How Am I Supposed To Love A Body Like This?

If you want to include both my battle with endometriosis and with an autoimmune condition, I have been fighting my body, and medical professionals, for ten long years. Ten years of chronic pain, chronic illness, and chronic anger towards my body for never giving me any relief.

With Endometriosis comes not only extremely painful periods, but also back pain, urinary tract infections, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, extreme mood swings, pelvic pain all month long, fatigue, general malaise – and the list goes on and on.

With my autoimmune condition comes chronic fatigue & malaise, severe chest pain & palpitations (occasionally landing me in the ER,) tachycardia, panic attacks, muscle pain, joint pain, chronic migraines, brain fog, muscle weakness, rashes, and just a general lack of discomfort and feeling like shit to be honest.

So, how does one love their body, when their body only ever causes them distress and discomfort on a daily basis? It’s not easy – it usually feels impossible. I spend so much time pushing through the pain and illness every day, that I’m left feeling extremely pissed off and frustrated with my body. Why can’t you be pain free for just one day? Why can’t you let me live my life? Why do you have to take everything from me? Why can’t you give me a break?

One day it occurred to me, as I looked at myself in the mirror, that I had started feeling separate from my body because I spent all of my time fighting it. It was no longer a part of myself, but instead a monster that I had to slay. That one thought shocked me. This sounds ridiculous, but I stood there and had to touch my arms, my face, my neck, my stomach, and my legs, just to feel connected to my own body again. To remind myself that it’s a part of me and that I still need to love and care for it.

So started my self care regime. Pilates twice a week, higher quality skin and hair care, meditation, walking every day, and most importantly, attending each doctors appointment with the goal to fight FOR my body, rather than against it.

It’s not really enough just to dutifully take our medications, just to push through pain and deal with the frustration and anger, to let ourselves hate the very part of us that keeps us alive and who we are. Our broken bodies aren’t actually stopping us from living our lives – they’re giving us the ability to keep living it, even if limited.

So keep caring for your body, no matter how broken it may seem. Stay connected to it and keep loving it. Nobody can love and fight for our bodies like we can. ❤

Feeding the Stigma

This is entirely my fault. For two years I have been suffering with health issues and chronic widespread pain, spending thousands of dollars on appointments, tests, medications, hospital visits and surgery. Unable to work full time or have a normal social life.

And apparantly unable to let my own family in on this huge life changing illness. Whoops! 🤦‍♀️

I made an assumption. A stupid one. You know what they say when you assume, right? I did that. I made an ass out of u & me. Or them and me, if you want to get technical.

My mum and dad knew most of the details, so I had just assumed they would have let everyone else know. I kept the details close to my heart, not wanting anyone to know how much I was really struggling, but hoping my parents would give them the general gist.

Apparently they didn’t. And so, two years after this all started, my brother and sister-in-law asked me why I had resigned from my job and what was going on with my health. When I mentioned my migraines, my possible Lupus diagnosis, my brother asked if that’s the reason I go to bed insanely early, like a light bulb just went off in his brain and everything suddenly made sense. Because guess what? Everything suddenly DID make sense! When you actually explain the facts to people, first hand, everything falls into place. Funny that!

Now, after that conversation, I realise that I’m guilty of exactly what I’ve been ‘preaching’ against! Not talking openly to my own family for fear of judgement and simply hoping someone else would do my dirty work hasn’t done me, or them, any favours. Sure, judgement is a part of life. So why are we so scared of it? I think that’s a hard one, because we don’t want to know the people we love the most don’t understand what we’re going through. That’s so damn isolating!

But they didn’t judge, even if they didn’t fully empathise with my situation. They just wanted to know, to understand. Because they’re my family, and they love and care for me. It seems so crazy to me now that I didn’t trust in that.

I’ve heard people say there’s no stigma with chronic illness, only with mental illness. But I disagree. There is a stigma, if there wasn’t I wouldn’t have been so scared of judgement. That fear had come from somewhere, and it caused me to hide what I should have been sharing as abundantly as possible. The stigma is based around chronic, invisible, undiagnosed illnesses. Am I making it up? Bunging it on?

