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Sometimes it seems too complicated to explain, so I just say I’m having a difficult period. I have “difficult” periods a lot. There are times when I have pain and discomfort before my period and times when I have it after. My condition is called “endometriosis and I’ve been enduring it for the last 20 years. But still I’m grateful. I know that even with all the pain I have, it could be a lot worse.

My doctor found a large mass in my abdomen. During surgery she discovered that it was a chocolate cyst (which sounds delicious but isn’t) and that I had a severe case of endometriosis. There was a lot of scar tissue of which she burned off as much as possible. I was grateful that it wasn’t cancer as we had feared with her initial diagnosis. But, as my doctor cheerfully pointed out, there is no cure for endometriosis. I needed to get ready for a lifetime of pain— manageable pain most of the time, but still pain.

Endometriosis is caused when cells from the lining of the uterus appear and flourish outside the uterine cavity. Think of them as cells on walkabout but still reacting as they would if they were still where they should be, still under the influence of female hormones. They are the bad girls of cells and they can cause scarring, adhesions and infertility. No one knows why these cells suddenly run away from their uterine homebut they do it with a screw you attitude. Though they start out as bad girls they end upas hardened criminal scar tissue. They enjoy wreaking havoc in your pelvis.

Symptoms include cramps, chronic pelvic pain, painful sex, constipation, fatigue and urinary urgency. If I bend over in the car or at my desk in a certain way, I get a horrible pain that feels like a reverse cramp. It’s as if someone grabbed a hold of my ovary, squeezed, let go but still kept their hand taut and hard pushing against the wall of my abdomen. I don’t just get the pain bending over but that's the surest way to get it. Sometimes I will suddenly get a burst of pain just from laying in bed. Your bed should always be a place that you can recover, not a place of instigating trauma.

But I know that my pain is nothing compared to what some other women with endometriosis get. I know that some have constant pain in which no over-the-counter pain reliever can help. I’m appreciative that I only have pain sometimes not all the time.I have many pain free days and not everyone with endometriosis can say that.

Over the years, I've had many different treatments. My doctor hoped that when she removed my right ovary and much of the scar tissue along with it, my symptoms would stop but they didn’t. I had hormone therapy and didn’t have a period for a few years but still adhesions were formed. I like to think of these cysts as the Endo Gang.

I even went on Lupron, a drug for prostate cancer and still my endometriosis flourished. Those endo bullies love a good girl fight. I pictured them trying to pull each other’s earrings out, as treatment after treatment failed. The Endo cells are super tough and you can try to cut them out but they’ll be back and meaner than ever.

Thankfully I had health insurance and was able to get these treatments. I can’t imagine the amount of suffering that someone with endometriosis and without care would go through.

Endometriosis has been called “The Working Women’s Disease” because it was believed that pregnancy could cure it. Now it’s generally thought that while pregnancy can lessen the symptoms it can’t get rid of the disease completely. It seems ironic that if you can somehow manage to conceive when your body has made your uterus a hostile environment that it can turn around and take on the evil forces of the endometriosis. Although my doctor suggested that I consider having children, it wasn’t a viable option for me.

It may seem weird but I am so thankful for this disease. They say you can’t enjoy the sweet without the bitter and I truly appreciate my pain free days. The absence of pain after pain is blissful like the cleared air feeling after you have won a good fight.

Now I am over 50 years in age and pre-menopausal. There’s a chance that menopause will stop my endometriosis though there are cases of post-menopausal women getting it and still continuing to suffer from it. But for some reason, I truly believe menopause is going to kick Endo’s butt. I am so grateful for aging and for my difficult period days to be behind me.

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