I’m not going to sugar coat this because there is nothing to sugar coat. It’s the reality of my life. I am taking a break from my more lighthearted posts to talk about something that is very dear to my heart. Endometriosis is a silent pain that no one seems to understand and every woman out there should understand it.
I never knew I had it. For years I suffered with this pain that I thought every woman had gone through. Every month it was the same thing. For days I laid in my bed, curled up in the fetal position, tears streaming down my face and praying for the day when it would all be over. It wasn’t just cramps. Cramps can be treated with pain killers. It can be eased with a hot bath, some good food, and a bit of exercise. Sure it sucks having cramps but we all go through it, right? We go about our day like normal and we live with it. Cramps are just one of those things we go through as women.
I remember taking medicine religiously. As soon as the cramps started I took a pill. Four or six hours later I took another pill. I did it for days until I didn’t need to take those pills again. I tried it for months to no avail. I started out with simple medication, Tylenol, Advil. Soon I had to move on to something a little stronger. Midol. I tried generic brands. Brand names. Nothing had been working. I spent a lot of money buying heating pads, those rice heating bags that you stick in the microwave. I took hot baths. The hottest I could stand and I would take them three or four times a day.
But nothing worked.
Maybe I just had to live with it. I knew other women lived with cramps so I could too. Besides everyone just kept telling me it wasn’t that bad. We all have cramps and everyone else can live with them, why can’t you? Exactly? Why can’t I? I had to fake it all the time. I had to go to school and to work just like everyone else. I looked sick. My face was pale and I lacked the energy and good humour I usually had. When people asked me what was wrong, I just told them I had the flu or something. Something other than that dreaded word…period. No one could possibly understand why I had to miss work because of my period. People worked through it all the time.
More years had passed. My cramps were getting worse if that was even possible. I wasn’t just ill for a few days each month, I was ill for weeks at a time. the cramps were almost constant and I was researching new concepts online. What was going to fix my cramps? I went to the doctor hoping for something a little stronger that I could take. She performed a few examinations in case there was a bigger problem than just cramps. Test after test, nothing was coming up. It was suggested I use an IUD which seemed like a good idea at the time. I had already tried oral contraceptives but they didn’t agree with me. The IUD was supposed to be the next best thing.
It worked for a few months. I thought it was a God send. I was free of cramps for a few short months. And then even that didn’t work. I got a second one put in. The first started to slip and that was probably why it wasn’t working anymore. My doctor was confident another would work.
A few months had gone by. There was hope. You know how you’re so happy about something. Just elated and you think the happiness will never end. And then something happens and suddenly all that joy is taken away?
I went for an ultrasound one day to check for cysts. I had them but we had to see if they were causing any problems. The cysts were not causing any major problems, they weren’t getting larger, they weren’t leaking but the IUD was another story. It was embedded in my uterus. I had to have surgery to remove it. My hope for having painless periods was over. After it was removed I just waited for another period to come knowing I’d be in bed for at least a week unable to move.
I was growing more and more frustrated with how the doctors were unable to find something wrong with me. Why was it so hard to see? Why couldn’t they fix me?
There was light at the end of the tunnel when one doctor suggested I had endometriosis. It was a word I had heard before. I knew all about it but I was never quite sure I had it. The only way to diagnose endo is surgery. If it’s present doctors will then burn off the lesions with a laser. It’s not a cure, it’s a treatment. The endo can come back. It usually does come back and when it does, the surgery is almost for sure going to make you infertile. The scar tissue builds up, blocks fallopian tubes, sits in your uterus like an uninvited guest. I had one surgery so far. The lesions were burned and I felt great. The pain I had was minimal and I could finally function as a human being during my period. I felt great knowing I was like other woman, working through my period wasn’t a problem.
What could be better?
I would be better if the endometriosis never came back. A year later and it has.
It’s a pain no one will understand. They all think I have my period too, suck it up it’s not that bad. Here’s the reality. When you go into labour, chewing on your ice chips and wondering how fast the doctor can come with the epidural…just think, some women go through that every month. There is no epidural. There is no relief. There is no cure.