Every time someone asks me how I am, genuinely wanting to know if I’m okay, my response is always “I’m okay. Same old.” I kick myself every time. What does that even mean?! Same old? REALLY? Just tell them the truth, that I’m struggling with migraines and I’m tired of pushing through. That I’m desperate for a break. That I’m trapped in a body that’s constantly in pain and all I want to do is live my life. That I HATE that I had to quit my job.

THAT’S the truth I should be telling. So why is it so difficult? My fear is damaging not only to myself, but to everyone else.

I’ve been totally honest with all these strangers via my blog – but not with my own flesh and blood. Maybe it’s easier to face being judged by strangers, than by those we love. Maybe it’s less scary – less hurtful. But I am causing harm nonetheless. I am unintentionally feeding a stigma.

Well… No more. I AM SICK. I am a barely functionally, chronically sick person. I go to bed at 5pm because I’m bone achingly tired and I’m trying to beat my migraine by going to bed before the pain gets too bad. I avoid social outings because I’m scared I’ll have to leave early which either forces my boyfriend to have to leave early with me or forces me to either explain the truth to everyone or make up a lie. I’m not sure which is worse. I can’t work full time because I’m physically and mentally exhausted from having to push through daily pain. I’m terrified of doctors visits because I’m tired of being told that they can’t figure out exactly what’s wrong, and I’m embarrassed every time I have to explain that fact to everyone else waiting to hear my diagnosis. I’m dead broke, partly because I can’t work enough and partly because doctors, medications and tests are SO expensive. I hide my pain and fatigue until it’s really bad simply because I’m tired of complaining. I hide pain from my own boyfriend who just recently said “how come you don’t get migraines on weekends?” Ha! Well, I do. I just medicate more and push through it more so that he won’t see the full extent of how broken his girlfriend is. Even though I know he’d understand, I’m scared that maybe one day he won’t anymore. I work every day to protect myself both physically and mentally.

I’m a sister, a girlfriend, a daughter, a friend. I’m a person – and I’m chronically ill. Welcome to Laura in real life.

I don’t want to complain…

I don’t like complaining, and I don’t want to complain anymore. I really don’t. I don’t like seeing the looks on people’s faces thinking “she’s complaining yet again.” Seeing the looks of frustration and simply being ‘over’ hearing about my health issues. But guess what, feeling sick every day has become my life at the moment, and I didn’t choose it, nor do I enjoy it. And sometimes, I just need to vent and complain. Because it downright sucks!

Feeling sick or being in pain every day isn’t something I EVER wanted. It’s exhausting and frustrating to say the least. Especially when all I want to do is live my life, to be the bubbly and energetic girl I used to be. I’m a ball of energy trapped inside a failing body. I suspect this is a lot what prison feels like, an actual life sentence.

All that being said, let me rephrase my earlier statement. I don’t want to HAVE to complain anymore. You’re tired of hearing me complain? That’s NOTHING compared to the frustration I feel on a daily basis.

I can see it when people ask me how I am. They sound sincere when they ask, and I’m simply a really honest person, an open book really. So I answer them. “I’ve been better. I had a migraine all night.” And I see their eyes glaze over. They don’t want to hear that, they wanted me to say the perfunctory “I’m good thanks, how are you?” They want me to pretend so we can move on to more interesting topics of conversation, like hair and nails and which party they went to on the weekend.

So I started doing that. I started saying “I’m okay,” even when I’m not. Even when I’m home, achingly exhausted, dizzy, overcome with nausea and trying desperately to push through this migraine. I’m still “okay.” Every day that I work is a struggle. Staring at a computer screen all day under constant fluorescent lighting, struggling through fatigue and fighting off the pain with medication that is only going to cause worse side effects later on. But I still answer “I’m okay.” When I finally complain, it means I’ve really hit that wall of not being able to even pretend anymore.

But this tactic is damaging. It isolates those of us suffering with any kind of chronic illness, whether it be physical or mental. Anxiety or migraines. Depression or Chronic Fatigue. It applies to all illnesses. The less we talk about it, the more the stigma grows, the more people think we’re just bunging it on. It’s not good for us, and it’s not good for them. How can they understand better, how can they gain any awareness, if we’re constantly holding back what we’re going through?

