to feel supported and safe and taken care of. Here is my story…
In August of 2015 I went to my local walk in clinic with severe cramping. I had noticed over the past couple months my periods had gotten longer and stronger and I was cramping more frequently. I assumed that my IUD had traveled, and I didn’t have a regular doctor so when the pain got too unbearable, I sought treatment.
The nurse practitioner who saw me gave me an exam, left the room, and came back a few minutes later. She told me that she felt something and that I needed to go to my regular doctor and get an ultrasound immediately. I found the closest doctor that could take my insurance and called them. They said they couldn’t see me for 3 months.
I called the walk-in clinic back and they told me to come back in an hour as they were going to call their tech to have an ultrasound done. The tech almost missed it, because my bladder was full, but after I relieved myself, it was clear as day. I was told I had to wait for the radiology report, but that I needed to schedule an appointment with a gynecologist immediately. There was a large mass in my uterus. That’s all they could tell me.
Stunned, and thinking of my mother who was diagnosed with anal cancer just three years earlier, I walked back home in a daze and called the general doctor back. I explained that I had just had an ultrasound and that they found a large mass and I needed a referral to see a gynecologist (I had an HMO at the time).
I was told the soonest a doctor could see me was in 5 days. When I went to my appointment, the receptionist forgot to add me to the schedule and I had to come back the next day. When I came back the following day, the receptionist told me my appointment was for the previous day. I reminded her that she changed it to the current day and I waited for over an hour. I finally saw a doctor, in a dirty exam room with dust and old equipment strewn about, and he referred me to a gynecologist he “highly recommended.”
It took another week to see the gynecologist. I had a 9am appointment, but my husband and I waited for four hours in the waiting room to be seen. When the doctor finally came into the exam room, she didn’t even look up from my intake chart and said “you have a large mass, we will just give you a hysterectomy, and you won’t have to worry about it.”
I replied that I was 34 and still wanted to have biological children. She sighed and explained I would have to have a myomectomy and it would take 3-5 years to recover and by then if I could get pregnant, I would have to be on bed rest the entire pregnancy, and if I had any complications, then I would have to be hospitalized for the remainder of the pregnancy and end with a cesarean section.
I was told to come in two weeks and she was going to request an MRI to diagnose the mass. At my next appointment, I waited two hours to be seen and was told I had to have a biopsy done of my cervix. I asked if it was necessary, since I hadn’t even been diagnosed yet – I was still awaiting my MRI.
I was told it had to be done before any type of treatment was to be had. Two weeks later, against all my better judgment, I went for a biopsy. I asked for medication to dilate my cervix (I have had biopsies before and it helped with the pain and bleeding)
I was told “those types of drugs are for abortions and I don’t do those.” So without any medication I very reluctantly had the biopsy done. After that violating appointment, I called my insurance company begging for a new doctor. The next closest one was 170 miles away. I decided to take my health into my own hands.
It took eight weeks to finally be diagnosed with a non-cancerous uterine fibroid. At the time of diagnosis, my tumor was 8 cm x 9.5 cm x 11 cm. My uterus was 14 weeks. I started doing my research, surgery of any kind was a last resort for me. I found many studies and treatment options for women and fibroids. Unfortunately, due to its size and that fact that I wanted biological children, I did not qualify for any alternative medical treatments. That’s when I turned to alternative therapy.
I tried a drastic diet change, Chinese herbs, and acupuncture for 6 months, completely paying out of pocket for my treatments. In that time, I got new insurance and found a new gyno that I like, but she had little experience in dealing with fibroids. After 6 months, I waited for another MRI when I was rushed to the emergency room with severe constipation.
I was given a CT scan which revealed my fibroid had grown to 11 cm x 12 cm x 13 cm. Devastated these treatments didn’t work, I started to grieve the loss of the child I never knew I wanted and now was faced with not having. My symptoms were invading every aspect of my life, and for not growing a human child in my womb I sure experienced the “effects” of pregnancy, including a large firm “bump” that made me look and feel five months pregnant.
