Katie Hess delivered a nine-pound baby naturally -- but even that didn’t compare to the pain she endured when a massive fibroid pressing up against her bladder kept her from urinating for three days.
It was then that the Centennial resident knew she would finally have to undergo the hysterectomy she’d been dreading. Though she has two sons and felt her family was complete, she didn’t relish the idea of the surgery to remove her uterus. But Denver-based physician, Dr. Mandi Beman, eased her fears.
For years, Hess toughed out the periods that kept her homebound for a few days each month; her bleeding was so heavy that she had to change her protection every 15 or 20 minutes and even wore diapers when she flew. But it had taken Hess a while to be diagnosed with a fibroid – a benign tumor in the uterus that 70 to 80 percent of women in the United States have. “I spent so much time being stubborn, saying ‘I am fine, I can deal with this,’” Hess recalls.
But when she had blood work done for the first time in years, Hess learned that she had such severe anemia that her general practitioner was surprised she wasn’t constantly fainting. That led to an ultrasound that discovered a fibroid of 13 cm – about five inches.
“It made my uterus nine times the size it should have been,” says Hess, 42. “I can’t believe I didn’t feel it.”
The gynecologist who performed the ultrasound recommended that Hess consult with Dr. Beman for a hysterectomy because of her expertise in laparoscopic surgery. This particular procedure that Dr. Beman performs requires only a few small slits as opposed to a traditional abdominal hysterectomy, which involves an incision of three to six inches and a much longer recovery time.
Hess immediately felt comfortable with Dr. Beman, a board-certified gynecologist, who is one of a limited number of fellowship-trained specialists in minimally invasive gynecological surgery. Dr. Beman completed a fellowship on the specialty at Harvard Medical School and lectures nationally on the topic. Patients appreciate how she is committed to offering them individualized attention, education and treatment.
After Hess found herself at the emergency room after being unable to urinate for three days (and her hair started falling out), she called Dr. Beman to inform her of her worsening health. “She really stepped forward and said, ‘this is not good, we are going to fix it.’ So she moved up the date of my surgery to get me right in,” Hess said. “I am just so grateful, and everyone at Porter Hospital was so helpful and kind.”
Hess was especially thankful that Dr. Beman patiently took the time to calm her nerves. “I had never had surgery before and she made me feel so good that it was going to be okay,” she says. “She walked me through all the steps and was so reassuring about my worries. And she saved my ovaries so I don’t have to go through menopause until my body is naturally ready.”
Though it’s less arduous than a traditional hysterectomy, the laparoscopic procedure, which was performed as outpatient surgery, still involved proper recovery. “The hardest part was not lifting anything heavier than a milk carton and not being able to exercise for six weeks,” says Hess, who works as a substitute teacher at her sons’ school. But now she’s back to the yoga she loves and relishes no longer having to deal with her periods, which have completely stopped.
“It’s kind of weird how it’s day and night [from before and after surgery],” she says. “I feel great! I am so lucky to have found such amazingly caring and nurturing doctors who were able help me.”