My journey with endometriosis has been a long one. From the age of 10 my period started and from the very beginning they were extremely painful and heavy. My mother took me to a female doctor who told me to basically get used to it, practice getting used to the blood with red food dye and she also gave me some painkillers to take. I took one look at them and asked how on earth was I supposed to swallowing such a big pill? Her response was that I could break them up and put it in some ice cream.
As I was too young to go on the pill to help control the periods, I tried my best to get used to them. When they got so bad I was taking a week off school in bed. The days I did go to school I would end up with s big blood stain on my skirt and teased until I went to the medical room and beg the school nurse to ring my mother and let me go home.
On school trips I would take so many painkillers through the day I would end up being sick, one at my friend’s house after spaghetti bolognaise! Other times I could be in the middle of a shop and be brought to my knees with the pain.
When old enough I went on the pill, this helped with the bleeding and a little with the pain. The hormones had me turning into a walking time bomb, exploding frequently. My school work still suffered as did my family.
This went on for many years, then when the time came after I was married to come off whichever pill I had been trying, to start trying for a baby. This did not happen for the first year. So we sought doctors advice once again and we were sent to a gynaecologist for fertility tests.
The tests were all clear but with my period history they thought it could be endometriosis. I had a diagnostic laparoscopic surgery which confirmed I had it. The consultant thought it may have blocked my tubes which meant I couldn’t get pregnant.
So at the age of almost 26 years old, I had keyhole surgery to laser off any endometriosis they found and to push the dye through my tubes to show any blockages. Thankfully it all went well, nothing blocking them.
Whatever they had done had worked as I then fell pregnant 3 weeks after the procedure and went on to have my first son. He was followed very quickly by two more sons, 3 under the age of 4 years old. Doctors say that having children can stop the disease from returning.
For a few years I managed any symptoms with either coil, contraception pill or by diet elimination. This worked until within a year I had gone from running 10k runs quite slowly but regularly, not being able to walk upstairs without getting out of breath.
When I went back to the doctors for a referral to see a gynaecologist once more, I knew my options would be limited. On the first visit he said the disease had come back, I had my children so it was time for a hysterectomy.
Just like that this insidious disease was once again giving me no options but surgery.
It had made me seriously anemic and has somehow twisted my womb and cervix around so I could not have my cervical screening test done. The gynaecologist planned to take it out anyway, so told me not to worry.
So here I am 39 years old with a date for surgery coming up in just over a weeks time. I am scared, relieved, optimistic and a hundred other emotions about undergoing such major surgery.
March is endometriosis awareness month and it would be fantastic to have a cure for this awful and life changing disease. But making people aware has to be one of the first steps as many people have not even heard of it, let alone understand how hard it is to live with it on a daily basis.