Model, 57, paid for a hysterectomy after an agonising pelvic condition caused her to pass out
Model, 57, who spent years feeling like she was ‘constantly in labour’ self-funded a hysterectomy and also has metal coils inserted in her pelvis to end her agony
- Angela Tuffnell spent years battling varicose veins hidden inside her pelvis
- The pain was so excruciating she struggled to stand for more than five minutes
- Hysterectomy did not ease her agony, which drove her to near breaking point
- Underwent multiple surgeries only for the pain to return years later
- Is finally pain free after having metal coils in her pelvis to normalise blood flow
A woman self-funded a hysterectomy after an agonising condition left her feeling like she was ‘constantly in labour’.
Angela Tuffnell, 57, from Cheshire, spent years battling varicose veins hidden inside her pelvis, leaving her in pain so excruciating she could barely stand and would even pass out.
She said: ‘Even standing still, I’d be in agony. The throbbing pain was so bad I’d need to lie down and it’d take hours to stop. I could feel the life ebbing out of me’.
Unable to tolerate the agony of her disorder, known as pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS), any longer, the mother-of-two paid for a hysterectomy, which sadly had little effect.
After undergoing many additional surgeries, Ms Tuffnell is finally pain free after having metal coils inserted into her pelvis to prevent abnormal blood flow in August last year.
Ms Tuffnell, who claims the pain drove her close to breaking point, is even working again as a model and make-up artist after her constant agony forced her to give up her career.
She is speaking out to raise awareness of the ‘invisible illness’ .
Model Angela Tuffnell self-funded a hysterectomy after an agonising condition left her feeling like she was ‘constantly in labour’. Ms Tuffnell suffered from pelvic congestion syndrome
Ms Tuffnell (pictured with her boyfriend of six months Bill, 63) spent years battling varicose veins hidden inside her pelvis, leaving her in pain so excruciating she could barely stand and would even pass out. She claims she felt the life ‘ebbing out’ of her
Unable to tolerate the pain, Ms Tuffnell (pictured with her daughters Grace and Harriet, and her granddaughter Aurora) paid for a hysterectomy, which sadly had little effect
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‘I thought I was dying’
Speaking of her condition, Ms Tuffnell, who is mother to Harriet, 24, and Grace, 21, said: ‘The only way I can describe the pain is like a constant, long, slow labour. At points, I actually thought I was dying.
‘At first, I thought it was just age catching up with me, but now I know I had actually been walking round with this condition for years.
‘Facing this has been the biggest battle of my life but thank goodness I had the tenacity to keep fighting.
‘Doctors cannot be sure of the cause of PCS, but after I enquired, they told me it can be genetic or the result of an underlying condition exacerbated by a pelvic trauma such as childbirth.’
Ms Tuffnell’s pain drove her to giving up her job as a model and make-up artist
After years of surgeries, Ms Tuffnell is finally pain free after having metal coils inserted into her pelvis for the third time to reduce abnormal blood flow. She is now back at work
‘Standing for more than five minutes was a struggle’
Ms Tuffnell, who is grandmother to Aurora, first noticed something was wrong when she spotted a small faulty vein on the inside of her right knee, which she had laser treatment for. It was not until 2010 that she started feeling seriously unwell.
She said: ‘The pain was a gradual build. I’d always been very sporty and active, but suddenly I was feeling very tired and worn.
‘I’d get terrible back ache and found standing for more than five minutes a struggle.’
Over the next two years, Ms Tuffnell’s condition deteriorated. At her worst, she would lose consciousness and vomit due to the pain in her pelvis.
In a bid to find out what was wrong, Ms Tuffnell underwent a string of hospital tests, with doctors initially being baffled as to what was wrong.
After being referred to a vascular specialist and undergoing a transvaginal scan in December 2012, she was diagnosed with PCS two months later.
Ms Tuffnell, who has been with her boyfriend Bill, 63, around six months, said: ‘I’d never heard of it before. The tricky thing is that these veins are internal, so not actually visible.
‘I wasn’t walking round with bulging veins on my body. When you look at me, you’d never know anything was wrong.
‘It really is an invisible illness. It’s not a known condition at all, hence why I want to share my story.’
Ms Tuffnell says the pain nearly drove her to breaking point and made her think she was dying
Unable to stand for more than five minutes, she initially thought she was just getting older
At her worst, the ‘invisible illness’ would make Ms Tuffnell vomit from the agony
‘I was one of the worst cases ever’
In January 2014, Ms Tuffnell underwent the first of two pelvic vein embolism (PVE) procedures, which involves metal coils being inserted to block faulty veins and stop abnormal blood flows. Yet the procedure did little to numb her pain.
Desperate, Ms Tuffnell paid for a private hysterectomy in August 2014. When that also proved to be unsuccessful, she underwent a second PVE in January 2015.
After the second procedure, she felt strong enough to return to work, with everything going well for two years. Yet, in July 2017, her pain returned.
Ms Tuffnell said: ‘This time, I knew I wasn’t alone. I was armed with knowledge about the condition, and I knew I wanted the best care possible.’
After researching her options online, Ms Tuffnell booked a consultation at The Whiteley Clinic, which treats vein-related conditions.
She said: ‘All it took was [an] initial consultation and the rest is history. My sonographer assessed me and said I was one of the worst cases she’s ever seen. I was classed as chronic.’
In August 2017, Ms Tuffnell underwent her third and final PVE. Following an additional procedure to her leg in January 2018, she is finally pain free.
For years, Ms Tuffnell (pictured with Grace) balanced being a mother, studying, working and living with her disorder. Although surgery eased the pain for two years, it then returned
Armed with knowledge of her condition, Ms Tuffnell (with Grace) went straight to specialists for her third and final procedure to have metal coils inserted into her pelvis
Although recovered, experts told Ms Tuffnell (pictured with her daughters) her disorder was chronic and one of the worst cases they had ever seen. She is speaking out to raise awareness
‘I want this condition to be on people’s radars’
Ms Tuffnell is speaking out to raise awareness of PCS, saying: ‘For years, I was juggling being a mum, studying, working and this awful condition. At points, I was close to a breakdown, but I’ve moved forward now.
‘I always swore I’d help other women with every aspect of PCS when I was strong enough.
‘I want this condition to be on people’s radars so they realise that if you’re feeling pain and exhaustion, if you’re feeling literally drawn to the floor, if you’re looking for the nearest chair whenever you enter a room because you can no longer stand, it could well be PCS.
‘I never gave up and I hope that other women out there with symptoms of PCS know that their voices can and will be heard.’
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