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How One Failed Pregnancy Saved Me From Getting Essure

Updated on January 28, 2014

Two Pink Lines Changed Everything...

I’ll never forget the morning I stared at that little white stick in my hand, and saw those two pink lines. I was 37 years old, and I was finished having kids.

When I say that “I was finished having kids” I mean that on the morning I found out I was pregnant, I had an appointment with my Nurse Practitioner to discuss permanent sterilization. In fact, I had my appointment half an hour after I took the pregnancy test. I had had a short conversation with her in the past, and I already knew the procedure I wanted to get. My only hope was that I could get it done soon.

My plan was to get something called Essure. Essure came out in 2002, and it’s marketed as a non-surgical alternative to a tubal ligation. It consists of small, metal coils that are inserted into each fallopian tube. The coils are supposed to cause scar tissue to build up around them, thereby blocking the tubes and preventing conception. I’m a writer, and although I work from home, I really wasn’t interested in having to recover from a major surgery. The Essure procedure sounded perfect for me.

However, those two pink lines changed everything. I knew something wasn’t right because I hadn’t felt right for a few days. My period was late, and I had a hunch I knew why. My suspicions were confirmed, right there in my bathroom.

Essure Coils After One Patient's Removal

One patient's coils after removal
One patient's coils after removal | Source

Panic Takes Hold

Right away, my entire world turned upside down. I had to talk with someone, so I called my best friend from college and I told her my news before I told anyone else. She offered some beautiful words of encouragement that went right in one ear and out the other in the midst of my shock. Even so, it felt good to talk with someone.

I drove to my appointment, and when the nurse took my blood pressure, she casually asked about my last period. I told her that it was late, but that I had taken a pregnancy test that morning and it was positive. She smiled, and said that they would confirm the pregnancy there for me. She said, “Congratulations!” I could only nod my head as she walked out of the room.

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Keeping The News To Myself

I knew that if I could only get through the day, once I told my husband the news, he would be thrilled, and I would feel better. As luck would have it, his car broke down at his work, and I had to go and pick him up at the end of the day. I didn’t feel like driving back home, so I let him take the driver’s seat of my minivan. I was unusually quiet on the drive back, and he asked me what was wrong.

“I can’t tell you now,” I said.

“Why not?”

“Because if I tell you while you’re driving, you’re going to wreck our van.”

He calmly pulled over and asked me to tell him what was wrong.

“I’m pregnant.”

Silence.

Then he started laughing. Laughing! I was right. He was thrilled; ecstatic, even. I felt better. Much better. After a few minutes, he pulled back onto the road and we drove home.

After that conversation, things were much better. I got used to the idea of being pregnant. I started thinking about names, and I really began looking forward to the next few months when I would be outgrowing my wardrobe. I spread the news to family and friends, and everyone was really excited. Oh, we got the occasional, “You know how that happens, right?” from someone who was trying to be funny, but who really meant that we had too many kids as it was; but we let those comments roll off our backs.

One morning, I was in our bedroom sitting on our bed. I was getting ready for the day, when all of a sudden I had this sensation like I was bleeding. I hurried to the bathroom, and sure enough, I was bleeding.

Bright red.

I panicked. I quickly called the Nurse Practitioner, absolutely sure that I could not be going through a miscarriage. As a born again Christian, and as someone who has already experienced a miracle baby once in her life, I felt absolutely certain that I was not going to lose this baby. After all, he or she was a blessing from God, right? I wasn’t even trying to get pregnant. Why would God allow me to go through a miscarriage for a baby I didn’t even want in the beginning?

I was told by my N.P. to come to the office and get the lab slip so I could have a blood test done. She said that they would have to repeat the test in two days to see if my HCG levels went up or down. I raced to her office, and in about a half an hour, I was back at home, and the bleeding had just about subsided.

I heaved a huge sigh of relief.

