This post has been a long time coming. Although this is important to me, and what I’m about to describe has been affecting my life for around ten years, I’m not sure there’s ever an easy time to share our personal stories. Especially on a professional blog that I have tried to keep mostly professional instead of so personal. However, sharing this is something I know I need to do, as I want to be the type of person who does not shy away from making a difference when I know I can.
I have endometriosis.
The reason I’m opening up about it now is because Endometriosis Awareness Month is coming up soon, and I feel that by being silent, I’m giving up a huge opportunity to educate all the people I can reach over social media. I’m also sharing it a bit earlier than March because many people have heard me mention my upcoming surgery, and I feel like it’s easier if I do some explaining ahead of time. I struggled with how to make this more educational instead of personal. I’m not writing this post for sympathy, I’m not sharing my story because I feel that it could change my circumstances. I’m sharing something personal because that’s how we inspire other people. How we can educate them.
I will start with an overview of what this disease is:
Endometriosis is the growth of tissue, similar to the kind that lines a woman’s uterus, elsewhere in her body. That ‘elsewhere’ is usually in the abdomen. This tissue and it’s complications such as inflammation and scarring can create issues like pelvic pain, severe cramping, gastrointestinal problems, and can also lead to infertility and pain elsewhere in the body.
So here’s my story. Ladies, some of you might relate. It’s estimated that 1 in 10 women have endometriosis. And it’s unreal, insane really that we are so uneducated about something that affects around 10% of the female population during their reproductive age.
I had known for years that something wasn’t right. I struggled with many health issues growing up, but nothing seemed to explain the “woman” issues I was facing. The older I got, the worse my symptoms became. I told doctor after doctor, even a gynecologist about my suspicions about having endometriosis, but no one believed that was what was causing my constant pain and complications.
Things changed when I was spent a night in the hospital after having a ruptured cyst in 2011. (I don’t wish this on my worst enemy, it was the most painful experience of my life.) This was the final straw for me, and also could be related to endometriosis, so I insisted that my gynecologist preform a surgery on me called a laparoscopy to diagnose possible endometriosis. I remember the day before my surgery I read a note on my file that said something like “endometriosis not likely”. I was angry, and scared that maybe the doctors were right and this was all in my head. But I trusted my gut, and in 2012 I had my first laparoscopy.
I remember waking up after surgery to find a note by my bed that included …”We excised advanced endometriosis”. I felt relief and sadness at the same time. I finally had an explanation for why I felt the way I did, but here I was, diagnosed with a disease that I knew would continue to be a battle. The next month was hard.
I did get relief after I finally healed from my surgery. I had a few generally easier years. However in 2014 the intense pain had come back, as well as the other issues many women with endometriosis face. It has not just been “cramps” – it’s days, months, years of almost constant pain in my lower back, my hips, my pelvis. This made sense once I realized the original surgery hadn’t been completed and there was still Unremoved tissue. After trying many treatments including physiotherapy and medications, my new (and much more experienced with treating endometriosis) GYN told me what I already knew… It was time for another surgery. And hopefully this one will be my last. I’m so tired of endometriosis taking such a toll on my life, through my energy level, the pain, the anxiety and other mental and emotional struggles.
Fast forward to now, I’m two weeks away from surgery. Although surgery in general comes with a lot of anxiety, I’m mainly positive and thankful that I was able to see Dr. Belland (my endometriosis specialist GYN) and that she’s the one who will be doing my laparoscopy. We get great care in Canada compared to the USA. I am so blessed that I do not have to save up $20k for this surgery, and that simply by being Canadian and paying taxes I am able to receive this type of care. My last recovery was relatively smooth. It was painful and felt long, especially for someone like me who has a very hard time laying on the couch all day. But there were no complications and I was able to go back to my normal routine within 3 weeks. I’m extremely thankful to have a great support system, and also understanding clients who have moved their session dates for me so I’ll have enough time to recover. I will be taking the majority of March off work so I can heal properly and not overdo things. And I’m so grateful that I have that opportunity. That I can afford the chance to take time off and still continue with work afterwards.
So in summary, my journey with endometriosis has been up and down, and it isn’t over. Although I hope surgery makes a huge difference for me, I know there’s always a chance it’ll come back, or surgery wont remove it all in the first place. However I have made significant steps so far. I researched, I insisted on surgery, I have made changes in my life such as my diet and exercise. I believe the most important thing is to never stop looking for answers, and trying to feel the best you possibly can. So many women suffer in silence. I understand this isn’t the easiest type of thing to talk about. It’s uncomfortable for me, but as I said before, I know it’s important. I hope one day that when I say the word “endometriosis”, the majority of people will know what it means. It’s a little unbelievable to think that something that affects so many people is so unheard of. That’s why I’m speaking up and telling my story. And I hope that it will have a positive influence, whether it makes one woman think “this would explain a lot…” Or maybe when you have a friend, family member or co-worker tell you that she has endometriosis, you’ll be able to tell her that for once she doesn’t have to explain what it is she’s going through. Because you might not understand perfectly, but you know. And that makes a world of difference, believe me.
Also, there was a great segment on endometriosis on The View this week, if you’re wanting to get more information, click HERE! (Just to warn you – this information is much more graphic and extensive than what I have shared!)