A mother nearly died after claiming doctors had repeatedly dismissed her symptoms and said she was only getting “fat”.
Sarah McInnes, 38, complained to her GP in January this year that she had bloated two dress sizes from 12 to 16 in just four weeks.
Initially, doctors had told her that the unusual weight gain was because she scoffed at overeating, although her diet hadn’t changed.
In fact, however, she had been living for 20 years with an undiagnosed condition that quickly became life-threatening.
Sarah, from Kilbirnie, Scotland, has suffered from pain for years and said it felt like she was “carrying a backpack full of rocks”.
In January, Sarah was sent for a pelvic scan after a doctor spoke up and told other medics he disagreed with their theories.
Then a 46-inch, two-stone cyst was discovered, occupying almost all of Sarah’s abdomen and crushing her other organs.
Her belly was larger than many women born with a single baby and larger than when they were nine months pregnant with their twins.
Sarah, a mother of three, said: “I had heard their excuses so many times that I started to believe them.
“It was always, ‘You’re fat, you’re obese, you need to eat less.
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“It was driving me insane, I wasn’t eating much and I’d been on so many diets to shed the extra weight but it never changed.”
Sarah underwent a grueling four and a half hour operation in March, which also required a hysterectomy and the removal of part of her stomach.
Before the surgery, husband Allan, 44, had to sign a waiver agreeing there was a 50 percent chance Sarah would not survive the surgery.
During the operation, doctors discovered that Sarah had endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the womb can grow on top of other organs, such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and intestines.
It can be extremely painful, especially during a period, make sex and going to the toilet excruciating, and cause fertility problems.
The condition typically gets worse, especially if left untreated.
Sarah said: “The doctor told me that in the 25 years he’s been doing this particular endometriosis surgery, he’s never seen it this bad.
“I’m just so glad to be here.”
“Ignored Hundreds of Times”
Sarah first noticed endometriosis symptoms in 2000 at the age of 16.
She passed out from excruciating period cramps, vomited, and had to take days off school because of the pain.
The doctors told me that because [the cyst] I had left it there for years and because it was stuck to all my organs there is a very high possibility it could be cancer
The mother described the pain from the condition as “the worst I’ve ever felt” – worse than labor pains.
But even though she went to her GP to complain for over two decades, all of the signs of Sarah’s agonizing condition were unconnected.
One in ten women of childbearing age in the UK has endometriosis, but it takes an average of eight years for a diagnosis to be made.
Sarah said: “I imagine it took at least a couple hundred visits to my GP and at least six or seven visits to the ER to get a diagnosis.
“They just said, ‘Sometimes girls struggle with bad menstrual cramps,’ or it’s ‘women’s problems.'”
An uncaring doctor even asked Sarah if she thought she was the only woman in the world who had period pains.
But Sarah’s pain got so bad she couldn’t face leaving her bed and was eventually forced to quit her retail job six years ago.
She stopped spending time and bonding with her three boys, twins Kyle and James, 19, and Mark, nine, which led to depression.
Sarah’s cyst is believed to have been growing for five years since 2017.
That year Sarah developed a bright pink rash with painful sores on her legs, chest and face – a symptom of endometriosis.
She now faces an awful wait to determine if the giant ovarian cyst is cancerous.
Cysts are common in people with endometriosis and most often are not fatal.
But because Sarah hasn’t been diagnosed for so long and has been allowed to grow up so much, doctors fear it could have dire consequences.
I wish I was normal, with a normal life where I could go to work, go on vacation, and enjoy time with my kids and friends, but I can’t and never will because all my symptoms became like that long ignored
Sarah said: “Doctors told me there was a very good chance it was cancer because it was left there for years and because it was glued to all my organs.
“All this time dealing with my illness and the pain has taken a massive toll on us, especially my husband Allan who has been amazing.”
Unfortunately, removing the cyst and parts of the endometriosis only slightly relieved Sarah’s symptoms.
Going to the bathroom is hell and Sarah is still in a lot of pain due to growths on her bowls that can’t be removed without risking serious problems.
She said: “I was hoping that once this was all over it would be done and dusted but my pain level has only just dropped to around five or six and I still struggle every day.
“The pain is constant and so is the back pain.
“I wish I was normal, with a normal life where I could go to work, go on vacation and enjoy time with my kids and friends, but I can’t.
“And I will never be able to because all my symptoms have been ignored for so long.”
Sarah’s husband had to shoulder the brunt of the childcare and quit his job as a warehouse hand to take on the role of Sarah’s full-time caregiver.
Endometriosis UK’s Emma Tegala said: “Staggeringly, it takes eight years on average for an endometriosis diagnosis to be made in the UK.
“Unfortunately, we regularly hear stories from people with this condition who are initially told that severe pelvic pain and painful periods are normal.”
Emma said a lack of awareness of endometriosis, its symptoms overlapping with other conditions, and a taboo around discussing periods play a role in the condition being diagnosed so late.
Craig McArthur, Director of the East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership and Primary Care Lead for Ayrshire, said: “NHS Ayrshire & Arran is committed to protecting patient confidentiality so we are unable to make any further comments.
“We take all patient feedback, comments, concerns or complaints very seriously and encourage anyone who is unhappy with our services to contact us directly with their concerns.”
https://www.the-sun.com/health/5152881/doctors-dismissed-symptoms-getting-fat-now-life-never-same/ Doctors dismissed dangerous symptoms and said I was only getting fat