Endometriosis.. It took me ages to learn how to pronounce that word and now it sometimes feels like it’s the only thing I talk about.
March is endometriosis awareness month so here I go, I am one in ten. Can you believe that? One in ten women has endometriosis, diagnosed or undiagnosed and yet no one really knows about the disease.
But let’s start at the beginning. Mayo Clinic defines endometriosis as ‘an often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus.’ The first time I heard of endometriosis was when a close friend of mine confided in me that she had been battling this illnesses for years and not even a year later and I had my own first endometriosis surgery.
I was one of those girls that was constantly in pain during her period. At times I would even stop eating because the stomach pains got so bad. Yet here I thought it was normal, because I was told by society that’s just what happens when you have your period. It wasn’t until my late 20s and having met someone who openly talked about her endometriosis fight that I sought out a specialist to help me sort this out. Now here I was, the girl who has a hard time standing up for herself in situations like these, because there are so many other people who have it worse. But I got lucky and this doctor believed me and in no time did I have my first surgery scheduled. While they didn’t find actual endometriosis they found what is believed to have been a fall out from it. I was suddenly pain free.
I started talking about it and I could not believe what happened next. Turns out I know a long list of people battling this at times crippling illness: my own mother, my cousin, my colleague and countless friends. Suddenly one in ten made a whole lot more sense to me.
I was pain free, for a minute there. About six months later the pain has returned, worse than it was before. But I know that no one is going to put me under again not even six months after the first surgery. So now it is about finding ways to cope with the pain while I wait until I can talk to my doctor about scheduling another surgery. While I know that a healthy lifestyle is a contributing factor in managing endometriosis, for me it’s talking about it. It’s being believed by others that my pain is real and not something I imagine. It is being believed that I am not exaggerating and that it is not just a little bit of period cramps.
One in ten woman. That means you more than likely have at least one woman in your close surroundings that is suffering from chronic pain due to an invisible illness. Believe her when she tells you about her pain and don’t dismiss it. Ask her how you can help her because even the smallest things like getting groceries can be too painful.
If you are suffering from endometriosis, know that you are not alone. The more you talk about it, the more you will find people whose struggles are similar to yours. Everyone has their own journey with endometriosis and no two journeys will ever be the same, but it means someone gets you and your pain.