04 December 2017
A forty-eight-year-old children’s author who has suffered terrible period pains since her early teens, travelled 4,500 miles from her home in Canada to have life changing surgery at Spire Parkway Hospital.
After years of trying to get treatment in Canada, as well as venturing into the United States in the hope of finding the right doctor, Heather King finally met Gynaecological Consultant Chris Mann at Spire Parkway Hospital.
While trawling through the internet, Heather, a freelance writer and author of children’s book Salvador’s Questions, who lives in British Columbia – on the outskirts of Vancouver - came across a site focusing on endometriosis where Mr Mann was receiving very positive reviews.
“I arranged a telephone consultation and as soon as I talked to Chris I knew he was the person I had been looking for. He actually listened to what I was saying and convinced me that I was not mad... That I actually had a real medical problem. My first call was on Friday and by Monday I had booked my trip - amazing,” said Heather.
Endometriosis, which mainly affects women of childbearing age, is a common condition where tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb is found in other parts of the body including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, inside the tummy, and in or around the bladder or bowel creating a variety of symptoms including heavy and painful periods as well as a series of stomach problems.
Heather’s search for a surgeon had been a long a distressing one.
“Wherever I turned I seemed to run into a brick wall. Doctors were either dismissive or arrogant. At one point I was told by one doctor ‘do not come and see me again.’
“I asked my female GP for a referral to the Pelvic and Endometriosis Clinic in Vancouver and discovered she had never heard of it. She actually had to Google it while I was sat in the surgery.”
Now back at home with husband Henry and ten-year-old son Salvador, Heather is recovering from her surgery and is full of praise for the work carried out by Mr Mann.
She said: “I am now hoping by next summer I will be ready to tackle to world and to be able to make plans that I can keep - and to have the energy to stay up past 8pm!”
Mr Mann, founder of the Midlands Endometriosis Clinic based at Spire Parkway, explained: “Endometriosis is a disease that can be extremely debilitating, causing extreme pain in the abdomen and pelvis, chronic fatigue as well as having a large negative impact on a woman’s fertility.
“It is a condition that can be very difficult to diagnose, usually requiring a laparoscopy to be performed by a gynaecologist with experience and an interest in the disease. As a consequence it takes on average more than seven years between the on-set of symptoms before a diagnosis is made.
“During that time these women are often suffering terrible symptoms that have a huge impact on their professional, personal and family lives.
“Patients are often misdiagnosed with other conditions, most commonly irritable bowel syndrome, and are often told to go off and get pregnant, to take large volumes of painkillers that come with significant side effects, or to just “put up with it” as it is “normal for women to have period pain.”
“When Heather contacted me, it was soon apparent that she had endometriosis and was keen to have it treated surgically. We arranged for her to come over from Canada and she was in the operating theatre two days later when we were able to cut out all of the endometriosis using key-hole (laparoscopic) surgery so she was quickly up and about and was able to travel back to Canada in just over a week.”
“After three days we had the results of the histopathology assessment that was performed on the tissue we had excised, and this confirmed the presence of endometriosis.
“I think she was relieved to be given this news as it confirmed that she had had the condition and also explained the cause of her longstanding symptoms, which have now resolved. Heather can now move on with her life and hopefully lead a pain and fatigue free life.”
Despite paying for flights to and from Solihull, two weeks at a top hotel and the private medical treatment, Heather is convinced that her total outlay was less than treatment alone would have cost in Canada.
“I felt that the doctors I saw just didn’t seem to have expertise in endometriosis that I was looking for. Once I had spoken to Chris I knew I wouldn’t be able to put my trust in anyone else so I packed my bag and headed for Solihull,” said Heather.