Part 1 of our painfully honest & sometimes hilarious endometriosis column, following Emma as she battles to make peace with her endometriosis. Emma describes how Endo turned her into “The Walking Dead” in her early 20’s, and why she ended up crawling into the GP surgery on her hands and knees.
At the age of 19 I was envious of the woman on the Tampax advert. Why could she rollerblade while on her period? I spent my week glued to my hot water bottle. Exercising during a period was unimaginable. However, it never dawned on me to question it. Why? I don’t know. The night I bit on the bars of my metal bed frame to relive the period pain should’ve been an indicator to seek help, but I didn’t, not until three years later in fact.
By the age of 22, I couldn’t take it anymore. I’d visit a GP every month screaming in pain, begging for the best painkillers money could buy. I’d be sent away with a prescription for anti-inflammatory meds and codeine. I quickly learnt codeine turns me into something that could resemble an extra on ‘The Walking Dead’ so it changed to Tramadol. This “dirty drug” as it is so often referred to by medics, has been my lifeline for the past 11 years. Taken in moderation of course. I take it when the pain curses through my pelvis like a serrated knife back and forth. The pain that brings me to my knees. The pain that makes me vomit or black out.
When I reached 27, I was in pain daily. I received a warning about my recurring absence at work, and some days I would lie under my desk unable to move, occasionally vomiting into the bin. Thankfully at this time, I found a GP who
listened. I crawled into her room on my knees, she took one look at me and referred me to an excellent gynaecologist.
Weeks later I was admitted to hospital on 21 December 2013 and by March 2014 I had my first surgery. A 10cm endometrioma, or a blood-filled ovarian cyst as it’s also known, was removed from my left ovary and it was the first time I heard the word “endometriosis”. The diagnosis; widespread, severe, stage 4. Finally, I had an answer, and, in that moment, I believed I was cured.
Never could I have imagined it would lead to me to where I am today. Six years later, I am infertile with a colon that no longer functions properly. Endometriosis has robbed me of my fertility; I’ve had three surgeries, removed my fallopian tubes, undergone six rounds of IVF and endured the heartbreak of a termination for medical reasons at 20 weeks. This awful disease is now destroying my internal organs; my bladder and large bowel are covered in adhesions. At this precise moment in time, I need a major surgery including a bowel reconstruction and hysterectomy. However, my husband and I are trying IVF one last time, though finding a clinic to agree is proving difficult…but not impossible, I hope.
My journey has been long and difficult but I’m positive and I live a lovely life. Whether you’re waiting for a diagnosis, are new to life with endo or are a long-time warrior like me, we’re in this together. Every month I’ll be sharing my honest account of life with endometriosis, along with advice, tips and a little bit of humour along the way. It’s not all doom and gloom, I promise.
Suspect you might have endometriosis? My top 5 tips for spotting the signs:
1: Period pain should not wake you up in the night nor stop you in your tracks in Tesco…or everyday activities
2: Vomiting because of a period is not normal
3: Sex is supposed to be enjoyable not torture (unless, you’re into that kind of thing!)
4: Pelvic pain during ovulation is normal, but if it takes you to your knees that’s not ok
5: A wee or poo should not hurt during your period