Moving your family to a new state is tough. You’re switching jobs and schools, adapting to a new house, new neighborhood — new everything.
Having to find a new doctor on top of all that — especially to talk about a sensitive concern — can seem daunting.
After Carrie Wilcoxen moved to Bemidji, Minnesota, from Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, with her husband and three teenagers, she faced that situation. But for her, it turned out wonderfully. She met a doctor she loves who solved a distressing problem and helped her feel great again.
It had been about a year and a half since her last checkup when Wilcoxen, 37, made an appointment with a Sanford Bemidji primary care provider. Once she described her heavy periods and cramping pain, she received a referral to Sanford Women’s obstetrician/gynecologist Johnna Nynas.
In the meantime, an ultrasound confirmed the cause of Wilcoxen’s issue: a number of fairly large fibroids. She was a candidate for a couple of treatment options: an intrauterine device (IUD), which would relieve bleeding but not reduce the fibroids; or a hysterectomy — removal of the uterus is the only permanent solution to fibroids.
Wilcoxen appreciated the way Dr. Nynas helps her patients understand options and procedures.
“She walks you through everything, and she talks to you like a person. And she’s very hands on, and she explains things,” Wilcoxen said.
Dr. Nynas likes to establish a common ground with her patients right away, and she found it especially easy with Wilcoxen.
“Carrie and I had a lot in common, both being busy working moms and really understanding where we were at this stage of midlife and realizing how sometimes your health can interfere with the things that you want to do and the ways you want to be active,” Dr. Nynas said.
She thinks that connection helped Wilcoxen become more comfortable talking about her worries and fears, which in turn helped Dr. Nynas frame their conversation about options.
“I was really concerned with having a hysterectomy due to my age because I’m pretty young,” Wilcoxen said. “So we tried the IUD.”
However, after a few months, the IUD didn’t work out. So Wilcoxen ended up scheduling a hysterectomy after all. Dr. Nynas explained to her what the minimally invasive surgery would entail, including listing all of the people who would be in the room.
“She made me feel very comfortable,” Wilcoxen said.
Surgery went well, and Wilcoxen credits her husband and children with giving her a lot of support. Best of all, though, “I actually feel younger,” she said.
“I feel just like me again.”
‘If you can feel better, it’s so worth it’
Wilcoxen recommends a hysterectomy for other women facing a similar situation. “If you can feel better, it’s so worth it because life is short,” she said.
Dr. Nynas enjoys performing surgery for that reason, too.
“I love seeing patients have good outcomes from their surgery and feeling better, and that their conditions are manageable and they feel that they’ve been well cared for,” she said.
Dr. Nynas appreciates that she can form relationships with patients, who may see her at any point in their lifetime. Patients she sees can range from young women for routine exams, to women who are pregnant and delivering or planning to become pregnant, to women with perimenopause or menopause concerns, to women with structural or other issues.
“Creating an opportunity for them to be open and honest about their concerns, their fears, and really get to know what their questions are is paramount to that patient relationship,” Dr. Nynas said.
It worked for Wilcoxen. “Dr. Nynas is amazing,” she said. “I can’t say enough good things about her.”
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