Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Next Chapter

When we got home from Germany at the end of May in 2006, I went into what I can only describe as "overdrive".  I hadn't felt so good in years!  I ran around like a crazy woman, lost 40 pounds and rejoiced that I had none of the pain that had plagued me for most of my life.  Looking back, I truly believe that God had led me to Dr. Kruschinski.  Here is the time, my Grandfather was nearing the end of his life.  My Mom and Dad had moved him into the front room of their home and she was caring for him, as well as babysitting my Niece for my Sister.  Needless to say, my Mom was about at the end of her endurance.  When we got home, I started spending more and more time with my Mom and Grandfather, helping in whatever capacity was needed. 

It was July when my Grandfather went to be with The Lord.  I had been staying with him during the night hours so that my Mom could get much needed rest.  I will always cherish that time that I had with him and be thankful that I was physically able to be there for both him and my Mom.  Had I never gone to Germany and had surgery with Dr. Kruschinski, I wouldn't have be able to do more than give encouragement over the telephone, as I was consumed with pain.

A few days before my Grandfather passed away, I received a telephone call and a job offer.  Prior to going to Germany, I had been working at Clear Channel Radio Willliamsport as a Senior Sales Representative.  I loved that job, but with my deteriorating health, had to give up my 5 1/2 career.  This new job offer came from one of my best clients, whom I had become friends with through our business dealings.  He owned a carpet store and was opening a new showroom and wanted me to work for him.  I accepted the job and started working for him shortly after my Grandfather passed.

I started learning all about floor coverings and threw myself into the job.  I may as well have thrown myself off of a bridge.  Here's why...I felt so good that I didn't use caution.  I was lifting, pulling and doing things that I never should have done.  Within three months, I was back on the pain meds and unfortunately had to leave that job as well.  And it was all my own fault.  I knew that I shouldn't have been doing that much physical labor, but ignored my better sense and just did it anyway.

From that moment on, things got worse.  I couldn't walk because I had pain shooting straight up through a knife.  I couldn't even sit comfortably because of the pain.  I was prescribed Morphine for the pain.  I ended up pretty much sleeping most of the time, getting up every 8 hours to take my next dosage and then falling back asleep.  This is no way to live, and I was miserable.

At that time, going back to Germany wasn't an option financially, so I began looking for a surgeon here in the United States that specialized in adhesions.  I didn't have much luck, so I went to a local surgeon.  She recommended that I go completely off of the pain meds because she thought that they were adding to my condition.

At the end of June 2007, I checked myself into White Deere Detox for six days.  That was truly an experience that I will never forget.  My room had three beds in it and I was the only one in it until another woman arrived around midnight.  She had an interesting story.  She was in an automobile accident and took Fentanyl for the pain from her injuries.  But here's the thing...she would get 10 Fentanyl patches that were prescribed to be taken one every three days...she took all of it by slicing the patches and eating the medication within one week, then shot heroin for the rest of the month.  My first night in detox was spent trying to calm this woman down...she was kicking the walls, moaning, throwing up and horribly sick all night long.

I couldn't fathom why someone would intentionally do this to themselves.  I looked around and saw basically healthy people who were killing themselves with drugs and I would have given anything to be healthy.  I stayed to myself, read my Bible and kept a journal.  I didn't attend any of the meetings because I wasn't in there to be rehabilitated.  My addiction to the pain meds was physical, not mental.  I really hated the fact that I had to take a pill to even get out of bed in the morning...being a slave to pain and pain medication for as long as I had been had taken its toll on me.

I won't go into detail about the detox off of the Morphine.  Let's just say that it wasn't pleasant.  But, after six days, it was out of my system and I returned home.  I went back to the local surgeon and she preformed laparoscopic surgery and discovered that my bladder was folded in half and encased in adhesions. They were taken down and Seprafilm was applied to inhibit further adhesion growth.  Lovely, right?  No wonder! 

