As some of you may know, I went to the hospital for some surgery last week. I had a diagnostic laparoscopy performed on me, it all went very well and I am on the mend. After they stitched me back up and I recovered from the anesthesia the surgeon came around and had a chat with me. They had found what they were looking for and loads of it: endometriosis. Now, before anyone worries too much, it’s nothing life threatening but it sure is a pain in the arse. A pain in the arse that had gone undiagnosed for around 15 years. This is why I am now writing about it: to raise awareness so that more women know about this condition and seek the help they need. As you are about to see, information can sometimes come from unlikely sources.
This started maybe in my early 20’s, I’m not too sure exactly when anymore but it all began with acute period pains. This was several times reported back to my gynaecologist and GP but other than trying all the types of contraceptive pill in the market, nothing else was done or any explanation offered. The symptoms have increased with time, along with permanent feeling of fatigue, causing me to sometimes have to either not go out at all or drag myself to my workplace, sometimes with the help of heavy prescription painkillers. At one point the shooting pains I got down my leg were so severe I thought I had sciatica. This, like I mentioned before, went on for years. Time passed and any complaints made to doctors were met with indifference – they probably thought I was exaggerating or being a wuss. Or maybe they never heard of endometriosis at all. Who knows. Whatever the reason, I feel let down by the doctors that have seen me over the years. It has caused me to suffer unnecessary physical pain, abuse painkillers out of despair and even have relationship problems with a less understanding partner (an ex partner and clearly an a-hole, it needs to be noted).
The funny thing about all this is that I only suspected what was wrong with me when I read an article in a woman’s magazine about endometriosis. And they say women’s magazines are dumb and useless, heh? It was around 2 years ago that I saw that list of symptoms: painful or heavy periods, pain in the lower abdomen, pelvis or lower back, lack of energy, depression and fertility problems… the list goes on. If you can honestly say you have most of these then you’re a strong candidate for the condition. This really got me thinking so I approached my GP here in England, who finally took me seriously (thanks Dr Mark!). After a few different examinations to rule out other problems, a little over 6 months ago I was finally referred to a specialist at the hospital. I was put on a hormonal treatment for 6 months and after meeting up again with the registrar, it was decided I would undergo the laparoscopy to make sure I had endometriosis and laser it off if found. So there you go, I had my operation and my diagnostic was positive. Now that I know what’s wrong, there are things that can be done to minimize the problem. It’s a good feeling,there is now light at the end of the tunnel, although I’ve been through some post op pain and discomfort. It must also be mentioned that I have nothing but good things to say about the nursing and doctor staff that assisted me on the day of the operation at the Grantham District Hospital, particularly Raina and June, who were really nice and understanding. Having a friendly smile when you’re far away from husband and family goes a long way. I should also thank my friends, who have been like family during this difficult time.
So here I am, recovering at home and celebrating world leopard print day in my fabulous Sassy Vamps flower headpiece and lovely tulips brought in by my friend Iryna. It’s not a real holiday but it should be.
As I mentioned previously, I decided to share this with you to help raise awareness on the condition. If that list of symptoms rings a bell, please read more on the NHS website, or on the website of the Endometriosis charity where there are a lot more details on the symptoms and causes of the condition, written by healthcare professionals. If you suspect you might have it don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for help and don’t give up! Just be persistent and you will get your proper diagnostic.