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Winifred Neal – da Vinci Hysterectomy Success Story

Robotic surgery rescues Winnie Neal from unbearable pain

Winnie NealPain was robbing Winifred “Winnie” Neal of her Christmas.

“I’m pretty strong on dealing with pain, but not even with the natural births of my three children did I have anything like this,” says the 49-year-old Waxahachie resident.

She had severe cramps with her menstrual cycle, and medications didn’t help.

“I just couldn’t get the pain under control,” she recalls.

Neal’s condition worsened throughout 2011. That December, she decided to give herself a Christmas present — an end to her pain.

“It’s such a progressive thing that even though I had suffered awhile, I didn’t realize how bad it really was and kept trying to deal with it,” she says. “When it got so bad I couldn’t turn myself over in bed because the pain was so intense, I finally went to see the doctor.”

Meet da Vinci

Neal consulted Patricia LaRue, MD, independently practicing OB-GYN on the medical staff at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. Dr. LaRue suspected that adenomyosis — a condition in which the endometrial lining of the uterine wall thickens and spreads to other muscle tissue — was to blame. Because Neal had suffered for so long, Dr. LaRue proposed a minimally invasive hysterectomy with the da Vinci® Surgical System.

“I didn’t know much about da Vinci, but I trusted Dr. LaRue’s advice,” says Neal, who adds that her experience with robotic surgery was wonderful. “I was so glad that Dr. LaRue was up on the best and newest procedures.

“During the surgery, she found I not only had adenomyosis but also endometriosis — so bad that it had attached to my ovaries and colon and was pulling down my colon.”

If left untreated, the endometriosis could wrap around the colon. So Dr. LaRue detached the endometrial tissue from Neal’s colon. She also removed her ovaries, which were found to contain cysts. Even with the additional procedures, Neal had only four small incisions, experienced little pain, and recovered quickly, thanks to da Vinci’s minimally invasive capabilities.

Fast healing after da Vinci hysterectomy

Winnie Neal walkingAfter a year of suffering needlessly, Neal had found blessed relief.

Her physician’s prescription for pain medication was never needed. She went home with only Tylenol as a pain medication and didn’t even need that.

“I’m a stomach sleeper, and when I went home the day after the surgery, I slept on my stomach,” she says. “Can you imagine that?”

Now she’s happily returned to walking, quilting, cooking, teaching, and spending time with her family.

“I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but what I had went way beyond that,” Neal says, encouraging others not to wait as long as she did to seek help. “After surgery with da Vinci, I honestly felt like a new woman. I couldn’t believe it.”

From the winter 2012 edition of Shine magazine.