I’m a 34-year-old math teacher at a New York City middle school. Last February, I woke up one morning feeling like I was being stabbed in the gut. Thinking it was just bad gas pains, I went to work that morning. Once I got there, however, I was hurting so badly that I headed back home.
The pain continued on and off for the rest of that day. Because I was feeling so unwell, my sister came over to my apartment to stay with me. The pain eased up enough that I was able to sleep through the night, but at five in the morning it returned so sharply that it woke me up. I’d never felt this kind of pain before. I got up to use the bathroom, then collapsed on the bathroom floor. My sister called an ambulance and I was taken to an emergency room in Brooklyn, where a CT-scan showed that I had a very large uterine fibroid. Even though I was still in pain, I was happy to learn what was causing it and to know that I didn’t have a life-threatening condition. The ER physician prescribed codeine and recommended myomectomy surgery within the next month or so to remove the fibroid.
The following Monday, I called Dr. Joon Song’s office at NYU Langone Medical Center and made an appointment to see him that Thursday. But on the day before my appointment the pain returned, even with the codeine. Since I was already planning to see Dr. Song, I went to the NYU Langone emergency room in Manhattan. As soon as I got there, they paged Dr. Song and he came straight down. We spoke a little bit, and he told me that because of the intense pain I was in, I should probably have the fibroid surgery sooner rather than later. I agreed, so he began looking for an open time slot. As luck would have it, an operation scheduled for that Friday afternoon had just been cancelled, and that operating room was now available. So I went straight from the ER to the main hospital and had my pre-operative blood work and other testing done that same day.
The next day, I saw Dr. Song in his office for our previously scheduled appointment. He explained to me that he would use minimally-invasive surgery to remove my fibroid, since the smaller incisions would allow me to recover faster. He also said that while he had long experience doing laparoscopic myomectomies, he preferred doing a robotic myomectomy, since the robot lets him use the same highly precise hand movements he would use during open surgery. He explained that this was especially beneficial when there was a lot of suturing involved, as there would be in my case, since I wanted to preserve my ability to have children—which meant Dr. Song would be putting in extra layers of sutures when repairing my uterus.
Dr. Song also showed me a video of various robotic procedures he’d performed, which I found very intriguing. I’ve always been interested in medicine—as a kid, I’d wanted to be doctor for as long as I remember. Watching this video, I was in awe that medicine had come so far, and that Dr. Song could control the surgical robot with that kind of precision. I think my appreciation of the technology is why I felt so at ease throughout the surgery itself. That, and Dr. Song himself, who is one of the nicest physicians I’ve ever known.
The procedure itself took place in the late afternoon, and went very smoothly. When Dr. Song took out my large fibroid, he found two additional smaller fibroids behind it. It took about three hours to remove all of the fibroids and suture the surrounding area back together. The next morning, my family came to see me a little before noon in my hospital room, and I was able to walk around a bit. I felt a little discomfort, which I took some Vicodin for, but it wasn’t intense at all. I went home that evening and was able to walk up all four floors to my apartment.
I stayed home for a week, feeling better each day. It was a huge relief not have that stabbing pain anymore. A week after the operation, I felt good enough to take a walk and meet a friend for lunch. I went back to work a few days after that, and was able to make it through a full day of teaching—although I definitely felt more tired than usual! Now it’s been about three weeks since the operation, and while I’m still not quite 100 percent, I’m living my normal life.
Besides my sense of relief, I’m also pleased that the operation left me with only five small, very discreet scars from the incisions, which are already starting to fade away. I’ll remember the experience forever, of course, but I don’t have to be concerned about any ugly marks on my body. It’s funny—when I think about what happened to me, I know it was a big thing, but once I was in the care of Dr. Song, I was never scared at all. I think it’s because I was taken care of so promptly, and because all the doctors and nurses at NYU Langone are so confident, friendly and caring. Now I tell everyone, “If you have to have surgery done, go to NYU.”