In early 2014, I decided that I didn’t need any more kids. I was done. Finito. Stick a fork in me. Not that kids aren’t a cute and adorable way to continue your legacy, I just didn’t want anymore. I have two kids and my husband has two kids, so between the two of us, we have almost a complete baseball team. They’re messy and they cost a fortune to raise. I’ve lost track of how many birth control pills I’ve tried and you can forget about the hell raising beast woman that the shot turned me into.
I was looking for a more permanent form of birth control. Something that would last for years. I can’t handle hormones, so after a lot of research, I decided on the Paraguard IUD. It’s hormone free, it lasts for 10 years and you can get it removed if it causes any problems. This was perfect for me. I was very proud of myself for making such a mature and responsible decision for once and called my gynecologist.
My gynecologist and I went way back. He knew my body, he put up with my crap, he delivered both of my children and I even referred two of my closest friends to him. But I received some bad news. My gynecologist had retired. How dare he retire without consulting me? Doesn’t he know that I need him? How could I make such an important decision without him? After mourning the loss of the only old man that I ever let near my lady parts, I searched local listings for gynecologists that carry the Paraguard IUD. Most offices don’t have it in stock, but I was in luck! I found one. I told them that I wanted the Paraguard and made the appointment. I showed up for the appointment and even told the receptionist that I was there for the Paraguard.
I was taken to my room and given the paper gown and told to get undressed from the waist down. I was nervous about having a complete stranger digging around in my private business, but was comforted by the fact that the stirrups were wearing cute little socks. After the usual 45 minute wait, wearing a paper gown and wondering if they forgot about me, I met my new gynecologist. He was very warm, very nice and spoke in a very soothing voice. I explained my situation and told him that I was there for the Paraguard.
“Actually Miss Patricia, we don’t have the Paraguard,” said this nice new man. He was so nice in fact, that I couldn’t even figure out how to be mad at him. They advertised for paraguard. He showed up when I googled “gynecologists that have paraguard” and they confirmed that they had paraguard when I called to make my appointment. A million things were running through my head at once. I was not prepared for this. I had no idea how to proceed. I had used up all of my brain cells reading up on the IUD and I knew for sure that I did not want any other IUD. My new doctor could tell that I needed guidance, so this was the perfect opportunity to swoop in and save the day.
“You said that you’re done having children right? You’re sure that you don’t want any more kids? Ok then. Have you considered a permanent sterilization?”
“Like getting my tubes tied??” I asked incredulously. The thought had seriously never crossed my mind. It made perfect sense but I thought that was for older women that had given birth to 8 kids and couldn’t figure out birth control. I didn’t have 6 weeks to recover from major surgery but the doctor interrupted my racing mind.
“Oh no, we don’t actually tie tubes anymore, that was the old fashioned way. We do Essure now. Have you heard of Essure?” He pulled out this little model of the female reproductive system and showed me where these super cool, state of the art springs would go, in the fallopian tubes. They’re like plugs that stay in the fallopian tubes and scar tissue forms around the coils and after just 3 months, the tubes are blocked and you can no longer get pregnant. He said that it can be done in office in just 15 minutes and I would have some cramping for the first 3 months and that was it.
This had to be the coolest thing I had ever seen. What a great idea. What could possibly go wrong? I was so thankful for my new doctor for telling me about this surgery free, non-evasive new method of permanent birth control. Here I thought that I wanted a 10 year IUD, he made me realize that I really wanted Essure. So I scheduled the appointment and went a long my merry way.
At home I did some more research, just to be sure that Essure was the way to go. According to the FDA, only 1% of women with Essure suffered from side effects. That means I had a 99% chance that this would be good for me. I mean seriously, only 1%? That wouldn’t be me!
On the day of my appointment, I was excited. This was the first day of the rest of my life! I felt so grown up and responsible. The nurse fed me a mixture of pills that rivaled a Friday night for Charlie Sheen.
Once they kicked in, they started the procedure. And oh my god was it absolute torture. I remember the crowning when I birthed my two children. I’ve had 2 cervical biopsies. I’ve stepped on legos and I’ve ruptured my appendix. Nothing and I mean nothing compared to having Essure put in. I was crying like a baby and the nurse had to hold my hand. It took way longer than 15 minutes. And I was in an incredible amount of pain. It felt like he had just installed barbed wire inside of my abdomen. I was bleeding profusely.
