We met Rachel organically. She was visiting a Brookwood Baptist physician when she happened across ichooseb.com, our online community for women. But what Rachel found on the ichooseb.com community left her wanting (and needing), more. You see, Rachel wasn’t having babies, or trying to have babies or even thinking about babies, she was a 23-year old woman dealing with severe pelvic pain, trying to come to grips with needing a hysterectomy. As we continue to become a living, breathing community for women, we look forward to finding more of you out there, with different stories to tell.
Q: Age / Occupation / Job
I’m 23 and I graduate in December with a degree in English and Communication Arts from The University of Alabama in Huntsville. I currently have a temporary job researching body image communication and I do random jobs that involve doing things I love, like writing or editing. I make a miniscule amount of money from vlogging/blogging, but those things are kind of like a tip jar that’s hidden by a giant vase so no one ever puts money in it. (We’re talking about a dollar-per-month type of situation here.)
Q: You chose Brookwood Baptist for something special, didn’t you?
Definitely. About 4 years ago, I had a lot of pelvic issues and pain. Huntsville didn’t have a Pelvic Pain Center like Brookwood Baptist did, so off to Birmingham I went. It took a long time to get where I am now, which is an average daily pelvic pain amount of 0 on a scale of 1 to 10.
I had 2 laparoscopic procedures to remove endometriosis adhesions, cysts, etc. But none of those things helped the pain – hormones, medicines, physical therapy – nothing worked. My average pain usually hovered around a 7 or 8 on a daily basis. It was very disruptive to my life.
So, with the help of my doctor, I made the decision to have a hysterectomy. I was 22 when I made the decision and I’d been 23 for less than a week when I had the surgery. And I’m now at a pain level of 0, so the pros definitely outweigh the cons in this situation. I’m so happy about how things turned out and I wouldn’t have wanted it done anywhere but Brookwood Baptist.
Q: What was the scariest part of your experience?
Asking for help. It’s tough to be so young and have to make this decision. Infertility was already a possibility because of the endometriosis, but it wasn’t definite. A hysterectomy is definite. I made a vlog about my initial reaction because I felt like those emotions needed to be documented but I couldn’t sit down and type them out. I was pretty heartbroken.
I’d been considering a hysterectomy for about 2 years – about the time when it started to become clear that nothing else was working. I thought that the physical effects would be far more complicated than the emotional effects but I was incorrect. I’m happy with the results, but I’m not going to lie and say it’s been the easiest road emotionally. I do intend to seek counseling because the situation feels really big right now. I mentally prepped myself for this surgery. I was ready. But as it turns out, I’m not a psychic; I can’t predict the future. Sometimes things don’t go the way we planned, and that’s okay.
Q: What was the best part of your experience?
My doctor. And the gigantic, palatial hospital rooms. Also, you’re given 24/7 access to chocolate milk. I’d like to give the painkillers credit for making me feel okay post-surgery, but I think everyone can agree that chocolate milk played a larger role in my recovery.
Q: What one piece of advice would you give to a woman approaching a similar crossroads to what you’ve been through?
Many of my peers said that they would’ve kept trying other things instead of getting this procedure done. But I know that I made the right decision. So trust yourself and trust in your decisions, as long as you’ve put a lot of thought towards those decisions. And maybe drink some chocolate milk.
Q: What’s the last thing you Blogged or vLogged about?
In general, my best friend Taylor and I just make goofy ad-libbed vlogs over at HeyHeyRayTay about whatever pops into our heads. I’m learning everything as I go and I’m in love with the whole process. We do have a few slightly more serious projects that involve actual planning and scripting in the works, so I’m very excited about those. I originally started blogging over at Fluted Cups & Ampersands as a means of communicating with other people who have illnesses, but I’ve recently started to use the blog for general writing because that’s what I love to do.
Q: Who’s your doctor and why is he still your doctor?
Dr. Alex Childs (OB-GYN South, P.C.). He stuck with me through all of it and refused to give up until we found a solution. I say “we” instead of “he” because he listened to me and to what I wanted. He let me play an active role in my own health, which is a really important factor in the patient/doctor relationship for me.
I’m not sure that I would’ve had the courage to have the hysterectomy if Dr. Childs wasn’t my doctor. He wasn’t fond of the idea for obvious reasons. Many doctors would have shut me down based solely on my age and told me no, we need to try this or that first. But Dr. Childs looked at who I am as a person (he’s known me for 4 years now) to help him make that decision, not just my age. He listened to me and trusted in what I wanted. He knew that I’d tried everything under the sun, I was in excruciating pain, and that I’d put a lot of thought into my decision. He believed in me. I will never forget the look on his face when I was able to tell him that I wasn’t in pain anymore, which proved that surgery was the right decision. It also proved that I picked the right doctor.
Q: How can Brookwood Baptist & iChooseb.com do a better job building a “community for women?”
The community for women involves a cohesive and easy to access forum for women to connect and enjoy each other’s company online. It’s a huge step forward. I think that everything is headed in the right direction, but that we as patients need to contribute more if we want to be a part of that community. The women of Brookwood Baptist are diverse, beautiful, and they deserve to be heard.
Q: What’s your dream job?
Literally being Dr. Childs. That’s actually why I said so many nice things about him earlier. I was hoping that he’d read it and be so moved that he’d just hand over his credentials, degrees, experience, and salary to me. And I’d give him my partially-finished undergraduate degree. I’m a double major, so really he’d be getting the better end of the deal. (Kidding!)
I’d love to follow in the footsteps of Rhett & Link, Julian Smith, or Hannah Hart. (They’re all YouTubers and comedians but some are also directors, filmmakers, writers, musicians, producers, etc.) Yes, their content is great. But when I watch their work, I’m also studying their techniques and methods.
But more realistically, I would love to start an organization that provides students with materials, space, mentorship, encouragement, and guidance to express themselves artistically – through writing, painting, filmmaking, making music, etc. I want children and teenagers to understand how important they are; everyone has a story and everyone’s story deserves to be heard.
Your health is too important to leave to chance. Let us help you find the physician that’s right for you.