Sandi’s Story: Pelvic Pain, Robotic Surgery


If the term “renaissance man” is a person who excels at more than one field of expertise or interest and expertise, that means Sandi Joy Chadwick can be described as one of the “renaissance women.” Sandi is a comic and inspirational speaker, as well as a worship leader, and also assists patients to select the correct glasses at an optometrist’s office. Sandi has a husband and is the mother of a daughter who is 16 at high school, as well as a 20-year-old daughter who recently branched out by making the move to Italy.

Sandi is never shy about living her life to the maximum and doing everything she can to get things done. She is also not reluctant to inspire others to live their lives to the fullest. When Sandi learned that the possibility of a surgical solution for a very painful condition that is caused by uterine fibroids, which are non-cancerous growths that occur in her uterus, she was thrilled to learn that she was the perfect person to undergo da Vinci robotic surgery. Prior to being diagnosed, Sandi had assumed the severe cramping and pain she experienced was an unpleasant side effect of aging. She was delighted to discover that the issue could be solved with such technological advances. After the surgery, she is now willing to endorse it to others.

Sandi’s first reaction to the concept of robotic surgical procedures was… “Robots, how cool !” Then she sat down and watched a whole DVD on how to use the da Vinci system, which was provided by her doctor Christina Ellis, MD, Ob/Gyn. Sandi discovered that robotic-assisted surgery can be performed using tiny incisions. She was informed about the advantages that it provides over open surgery, and even laparoscopic techniques. These include much less discomfort and a shorter hospital stay and a quicker return to daily routines, and the potential for superior results in the clinical setting.

“I must admit that initially, I was skeptical thinking ‘oh, sure it’s going to be easy… certain it’s going be painless …. certain that the cuts will be tiny.’ It all made sensitivities,” says Sandi. “It really makes sense that this procedure will improve healing as it’s more minimally invasive and precise. I was able to quickly realize that robotic-assisted surgery was certainly the option to take.”

Sandi remembers the time a family member was undergoing a traditional open hysterectomy several years ago. She was diagnosed with grave complications. She was infected during the procedure and nearly died. “It was a very long recovery. It took her forever to restore her strength,” Sandi recalls. “I did not want to have to go through it again.”

Two of Sandi’s close friends suggested she visit the doctor Dr. Ellis. They had never had a robot-assisted procedure and both experienced great outcomes due to laparoscopic procedures with Dr. Ellis’ care. Sandi had a basic understanding of robotic surgery, however, she was astonished to learn that it could be an option for her. She was unaware of how advanced technology could be used for the surgical procedure she was undergoing.

“My experience with the robot-assisted procedure was fantastic, from beginning to end. I fell asleep then awoke and it was done… as if nothing had happened,” she says. “I thought I would experience immediate pain and some sort of braced myself to prevent it. However, I was not in any discomfort when I woke up. I can say with certainty that it was not a big deal. I never reached a time that I thought anything was unacceptable.”

Sandi’s surgery took place on Thursday. She was walking the next morning, and she returned home the following day. On Sunday, she removed all prescription painkillers. “I’d use ibuprofen but likely could have done it without it. After two weeks, I wasn’t even taking it, as I didn’t feel any pain at all,” she says. “The most difficult part was that I was tired quite quickly over the course of a few days due to the trauma my body went through. Surgery was the only thing that was needed.” Sandi noticed that her fatigue was evident when she didn’t hold her back, from a snooze “overdid the procedure,” which was very easy because she felt “that great” after surgery.

After undergoing surgery that was 100% effective, Sandi no longer has the pain that has been bothering her for so long. “My illness was definitely disrupting my life. I wasn’t able to always accomplish the things I wanted to accomplish and be who I would like to be. I was unable to sleep. I needed to go to the bathroom frequently due to fibroids pressing down on my bladder.” the doctor explains. “It was extremely restricting. The goal of life is to live in the present… by being in the moment enjoying yourself and sharing good times with others. My surgery opened the door for me.”

Sandi would like to share her experience so that others can get inspired and never be scared of undergoing surgery with a robotic. However, she would like people to remember that there isn’t a “real robotic” involved, and not as those you see in films. “We do not talk about AI or sci-fi fiction-based special effects. Don’t think about the subject of Star Wars or Lost in Space. The surgeon has done everything here.” Sandi deadpans with a little friendly jab into her tone. “This concerns a more efficient method of getting the task completed. It’s about the most up-to-date and advanced technology that surgeons have today. Robotic-assisted surgery is the future, my dear friends. Welcome to the club!”

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