That being said, we have good reason to hold back. Because of those people who don’t actually care to hear how we’re going, those people that instilled that fear in us.

You think I like the attention? Here’s the truth, I would give ANYTHING to not be sick anymore. If I wanted attention, I’d just run down the street in the nude, I wouldn’t need to be ill to get it. I’ve had to quit my job, a job that I loved that had become like a home and second family to me. I quit, purely so I could focus on my health and attempt to get it back on track. So that I could go back to living my life. It was not an easy decision, or a happy one.

If I just wanted attention, do you really think I would have done something so drastic? My complaints are annoying for you, but the reason I’m complaining is a LOT more ‘annoying’ for me. So remember that the next time my need to vent is a drain on your day. Remember that any time ANYONE with an illness of any kind is needing to vent. They’re struggling hard, the least you can do is endure listening to them, and maybe, just maybe, giving them some semblance of relief because you ACTUALLY cared. It’s not hard to be kind, especially if you just put yourself in someone else’s shoes for 5 minutes. Especially if you step out of your bubble and see the pain that surrounds so many people in the world.

Let’s be real. Speak up more when you’re struggling, break the stigma. Complain whenever you feel the need to complain. Vent, get it all out. Force people to hear you and to see the truth. Help them understand. If they get bored, if they don’t care… Well, fuck em! From here on out, I make no apologies for voicing my pain.

The Mirena

For lack of a better way to describe this, let me tell you about the time my body tried to give birth to a Mirena. That’s right, I was suffering contractions for 2 months because of this apparant magical Mirena that was supposed to ‘solve’ my Endometriosis for the next 5 years. Winning, right?

I’ll start by explaining what a Mirena is. A Mirena is a hormonal IUD, which us a small device that is placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Or, my my case, prevent endometriosis from growing. Pictured below. You really wouldn’t think something so small and unassuming could cause so many issues!

I’d just gone through my 3rd surgery for Endometriosis, and while the surgeon was in there he’d inserted the Mirena, after explaining to me that this would be a great solution to keep my Endo at bay for the next 5 years.

After the surgery I felt a lot more ‘cramping’ than usual, but didn’t question that it could have been from anything other than the surgery.

A week after surgery I was in so much pain that the only relief I could get was through morphine and lying on my side with a pillow in between my legs. I called my surgeon the next day and got no answers or sympathy there. Everything looked fine in surgery, so everything therefore must be A-OK! 👍🏻

I continued on with life, all the while getting excruciating pain every single night, along with most days. I could be at work doubled over in pain, high as a kite on morphine and seriously considering pulling the damn thing out myself. I didn’t have the pain before this, so what else could be causing it? My gut was, quite literally, telling me that this ‘amazing’ device was the root to all my recent issues.

That being said, the Mirena is so effective for so many women. I just happen to be one of the unlucky ones because, as it turns out, you’re more likely to get issues and pain from it if you haven’t had kids, which I have not. My uterus was too tight and did not expect to have a sudden foreign object in there, and simply wanted it gone.

And so began the contractions, which is exactly what I was having for those two months. My uterus was trying to push it out, with no such luck. I was depressed both from the pain and from the hormones being pumped directly into my uterus. I was bleeding none stop. So I made the very easy decision to get it removed.

Doctors don’t warn you of these things. The likelihood of mood changes from the change in your hormones, the possible pain from a device if you haven’t had children. My GP, who is an awesome doctor, was actually the one to finally explain this to me when she removed the device.

I truly believe that the hormonal treatments women go through for conditions such as Endometriosis, need a lot more light shed on them. I truly believe that doctors should warn us of these possible downfalls, especially for hormonal treatments such as the Depo Provera injection, which once given, you cannot take back for 3 months. For me that ended with months of severe depression (which you can read about in my post ‘The Depo Darkness’.) Yes, I most definitely should have been warned about that!

And what about the rest of the population? What do you really know about the treatments for Endometriosis? Since awareness on the disease itself is pretty sad, I’m guessing not much at all. Surgery is the most well known, but there’s definitely a lot more to it. And NONE of it is pretty or easy.

