Artwork: Face? by Anita van Kempen. (42K)
Endometriosis can affect women of all races at any time during their reproductive years. An estimated 5 million women in the United States alone are affected. Some teenagers display symptoms from the time of their first menstrual cycle. 47% of women who are diagnosed with the disease had symptoms before the age of 20. The cause of endometriosis is unknown, but it is known the course of the disease is relentless without treatment. Scar tissue, inflammation, pain and other problems gradually become worse. If you suspect you or someone you know is afflicted with this disease, good medical care should be sought immediately. Doctors who are knowledgeable can slow the progress of the disease and help divise a plan for relief. In addtion, support groups are available for information and understanding.
1. Contact the doctors whom you have already consulted. Ask for your complete set of records from each. Give the request in writing and insist they honor it. There might be a copying fee. This is an example of a request for medical records:
"I am a current/former patient of your medical facility. This letter is to request a copy of my complete medical records, including, but not limited to, all reports, notes, lab results, transcripts, videos, photographs, Operative Reports (Doctor's), Hospitalization Reports, Pathology Reports, Anesthesiology Notes and office visit summaries. I believe it is important that I receive copies of all information you may possess concerning my medical health. "
When you receive these copies, organize them into files and review them for inappropriate remarks.
One woman, who suffered severe pain, found notations which indicated she might be an addict of a certain pain killer because she insisted on that particular prescription and no other. She had previously found , through trial and error, she was either allergic to or received no relief from the other pain killers suggested by the doctor. She insisted these notations be changed so there would be no adverse consequences from others who might see the records and misunderstand the situation.
2. Based on these records, prepare a short history of your symptoms, the approximate time periods involved, the doctors you have seen, the results of the suggested treatments, and any other information which may seem important. Keep this history up to date.
3. Create a calendar to keep a record of your current symptoms, their duration, and other things that occur which might affect these symptoms. For instance: starting or stopping vitamins or herbal remedies, a stressful situation, weight gain or loss, pain, depression or other illnesses such as the flu or a cold. All of these could play a part in the severity of the symptoms or help your doctor pinpoint the cycles of your disease. Keep this chart up to date also.
4. Provide your current doctor with a copy of any of these records which may be important for a proper diagnosis. Ask for a thorough review of all the records you provide and discuss them with the doctor. Be sure you understand the importance of each symptom and what it indicates.
5. When you decide to select a new doctor, look for one who has prior experience with endo. Do a short interview over the telephone concerning qualifications and references. Try to get specifics. What special training has the doctor received? Is it current? How many of his patients are being treated for this disease? If he cannot find the diagnosis for your symptoms, will he give you a referral to another doctor who specializes in this disease?
6. Before you visit a new doctor, ask the doctor or medical staff which files would be important and provide a copy for them on your first visit. If you are unable to copy a particular record, have it ready for the doctor's review, but do not leave it in the office. This is your medical history and it is important for you to keep a complete record. Let the new doctor know you want to receive complete copies of all records at his facility also.
7. When you make your doctor's appointment, let his staff know you will want some extra time with the doctor for questions. Write down these questions in advance and make a promise to yourself to get answers to each of them. You have a right to information concerning the medical decisions which you need to make. Do not let the doctor make these decisions for you without understanding these basics:
A second opinion should be requested if you still have doubts about the procedure or if your doctor recommends a surgerical procedure for removal of any body organ.
8. Stay involved in your own medical care. No one else can know when the symptoms start, when they leave, which drugs or procedures make you feel better or worse, or make informed consent on your behalf. The more you know about your body, this disease and the current treatments, the sooner you will find relief.
Fibroid Tumors and Endometriosis by Susan Lark, MD., Westchester Publishing Company, $ 12.95 ISBN 0-917010-54-X
The Endometriosis Answer Book, by Niels H Lauersen, M.D., Ph.D, and Constance de Swaan, Fawcett Books $ 12.00
The New Our Bodies, Ourselves by the Boston Women's Health Collective (has a little mention of endo)
The Hysterectomy Hoax, by Stanley West, M.D. with Paula Dranov. Publisher: Doubleday, 1994, ISBN 0-385-46820-2, $17.95 Can/$ 12.95 US (has a chapter on endo)
Alternatives for Women With Endometriosis : A Guide by Women for Women Ruth Carol, editor.
You Can't Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought by Peter McWilliams
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns, Signet publishers
WITSENDO Mailing list (online support group). Description: Discussion of endometrioisis and the sharing of remedies. To sign up: send subscription request to: LISTSERV@listserv.dartmouth.edu. First Line of Message: subscribe Witsendo lastname, firstname
8585 N. 76th Place, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53223 USA
(800) 992-3636 US, Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands, and the Bahamas
(800) 426-2END Canada
FAX: (414) 355-6065
OVERCOMING ENDOMETRIOSIS: NEW HELP FROM THE ENDOMETRIOSIS ASSOCIATION can be ordered from the Association for $9.95 U.S./$12.50 Canada. The Association also has available educational videotapes, cassette tapes of speeches by leading experts on the disease, booklets, kits, and newsletters. For a free information packet including their "Materials To Help You" catalog, call or write to them. If you are not diagnosed with endometriosis but wonder if you might have it, you can order "How Can I Tell If I Have Endometriosis?" Kit. Send $ 3.75 U .S./$4.75 C for the kit.
Endometriosis Care Center, 4575 N. Shallowford Road, Atlanta, GA 30338
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), 409 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2188, (202) 638-5577
Artwork: Face? by Anita van Kempen. (42K)
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