The Diagnosis, The Symptoms & Treatment
My life with endometriosis began when I was 14 years old. Around this time my mother was diagnosed with Oesophageal cancer and spent months in hospital. Everyone thought what was happening with my health was just caused by the stress of what was happening with my mother. While this is probably true to a degree, there were other things going wrong with my body that would take years to discover.
What is Endometriosis Anyway?
Endometriosis is, in basic terms, when the lining of a woman’s uterus grows outside the uterus, such as on the bowel or pelvic wall. The displaced endometrial tissue acts like it normally would inside the uterus, meaning each menstrual cycle it bleeds right into the woman’s pelvic cavity, causing scarring, adhesions and sometimes severe pain, amongst other issues.
When my endometriosis first started, it began with issues with my bowel. Doctors told me that I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS. I was losing weight which wasn’t great as I was already fairly skinny. I had horrible pain in my stomach that would bring me to my knees. My period became erratic, heavy, painful. It was torture.
My mother came out of the hospital several months after her initial diagnosis and was on the road to recovery. She was in remission and everything seemed to be going back to normal with our family life. But my health issues continued.
My mother took me to a multitude of different doctors and specialists. Everyone and anyone. They kept focusing on my bowel but it wasn’t until a Gastroenterologist told her that it wasn’t my bowel that was the issue that she forced doctors to start focusing on something else.
By 17 years old I weighed 40kg. I was pale, dizzy all the time, fainting. I had no energy and was in constant pain. I had endured too many blood tests to count. They checked me for diabetes,
In an effort to help me, my mother took me to herbalists, iridologists, chiropractors, Chinese herbalists, naturopaths. You name it, we tried it. One doctor tried telling me that I needed counselling because my parents divorced when I was four, a divorce I couldn’t even remember.
Eventually, she took me to our local doctor. He had a chat to me and told me that “sometimes we feel pressure from our peers to look a certain way.” Yes, he believed I was anorexic. This is despite the fact my mother told him I ate like a horse. Mom was at breaking point and so was I. The pain was so intense, I would collapse and yet no doctor believed me.
A few weeks later, after another bout of lying on the couch crying in pain, having a heat bag on my stomach and an ice pack on my face to cool the burning of my cheeks, my mother took me to another doctor. She begged him to help me. I distinctly remember her words “I’m losing her.” I was so skinny and so unwell. She was desperate. He asked whether I had been tested for Endometriosis. She said no. This was the first we had heard of it. He referred me to a Gynaecologist.
A few weeks later and I was seeing the Gynaecologist. He performed an ultrasound and booked me into hospital for a laparoscopy. He put me in as an ‘urgent’ case. I was in within a week.
I recall the doctor telling my mother I would be in and out in 45 minutes max. Over 2 hours into the surgery, my mother called, frantic. It ended up taking far longer because all of my internal organs were in a ball. The doctor had to carefully separate each ovary, my uterus and parts of my bowel that were all joined together by adhesions, which is skin that grows between organs after they lose their “non-stick coating”.
After returning to the Gynaecologist for a followup appointment, he informed me that my insides were a mess. My endometriosis was classed in his words as “moderately severe.” I had answers, kind of. No one knows how it started, why it started, why I have it and my sister doesn’t. I had an infection in my uterus, again no one knows what caused that.
It dictates my life and still no answers. The best solution the doctors could give me was to “have a baby.”
Signs & Symptoms Of Endometriosis
Common signs and symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Painful periods (dysmenorrhea). Pelvic pain and cramping may begin before and extend several days into a menstrual period. You may also have lower back and abdominal pain.
- Pain with intercourse. Pain during or after sex is common with endometriosis.
- Pain with bowel movements or urination. You’re most likely to experience these symptoms during a menstrual period.
- Excessive bleeding. You may experience occasional heavy menstrual periods or bleeding between periods (intermenstrual bleeding).
- Infertility. Sometimes, endometriosis is first diagnosed in those seeking treatment for infertility.
- Other signs and symptoms. You may experience fatigue, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods.
Medical Intervention – Side Effects & Risks
22 years on and I have endured 7 laparoscopies, including one in which my right ovary had to be almost completely removed, along with a dermoid cyst.
Now, doctors are starting to realise that the over-use of lap
It is now widely believed that too many surgeries can cause nerve damage, resulting in a woman experiencing pain which she might attribute to the endometriosis returning, which is, in fact, nerve damage. This is the predicament I currently find myself in, experiencing a whole new world of pain that isn’t attributed to endometriosis.
Other medical treatments include the pill. The theory here is to stop a woman’s menstrual cycle and in turn, reducing the endometrial deposits. Progesterone only pills can also be used as again, lowering the amount of estogren a woman has in her body can slow the growth of endometriosis.
For unfortunate women like me who are sensitive to progesterone, these are not treatment options and merely caused a whole range of other side effects on top of the endometriosis.
Endometriosis and the associated complications are a pain in the proverbial. In modern medicine, we can cure a multitude of horrible diseases, yet this one is still a massive unknown.
My advice? Do your research and know all side effects of any treatment your doctor wants you to undertake. Make sure the side effects of treatments don’t cause other issues you will suffer with later in life.
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