So… let’s talk about it more. Start a conversation, tell people what you’re going through. Or better yet, ask another woman what they’re going through, ask them if they’re okay. Be open, be real. Because, at the end of the day, we’re not doing ourselves or these diseases any justice by hiding it.

Life of the Party

Once upon a time, I was definitely considered a party girl, even occasionally the life of the party. When I started at my current job, which is a construction company, that’s definitely how I was viewed. My first night out at the pub with the guys had me keeping up with them doing shots, and asleep on the train home. I’ve even been known to dance on table tops, and there was an occasion with body shots when out with some old work colleagues. It was all in good fun.

I could honestly say that I’d go out every single weekend to a pub or party, or a club on occasions – though I was definitely more of a pub or house party girl. I LOVED it, I loved dancing and I loved being lively and social.

So what happened? My health went down the crapper – to put it simply. I still don’t have an official diagnosis, but they’re looking at Lupus and/or Postural Tachycardia Syndrome. This all started at the beginning of 2018, and since then my party days have gone way down hill. It happened gradually, but surely. Now, even a few glasses of wine will leave me with a feeling of hangover the next day. More than that will take days to recover. Socialising alone is a lot more tiring than you’d expect, especially while you’re in pain, so I often have to avoid it. And dancing? My god, one song leaves me exhausted. Not that it stops me from trying, dancing like an idiot while singing loudly will always be in my blood!

I now often hear “oh man, you used to be the life of the party. Look at you now!” Yes… Thanks for rubbing that in. Much appreciated!

Getting sick with a chronic illness changes everything, you lose your sense of self. You grieve your old self. I wish with all my heart that things were different, that things hadn’t changed like they had. But this life, this chronic sickness, has become so normal to me. Though still not easy in the slightest.

But what have I learnt from it? Appreciation. I didn’t know what I had, when I had it. If I’d known then what I know now, everything would have been different. I honestly never ever would have thought that I’d be this sick girl, getting home to go to bed by 5pm, working part time and spending my days off in bed sleeping. Carrying a pharmacy worth of medication in my handbag. I don’t like any of these things, but I do like what I’ve learnt.

Never again will I take my body for granted. Never again will I take the people in my life for granted. Never again will I doubt what my gut is telling me when I feel that something is wrong. Never again will I judge someone else for something that I don’t understand. Never again will I give a shit what other people think, or get caught up in petty gossip and drama – because really, in the scheme of things, none of that matters in the slightest.

I’ve learnt who my true friends are, I’ve found passions I didn’t know I had, and I’ve learnt to see the beauty in every little moment that brings you peace. I may not be the life of the party anymore, or be a whole lot of fun all the time, but I’m living life to the max with a whole new outlook.

Love what you have, while you have it.

Endo Facts

Recently I received feedback that my messages were great, but that I still hadn’t explained much about Endometriosis. And I thought holy crap, it’s time to get down to the point!

So here it is. What is Endometriosis? Endometriosis is defined as a condition resulting from the appearance of endometrial tissue (which usually hangs out inside the uterus where it’s meant to be) outside the uterus and causing pelvic pain, especially associated with menstruation.

To explain that further, this means that when a woman with Endometriosis menstruates, endometrial tissue sheds and grows in the pelvic region (like the bladder, bowel, ovaries and rectum. Or very rarely the abdomen, lungs or brain.) In short, it causes a whole lot of shitty widespread symptoms and pain, occasionally all month long if you’re really unlucky, like myself. In the later stages, it can cause infertility due to internal damage. It’s basically your body attacking itself during what should be a natural and harmless process for a woman.

I don’t know many people that are actually aware of Endometriosis, even women. Which surprises me because 1 in 10 women suffer from it, and that’s just confirmed cases! So many still go undiagnosed because women are brought up to believe that severe pain with their period is normal, or that they’re just bunging it on. Guess what, it’s NOT normal! And most definitely should not be tolerated.

