In today's Why I #WalkforEndo blog, we share Andeep's story of being diagnosed with endometriosis:
"On average it takes 7.5 years for endometriosis to be diagnosed. From collapsing in a supermarket to being diagnosed, it only took 9 months. This is why I consider myself lucky. I’ve always had painful periods. Always. It started when I was 11. At school you’re told what to expect, that all girls go through it and there will be times of discomfort. Discomfort. What an understatement! I still remember when I was younger, and I passed out in the bathroom at home from the pain. Luckily, I managed to unlock the door and call out to my sister before dropping to the floor.
That feeling of being light-headed, nauseous, actually vomiting, not being able to stand or sit or sleep. That feeling like you’re being stabbed in the stomach or that someone has reached into your guts and is twisting it. That feeling when you need to go for a poo, but the pain is so bad you think you’re going to explode and pass out. Just so you know, it was like this even when I wasn’t on my period. But that’s normal, right?
I consider myself lucky because I have support from my wonderful family and my husband. Oh, my poor husband. We were only married for three months before the supermarket incident. We had to abandon our shopping and he half carried me home. He has put up with so much: from sitting with me, to comfort me, in the middle of night when the painkillers and hot water bottle haven’t worked; to sitting outside the bathroom when I’ve been on the toilet, making sure I haven’t passed out trying to poop! Don’t even get me started on my mood swings.
I consider myself lucky because I work for a company that focuses on its staff health and wellbeing. Sad to say I’ve been so embarrassed in the past to call in sick because of the ‘period pains’. It was important for me to share this with my line manager and some of my colleagues. I didn’t want them to think I was taking the mickey or anything like that. They are very supportive, which I am grateful for.
The pain isn’t just physical. It’s emotionally and mentally draining. You feel exhausted. You feel useless. You feel depressed. You feel alone. You feel like a failure. You feel like a spare part. You feel worthless. You feel sorry for yourself. You beat yourself up about it because ‘it’s just a period pain’. You feel broken. So broken.
You can become consumed by it. Looking to book a holiday? Let me check my period tracker. Looking for a night out? Let me check my period tracker. It’s no joke and it is beyond frustrating. The days where you’re looking forward to a night out, but out pops the endo-belly. Goodbye skinny jeans and fitted top. Hello leggings and oversized t-shirt!
I had my bloods checked, MRI scans, ultra sounds, internal examinations and even a colonoscopy. One thing the doctor confirmed was that I have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, it wasn’t until I had the laparoscopy that they found the endometriosis snuggled up in and around my womb. Surgery was a relief, especially for the first six months or so. However, the pain continues. Not as bad as before the operation, but it’s still there. A couple of months will pass and it’s manageable. Then I’ll have a couple of months where it’s so excruciating, I’m crawling between the sofa and the bathroom. Those days are the worst.
It’s not a subject we can often openly talk about, is it? The Period. The Blob. Mother Nature. Time of the Month. The Painters. The Big P. The answer is no, but it should be. Thankfully the world is changing. A lot of cultures still see ‘the period’ as a taboo subject. However, with today’s education and experience in multicultural societies we are slowly talking about it more openly, which makes it easier to talk and write about it".
A huge thank you to Andeep for sharing. If you would like to get involved in our #walkforendo challenge, which is all about walking 7.5km in solidarity with those on the path to diagnosis, click here to sign up