Have you ever been in so much pain you felt like you were going to die? Have you ever experienced so much pelvic inflammation that you couldn’t wear jeans anymore? Have you ever felt like you, in some way, have treated your body so badly, that this is its way of seeking revenge on you? My answer to all these questions is yes.
How it all started…
I was about 2-3 months into a new job when I started noticing changes in my body. After every meal, I always felt so sick – sick to the point where I wouldn’t want to eat. I would experience sharp pains in my stomach and pelvic area, followed by intense pressure and discomfort. I became so inflamed that I had to go a size up in dresses because it hurt me to wear pants. I had assumed that I had an ovarian cyst, as I had them before and the experiences were similar. However, after an ultrasound, I found out I was wrong. I had fibroids. Could this be what was causing my pain? If so, I wanted them gone. I scheduled another appointment with my gynecologist, only to have her say that she didn’t believe surgery was the right answer. She didn’t have any answers to be honest. She said to “wait it out” and see if it got worse. I was frustrated. How was I going to keep doing this? It was time for a second opinion.
In the meantime between then and my next appointment, things did get worse. I was missing work and avoiding making any plans with friends and family. I was hurting and I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I never knew how bad I was going to feel. It was like I was spiraling down a tunnel and there was no end in sight. I started doing research. I couldn’t stop searching the web and being terrified by the results. Then, I found it. Endometriosis. I had heard of it, but wasn’t quite sure what it actually was. According to www.endocenter.org, Endometriosis is when endometrial-like tissue is hanging out outside the womb (where it doesn’t belong!) It normally occurs on pelvic structures causing “severe pain, bowel, bladder, or other organ dysfunction, inflammation, scarring and adhesions and in some cases, infertility.” It can be found in other parts of the body, as well. All of the symptoms felt entirely too familiar for me to ignore. This was my problem. I could feel it.
Going through surgery
Fast forward to my second opinion appointment… I took my research to this new gynecologist and started crying out of frustration in the room. She explained to me that the only way we’d really be able to tell if I had Endometriosis was to have laparoscopic surgery. I was terrified, but she eased my worries. She agreed that my symptoms were aligning with Endometriosis and she felt that because my fibroids were so small, that they were not causing the problems. I knew the risk. I could have the surgery and they not find anything at all; or, I could have the surgery and they could find everything. The latter seemed like a much better option. I had made my decision.
I woke up from surgery and was convinced that they found nothing. I quickly looked for my mom, who was sitting in the chair beside my hospital bed, and without even having to ask her, she said to me, “they found it.” Who would ever think that you could feel relief from hearing that you have Endometriosis and that you also had two ruptured cysts (along with the fibroids?!) But I was so relieved. I finally had answers. I finally understood what was making me feel so bad. I wasn’t crazy after all.
Living with Endometriosis
Having Endometriosis is hard every single day. I’ll always have it. I had to change my diet (gluten-free, dairy-free, no red meat), I have to get more sleep, exercise regularly, etc. Some days I have flare-ups that almost seem unbearable, and would be if I didn’t have my IUD to keep things a little more regulated. I’ve spent a lot of time with my heating pad and my couch. It’s exhausting – mentally, physically, and emotionally. I never really know what the next day will hold, and much less what my future holds, with this disease. However, I try to live my life every day with a “fight back” attitude. Not every day is easy, but every day is worth the fight to a healthier life, and I will say that my life has improved dramatically since the day of my surgery. Yes, I speak a lot about the challenges, but I do have more good days than bad days.
If you’re feeling like something in your body is off or just isn’t right, my biggest advice to you is to hold on to that feeling. Don’t let someone brush you off. Do your research, get second opinions, ask questions. If I hadn’t gotten a second opinion, I don’t know where my life would be right now. Always, always trust your gut. In no way am I equipped to give medical advice of any kind. I’m simply implying that you should pay attention to your body and listen to it. If something feels wrong, then it probably is. Be proactive. Don’t give up. There is an answer and you will find it.