Kia ora, I’m Beth. I’m 24 and this is a glimpse into my endo journey.
For as long as I can remember since getting my period at 13, I have battled with long & extremely heavy & painful periods. I remember not thinking much of it besides “I guess I just received the short end of the stick.” However, what I didn’t realise was that having to leave class in high school in tears, nearly vomiting from cramps to go get pain relief and heat packs from the nurse was not normal. But I continued to accept that that was just my normal.
I’ve had more days than I can count where I could barely get out of bed due to the pain, but downed a cocktail of painkillers, put a smile on my face and headed out the door to go about my day. To go about my day as though my insides didn’t feel like scolding hot barbed wire wringing itself out or a lower back made out of shattered glass.
“Are you okay?” My response was always “I’m fine.” Because “I’m fine” is easier than telling people I’m not okay but I don’t know really know why.
In 2020 after 3 days or horrific cramping outside of my normal cycle I got sent to hospital for suspected appendicitis. I pleaded with the hospital staff to please have a look for possible endometriosis whilst they were in there operating. I was told they would. Post surgery & out of my anaesthetic haze, the first question I asked was “did they look for endometriosis?” I didn’t care about my appendix or how the surgery went, only if they had done the one thing I’d asked and said they would do.
“I’m sorry but I don’t believe they looked, there are no notes.”
Quite possibly one of the only moments of my life where everything went completely silent. I was deflated. I knew that if I wanted that diagnosis & answer to so many of my questions that I was going to need another abdominal surgery.
Fast forward a year later and I had found an amazing gynaecologist who took me seriously and had booked me in for a diagnostic laparoscopy. Before I went under he told me “If you come out with 3 scars, we didn’t find anything. If you come out with 4 then we found endo.” The last thing I remember before going under was being terrified of only coming out with 3 scars, because if not endo… what then?
Post operation, the first thing I did was check my stomach & sure enough there were 4 plasters covering up the 4 incisions. A bittersweet moment as it confirmed what we were confident we already knew, but it was the damning evidence of a long, long journey ahead.
2 years has passed since that operation and many, many pelvic ultrasounds, specialist appointments, mris, blood tests, sleepless nights, hospital visits just to get good pain relief & a decent night sleep, days of barely holding it together and it looks like the endo has crept back sooner than it was welcome to. It’ll likely be abdominal surgery number 3 before the age of 25. “Why me?” “What did I do to deserve this?” Constant thoughts that run through my mind. They are often joined by stronger, scarier thoughts & I am so so glad that I am strong enough to dismiss them because that would too easily open up another world of pain than the physical one I currently bare. Endometriosis is a serious condition and I am so glad that awareness is spreading & gaining traction. It is not just “painful periods” it is an awful debilitating whole body & life encompassing condition.
My heart goes out to my teenage self & other girls who don’t quite understand the journey they are about to embark on. Whilst, no it hasn’t gotten better, no it hasn’t been “cured” there are some answers & a whole community of support. And that is major.