Robin: A Life-Changing Journey

When she finally got to Mercy Medical Center and met Dr. Fermin Barrueto, Robin F. located exactly what she had spent years searching for.

What she discovered was a doctor who took the time to listen to her, to understand and address her health issues, and a hospital and staff she inherently trusted.

And ultimately, after too many years of searching and treatments, what Robin uncovered was a pain-free life. 

"He was a real find," Robin said of Dr. Barrueto, Director of The Gynecology Center at Mercy Medical Center. "What he did for me was life-changing. I'm so grateful."

What Dr. Barrueto did for Robin was a partial hysterectomy using a state-of-the-art procedure called da Vinci Robotic Surgery, a minimally invasive robotic surgery that's performed through small incisions, minimizing both scarring and recovery time.

But that's the happy ending. The lengthy journey to good health is what Robin's story is really about. It started for the Middle River, MD resident when she was in her late 30s when she began suffering from the effects of endometriosis and fibroid cysts in her uterus. She had heavy bleeding and acute pain.

“I went to several other doctors over the years and they were trying things that just didn’t address my issues,” noted Robin. “They weren’t listening. One doctor just said ‘let’s do exploratory surgery.’ Another treated me with anti-inflammatories and another with hormone therapy that I reacted badly to and ended up in the hospital with blood transfusions.”

Finally, Robin had received an opinion from yet another physician that she needed a total hysterectomy, a major operation to remove her uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and cervix. By this time she was ready. “I wanted something fixed,” she said. So she agreed.

But this was not the end of the story. In truth, her journey was just beginning.

A Path Toward Healing

Before the surgery occurred, Robin’s husband came to her and said he had been speaking with someone at work. The co-worker said that before Robin did anything else she should contact a particular doctor at Mercy Medical Center that he recommended. To her credit, Robin took his advice, and from that moment her journey took a new path that would lead to recovery.

“That very first visit Dr. Barrueto sat down with me and discussed my issues and really listened to me,“ Robin said. “He explained why the other therapies that were tried didn’t work. He was so thorough, so caring. I felt that I’d finally found someone who understood what was going on with me. After that first visit I was so relieved I cried.”

Dr. Barrueto performed a partial hysterectomy in early 2010 using the da Vinci surgical robot, which utilizes laporoscopic ports and computer visuals to allow specialists easier access to a patient’s anatomy. “I was able to keep my ovaries too,” added Robin. “Dr. Barrueto said that if they’re not sick there’s no reason to take them out.”

One of the advantages to da Vinci Surgery is that because there are much smaller incisions there is a much shorter recovery period. Normally a full hysterectomy would require six to eight weeks of healing. Robin was up and walking a day after the surgery. In three weeks she was completely recovered.

“It was amazing,” she said. “I felt better immediately afterward. You just don’t realize how much pain you’re in until it’s gone. I was in a bad state when I first went to see Dr. Barrueto. Nothing had helped, but he did.”

Traveling Back to "Normal"

Within three weeks Robin was back to work as an esthetician, working in her own business focusing on skin care. She has no scars from the surgery. She says she is completely back to normal.

“I am so grateful to Dr. Barrueto,” Robin said. “He gave me my life back. He was so thorough, so caring and genuine. I hope he never retires.

“I went through a lot of years of pain but when I found Mercy Medical Center and Dr. Barrueto I found what I’d been looking for all those years – someone who would listen to me and understand.  I tell women who are going through what I went through that I did all the shopping for them so they don’t have to look around. I already know what works and what doesn’t. Mercy and Dr. Barrueto were definitely the answer.”

Robin's Treatment Team