There are 4 stages of Endometriosis. I myself suffer from stage 2, which is considered a mild form. It has spread far and wide, but hasn’t caused damage to any of the organs, but the implants are deeper into the tissue than stage 1. However, I do also suffer from scar tissue forming from the 5 surgeries I’ve gone through to treat the Endometriosis, which is also quite common. Guess how you fix that? More surgery! Fix one problem, cause another. *Face palm*

I’ll move on to stage 4. This is the most widespread. There are many deep implants and thick adhesions. There are also large cysts on one or both ovaries. In many cases, this takes a few invasive surgeries in one go to treat, and is likely to cause infertility without treatment. On many occasions, women with stage 4 Endometriosis don’t actually experience many symptoms apart from some period pain, so never realise they have it until they have difficulty having children. Whereas stage 1 & 2 Endometriosis could result in severe and debilitating symptoms. Who would have thought?!

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Endometriosis. Some doctors say having kids will rid you of the disease, while for some people, having kids brings on the disease. There is no rhyme or reason to how Endo acts or what brings it on and the symptoms are different in each and every person, so even doctors are still confused by this common condition. This causes huge delay in treatment. Which brings me to my next point…

Treatment for this disease is different in everyone. Some people fair quite well on the contraceptive pill, while others only respond to surgery. Some women even have one surgery and never have any problems with it again. In my experience, every hormonal treatment has caused nightmarish symptoms, including almost having a stroke. For now, surgery is my only go to – and because of the complexity of my condition, this happens almost yearly. For the future, after children, a hysterectomy has been placed on the table as the next form of treatment.

In conclusion, Endometriosis is a hellish condition that turns a woman’s life into a living nightmare simply from menstruation. I hope that sums it up well enough! Try to have compassion for a woman with this disease, they may be struggling more than they let on ❤

The Depo Darkness

I often hear men and women alike joke about women’s hormones. She’s angry, so she must have PMS. That’s hilarious, right?

It’s not often lately that I get really bad PMS, mostly I just get extra jittery and anxious. But now and then it really hits me, and I spend the better part of a day crying or just feeling really low. I don’t really see that as funny. Emotions are all valid regardless of the cause. More than anything, it makes me really feel for the women that deal with that monthly, or the women suffering through menopause.

That brings me to my Depo Provera disaster.

Approximately 5 years ago I was prescribed a treatment for Endometriosis after a surgery, in the form of a Depo Provera injection. This is a reasonably common form of birth control that get’s injected into your butt cheek (hehe), and lasts for 3 months. The main ingredient of this injection is Progestin, which effectively stops ovulation. This in turn also prevents Endometriosis from growing outside your uterine wall.

However, what my gynecologist at the time forgot to take into consideration was my sensitivity to medications, especially the hormonal kind. Within a week of getting this injection, I was too depressed to even make it into work. And guess what… There are no medications to counteract an injection that stays in your body for at least 3 months.

I proceeded to spend the next few months with severe insomnia – sleeping a maximum of 2 hours a night. Spending the rest of the night either tossing and turning or simply crying and wondering how I was going to get through this. Of course, I didn’t actually realise at first that it was this injection causing my sudden depression, no one had explained to me that it was a possible side effect. I was only 6 months into dating my boyfriend, Aiden, and we both started to believe that it was my relationship with him that was giving me grief. This caused a tremendous strain on our new relationship, and left a few of his friends that I’d just met thinking I was an emotional wreck, and rightly so! Let’s face it, that’s exactly what I was.

So what happened after 3 months? Well… turns out that emotional side effects caused by this injection actually get worse before they get better. And so, I spent the better part of a year severely depressed . Not even being able to work most of the time – and when I did work I spend most of the day counting the minutes until I could curl up in bed and hide again.

I kept everyone in that dark about all of this. My parents saw the severe anxiety and panic attacks it caused in the beginning, but no one knew the true extent of my depression until I broke down crying in front of my mum in a cafe.

I would like to take a second to point out that I very rarely cry, and I basically never cry in front of anyone else. It’s not because I’m emotionally unstable, it’s just generally not what I do. So my mum seeing me cry for the first time in probably 15 years… Well it really kind of freaked her out, to say the least. She finally saw what I was going through. But despite that, I still felt embarrassed to share this with anyone else. I often laid awake and cried while Aiden slept without saying a word to him about it, and I never let my friends in on the whole truth. No one saw the real darkness that was caused by one simple hormonal ‘treatment’.

Do you still think it’s funny when a woman is being hormonal?

