Hopefully by this time in two weeks I will be in recovery.
I will be travelling back to Birmingham to have surgery at the Women’s Hospital. This isn’t something that I’ve spoken much about with people so putting it out there for anyone to read is kind of scary but I believe that it’s such an important matter to talk about.
I’ve been in pain for over 10 years now, and back in January I went private to an endometriosis specialist (big up Prof. Clark!) who confirmed my years of pain to one diagnosis.
I had never heard endometriosis before last year. After one bad episode landed me an emergency doctors appointment who called me an ambulance immediately, confirmed that I needed to see a specialist, the waiting list was ridiculous but my amazing mom managed to scrape together some money for me to see somebody privately.
In the initial appointment I met with Professor Clark who was incredibly understanding and attentive, referring me for scans and surgery.
For me, this whole situation is bittersweet; finally having an answer for my years of pain is something I only ever dreamed of, but the harsh reality of it all terrifies me.
When I first began my period I was in agony: cramping intensely, throwing up, passing out, missing school. I have quite a high tolerance for pain, probably due to a lifetime of hypermobility syndrome, but this knocked me for six every time I was due on.
I went to the doctor who told me this was normal. I went to several doctors who told me the same, until one finally agreed to put me on the contraceptive pill to help with pain and hormone management. I was never prescribed any pain relief, as I think the doctors thought I was making up just how much pain I was in, but thankfully for me I was already taking strong painkillers for my joint issues.
After years (around 7) of constantly changing my pill due to it being ineffective, and a hospital trip with intense migraines and feeling like my body was shutting down, I was taken off the combined pill and moved onto the mini pill. This change was significant for me for around 7 months; it curbed a lot of the pain and allowed me to get on with my life. After 7 months it started to lose it’s effectivity and the pains were now worse than ever, missing uni and having several trips to A&E.
So for me, my consultation with Professor Clark was life changing. After years of being told that my pain was normal for any girl who was menstruating, and to just deal with it, somebody finally believed my pain.
But, things only got more frustrating from here on out. I had an ultrasound scan, which showed a significant amount of fluid around one of my ovaries and the technician explained to me that this would’ve probably happened by a series of cysts on my ovaries popping. I then got on the waiting list for surgery to examine my womb and remove any endometriosis.
The wait has been long, in a couple of ways. This has felt like the longest 8 months of my life waiting for this surgery, but to be totally honest, the past 10 years have been the cruelest waiting game for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I have never been so excited for something, even if it is totally daunting!
I am not worried about the surgery, or about being put to sleep, I’m solely worried about what will happen after my surgery. I’m anxious to find out what happens, what they find, if they manage to remove anything or if they have to do more than expected.
It has been 10 long years waiting for what is about to happen.
I feel so grateful to have found such an incredible specialist surgeon who believes in me and wants to treat me, I just can’t help but wish this was all discovered years ago.
Female reproductive health knowledge is slim, and that honestly breaks my heart because endometriosis is so much more common than anyone believes, just because professionals aren’t well equipped in knowledge about it.
Too many girls are dealing with agony for too long unnecessarily because of this, too many girls are being disbelieved and too many girls are being told that their pain is normal.
Period symptoms are meant to be uncomfortable, not painful. If you are writhing around in agony, passing out, throwing up, and in debilitating pain, then it is not normal. That is not period pain that is something else. I am by no means a doctor but the difference between pain with endometriosis and “period symptoms” is extortionate. Every body is different and I truly believe that it is time that more people are aware of what is “normal” and what is not.
Waiting 10 years for an answer is not good enough, and to be honest, waiting any significant period (pardon the pun) of time for an answer is not good enough.
If you are concerned that your period pain is more than period pain, please go and see a doctor, and badger them until you get answers. Take the contraceptive pill and if it doesn’t work then demand to be referred to a gynaecologist or a specialist.
I’ve rambled for a while but just to conclude:
It’s time to remove the stigma around periods and pain, let’s quit being embarrassed about talking about our amazing bodies and what they are capable of. Nobody knows your body like you do and you should put tremendous amount of trust in that.
Female reproductive health is massively important, just as important as any other health concern and it’s time we all took it seriously and spoke more openly about it.
I am a woman, I bleed from my vagina and I deserve the healthcare that my body is entitled to.
Here are some handy links for more info on endometriosis: