My Endometriosis Story: A Story To Empower
As May 2017 comes to an end, we are pleased to share with you this story by a guest writer about the challenges she faced with a health condition that is fairly prevalent, but not well understood. May is the month in which we celebrate our mothers, and so we think it is a good time to focus on a health condition that is unique to women of childbearing age. If you have any thoughts after reading this story, please feel free to leave a comment for our writer.
For years, I suffered from terrible period pain that worsened as I got older. More so, every doctor that I went to would tell me that my experience was normal, and would send me on my way with painkillers and anti-nausea medication; none of which would work. Eventually, I was diagnosed with menorrhagia (abnormally heavy or prolonged period) when my period began lasting for 10 and often times more days.
I was tired. During my periods I was nauseous, had restless sleep, experienced severe pain in my back, stomach and legs, and spent way too much money buying feminine products due to an extremely heavy flow which was now lasting up to 14 days.
I couldn’t take it anymore! In 2013, I made my first appointment with my current doctor who sent me for an abdominal ultrasound to aid our understanding of what was happening to me. The results showed that I had several small fibroids that did not require surgery. She however placed me on oral contraceptives to regulate my period, and this helped.
A few months later, I moved to another country to pursue graduate studies; but soon after, I stopped taking the contraceptives because I was feeling better. Guess what happened? Yes, you are correct! My period started flowing heavy again and was more painful than before. I went to a doctor who sent me for an ultrasound which showed that in addition to the small fibroids, I now had a growth in my right ovary. My doctor was not sure what it was, so, I was sent for further tests including screening for ovarian cancer. Thankfully, the tests showed that the growth was only a cyst and I was treated with steroids which helped to reduce the size of the cyst and my symptoms improved.
I returned to St. Vincent in 2015 following the completion of my studies. As I was doing well, I decided not to follow-up with my doctor here. In 2016, my periods worsened and I was feeling fatigued. So, I scheduled an appointment with my doctor who recommended that I have an ultrasound and several lab tests done to determine my current health status.
While I waited for the results, I was placed on Tranexamic Acid to treat the heavy bleeding. After I received my lab results, I was prescribed Trihemic to improve my haemoglobin count and I was to restart oral contraceptives on the first day of my next period. The ultrasound showed that I had dominant fibroid nodules and an enlarged right ovary with a dominant cyst.
Over the course of several months, the cyst was monitored by several ultrasounds at different points during my menstrual cycle. The ultrasounds revealed that the cyst was increasing in size and in turn causing my ovary to get larger. In February 2017, I was told that surgery was needed to remove the cyst and most likely also the ovary that it was affecting. My doctor discussed with me that endometriosis was potentially the cause of the cyst and the other symptoms that I was experiencing.
I was scared. What did this mean for my future?
On February 22nd 2017, I was wheeled into the operating theater around 7:am. I had a myomectomy (removal of some of my fibroids) and a unilateral oophorectomy (removal of my right ovary with the cyst) via a laparotomy (incision through the abdominal wall). Surgery also confirmed that I had endometriosis.
Now, here I am with only one ovary and endometriosis. To be honest, at first I was worried about my future. Would I need further surgery? Would I be able to have biological children? Are the painful periods never going to stop? With time, I have realized that stressing about the unknown is counterproductive, it only gives me migraines! So, I take it one day at a time and I focus on the things that I can control, which include my diet and exercise.
Currently, the endometriosis is being treated with oral contraceptives which may help to slow down the growth of endometrial tissue. My doctor is strongly encouraging me to try to get pregnant soon because endometriosis affects fertility. However, I want to be married before I try to have children.
I felt hopeless as having a child was not in my immediate plans, but after talking with my doctor and much encouragement from my support system, I believe that there is hope. In the meantime, there is not much more that my doctor can do for me, except to monitor me and keep me on the oral contraceptives, pain medication, and anti-nausea medication.
I may eventually require further surgery and I face the challenge of infertility. However, I believe that there is nothing that I can go through that is out of God’s control.
Through it all, I have had amazing support from family and friends, particularly my mother and some of the most fabulous girlfriends ever. Their support means everything to me. Thank you guys so much!
End of Part One.
By: Odelia Thomas
© 2017. All rights reserved.