Those two days were emotionally painful, but when the bleeding stopped and never started again, I started to relax. Surely this was just a fluke. I knew I was really fine, and that something must have happened to cause the bleeding that wouldn’t happen again. I went back to the office in two days, but I felt like the second blood test was just a formality at this point. The lab technician was very nice, and she told me that I would probably have the results in a few hours.


The X-Ray Tells All

Note the migration of the coils, which should each be in a fallopian tube.
Note the migration of the coils, which should each be in a fallopian tube. | Source

Side Effects of Essure Include:

  • Auto Immune disorders
  • Heavy Bleeding and clotting
  • Cramping
  • Allergic reactions to the nickel
  • Chemical and food sensitivities
  • Hives, rashes
  • Metallic taste in mouth
  • Sharp stabbing pains

More side effects and diagnoses are available at the Essure Problems website

The Results Are In...

I called the office later to get my results and I was floored by what I was told, “Nicole...we have
your results, and they’re not good. Your HCG levels are dropping. You’re probably going to miscarry over the weekend.”

I couldn’t believe it. Why?, was the one question in my mind. I started to get angry. Really angry. Why would God allow me to go through this? Why, when I was planning on getting sterilized? Why put me through a miscarriage for absolutely no reason?

I felt like a zombie as I went through that weekend, but somewhere along the way, my faith started to build back up again. When nothing more happened, I called the office again on Monday morning to let them know. They told me that it was strange, but they asked me to come back in the next day for an ultrasound.

The next day, I arrived at the office and I was ready. I just knew that I was going to see a little beating heart in there once she found the baby in my uterus. When the ultrasound technician came in, I was excited. However, as the test began, and I saw her frown, I knew that I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up.

“There’s nothing there,” she told me. “I can see the gestational sac, but it’s small, and there’s nothing inside it.”

When I left that day I was told that they would repeat the ultrasound in a week if I hadn’t started to miscarry yet. When I got home, I read everything I could about misdiagnosed miscarriages, and women who had healthy babies when they were told they had no baby in a gestational sac at eight weeks, which is how far along I thought I was. Once again, my faith grew, and I was sure that we’d see a baby at the next ultrasound.

One week went by with no more bleeding. I went to the ultrasound only to find that everything was exactly the same. I decided that I didn’t want to wait for the miscarriage to happen on its own. I wanted a D & C. It was too painful to wait.

I was referred to another doctor, and before I met with him, I did some research about sterilization. I was sure that I didn’t want to go through this pain again, so I wanted to find out if he could do the Essure procedure at the same time as he did the D & C. I started to do some reading on Essure, and what I found out really surprised me.

There is an entire group on Facebook that’s dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of Essure. There is also an Essure Problems website that is full of great information, and even features pictures of coils after removal, and x-ray photos of coils that have migrated. I didn’t know this, but Essure contains nickel, and many women have developed a nickel allergy after having this procedure done to them. For some, they already had the nickel allergy, but their doctors didn’t know the coils contained nickel prior to the placement. I also found that Erin Brockovich had started her own website that was dedicated to the same purpose. Apparently, this procedure wasn’t as safe as I had originally thought, and these women wanted to get the truth about the incredible pain they had endured; some of them for months, many of them for years.

I was blown away by what I was reading, but I decided that I probably should opt for a different form of sterilization because I am allergic to nickel. If it even touches my skin, I break out in a rash. Maybe I should go for the good, old-fashioned tube-tying, just like my mom had. When I met with the doctor, he told me that he wasn’t comfortable tying my tubes and doing the D & C at the same time, so he referred me to yet, another doctor.

By the time I met with this one, I had started to have some pretty serious pain. I was bleeding, and it didn’t seem to be letting up. Sometimes the cramping would be so terrible, it felt like I was in constant labor. On the day I met with her, I brought up that I would like her to tie my tubes at the same time as she did the D & C. She said she could do that, but she asked me if I had heard about an alternative called Essure.

“Oh, yes,” I told her. “I’ve read a lot about it. I’m allergic to nickel, so I can’t get Essure.”

