The Burden of Endometriosis

Now this is a hard one for me, especially posting that feature image. Everyone who knows me know that I’m not the type of girl to flaunt my body every chance I get. In fact, wearing a bikini makes me self conscious because of my surgery scarring. I’ve actually been asked before if I was stabbed. Well… Technically yes! But being vulnerable is important in raising awareness. So let’s do this!

Now these scars are very hard to see in the photo. But I have 4 scars for every laparoscopy. So that’s 20 scars on my stomach alone. While they are small and unassuming, each surgery comes with more and more unbearable pain.

I have stage 2 Endometriosis, which is considered a ‘mild’ form and I have had 5 surgeries for it since I was 19, with talk of hysterectomy mentioned for after I have kids.

And that is just for stage 2! My pain starts quickly and all month long, along with a whole list of other nightmarish and occasionally embarrassing symptoms. Now, in the spirit of being honest and vulnerable, here are some examples…

The last time Endometriosis grew on my bowel, I had diarrhea every single day. That was a fun one. Or there was the time that it was affecting my bladder quite badly. That caused almost constant UTI’s, and one time when I actually wet the bed in my sleep. Yep… That happened. Not my finest moment to say the least!

The saddest part, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Here’s another fun fact. Some women with stage 4, the most aggressive form of Endometriosis, don’t even realise they have it until they find out they’re infertile or they have further (possibly permanent) damage requiring several aggressive surgeries.

At least 1 in 10 women suffer from this debilitating disease to some degree. So why are we so afraid to talk about it? Why is it so unacceptable to miss work because the pain is just too much to bear that day? Why are we considered ‘weak’ by even other women because our symptoms don’t match their own common period symptoms?

More than that, why is this disease so misunderstood even by those in the medical field, just because it can’t be seen by the naked eye and because some parts of it can’t be explained?

Why should we isolate the women in our lives who are suffering, simply because we don’t understand? Well… Compassion doesn’t actually require understanding. Nor does support or kindness

She Looks Well

I wasn’t really sure where to start with my first post, but this is something that has played on my mind since it happened. I’m aware of so many people who have to deal with this from health professionals, so I figured this was a good place to start.

Now, let me start by saying that I have nothing against health professionals. My mum was a nurse, my sister-in-law is a nurse, and I have utmost respect for them. There are some amazing doctors out there too…

However, there is sometimes a huge lack of understanding still in this day and age about complicated illnesses. I myself suffer from complicated Endometriosis, as well as a mystery undiagnosed illness that is most likely an autoimmune condition.

My Rheumatologist has been very empathetic and understanding thus far with my mystery illness, and I will continue to seek her health advice despite this slip of the pen. But one statement really stood out in her last letter to my GP…

“She looks well.”

OK… Well gee, if I look well, I must be well. Right? Those migraines that have been making my life hell every single night for the last few months… Irrelevant because I ‘look’ well. Those general muscle aches and joint pain that has been plaguing me for almost two years… Not an issue because I ‘look’ well. Oh, don’t even get me started on the heart palpitations so bad that I was suffering AT LEAST six panic attacks a day. They most certainly must be nothing to worry about because, yep you guessed it, I ‘look’ well!

This particular doctor has done a decent job of managing my symptoms so far, but I have to say, that final “I hope your migraines sort themselves out” on the way out the door was an extra kick in the butt! I do too Dr Obvious, I do too!

Now this is just one person, one health professional. But she’s definitely not the only culprit. I get it all the time. The “are you better yet?” comments are one of my favourite. Yes, after almost two years of constant illness, I magically got better today! It was a miracle! Or as I walk out the door of work because I can’t push through anymore… “Feel better!” *face palm*

That being said, I probably would have done and said the exact same things 2 years ago. I am just as guilty, if not more so. That lack of understanding is not their fault in the slightest, but doctors most definitely should know better.

Now for the life lesson. It doesn’t actually take understanding to be compassionate or to support someone. Shocking, I know! If someone close to you says something as simple as “I’m struggling,” then be there to listen, even if you don’t understand enough to have an opinion. Be kind peeps, that’s all it takes.

A bit about me…

My name is Laura, and I’m incredibly passionate about telling the truth about the shit parts of fighting chronic health conditions, as well as raising awareness.

I’m a huge advocate for quote a few charities through my day job, I love being creative in my spare time, and reading is my life.

My brother recently brought up that I should do some content creation, and I thought where better than my own blog! I’ve read a lot of people’s own articles on health and I know how much it helped me in lonely times. So if I can help someone else even marginally, then it’ll all be worth it.

Most importantly, I want this to be a constant reminder to myself and to others in similar positions. That we are worth more than our battle with our bodies, and to not forget to live because of it.