Behind Her Smile



As she walks between racks of brightly -colored greeting cards, Sandy McIlravy is the first to greet customers with an infectious laugh at her family’s Hallmark store.

“Meeting people is a great part of it,” the Brandon woman says, putting cards on into slots on the shelf. “I love being the one out here with the people.”

Behind her naturally cheery smile, Sandy coped with a condition that left her feeling worn-out and achy for weeks at a time. While she had always had heavy menstrual periods, when she hit her mid-30s, her monthly cycles got longer and heavier.

Getting in the way

As a business owner and busy mom to two girls, ages 15 and 9, she didn’t have time to stop and complain, but the toll on her body and lifestyle was simple -- exhaustion. At the end of the day, Sandy would collapse into bed, feeling tired and crampy.

“It just got to the point of being too much,” Sandy said. “I was just tired of feeling yucky all the time.”

Each year, the problem would get worse, to the point where Sandy couldn’t even tell you when her monthly cycle would begin. Her periods would last as long as three weeks at time, with a couple of days between periods.

For years, Sandy had talked with her doctor, Sanford gynecologist Dr. Dean Madison, about options for treating her heavy periods. While a hysterectomy would end her heavy bleeding, she really didn’t want to have to undergo major surgery and take hormones for years afterward.

“When we talked about it, I knew that I just didn’t want to do it,” Sandy said.

A birthday gift

During her annual exam, just days before her 40th birthday, Dr. Madison told Sandy about a new in-patient procedure called NovaSure, designed to lighten or end heavy periods. NovaSure uses radio frequency to remove the lining of the uterus, the part that causes the bleeding, without the hassle or complications of major surgery.

“As soon as he told me about it, I said, ‘sign me up,’” Sandy says with a smile. “I made the appointment on my birthday, a birthday gift to myself.”

On the morning of her birthday, she went in for the procedure, which required only local anesthetic and took about five minutes to complete. Sandy said she felt only a slight discomfort during the treatment and used only over-the-counter ibuprofen for the next day for minor pain.

“It was such an easy way to take care of it,” Sandy said. “I couldn’t believe how simple it all was.”

All the energy she needs

By the second day after the surgery, she was ready to go back to work. Two weeks later, she and her husband took a trip to Europe. For the first time in years, she had all the fun she wanted without the cramps and bleeding to interrupt her days.

“It was absolutely fabulous,” Sandy said. “We could do whatever we wanted all day long and the bleeding just never showed up again.“

Two years later, Sandy said she’s been pleased to have her menstrual periods never return. Her smile as she helps customers find just the right greeting card comes from a genuine joy in her job and her life, she says.

The NovaSure procedure has given her all the energy she needs to unload boxes and shelve inventory at the store, drive her daughters to practices and games and still enjoy time with her family at the end of the day.

“It’s been the best gift ever,” Sandy said. “I only wish that I could have done it sooner.”

Posted Date: July 2011

Behind Her Smile

Incredibly heavy menstrual cycles were making it hard for Sandy McIlravy to run her store and keep up with her life. Find out how a new procedure helped this Brandon woman control the bleeding that drained her energy.