Hey, my lovelies. This isn't a topic I ever imagined I'd blog about but here I am. Endometriosis by definition is a condition (disease) resulting from endometrial tissue growing outside of the uterus causing in some cases, severe pain. When I was in 7th grade I woke up in the middle of the night screaming. My mother whose license was restricted to driving only during daytime due to her sight immediately rushed me to CHKD in downtown Norfolk, Virginia. Because I was so young and because of where the pain was, they immediately assumed it was my appendix and sent me for a CT scan. My appendix was fine. They couldn't for the life of them figure out why I was in so much pain. I had literally just started my period maybe a month or so prior. I was in 7th grade when I had my first pelvic exam and it was extremely uncomfortable. I'll never forget this evening. They then performed trans-vaginal and abdominal ultrasounds. They didn't even need to do a laparoscopy at the time. They knew. I had an 8 cm cyst on my ovary and a previous one that had recently ruptured.
If you are suffering from this awful disease....know that you are not alone. Endometriosis affects more than 11% of American women. Not all cases are as severe as mine but it's not a disease that should be taken lightly. More often than not, people whom I've shared this with have belittled it and said, "Oh. You just have a bad period." No. It's not just a bad period. I am in debilitating pain all the time. It affects your life tremendously and makes it extremely challenging to lead a functional life.
I am 25 years old and have had multiple miscarriages. This is not a normal occurrence in a woman my age and it's absolutely heart-wrenching. This disease is known to cause infertility so I consider my beautiful daughter, Emma, to be a miracle from God. Many doctors have suggested that getting pregnant (if you're even able to conceive and carry to term) helps with the disease and that after each pregnancy your symptoms have the potential to lessen and even eventually dissipate.
Because of this disease, I had the worst pregnancy ever. I was considered extremely high risk and was ordered to mandatory bed rest for the entirety of my pregnancy. If you've followed me for a while, you know how stubborn I can be and with that being said....I refused to be on bed rest. I had to see a perinatologist on a bi-weekly and eventually weekly basis until the birth of my daughter.
This disease can also lead to another condition. Because endometriosis often causes heavy bleeding, many women suffering from it become chronically anemic. I am one of those women. I have had more than five blood transfusions before the age of 30. I pop iron pills like they are tic-tacs. Some months I'll bleed three out of four weeks of the month and my hemoglobin will drop down to as low as 4 or 5. When I had my daughter, my hemoglobin was a 2. The doctors said that I should have died but for some reason, God spared me.
The early onset symptoms can occur as early as junior high school and the symptoms progress as women mature. The severity and the frequency of the pain often increase as you age. I am not functional when my endo is in full force. I can't eat. I can't sleep. I can't work. I can't care for myself let alone my child. The worst part is how unpredictable this disease is. It makes it so challenging to lead a normal life. I can't tell you how many times I've made plans and have had to cancel due to my inability to move.
The exhaustion that this disease causes has been said to be comparable to that of the fatigue experienced by advanced cancer patients. When a cyst bursts my abdomen can go from "fit" to 6-9 months pregnant in as little as half an hour. This may seem unbelievable to many but I'm going to share some photos with you.
The last subject that I want to cover in regards to this disease is the emotional effect it causes. This disease can lead to extreme depression. It puts so much stress on family relationships and in a lot of cases, husbands/boyfriends leave their girlfriends and wives because they can't handle it or don't believe the severity of their disease.
The next time that you hear that someone has endometriosis, please remember how devastating this disease can be. Endometriosis can be extremely frustrating to people close to those with the disease but if you have a loved one or friend suffering from endometriosis, please please please treat them with love, compassion and respect. They may seem fine but they aren't. They are just doing what they have to do to survive and hold their families together.
Below are pictures of my stomach from when my endo has flared up or when I've had a cyst rupture.
Now I'm going to share photos of what I look like normally so you can see the dramatic difference.
Here is a photo from when I had one of many blood transfusions.
Now, my loves, I am going to share some pictures of my beautiful miracle baby.
I'm not writing this post for sympathy or attention. I'm writing it so that more people can understand this disease. I'm writing it for awareness. As of now, there is no cure. Only hormones and surgery can help and prevent symptoms. I pray that one day there will be a cure and I pray that my beautiful daughter will not suffer from it. If you have endometriosis, you are not alone. We may seem like normal people living normal lives who have it all together but we are silently suffering. You don't really know what people are facing which is why I never judge a book by its cover.
Finally, I want to tell you that there is nothing more important to get you through this disease than support. I am so incredibly blessed to have such amazing people by my side. They are there for me when I am in agonizing pain and can't function. They are there for me when all I can do is cry. They are there for me when I just need a nice, long re-assuring hug.