Ten years, ten doctors, and a two-pound fibroid: Soul singer Conya Doss caught our attention as a former teacher who started her own music label to share her feel-good music with the world. Now she opens up about her battle with fibroids that followed her along the way.
By Conya Doss as told to Joyce E. Davis
About 10 years ago I went in for my normal check up and the nurse practitioner said too casually, “Oh, you have fibroids,” and that was all. I had an ultrasound and proceeded to see 10 doctors over the next decade.
The first doctor measured the fibroids at maybe an inch and half and told me, “Don’t worry. They’re really small, but later down the line you’ll be looking at a hysterectomy.” He basically said, “If they don’t bother you, don’t bother them.”
I went to another doctor because I was concerned, but she didn’t even measure the fibroids. As I started talking to women about fibroids, I found out that basically every African American woman I know has had them and out of all of us I’m the only one who hasn’t had a hysterectomy.
So I kept going to different doctors because I the more research I did the more I was wondering if I was going to be able to have kids. I ended up with a doctor that I thought was wonderful who recommended uterine embolization. By this time I had a fibroid that had gotten so big it was pushing everything up.
This doctor said it was the size of a grapefruit, but not to worry about it. I didn’t even recognize that I had gotten severely anemic. I just thought being that fatigued was a part of my life.
A doctor friend of mine prescribed iron pills. And when he felt my stomach and looked at my eyelids, he said he was very worried about me and that the fibroid needed to come out. I shunned him because I didn’t want to go under the knife.I had never had major surgery and I was just plain scared because I’d heard horror stories.
I think it was a blessing that my insurance rejected the uterine embolization, especially when I found out that this procedure kills the fibroid, but it doesn’t go anywhere. And all the people that I know who had this procedure said the fibroids come back. Lupron shots, that are given to shrink fibroids temporarily, were also recommended to me. But I’d read that this medication could have serious side affects as well.
I was under a great deal of stress about all of this. I had been to about 10 doctors by this time. One scared me to death telling me, “’I’m not going to have you bleeding on my table trying to get that fibroid out. I’ll just give you a hysterectomy.”
Thank God I finally got a wonderful doctor who told me, “I am not into taking your uterus. I’m into preserving, but this definitely has to come out.” I was nervous, but the surgery was not bad. When they took out the largest fibroid, it was over two pounds. Imagine that.
When I got home I had a fever and my stomach was aching, so I went back to the hospital and they sent me home after realizing that I wasn’t taking the pain medication. I don’t like to take medicine unless I really need to.
Even on the medication, the pain continued, so I went back to the hospital again. I had an infection. To drain the abscess that was forming, they inserted needles into my stomach and I had tubes attached to me that drained into bags. After five days on intravenous antibiotics, they sent me home with oral antibiotics for two weeks and the tubes and bags as well.
After two weeks, I had another infection. I had to repeat the whole five-day hospital stay, tubes, bags, and antibiotics treatment. When I got a third infection two weeks later they brought in an infectious disease doctor and questioned me about having HIV and diabetes. I was on pins and needles.
This time they sent me home with a PICC line—a catheter that took the antibiotics straight to my heart. Every four hours I had to wake up and give myself the strongest antibiotics available, which gave me such serious reflux that all I could eat was watermelon, grapes and pickles, which I craved. Because of these infections, I lost 15 or 20 pounds over six weeks.
The PICC line did the trick, getting the antibiotics directly into my blood stream. I didn’t have any more infections and I got pregnant six months later. I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, even though they found several fibroids during my c-section, one attached to my fallopian tube and one behind my uterus. I had to have a myomectomy, the removal of the fibroid, just to get the baby out.
I do have some small fibroids right now and if they grow and cause problems, I believe I’ll have a hysterectomy. If you have fibroids, I definitely wouldn’t recommend that you wait years before you address them. Fibroids are nothing to play with, especially if they start attaching themselves to organs. You have to be persistent in valuing your health.
Conya Doss’ will be touring this summer performing music from her recently released fifth studio album, Blu Transition. http://www.conyadoss.com