Now, you would think that after that I would have been better, but that wasn't the case.  The difference between having surgery here in the United States and Germany is they use gas to see to do the surgery, which in turn causes more adhesions.  In Germany, Dr. Kruschinski uses the Abdolift and an adhesion barrier called SprayShield, both of which are not approved here by the FDA.  So, by having surgery in the USA to remove adhesions...more are created.  It is a viscous circle and has no end.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

How It All Began

At the age of 19, I had to have surgery to remove my appendix.  My Mother had suffered from Endometriosis as a young woman and was worried due to the fact that I had difficult menstral cycles.  She discussed her worries with the ER Doctor and as a result of that discussion, instead of doing a simple appendectomy, the surgeon decided to do a pelvic exploratory.  I awoke from surgery with a searing pain in my abdomen caused by the 10 inch incision. 

I healed and life went back to normal.  That is, until the adhesions reared their ugly head.  I started having constant pain on my right side.  Pain that would not go away.  I went to a local Gynecologist and had my first laparoscopic surgery at 21.  It was revealed that my right ovary had grown fast to my intestines.  The surgeon separated them and I went home to heal.

Since that time, I have had twenty plus surgeries.  Included, by not limited to a total hysterectomy at the age of 25.  The adhesions have always returned.  I've had every possible adhesion barrier available in the United States...Seprafilm, Intercede, Saline Solution.  Nothing worked.  I actually had a very prominent surgeon from Hershey Medical Center tell me that it would take a 55 gallon drum of Seprafilm to take care of all of the adhesions in my abdomen...that was in 2005.

After that, I was to the point of desperation.  I began searching Internationally, and that is when I found Dr. Daniel Kruschinski and Endogyn.  I contacted him via email and from there we planned our trip to Germany.  The fee for two surgeries, a first and then second look, was 7,500 Euro.  As this was out of the United States, we had to pay for the surgery out of pocket.  I wired the funds, purchased our airline tickets and we left for Frankfurt, Germany on May 13, 2006.

Now, having surgery is a scary thing, but leaving the country for the first time ever to have surgery is terrifying.  When Tim and I arrived, it was early morning...misty, green and beautiful.  Oh, and there were soldiers with machine guns at the gate.  That was intimidating to say the least.  We were met by a petite woman named Jutta (Utaa) holding a sign that read "Endogyn".  She drove us to the very quaint little town of Selignstadt, which was about 30 minutes from Frankfurt International Airport.

Upon meeting Dr. Kruschinski for the first time, we were impressed.  He did an ultrasound which revealed that my intestines were attached to my right side.  He sat us down and explained that he didn't feel comfortable doing the surgery in Selignstadt as they did not have an ICU, and as a precaution, he was going to do the surgery in Rotthalmunster, which was quite a distance away.  Now, we had only taken so much extra money with us and when he explained that I would be in the hospital for 16 days, I panicked.  He told us not to worry, he would take care of it.  We were amazed, as something such as this would never happen in the USA.

We left for Rotthalmunster early the following morning.  It was an added bonus to be transferred as we got to see just how extraordinarily beautiful Germany really was.  I was apprehensive, but had faith that I was in great hands.  When we arrived at the hospital, Jutta walked us in and began checking me in.  As we do not speak German, I remember thinking to myself, "what the heck am I doing?  I can't understand a word and I'm going to have surgery??".  I almost ran out of the lobby screaming, but had nowhere to run to.  I said a quick prayer for strength and peace and continued with checking in.  It cracked me up that I was "Frau Wensel".

Dr. Kruschinski performed two surgeries.  I distinctly remember waking up from the first surgery, a drainage tube and bag hanging from my side...yet I had no collarbone pain, no bloated, gassy feeling.  I felt...good.  That was May 15th, 2006.  My second surgery was on May 23rd, and again I was completely amazed at how quickly I bounced back from a laparoscopic surgery.  The absolute difference between these two surgeries and the multiple ones from my past was that Dr. Kruschinski preforms a "GASSLESS LAPAROSCOPY".  He used a device called the AbdoLift, which basically "lifts" your abdomen so that the surgeon can see instead of insuffilation with gas, which causes the bloating and collarbone pain always associated with surgery in the USA.

Tim and I had an amazing stay in Rotthalmunster, we met amazing people.  I can honestly say that those 16 days changed my entire life.  We got home on May 31st and I immediately began to enjoy my life once again.  Had I never found Dr. Kruschinski, who knows where I would be today.