Mental illness is no joke. When it’s caused by or coupled with hormones, to put it plainly, you feel like you’re losing your god damn mind! Imagine feeling perfectly fine one day, and losing all control of your emotions the next. This is a lot more prominent in women with conditions such as Endometriosis or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, but no one seems to talk about it. It’s a very real side effect, especially to so many of the treatments for these conditions. Do you see why I can’t see the funny side to that?

I’m not laughing, and neither should you. The seriousness of this needs to be recognised. Next time a woman is “just being hormonal,” stop and think for a second. That thought, that realisation, could save your wife’s, sister’s, mother’s or daughter’s life.

To all the women out there struggling, please believe there is light at the end of the tunnel. Speak out, get help and support. It’s 100% okay to need that 💙

Puppy Love

This one hurts to write. As I sit here in the sunny (vaguely windy) Fiji, I find my mind constantly wandering back to this one consuming thought… When we return home, our beloved Husky will have to be put to rest.

On our first day in Fiji we learnt that she had a malignant tumor growing, the kind that even treatment can’t help. She’s only 6 years old.

This breaks my heart for many reasons. The main one being that I have never met such a beautiful soul before. She found a place in my heart the moment I met her. But also for another reason… She has been my constant comfort and companion through all my battles with my health.

So many Saturday night’s in I’ve spent with her snuggled up to me, because I’m simply too unwell to go anywhere. I’d feel lonely and guilty for not being able to go out with my friends or boyfriend – not being able to party like I used to love. But there was one comfort… I wasn’t alone, not while I had her asleep beside me.

The sad fact is, loneliness is a huge factor in illness – mental and physical illness alike. It’s a very personal battle that no one else can relate to, because all our battles are different. But I always found one light in that darkness, and that was Tikaani. When I was sick or in pain (which, let’s face it, is daily) she was there right by my side. I know some people don’t think dogs can sense those things, but she sure could.

I vividly remember her walking slowly and gently beside me as I trudged up the stairs after an Endometriosis surgery, and how she carefully laid down next to me on the bed, careful not to touch me. Or when muscle aches in my legs were so bad one night that I couldn’t lay still, she laid on my legs which miraculously helped the pain and I fell back asleep shortly after. That one moment convinced me to invest in a weighted blanket* which has been amazing in preventing that pain and restlessness getting too bad at night.

What will I do without that? It really is a scary thought. One I’m struggling to think about. The comfort pets can bring people with chronic physical and mental illness has suddenly become very clear to me. Something I didn’t quite appreciate sooner. That loss will be absolutely profound.

Even as I sit here typing this, I still find myself unable to fully comprehend this fact, and I strongly feel for all those who have had to suffer similar situations. I would like to show appreciation for all those beautiful animals that give love and comfort in times of pain and illness, and who never fail to be by our side when needed.

Here’s to Tikaani – the beautiful, kind, and loving soul I was lucky to have in my life for what felt like the briefest of moments ❤

*Note – I strongly recommend weighted blankets for chronic pain and restless leg syndrome, even insomnia. Happy to recommend a certain type or answer any questions. Simply contact me at contactlaura@laurainreallife.blog.

Post Surgery – The Facts

So often people tell me that they’re jealous when I ‘get to’ have two weeks off after a surgery. Like I just get to chill out and relax, have a little me time, you know? Incorrect.

Let me share with you my last experience with surgery, which was in December last year for the latest occurrence of Endometriosis.

I’ll start in the recovery room. I wake up in excruciating pain, not from the incisions, but from every part of my abdominal and pelvic region that they scraped, poked, and prodded during the surgery. I’m in so much pain that I’m crying and vomiting, until they give me just enough morphine to dull the pain (along with a happy button that allows me to access pain killers as I need through the night through the IV.)

The night in hospital isn’t so bad thanks to the extra strong pain killers. But I can never sleep properly after surgery. I lie awake watching TV, while lightly sleeping now and then. Luckily (and unluckily) for me, I have a catheter in so I don’t have to move from bed. Uncomfortable – but convenient!

The next day the real struggle starts. They’ve switched me from morphine to Nurofen (until I can get home and actually use the good pain killers that the doctor left me,) so the pain is starting to get real again. That along with the fact I now have to pee a certain amount before they let me go home, makes life slightly annoying.

