Recently, I posted several articles about my near death experience.
It’s not an exaggeration, I nearly died. Why? Because I lived my life without ever being diagnosed with Endometriosis.
In high school, not a month went by that I didn’t find myself at the school nurse. I wondered to myself, why didn’t other girls suffer like I did every month. Surely having your period didn’t mean that the world had to come to a standstill.
When the problem didn’t go away when I reached adulthood, I started going to Doctors in an attempt to make life better for myself. I became accustomed to having to take my hot water bottle to work with me during my period. It became normal for my colleagues to see me filling it up every few hours at the kettle in the kitchen. There isn’t much professionalism in your entire office knowing its your time of month but there was no other choice.
I was prescribed various types of pain killers. Some extremely strong ones that made me drowsy. I was prescribed various blood thinners. Told to be certain to take them when having my monthlies to avoid the pain. Not once in all my visits to various Doctors did anyone consider that it might not just be “normal” pain.
On my last visit to my gynae prior to going into labour, I came across a brochure on Endometriosis. I picked it up and saw what was a list of VERY familiar symptoms.
- Severe and frequent menstrual cramps and pain during menstruation
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Diffuse or chronic pelvic pain
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Low back pain
- Bowel associated or bladder associated symptoms
(list taken from endpain.co.za brochure)
I had nearly all of these symptoms.
When I brought it up with my gynae, her reaction was “you can’t have it, you can’t get pregnant with Endometriosis or at least the chances are very low”… and it was brushed off. Just like that my suspicions were dismissed. Looking back, I should have demanded she pay closer attention but she’s an experienced Doctor and I’m a first time pregnant woman with no medical background. So obviously she knows best. Well, if I can give you one piece of advice, it would be to trust your instinct. No matter what anyone knows, NO ONE knows your body like you do.
So I went into labour with no worries in the world and when my Uterus was lifted to get the baby out, it was severed from where it had been glued by my Endometriosis to my colon causing a rupture in my colon. A rupture that was left undiagnosed for 6 days. All the while my intestine was leaking into the cavity of my body and causing serious damage to my large intestine. I landed up in ICU and ended up with a Colostomy bag (read about that here) to allow my damaged intestine the chance to heal.
Thirty to forty percent of women with Endometriosis experience infertility issues! I was clearly not a part of that statistic but I nearly paid with my life for not knowing. My Dr now says that post surgery, my Endometriosis is very likely to have fused my various organs together causing one large lump in my body. How scary does that sound?
The funny thing is, so many people are already asking me about having my next child. Hold up – my baby is two months old and I nearly died bringing him into this world and you’re asking about the next one???!!! I don’t think another pregnancy is the way to go for this mamma!
Anyway the point of this post is to let you know that Endometriosis can take over eight years to diagnose! The exact causes are unknown though there are various theories about it which include retrograde menstrual flow (where some of the tissue shed during your period attaches to the pelvis) and genetic factors.
Is there a cure?
The simple answer is NO. There is no cure but there are treatments which can help ease the pain. The first step is being accurately diagnosed so that the correct treatment can begin. There are medications that reduce your pain or remove lesions which helps with infertility.
You don’t have to suffer alone so ask your Doctor if you suspect you might have it.
All the facts were taken from the End Pain brochure. For more information visit their website The Endometriosis Society of South Africa.