Procedure helps endometriosis patient suffering severe pain

Endometriosis affects one in every 10 women worldwide. It’s a condition that you can’t see, but the impacts can be life changing. For Katie Maxwell, it was a pain she thought she would have to live with for years to come.

“It’s terrible,” Maxwell said. “You tell people that there is something wrong with you and they don’t believe you.”

Maxwell, 25, has spent the last seven years in pain. The years have been filled with hospital visits and countless doctor appointments.

“You look healthy, but they don’t know I may have been up all night throwing up or in pain all night and I come to work and nobody knows,” Maxwell said.

At the age of 18, after she graduated high school in Milton, Maxwell began feeling unbearable pain. The pain caused her to regularly faint and stopped her from doing the activates that she loved.

Katie tried a number of medications and experimental treatments, but they offered no relief, leaving her to feel like she was out of option.

“How am I going to do this for another 10 years. There’s got to be another option, there’s got to be another way but there really wasn’t a lot of hope,” she said.

Five years later she was finally diagnosed with endometriosis.

“A lot of physicians normalize their symptoms and this leads to a pretty big delay in patient presentation and when we actually diagnose the disease,” said UW Health’s Dr. Cara King, who specializes in minimally invasive gynecological surgery.

The condition that affects five million women nationwide, happens when the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of it and onto other areas in the body.

“There’s an entire spectrum of pain and sometimes we cannot get rid of it completely, but getting women back to their quality of life is pivotal and obtainable,” King said.

King is one in only three people in Wisconsin to specialize in laparoscopic incision of endometriosis. The surgery helps to eliminate the root cause of symptoms and in some cases can completely eliminate endometriosis.

“I removed those incisions completely and so that can take a little bit more time,” King said. “Because you are actually dissecting those off the actual underlining structures but by removing all of those lesions, there are no longer being influenced by the ovarian hormones.”

Maxwell is now four weeks post-surgery with no pain in sight and back to what her and her family call “the old Katie.”

“I had a really hard time seeing the positive because I wasn’t getting positive results and I think the new Katie is so happy. I am so fortunate to find the help that I needed because it was such a struggle and I know so many people struggle and don’t find the help they need,” she said.