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Endometriosis/PCOS from an ethnic persons point of view

It all started when I turned 11. Thinking “finally! being a woman is exciting!” Being able to dress up, wear makeup, have a nicer body. Little did I know, being a woman has it’s own challenges. At the age 14 I started having extensive period pain, delays, and lots of heavy bleeding. I always complained to my mum about the my symptoms but she always said that “it’s normal” or “it’s because of school stress” and to “drink tea or take ibuprofen”. Over the years, the pain kept getting worse. I started increasing the dosage of painkillers until the point that it no longer was effective. My pain was very intense to the point that I’d be vomiting for days and shivering. This led me to miss school on so many days. As the years passed, I have finally turned 18 and moved back back to New Zealand to pursue my Bachelors degree (in 2018). Within a year, I gained 10kgs which I thought was very odd and I still continued to suffer from the same symptoms. I signed up with the uni clinic and decided to book an appointment. I’ll never forget when I saw the doctor using google and printing out papers telling me to try to take tranexamic acid and the mini pill without explaining to me why I should take them. In my head I knew that was not the answer so I switched with Tui medical. Later in 2020, one of my older sisters got diagnosed with Endometriosis and had surgery overseas at a the age of 30. Once she explained to me her symptoms it all made sense to me. I then booked an appointment at Tui medical explaining to my gp my symptoms and that my sister has endometriosis. She told me that “these aren’t good enough symptoms for a referral”. I started begging her, about to cry just so that she can refer me because I was sick and tired of the pain. She told me that she will try but can’t guarantee me anything. Two weeks later, I received a phone call from the Waikato DHB to come in for a scan. I was diagnosed with PCOS. My gp from Tui apologized to me and since then I switched from Tui medical. The hospital prescribed me a contraceptive pill to “regulate my period” but instead, my symptoms were getting worse such as constant period for 6 months, acne, and weight gain. I was switched on to three different contraceptive pills which didn’t improve anything. I then waited for 6 months for my follow-up but didn’t hear back from the Hospital. I struggled throughout uni as well as part time jobs with dealing with the pain. I was worried of getting fired if I took a lot of sick leave sick or failing if I missed any assignments/exams. In 2021, I had finally graduated and started my first full-time job which had some good advantages such as health insurance. I remembered that one of my close uni friends got diagnosed with endo in 2019 and recommended me that if I ever went through the private health sector, that I should see a gyno. I had finally booked an appointment with a gyno and was also diagnosed with endometriosis on top of having PCOS. Every time I was diagnosed with something new, it affected mentally as well. Being told that you might have fertility issues, pain, never having a normal life was tough for me as a 22 year old. My surgery date had finally come, and I underwent laparoscopic surgery. Once I woke up, I was told later that on top of having PCOS and endometriosis, The surgeon found 2 large cysts in my left ovary’s also known as “ovarian endometrium”. My doctor told me that if my cysts were only 1-2mm bigger then I would have had to undergo a hysterectomy which meant that they would have to remove my ovary and I can no longer conceive children. I bursted into tears not knowing whether I should be grateful that it was caught at an earlier stage or being sad that it took this long to find out what was wrong. I wasn’t allowed to have any visitors because of COVID restrictions during surgery and I was extremely scared as I have never went through a full anesthetic surgery before. As soon as I woke up, I received calls from friends and family. I felt extremely grateful for all the support that I had. This journey reminded me of the real reason why I am fighting. It was for my family, loved ones, friends, and other fighters out there. On that same my mum called my sister from overseas crying to her and blaming herself for telling me that the period pain, missed, Delayed period was normal. I don’t blame my mum for not knowing what is endometriosis, pcos, etc are. I blame today’s society for not raising awareness especially in the public health sector. I myself never knew what it was until recently. At one point, I believed that pain and missed periods are normal and some women were just luckier than others. To all my other fellow ladies that suffer from pain, denial from doctors, and neglect from society, please never think never less of yourself and follow your instincts. Never let people tell you that it’s in your head or pain is normal. No one deserves experience this amount of suffering. I now look at the scars on my stomach from my surgery and remind myself of the journey that I have went through and will forever to continue to fight my chronic illness not only for myself, but for those that are struggling as well as my loved ones.

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