I was constipated, moody, severe cramping, arousal and intercourse was incredibly painful, and I had to urinate every 30 – 60 minutes. My periods lasted almost two weeks and I was changing pads every hour to hour and a half. Even using tampons got too painful.
My last option (I thought) before surgery was a UFE. I made a free consultation with a doctor in Beverly Hills, on the bus ride there I was filled with anxiety, something just didn’t feel right, so I used Google to find doctors that treat fibroids, and lo and behold, Dr. Bruce Lee came up. Ironically, his office was down the street from where I was going.
I walked into the waiting room of my consult for an UFE and was meet with women curled over in pain “post op”. I was brought into a back room and told undress from the waist down for an ultrasound and pee in a cup for pre op testing. I told the nurse that I was just there for a consultation, and was given grief about wasting everyone’s time.
When I met with the doctor, he never answered any of my questions, instead he redirected it back to how successful he was. I was then taken to a room where I was told by his “patient liaison” that they could give me a deal on the procedure if I had it within the next two weeks. I felt rushed and pressured into doing this procedure.
Especially because the doctor wouldn’t answer my questions. Feeling scared and defeated, I went across the street to Dr. Lee’s office. That is when my life changed.
Dr. Lee and his assistant were gone for the day, but I got their cards and emailed his assistant Anna, when I got home. As with all my previous emails, I explained my situation – I was 35 (at this point), the size and location of my fibroid, and I still wanted to keep my fertility if possible.
I received a response back within a half hour stating that Anna was going to pass my information onto Dr. Lee. Within 10 minutes I got a phone call.
Dr. Lee was thorough, he listened to my questions and answered them to the best of his ability without actually seeing me or my fibroid. He had taken the time from visiting his newborn grandchild in the hospital to call me, a prospective patient.
He went over the Acessa procedure and after being on the phone for about 30 minutes, I was feeling better about this option. I made an official consultation appointment and I was seen within a week.
Meeting Dr. Lee face to face was such a wonderful experience. He is kind, reassuring, and generous with his time. We were not done with the consult until me and my husband’s questions were all answered. He performed an ultrasound so he could see and measure my fibroid.
It was recommended he perform the procedure, because in his words “I wouldn’t trust anyone else to do it.” As the creator of the Acessa procedure, he has the most experience in how it works and what to do. Leaving the doctor’s office I started to cry. I felt this was the answer to our prayers.
It’s an outpatient procedure, and I was scheduled for July 2. There were no other surgeries scheduled that day so Dr. Lee and his team could take their time and make sure they got everything. My surgery time was estimated for about two and a half hours, but ended up being closer to four and a half.
Once the doctor could actually look at the tumor, it was shaped in an odd way and much bigger than what appeared on the scans. After my surgery was complete, Dr. Lee felt confident he got it all and that if I healed well, my fertility should not be affected since my uterus only had the tiniest of incisions, as opposed to cutting me open via myomectomy. My surgery time was at 7:00am. And I was home resting by 1:00pm.
Having had multiple surgeries in my past, I was expecting to be in significant pain afterward. To my surprise, my pain was manageable. I didn’t even need to take the pain medication prescribed to me. I was up and walking around my apartment that evening.
The worst of my pain occurred on night two, when I coincidentally starting my period. I experienced cramping, but not as severe as before my surgery, and for the first few days my shoulders and arms were sore – a byproduct of filing the abdomen with air. Within a week, I was up and moving around at 80% of normal.
At my first post op appointment, I was still swollen, but not like I was. Giving my body as much time as I could to heal, I didn’t return to completely normal activities until seven weeks post op. At my second post op – three months out, my uterus had shrunk from 17 weeks to 11 weeks – something we thought would be my final result.
The fact that I am healing so well and so quickly is amazing to me. Dr. Lee has given the go ahead to start trying for a baby and my husband and I are hopeful that we will be pregnant within the next six months. After the yearlong battle with this thing growing inside me, I am confident that I made the right choice.
Without Dr. Lee and the Acessa Procedure, I am certain that I would have ended up having a hysterectomy given the size and shape of my fibroid. Thank You Dr. Lee, Anna, and staff.