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"Oh It'll Be Okay, You're a Girl, It's Suppose to Be Like This."

Endometriosis

I curled up in the middle of the living room floor at 16 years old and clutched my legs to my chest in pain that felt like the Evil Queen Regina grabbed my uterus and squeezed it into dust. Actually, that might have hurt less than what I really felt. I remember my eldest little brother was worried trying to find my mom while my youngest was worried trying to make sure I was okay. I passed out shortly after that and woke up to my mom trying to get me into a wheelchair at the urgent care down the road. We sat in there for two-and-a-half hours before final being taken to a waiting room for another hour. When the nurse and doctor finally arrived and took my blood, even though it took three people and six tries before someone succeeded, they found nothing wrong. The recommended that because my pain was coming from my lower abdominal area that I seek advice from my gynecologist.

The first gynecologist I sought help from used an ultrasound and another camera and we discovered that my uterus seemed to be smaller than average and that I had a blood filled ovarian cyst on my left ovary that has built up over cycles and ruptured. To compensate for the pain the gyno put me on a birth control pill, my first, and it help about as much as taking one Tylenol for a broke leg. I continued to take this for nine months, hoping, praying that it would just need time to kick in and then the pain would disappear like magic; or at least lessen. During this time, my cycles got longer, what was once one week per month had turned into two weeks per month and then finally three weeks per month. I also had to experience small seizures. I am anemic and the loss of blood three-fourths of every month alone would put me into an immediate blood pressure dropping seizure. As you can imagine, after nine months of excruciating pain in which three of those nine months I had about three weeks of at least being comfortable I went to a new gynecologist who told me "I'm sorry for your pain but, I mean, you are a girl and periods are painful. How about I just change your pill?"

For the next two years I was changing gynecologists and birth control pills hearing the exact same thing; that it is unfortunate that I am having to experience so much pain but as a female it is inevitable, even after they heard about my inverted cycle. No one thought it could be something bigger, no one even tried. So when I had yet another cyst rupture and was in bed for a week I decided enough was enough and I took matters into my own hand. I did research upon research about my symptoms until I found that they were a perfect match to a condition called Endometriosis. According to the Mayo Clinic  website, 

Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus—the endometrium—grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, Fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond pelvic organs.

Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

At this time I was a Campbell University third year student and lucky for me I was taking a Lifetime Wellness class and the teacher was our women's basketball assistant coach. I had researched some great gynecology specialists for me to visit but none that I hadn't already seen before or that I would have to make set an appointment for to a much later date and with this pain, I was beyond impatient. I had had pill birth control changes and referrals upon referrals for what was then working on six years, not to mention the prior pain and cysts. Enough was enough. One afternoon I walked up to coach and asked her if I could speak with her in her office one day that week. Kudos to me because her second class was cancelled because she had an important meeting to go to and so I walked with her back to her office, all the while telling her about my appalling story. We finally reach her office and she turns to me, gives me a tremendous hug and and tells me to go to a gynecologist that she recommends in a Dunn office up the road. I called and luckily for me they had an open appointment date for that next day! Woohoo!!!

The doctor was a male and I was so nervous. Ladies you know who it is, it's just weird. I mean it's uncomfortable in general but that's weird. But regardless, he was a wonderful doctor, the best! After explaining, yet again, my long story to him he was astonished that I had been so misguided and mistreated by previous doctors. He pushed back his next appointment and ordered a Pap smear immediately.  I hate those! They are almost half as painful as what I go though on a monthly basis. Afterwards we sat in his office and he discussed with me that although those tests are suppose to be uncomfortable considering what it is that a woman should not be yelling in pain because of it, which I was doing. He then gave me two options.

Option one was to go on a shot called Depot Lupron or Leuprolide. 

This medicine, according to WebMD, "is used to treat disorders of the uterus (e.g., endometriosis, fibroids) in women. It helps to reduce symptoms such as pelvic pain, painful/heavy menstrual periods, and abdominal bloating. It also shrinks the abnormal uterine tissue that causes these symptoms... Leuprolide is usually given with iron to help improve anemia that is caused by too much vaginal bleeding. Uterine tissue needs the female hormone estrogen to grow and spread. Leuprolide works by decreasing the amount of estrogen that is made in the female body."  

Simply put, it will shut down your reproductive system giving you menopause, but you won't have to undergo the pain and damage that your cycle is causing. Option number two was to schedule a diagnostic laparoscopy, something I can never pronounce correctly. This surgery would take a look inside at your ovaries and your uterus and see if you have damaged goods. I chose the surgery. I wanted to be 100 percent sure of what was going on with my body and low and behold, I had it, I have endometriosis stage three, part two, or stage four, part one. I say or not because I do not remember or do not know, but because I have been on the shot every since that surgery and the doctor told me it improves with time so I am praying for the hope to have children that it has improved.

After the surgery the doctor explained my stage and that the shot would help improve my condition but would not heal it or make it go away, only extensive surgery could do that and I was not prepared to have to take on that voyage so I chose the shot. He told me that when I was going through my cycle the tissue that was being released from my ovaries was getting caught uterus and attaching itself to the walls scarring everything inside. I was told that having a child would have to be timed but it was not impossible because they caught it before I could be classified as infertile. The doctor was disappointed in previous gynecologists who should have and could have helped me before it had become as bad as it had.

This scared me and still does. It was all so overwhelming. No one can tell you what is going on with your own body and if you know that something isn't right the way it should be then do what you feel is best. Research, talk to others, seek advice and don't stop until you know what you are doing it what is right for you. If I had just been content with what every other doctor prior had told me then it is very possible I wouldn't be able to have children and I would have to solely depend on the shot or be eyeballs deep in medical bills trying to get it all removed and taken care of. I have an incredible support team. I couldn't do this without my boyfriend and my family being there for me. Get together a support team that will be encouraging.  This is not easy and it will hurt you mentally and emotionally as well as physically but please don't give up and don't be too afraid to ask questions. "Oh it'll be okay, you're a girl, it's suppose to be like this..." is not okay.

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