The doctor sent me on my way with a prescription for Norco 10s and reassured me that this pain was not permanent. After 3 months of cramping, my tubes would be full of scar tissue and I could live happily ever after. 3 months went by. The pain did not go away.
From the moment I woke up in the morning to the moment I went to sleep, I could feel the Essure coils. It was a constant sharp pain accompanied by random stabbing pains. At any given time, my pain level was at a 6, and a 10 when the stabs came around. It hurt to move. Every time I stood up. Every time I sat down. When I twisted in either direction. When I drove. When I coughed or sneezed. I could not move because I had barbed wire inside of me. I had let my doctor talk me in to having a medieval torture device put inside of my abdomen.
This pain never stopped. Not even for a second. I had to deal with this for thirteen months. You would think that I could just get them taken out right? It wasn’t that simple. For the first 3 months, I tried to just wait it out. They had said that it would only take 3 months to work right? So I waited 3 months.
In hell. I would bleed for 2 to 3 weeks at a time. Stop bleeding for a week, then start bleeding again. I lost weight. A lot of weight. I was weak. I was feeble. I felt like I was dying. The 3 months went by and there was no change. Then it became 6 months. The pain was so unbearable that I decided I wanted them taken out right then and there. I was aware that in order to remove them, I would need a hysterectomy or maybe just a salpingectomy, depending on how far out in the tubes the coils were. I had my husband rush me to the hospital.
This was it. I had to get them out. I couldn’t take it anymore. This was an emergency. At the ER, I had to explain to at least 6 people what Essure was. But there was nothing they could do. I would have to follow up with a gynecologist. Didn’t they realize that this was an emergency? I wanted them out!
The next day, I called my gynecologists office, the last people on Earth that I wanted to see. While I was on hold, I had to listen to a cheerful Essure commercial, talking about how awesome it is. I could just picture a cheerful woman spinning around in a meadow as I angrily tapped my foot and waited for someone to come back on the line. The receptionist transferred me to a nurse. I recognized her voice as the women that held my hand as they put those evil torture devices inside of me. She was so sweet but I hated her. I hated her guts and hated the doctor even more. I told her that I wanted my Essure removed. She told me that was not possible. Essure is permanent. There is no such thing as Essure removal. I collapsed in hysterics. My husband demanded that we go to a different hospital. So we went to a different ER. A fresh crop of people that had never heard of Essure.
Once again, there was nothing they could do. I would have to follow up with a gynecologist. I told them I needed emergency surgery. Just give me a hysterectomy. This was an emergency. I couldn’t take the pain anymore. But once again, I was sent home in tears. I felt so helpless. So angry. At this point I was spending all of my spare time on the internet, talking to thousands of women just like me. It was the same story. Heavy bleeding, constant pain, wasted trips to the ER. A lot of women had their coils break or migrate to other parts of their bodies. Some have even had the coils come out of their vaginas.
The good news that I learned was that it was possible to get Essure removed.
The most common method is hysterectomy leaving the ovaries. It is possible to get the tubes cut out (a salpingectomy) but that is really tricky unless the coils are incorrectly placed and far out in the tubes. The problem is finding a doctor that is willing to perform the surgery. I spent months in pain, making appointments, listening to the stupid Essure advertisements, and being told over and over that Essure wasn’t the problem.
Thanks to the anti-Essure online support group, I found out that there was an Essure removal doctor in my city. I excitedly called. This was it! It was finally going to happen for me. And they didn’t have an Essure commercial for their hold music! The bad news was, they didn’t have an appointment for me for 5 months and it would take an additional 6 weeks to schedule the surgery. I felt like I had 6 months added to my sentence but I accepted the appointment. I wrote the date on pieces of paper and taped them up all over the house. 5 more months of hell. 5 more months of trips to the ER because I just couldn’t wait and explaining to more and more strangers what Essure was.
I was even on the news.
