My journey with endometriosis and the pain l carried for many years drove me to create a new life from the pieces of the old. Endometriosis taught me the extent of my resilience and courage to push through a sometimes debilitating disease. It tested my resolve through the many misdiagnoses and the label of hypochondria.
I believe endometriosis began in my early twenties. Monthly pain and heavy bleeding were common, and l thought that was normal for most women. Seeing it from a generalist perspective and to avoid concerning family or friends, l trained myself to redirect the conversation if someone was to comment on how unwell I looked. I was tired of hearing “see a doctor” when all they had done up to that point was recommend over-the-counter pain relief that did not work.
It was 1995 and l was twenty-five years old. I was alone and woke to the most debilitating pain that left me unable to walk. The bed sheets were covered in blood, I was fatigued and consumed with pain that engulfed my entire body. I called the ambulance service and was rushed to a local hospital, where I was attended to immediately. I was haemorrhaging, in agony, scared and confused. That night changed my life and forced me to rethink my position on “keeping quiet.” Some day’s later l was officially diagnosed with endometriosis, a ruptured cyst on the left ovary and several fibroids.
"It's hard to explain to someone who has no idea what it's like to feel pain and sickness on the inside while looking fine on the outside." ~ ENDOBODY
And so the road to understanding began. This period in my life brought great relief, knowing that l wasn’t a hypochondriac. However, it also brought with it sorrow, receiving news from my gynaecologist that conceiving and carrying a child to full term would be near impossible due to the condition of my uterus and ovaries. I recall feeling grief for the first time – an ambiguous loss. In time, l refused to accept the possibility of being childless and made sure it didn’t undermine the relationship I had with my husband.
Over the years I underwent a number of procedures to control the endometriosis. It was relentless and not much changed in relation to my condition. The pain was persistent but l carried on with grace and lived in hope that something would help. I embraced alternative therapies and combined them with western medicine. I never gave up on finding the way to free myself from endometriosis.
In 2006, my miracle child was born. Despite the news delivered to me ten years earlier, he represented that I am indeed, the creator of my story. He is a tangible representation of the growth and tenacity of my spirit regardless of the diagnosis. He is a gift I treasure every day.
Following the birth of my son, the years ensuing challenged me on many levels. Trying to juggle the fatigue of being a new mum, working, and also supporting a husband suffering from depression, my reserves of energy were depleted. Stress took control of my life. I believe now that the effects of stress can be directly attributed to the many years of menstrual pain and recurring endometriosis. I tried a number of alternative therapies and medical procedures but with little or sometimes no success. I came to a fork in the road where l needed to make a decision to improve my life, and bring it back to wholeness that was sustainable and consistent. I had reached my forties and was aged beyond my years, and so this triggered the next phase in my endometriosis journey.
The decision to have a hysterectomy was not one l accepted lightly. I recognized after several weeks of self-analysis and deep soul work that my heart was wounded and my body needed to rest and repair from the endometriosis fight. The gynecologist made it very clear the procedure may not stop the endometriosis, but l had to make a conscious effort to bring wellness back into my vocabulary. This was my last resort and l played all my cards to bring health back home to my tired body.
It has been six years since my hysterectomy. I am grateful for the pain-free life without endometriosis. The operation gifted me a freedom to rejoice in my feminine aspects rather than dread the monthly change. It also revealed the need to slow down and respect life in quiet contemplation and expression, in pursuing self-inquiry, self-exploration and self-discovery. Freedom from pain and the resulting preservation of the mind, body and spirit is my right.
On reflection, l consider my physical pain to be a representation of my emotions. If l had an emotional reaction, I felt it lodged in my abdomen. How do l know this? In my twenties l worked and played hard. With an active social life and strong work commitment, I made little time to simply breathe and just be. Stress levels were high as I worked long hours to build a career and make my mark in a male dominated industry. Politics and sexual discrimination were commonplace and being a sensitive person, I felt it all. This carried through into my thirties. Coupled with all this, I had unexplored and denied emotions stored in my body from childhood and broken relationships that scarred me deeply.
"To my Endo Sisters, never resent your body, honour it. It has carried you through years of pain and struggle and yet you remain standing. Honour the vessel that is you." ~ Carmela Pollock
I saw the hysterectomy as the outward mechanism to start my healing, as the endometriosis represented a vast reservoir of pain I had neglected to address. Circumstances also demanded l turn inward to understand the trinity – mind, body and spirit - to do the deeper work. Through mindfulness, energy healing, and daily journaling, I healed those parts the hysterectomy could not.
I pen my journey to acknowledge the past and accept with love the hard fight that is endometriosis. I also take comfort that life can be more than a disease, but a library of beautiful lessons ready for us to uncover and learn.
"Real Life Diaries: Living with Endometriosis" anthology aims to help raise awareness and offer suggestions on managing life with endometriosis.
AlyBlue Media, publisher of the anthology series Real Life Diaries, together with Carmela Pollock and Christa Hall released of "Living with Endometriosis" in 2017. The anthology raises awareness by taking readers inside the lives of 15 women living with different stages of the disease. Each woman shares her struggles, and how she copes with chronic pain, misdiagnoses, infertility, and more.
According to the Endometriosis.org, a global forum for news and information, the chronic inflammatory disease causes painful adhesion's and scar tissue in the pelvic region and elsewhere in the body including the bowels and lungs. It affects an estimated 176 million women around the world. "Many practitioners continue to fall victim to the myth that it's just painful periods, leaving women to seek understanding and support from their online endosisters," states Lynda Cheldelin Fell, who also created the award-winning series Grief Diaries.
If you would like to read more stories of living with endometriosis, click here to purchase your copy.