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The Journey Started;

When I began puberty and I was twelve; however all through my childhood I had sore stomachs, which we thought were directly linked to having anxiety. This is partly true. I remember many hot water bottles, many painkillers, laying on the floor not being able to move because of the pain. Anxiety is so tough; taxing on the body. At the same age I started to play football. The football coach asked us to run several times a week. I remember on one occasion I was out running and the pain hit, I thought to myself that I was just unfit, and if I kept going and pushed through the pain, then it would become easier. Shortly after I started to lose my vision, the pain in my abdomen got worse and I fell to the ground crying. Again we thought this was anxiety related, as the symptoms had subsided for the time being. Many A&E visits and doctors appointments resulted in my doctor diagnosing me with severe anxiety at age fourteen. Taking the doctor’s word for it was the best I could do at the time. It wasn’t until I finished high school and moved to Wellington to start studying at university, that it became worse. I had this job, about a two hour commute out of the city, Teaching young ones to swim. I loved it to start with, it made a lot of sense that I would work there, I spent most of my early childhood at the local pool, swimming laps. Now whenever I had pain I thought it was from being tired, working my body in a positive way, and not getting much rest. Soon it got to a point that I was in so much agony, that getting out of bed was onerous. Once again I put this down to a symptom of my anxiety, with the added stresses of living in a new town, new job, everything being so unfamiliar, it was a massive uprooting of a lifestyle coming from a small country town to the Capital city. Eventually I started skipping days of work because I couldn’t physically move, and I would start leaving my classes at university early, so I could try relax even for just a moment. I couldn’t explain my pain to my boyfriend at the time. We both could not figure out why I would faint, shake, and then go limp. Why I would scream when I moved my legs. We both thought I was going crazy and over reacting. “Just get some sleep, it will be okay” I told myself. The year ended with much the same stuff happening. After hearing the same things over and over, offers of antidepressants, contraception changes, with no positive result, I decided that I needed people to take me seriously.   The doctors would explain my pain away with words such as “this is fine and normal, every woman has pain”. Several times I didn’t leave the doctors office until someone gave me answers that made more sense. I knew in myself that this wasn’t okay. Over the next few months I took up doing meditation daily, and yoga. This helped a lot with my symptoms. I was tired of explaining to ‘the professionals’ that the pain was more than your average period cramps. I could feel it, and I knew that I wasn’t being dramatic. All of my doctors up to this point had been female, but I changed to Doctor Karl whom I can only describe as ‘an absolute legend’. He was the first ‘professional’ to listen to my story, and note that all my symptoms, while many showed I did have anxiety, the severity of the pain I was enduring was not normal. He was shocked at how bloated my abdomen looked and observed how I struggled to move without pain. He made the decision to refer me to a gynecologist. I was barely able to walk when I attended my appointment. My specialist asked me to move my legs so that they could see what was going on, however due to fact I was always so tense, my muscles had trained themselves to stay that way to try dull my discomfort. My specialist was shocked; and stated that at Eighteen years old, I really should be more flexible. We had a long conversation about Endometriosis, something in which I had heard of but not been too informed about. An hour later I was booked in for investigative laparoscopy  surgery. It was overwhelming. After years of going in circles with no results, things were starting to roll, and roll fast.. I was terrified. A few months later, my good friend took me to get my papers signed, and information/questions about my surgery all cleared up. I then met my surgeon Dr Abels, whom was incredibly kind and made me feel very comfortable. The hospital I was in was modern, I got my own room, and delicious food, the atmosphere was very relaxing. I was only to have a day surgery – A Mirena placed in my uterus, in hopes of putting the endometrial gland to sleep and stop the pain and bleeding. My mother never left my side during the whole process. She helped me get home after the surgery and nursed me for the two days I was home. I will never feel as if i can say thank you enough to her for all she has done for me. I fell terribly ill on the third day of my recovery. Mum booked me in to see the nurse for a check up at my GP. I was drowsy, I couldn’t walk, could barely talk, my temperature was fluctuating from freezing to incredibly hot, nor could I breathe well. We suspected that I had reacted to my antibiotics. I was in agony, as my gp tried to examine me with fail. Trying to attach me to a saline drip and failing, a call for the ambulance officers was made. On return to the hospital, the doctors tried to attach me to a saline drip, they struggled to get it in as my body started to shut down. My heart rate was extremely high and my blood pressure ridiculously low. I was given a concoction of about six different antibiotics to see if anything would change. Five hours later, and no improvement. I was far too exhausted to be frightened at this point. Again my mother never left my side. Soon my father and his partner arrived, which relieved my mother of all the stress she was feeling, with her youngest child so ill. At this point I’d had X-rays and blood tests, the doctors thought maybe the mirena had moved which might be what was causing it, but it was still in place. They decided on an emergency surgery. As they thought that maybe the first laporoscapy possibly perforated my bowels. During surgery the doctors had noticed a strange substance on my intestines, which they believed had been causing the pain. All of my organs were taken out and washed, and placed back inside me. Two hours later, I had all the organs I went under with, and they were all in tact. What is suspected is that my body was rejecting the mirena, and no one had thought to take it out before surgery, to see if it would help the illness. Afterwards, my gynecologist removed it, and I was diagnosed with a form of toxic shock. I was monitored in the hospital for a week after the surgery, before I was allowed to return home. This was a very painful and exhausting week for me and my family. I thought I would feel this way forever and had convinced myself I would never be strong enough to leave the hospital. I am still coming to terms with the fact that the doctors admitted to maybe not having to do the second surgery. Of course all I can do is be grateful for such an amazing, fast thinking team in Wellington hospital. The love and support of everyone over the past year has been crazy. I cry often thinking about how much love I have for everyone who has supported me through my journey so far. And how I want to support and love you all forever in return. I hope in sharing my story that others can have the strength to speak their truth

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