Surgery Sounded Scary, but Carolyn was Amazed at the Results

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Carolyn Wilander Patient Story

Carolyn had been experiencing some very uncomfortable symptoms: lower back pain, pressure and fullness in the pelvic area, and urinary problems. After being referred to Dr. Katelyn Smithling, a Baystate Health urogynecology specialist, Carolyn and her partner Dennis were concerned about what the next steps would bring. She was uncomfortable and knew she needed a specialist, but she still felt anxious about the appointment.

She had a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) years ago, and wondered if she would need to have surgery again. Many people know that a hysterectomy is a treatment for prolapse (a condition where the uterus or other pelvic structures fall out of their normal positions)—but women who have had a hysterectomy can also develop pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence.

After meeting Dr. Smithling, her fears subsided. “I learned she had done this surgery many times with great success. I was impressed with her and amazed that I was so at ease after our very first meeting,” shared Carolyn. 

Dr. Smithling explains, “Pelvic organ prolapse is a common condition—as many as half of post-menopausal women will have evidence of some degree of pelvic organ prolapse when examined, but only 10-20% will have symptoms.

There are effective non-surgical and surgical options for women with pelvic organ prolapse.” In Carolyn’s case, surgery was required.

Care Close to Home Eased Her Mind

Although Carolyn was nervous about surgery, she and her family were comforted knowing that she could have the surgery, with a specialist, close to home at Baystate Noble Hospital. “I knew I would receive the best care. Knowing the staff was very knowledgeable about the care I needed helped me feel more comfortable.”

Carolyn’s surgery went well, but the recovery was tough at first. She was pleased that the hospitalist (a liaison between the hospital departments and the patient's primary care physician and Dr. Smithling worked so closely together to ensure she was on track and recovering. “I really felt cared for and found everyone to be very attentive. My blood pressure dropped and Dr. Smithling reviewed it with the hospitalist and determined what medications would be appropriate and I was still able to be discharged on time,” said Carolyn.

Carolyn shared that the nurses were very compassionate, worked well together and were respectful of her concerns. “I really wanted privacy to take care of myself, especially overnight, and they allowed me my privacy and checked on me to ensure my needs were being met.”

Carolyn had a great support system at home as well. Dennis and Carolyn’s daughter made sure she was resting and comfortable. “Since the surgery I am still a little tired, but getting better each day.”

"I Owe it All to Dr. Smithling and Baystate Noble"

Carolyn is motivated to be well --retirement and time with her daughter and granddaughter are very important to her. “We have a house on top of a mountain in Vermont, way up north with a view of Mt. Washington, and I am excited to be able to go there feeling well.” Spending more time with her daughter and 13-year-old granddaughter is also on her list. For Carolyn, feeling comfortable again means more than just being without painit’s about being able to share quality time with Dennis and her family.

“Being with family, being able to go watch my granddaughter compete in horse shows and feeling good at the same time…I owe it all to Dr. Smithling and Baystate Noble. They have greatly improved my quality of life.”

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