This is not something I’ve had the courage to openly discuss with more than three people before, so please be kind whilst I explain my current situation, as it’s taking over my life.
After yet another trip to my doctor two weeks ago, I am waiting for an appointment for a scan, to see if I have Endometriosis. What’s that? Well, Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (the endometrial stroma and glands, which should only be located inside the uterus) is found elsewhere in the body (endometriosis.org) and what it brings is hours of excruciating pain, painful bowel movements (and Irritable Bowel Syndrome type symptoms), heavy and painful periods, pains in the back and legs, fatigue, nausea, depression and a few other issues (Endometriosis-UK) which will inevitably vary between women, but can severely impact the quality of life for those suffering.
Whilst many people may laugh it off as ‘just period pains’ or someone being a ‘typical dramatic woman’, I strongly urge you to think twice before using these sorts of phrases, as this is so much more than that. I am talking about hours and hours of crippling pain, to the point where I cannot even walk to the toilet, or make myself a drink. It is lying in a bath for four hours because it is the only way to even slightly reduce the pain. It’s crying hysterically for hours because of the pain and nothing that will stop it. It is calling for an ambulance because something is clearly not right, only for them to take four hours to arrive and then give you a shot of morphine and say you’ll be fine in the morning. That is rarely the case.
Once an episode of pain starts, it can, in my situation, last for days. Sometimes weeks. Paracetamol? Ha! What a waste of time. It has absolutely no impact on the pain whatsoever. Hot water bottles? Most of the time the pressure of one being on my stomach only makes it worse. Eating? Why eat when I’m already bloated enough to look 5 months pregnant!? I would also like to quickly mention how awful the bloating can be. It’s painful, uncomfortable and also distressing being asked if I’m pregnant. No, I’m not. Don’t be so rude!
I have had months in the past where I have been in bed for up to 10 days, barely able to move from bed to bathroom. Some months the pain just carries on into the next month with barely any rest. Which has caused me to call in sick for work, only to be laughed at or been given written warnings for time off. Out of the three employers I have tried to explain my condition to, not one of them has even attempted to understand. I’ve had the typical, judgemental responses of, ‘you’ll just have to toughen up’ or ‘well all women get periods, get over it’ or something else along those lines. Is that really acceptable? No. I do not think so.
Endometriosis affects over 176 million women worldwide (Endofound) and people clearly need to be more aware of this illness, and stop dismissing it as period pains, woman troubles, or any other lame excuse people come up with, instead of doing some research and stop being so ignorant.
That’s all I have to say right now, as once again I’m dealing with a horrible amount of discomfort. I have prepared myself for the night ahead, and can only hope I can find a way of staying just slightly comfortable tonight.