She looked at me, confused. “I wasn’t aware that Essure had nickel in it. I’ve never had a patient with a problem before.”

I was thankful when she didn’t press the issue after I told her that I just wanted a regular tubal ligation. I talked to her about my pain, and she wanted her ultrasound tech to do an ultrasound on me before I left that day. I would have to wait about a half an hour before she could fit me in. In the mean time, she gave me a prescription for an antibiotic, and some Tylenol #3. She told me her nurse would schedule the surgery, but if the pain got so bad that the medicine didn’t touch it, I should go to the emergency room.

While I waited for the ultrasound, my pain intensified incredibly. By the time the tech called me in, I was almost doubled over because I was cramping so bad. The ultrasound hurt so much, I had to lie there with my eyes closed, and every time she moved toward my left side, I cried out in pain.

I went home that night and took the medication she had given me. I had a little bit of relief, and I went to bed early. However, I was awake again my 3 am. I took some more of the Tylenol, and I waited for the pain to go away.

It didn’t.

Nickel allergies or sensitivity often come to the surface when a patient has had the Essure procedure. It's not uncommon for doctors to be unaware that the coils contain nickel.
Nickel allergies or sensitivity often come to the surface when a patient has had the Essure procedure. It's not uncommon for doctors to be unaware that the coils contain nickel. | Source

The End of the Nightmare

I knew I had to get my three kids off to school, but I couldn’t even wait that long. I’m thankful that my oldest is fourteen, and she was able to step in and help with the younger two. I got in my minivan, and I drove myself to the emergency room.

That afternoon, I had surgery. They did a D & C, and they did a tubal ligation. They also found a large, seven centimeter cyst on my left fallopian tube that needed to be removed. Apparently, that was what caused so much pain during the ultrasound. My husband was there when I woke up, and he took me home as soon as they discharged me.

It’s hard to explain how I felt during the recovery process. I was in a lot of pain, but I was also relieved that it was over. I felt free. I still had a lot of questions that I wanted to ask God, and I didn’t quite understand why I had to go through such an ordeal when I was just going to get sterilized anyway.

One day, God spoke to my heart. He told me why I had to go through that month of agony. He also told me that it broke his heart to see me in so much pain, and that every time I cried, he was holding me in the palm of his hand. He told me that if I hadn’t been pregnant, I would have gone ahead with the Essure. The result would have been months, or even years of agonizing pain that was nothing like what I had just finished going through.

I knew from the other ladies in the Essure Facebook group that many of their doctors don’t believe them when they tell them that their symptoms are being caused by Essure. Their lives are a living hell on earth. They spend thousands of dollars on doctors, only to be told that there’s nothing that can be done. Some of them are able to convince doctors to give them hysterectomies, and many of them are only in their twenties. There are a few doctors who believe them, and those doctors will try to remove the coils, but since they’re supposed to be permanent, it’s not always an easy surgery.

My fifth and final pregnancy happened to prevent me from going through all of that pain and suffering. It’s because of that pregnancy that I was able to stop for a moment, and really do some research about what I was about to do to my body.

I’ve learned that sometimes God allows painful things to happen in our lives, and quite often we don’t understand why until the very end. Even so, his heart breaks when we cry. Oftentimes, he cries right along with us, but everything he does for me has been for my good.

It was a wonderful life lesson that I will never forget.

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    • Heather Mac profile image

      Heather Mac 3 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to write about what must have been a very painful experience. I know it was a very private pain, and I would understand if you never wanted to speak of it again. By summoning the courage to share your experience, you are being a light for other women. Your courage could save many people from unnecessary pain. You are an angel Nicole. Bless your heart.

    • nicolecolwell profile image
      Author

      Nicole Colwell 3 years ago from Elmira, NY

      Thank you, Heather! It was very challenging, but it taught me such an important lesson that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. God is always SO good!

    • profile image

      kekemimi 3 years ago

      Thank you for your heartfelt and very informative article! After suffering from 2 miscarriages myself you will never forget that pain. God bless you and your family!

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