March is National Endometriosis Awareness month, and after learning about a few of my friends who also have the disease, I thought it was about time for me to speak up too.
Endometriosis by definition is a female health disorder that occurs when cells from the lining of the womb (uterus) grow in other areas of the body.
This might seem a little gross, but I believe we all should be aware of this disease, especially women.
Basically, when a woman has a period, she is shedding the lining of her uterus. And for someone with endometriosis, that lining not only goes out of the body, but back into the body and grows in places that it shouldn’t.
Now, this may not seem like a big deal at all to most of you, but for those affected, like myself, it can cause severe pain in many different forms: painful periods, infertility, nausea, migraines, vomiting, diarrhea and painful sexual intercourse.
If you thought those symptoms sounded bad, it can also cause major organs to stop functioning properly.
So, let me walk you through a typical day in the life of someone with endometriosis.
You wake up, use the restroom and notice irregular bleeding – which seems annoying, but whatever, you have to deal with it.
So as you’re about to just “deal with it,” you immediately jump into the shower because the amount of pain you suddenly feel in your pelvic region and lower back is insane.
You want to continue standing up in the shower, but the pain is so bad and you’re dizzy and nauseous so you can’t. You end up sitting while the water is still going and attempt to find relief.
Then, when you’re finally comfortable enough to get out of the shower, you have to use the restroom again where you, in the nicest way to put it, can’t get off the toilet.
Then, you have class in 20 minutes, so you take two ibuprofen for your headache that you now have, as well as the severe pain that hasn’t stopped, and hope you make it through the day.
You do alright until the medicine wears off about three hours later and then you find yourself trying to maneuver into a comfortable position. You want to cry but you are too focused and frustrated with what is going on that you can’t, and eventually you give up and decide to go home and lay in bed.
So you lay in bed, with a heating pad or Icy Hot – whatever you can grab quickly – and take a nap because you literally have no energy and feel absolutely terrible.
The cycle continues for the next two or three days. And as you can tell, it is awful.
Some of those affected have to have surgeries, like I did. Because when these cells start to grow inside your body, not only does the pain build up, but they spread to your organs.
I had to have surgery because the endometriosis had spread to my appendix, causing me to have appendicitis. And it hurt so badly that I got to the point I would miss school and work constantly due to the symptoms.
Sometimes the cells can spread to your liver or bladder and even your lungs.
I watched an episode of “The Doctors” the other day and a woman had a lung collapse three times because her endometriosis had spread to her lungs and caused them to quit functioning properly.
And then there are the other side effects like infertility.
I’m not trying to have a baby right now, but it’s also pretty disheartening and scary to know that there is a possibility I can’t have kids in the future because of this issue.
And don’t think, “you had surgery so that fixed it.” Think again.
Endometriosis isn’t something that can be detected by anything other than a doctor’s assumption, unless you have surgery. Then, if they find endometriosis, they burn it out of your body.
But you can be sure it’s going to come back.
So between the scar tissue and endometrial cells, having a baby can be pretty tough.
The worst part about this disease is that they don’t know what causes it and many doctors shrug it off as no big deal.
I had an ER doctor tell me one time: “I mean, it’s probably just your endometriosis and you know there’s nothing you can do about that.”
I was livid because with the amount of technical and scientifical advances we have today, I shouldn’t have to live in a world where there is nothing I can do about an illness.
And the amount of pain I was experiencing had me in the ER, meaning it was so severe that I really didn’t think I was going to be able to make it without seeing a doctor.
Endometriosis is the real deal, guys.
It’s time I stand up and talk about this disease to spread awareness so doctors will put it on their radars too and really fight to get answers.
It’s time to put an end to endo.