Throughout high school I suffered from severe back pain, migraines, and hot flashes. After going to the doctor I was given muscle relaxers, advised to “keep my hips strong” and that I should be fine. It wasn’t until eight years later that I was diagnosed with Endometriosis, via laparoscopy, after self diagnosing, finding a doctor that specialized in what I “thought” I had, and then demanding treatment.
Now, I’m not claiming that the doctor I saw in high school was a bad doctor, but, when it came to endometriosis and women’s issues in general, he was uninformed and unaware.
If you do a search on endometriosis, or endo, you will find something along the lines of it being a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus grows outside of your uterus where it doesn’t belong. You will find that it is painful, with that pain usually coinciding with mensuration or intercourse, and it can cause complications to conceive. But if you dig a little deeper you will find that those descriptions are subjective. You will find a list of “possible symptoms” and no cure or known cause.
So what is endo?
Endo is a sharp pain and a pulsing pain and a stabbing pain and a dull pain… depending on the day. It is invisible and visible all at once. It is exhaustion, nausea, and anxiety.
Endo is snapping at your kids because of crippling, chronic fatigue. It’s “I can’t hold you right now,” because your sciatica is acing up. It’s begging your kid to stop trying to climb the refrigerator while you are crouched over, waiting for the sharp pain in your abdomen to pass. It’s “all moms are tired” … but “tired” is not fatigue.
It is yoga pants because you go from flat stomached to looking six months pregnant in the span of an hour. It’s bloating because you decided to take a shower or wash your dishes or go shopping, not because of what you ate. It’s not remembering to pay your bills or if you just made a cup of coffee because of brain fog. It’s neuropathy in your toes because your suddenly can’t absorb vitamin B-12 and you’ve gone too long without it. It’s thinning hair and extreme weight loss due to said B-12 deficiency.
Endo is “you’re too young to be tired,” and “you should try going vegan,” and “have you tried birth control?.” It’s suffering from hot flashes, back pain, and fatigue since you were sixteen, but being told you’re too young to understand those feelings by women who have “earned” the right to complain because of their age. It’s “ew, I don’t want to hear about that,” because women’s issues are taboo. It’s “I thought you had surgery for that,” and “I get period pain too.”
Endometriosis is an ultrasound the moment you get pregnant because you’re considered “high risk.” It’s “I heard endo goes away when you get pregnant.” (It doesn’t.) It’s “well I least you can get pregnant.”
Endo is yoga, herbs, diet changes, and essential oils. It’s laparoscopic surgeries, pelvic floor exercises, physical therapy, and vitamin injections. It’s raspberry leaf tea, heating pads, and CBD oil because, “pop an aspirin and carry on,” isn’t a good enough answer.
Endometriosis is “I have that,” “my sister has that,” or “what is that”, because either you or someone you know has it, or you’ve never heard of it all all. It’s doing your own research and demanding treatment. It is being asking questions, being an advocate for your health, and building a community. It’s being misdiagnosed and self-diagnosing, because 10 years and a surgery is way to long of an average for a proper diagnosis.
It is a disease that is estimated to effect 1 in every 10 women. It may or may not be autoimmune. It may or may not be genetic. It may or may not be environmentally caused.
“It may or may not” is a shitty way of saying I don’t know.
I share my story because I am tired of hearing I don’t know. I am tired of people acting like pain is normal and like that’s just what it is to be a woman. I am tired of the lack of awareness, gender bias, and taboo when it comes to women’s health. I am tired of being ignored in the doctor’s office and I’m tired of hearing about women going through the same thing.
Something so popular shouldn’t be such a mystery and sure as hell shouldn’t be so damn ignored.
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