Then I get home to my boyfriend’s house, and the stairs… They kill me on even my best days, let alone after surgery! But it’s all okay once I’m tucked in bed binge watching Netflix with my Husky and boyfriend by my side.

Or so you’d think…

It doesn’t sound so bad when you put it like that. But the reality is, a few hours after I arrived home from hospital, not only was I in pain but I was also struck with feeling incredibly ill. In the spirit of honestly, I didn’t know if I wanted to throw up, pass out or shit myself… Not a great combination.

So here I am, begging my boyfriend to help me get to the bathroom. Very very slowly (after sitting down a couple of times because I’m going to pass out,) we made it there. Once there, all I can do is lie down on the floor. I tell my boyfriend to get out and then yell at him to come back. This happens several times. Poor guy didn’t know which way he was going!

As I lie there on the bathroom floor, I contemplate two things. One – when was the last time this floor was cleaned, and two – maybe I should just let myself pass out so I don’t have to suffer the humiliation of shitting myself on my boyfriends bathroom floor.

However, it was the panic after I realised I would never live it down if he found me lying unconscious in my own poop and/or vomit, that gave me the strength to drag myself off the floor, quickly use the toilet and then lie back down on the floor again, awaiting rescue from Aiden to take my back to bed. Phew! Nothing like a little humiliation to get your ass into gear (no pun intended.)

Things didn’t improve from there at all for about a week. I was in constant pain, forever lethargic and still feeling incredibly ill. There were many nights on the bathroom floor almost exactly as described above. But after a week, as my body started to recover from the ordeal, I noticed something else troubling.

Anxiety. Anxiety that turned into panic attacks. Daily, undeniable, debilitating panic attacks.

That’s the thing about something as traumatic as surgery, it doesn’t just affect your body. It also affects your mind. More often than not, people suffer mood changes, depression, and anxiety in the weeks or months after a big surgery. The impact is huge in EVERY way.

So the next time you start to think someone is ‘lucky’ for getting time off to recover after surgery… Catch yourself and remember the truth.

Dear Doctor

Dear Doctor,

Two years ago I came to you for help. I sat in front of you, a desperate and broken woman in unbearable pain, and you broke me down further. You hammered me into the ground until I truly doubted myself. Am I crazy? Is this all in my head?

When I saw you that day, my UTI had gotten so bad that I was peeing straight blood. I was ill, I was hurting, and I knew in my gut exactly what was going on… My Endometriosis has returned only one year after you performed your last surgery. You believed in your own skills so much that you didn’t believe me. You took my concerns about my health as a swift kick to your balls, because somehow this was about you.

You sat there and laughed at me. You told me it was most likely psychological because I was just ‘used to’ being in pain. You told me I probably had back problems. You were grasping at straws for any explanations that weren’t that my body was growing Endometriosis at an insane rate, because that simply didn’t fit in with your text book information.

But in the end, you knew that I wasn’t leaving that office until you agreed to perform surgery the next week. I wasn’t going anywhere until I got help, even if it was from someone like you.

The day I had surgery, you still tried to convince me that you wouldn’t find anything. That there wouldn’t be Endometriosis on my bladder like I suspected, because it’s “SO rare” that it causes UTI’s, almost impossible. You smiled condescendingly at me while you patted my hand and told me this was all pointless.

You made me feel like I was being violated, because you had become the last person in the world I trusted to perform my surgery. But I was desperate, I knew in my heart that I needed surgery, and I needed it now.

When I woke up in my hospital bed, you visited me. And with a polite smile you said that you had found small amounts of Endometriosis throughout my pelvic region, as well as on my bladder. Dear Doctor, am I allowed to say I told you so?

A few months later I went for a follow up appointment, but not with you. I found a new gynecologist down the hall from you, one with more skill, understanding of complex Endometriosis, and above all, empathy. She told me that my surgery with you had absolutely shown substantial amounts of Endometriosis and that, though rare, it definitely could (and in this case did) cause UTI’s. You lied to me to save your pride, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

Dear Doctor, you’re a fantastic surgeon, but your bed side manner sucks to say the least. Next time, with your next patient, do better.

Kind regards,

Your Ex Patient