Sometimes I would just pull out my news clip and show it to the nurses and doctors. But even though I was on the news, they still couldn’t do anything for me. I would just have to wait. I was in pain, I had no energy, I had to eat a special diet because my belly would blow up for no apparent reason, despite the fact that I had lost about 30 pounds. I had no energy. And I felt like I was dying. When people use the word “literally,” they can’t always be taken seriously. But I was literally dying. I was wasting away. My hair was falling out. My nails were brittle. I broke a molar. I had dark circles under my eyes. I even made cremation and funeral arrangements.
I remember one moment where I was just laying on the floor, my spirit so close to leaving my body, listening to my kids trying to feed themselves in the kitchen, spilling things and making a mess. I just lied there, staring at the wall. I didn’t move. I couldn’t move. I was done. This was it. I was going to die. I hadn’t eaten since the day before. I had been bleeding for two and a half weeks. I didn’t even use tampons anymore because I knew that an infection would kill me. My immune system was shot. My husband came home, took one look at me and said, “Come on. We’re going to the hospital.” I just blinked and kept staring at the wall. I asked him to please check on the kids and make sure they hadn’t started a fire while I just lay there, neglecting them. “We’re going to the hospital.” He said again. I burst into tears and just went along with what he said.
I went through all the motions. I got in the car and just cried. We got to the ER and I cried some more. This time my husband explained what Essure was 12 times. This time he spoke to the doctor. The doctor decided to give me an exam. He looked very annoyed and suggested that I probably had an STD and he’s going to go ahead and prescribe me some anti biotics just in case. Even though I had been checked for STDs multiple times, THAT was his answer. And he was so rude about it that my husband just snapped. I just sat there and cried while he asked for the hospital coordinator and complained about this quack of a doctor that decided to diagnose me with some random STD without any proof or listening to my problem.
They also said that they didn’t feel comfortable giving me pain meds which was fine, but they sure did stare at my husband’s tattoos when they said that. And so as usual, they told me to follow up with a gynecologist. Fortunately, there was a woman from my city in my online support group that had just had a hysterectomy. And it wasn’t from the doctor that I was waiting months to see. It was a different doctor. I got the information from her and called to schedule an appointment. They did play an Essure commercial but I decided to let it slide if these people were going to remove it. And I was in luck! My appointment was in one week! I went to my appointment and the gynecologist was so sweet and get this- she UNDERSTOOD that Essure was causing me problems. Oh my god I loved this woman! I wanted to kiss her!
She said she was going to refer me to the surgeon in the office. I met with the surgeon 3 days later. She didn’t believe that Essure could be causing all of these problems but she was willing to do the surgery. She felt like a hysterectomy was pretty drastic but she agreed to go ahead and remove my uterus and tubes. We scheduled the surgery for 6 weeks from then. I was so ridiculously excited, but 6 weeks was forever. It felt like 10 years. The closer I got to the surgery date, the worse I felt. It was the end of an era. The worst era ever. I felt like I was about to get released from prison. My surgery finally, FINALLY came. The last thing I remember as I was drifting off was that I could still feel those damn coils. Those angry little stabby things.
Goodbye Essure. Get out. After the surgery, I was in and out a few times, but when I finally woke up, I WOKE UP! It was like waking up from a bad dream. It was like Dorothy arriving in Oz and everything was in color. And I couldn’t feel the Essure coils. They were gone! After 13 months of non-stop pain, the Essure coils were gone. Just like that. It was like magic.
This surgeon saved my life. I truly believe that.
This whole ordeal is behind me but it’s not over for so many other women. There are thousands of women out there going through the same thing I went through.
Thousands of doctors refusing to admit that Essure is the problem.
There are women that have even died!
One woman actually died DURING the Essure implantation. She just died right there in the office while getting Essure, with her husband sitting in the waiting room. They had two small children.
There have also been a few women that committed suicide because their doctors wouldn’t listen.
And one woman that I knew from the support group, was lucky to get her surgery, but died from a pulmonary embolism after the surgery, a surgery that she would never have needed, if she had not gotten Essure.
Since my hysterectomy, I feel like I’ve gotten my life back. No more barbed wire! No more bleeding, well I can’t bleed at all now since I no longer have a uterus. I gained some weight, I got color to my face. I’m so much more healthier. I no longer feel like I’m going to die. I have more energy. I can take care of my kids. I even have energy for my hobbies.
My life is so much better now without Essure.