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It’s 3rd Period Geography I’m in 6th form at high school and I slip to the bathroom just outside the classroom doors, I slide down the wall of the stall and onto the cold floors, my head rested against the porcelain toilet, pain and nausea overwhelm my body. I remember the feelings of pain and nausea my period gave me and the above scenario repeating itself many times from the moment I got my period at 11. Heavy bleeding, pain, nausea, fatigue and more have invaded my life for as long as I can remember for 5 days a month. I’ve been for countless visits to doctors who have diagnosed anaemia and prescribed Iron supplements which make no difference, I’ve been diagnosed with IBS and I’ve suffered with the pain, taking days off work or fighting through my day filled with pain and unbearable bleeding. Doctors were phenomenal and thorough but never was a referral to a gynaecologist considered, testing for PCOS was done and the diagnosis was eliminated, I was referred to a rheumatologist for the inflammation and placed on a 6-month symptom watch, another frustrating obstacle in this journey. I was frustrated at the lack of progress and the circles looping back when my doctor retired and so I sat and talked with my amazing pharmacist who had supported me throughout the past 18 months struggling with depression, anaemia, fatigue, pain and the turmoil of the medication and supplement changes and the circles that just continued to loop round. Just a few days after our conversation, one that challenged me but also gave me hope I found myself sitting in her gynaecologist’s office, luckily enough to have private health insurance, this was an appointment which could change the past 18 months of frustration and the years of pain prior. And it did, she was patient and kind, thorough and unbelievably knowledgeable and there was no doubt in her mind something was going on. A Month later I found myself waking in recovery from surgery where this incredible woman had just removed endometriosis, and scar tissue through a diagnostic laparoscopy as well as a number of polyps from in my uterus via hysteroscopy, this diagnosis along with a confirmed PCOS diagnosis was a relief, but also a shock. The endometriosis although minimal still a valid reason for my pain and discomfort, the scar tissue a leading factor in the pain I was experiencing and the polyps likely the leading cause of my unbearable bleeding and in turn anaemia, the polyps alone a rare occurrence in a 25 year old. I had gone into surgery believing what everyone had instilled in my mind for the years prior; medical professionals, colleagues, friends, and family telling me the chronic pain, fatigue, anaemia and discomfort I was feeling was normal, and anything more than that was all just in my head, that I needed to get out and exercise more and eat better, that my pain and illness wasn’t an excuse to be staying home in bed when I just didn’t have enough spoons to make it through the day. But now I know although these things will improve my lifestyle, the pain, the fatigue, the inflammation has all been incredibly real. I’m so excited to continue on the recovery journey, physically still sore after surgery and mentally adjusting to the road ahead. I’m so grateful for the incredible health professionals I’ve found in my life, my pharmacist who has gone above and beyond, stood by me, made me laugh through the tears and pain and been real in experience to make mine a less scary road travelled, the medical professionals in the private hospital who cared and worked with such respect especially for this anxiety fuelled 25 year old who was so uncomfortable with the intrusions of my personal space. These diagnosis will not defeat me, I’m now inspired to speak out more for those with Endo to raise awareness and encourage others to share their journeys. I know I’m one of the lucky ones with Stage I vs Stage IV but as someone who was never told by my GP that this was a possibility I want to make sure that everyone is taught to advocate for themselves just as my pharmacist has taught and supported me to advocate for myself, because if we feel something isn’t quite right with our body its likely we are right, no matter what others may say, you know your body better than anyone else. I never realised I would feel my uterus physically contract itself during menstruation but the vivid feeling that I know when my uterus is contracting and expanding again has become a constant pillar of pain during my monthly cycle.

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