Endometriosis is a disease where tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus grows in places in the body where it shouldn’t. It follows your monthly cycle, and causes inflammation and pain. Prior to Valentine’s Day 2018, I dealt with chronic pain and other related symptoms of Endometriosis (Endo) for 10 years. Although, when I look back at my life through my teenage years, I had symptoms that started as soon as my cycles started. I thought it was normal, as many women do, and brushed it off as an “oh well, I’ve heard that cramps are supposed to be painful, and bleeding can be heavy I guess”. I was on some form of hormonal birth control to try to control cycles and pain for 10 years, yet my symptoms were always there. The hormones in the birth control did seem to help a little, and I just kind of accepted that this was my life and what I was going to deal with.
I tried many different things over the course of six years. I researched and tried a lot of herbal supplements to try to balance hormones, relieve pain, shorten cycles, etc. I cut out certain foods and I also went to acupuncture regularly. While all of this seemed to help a little, that nagging and sometimes extremely sharp, knife-like pain never went away. It just got worse as time went on. I cried a lot and suffered in silence most of the time. I didn’t want to talk about my pain because I didn’t want to seem weak or like I was unnecessarily complaining. A few times when I had opened up to someone other than my spouse or family, it seemed as if no one really understood what I was going through. I was in pain for three weeks out of a month, on average. I also had nausea, headaches, iron-deficiency anemia, extreme fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, abdominal swelling and bloating, and infertility. I couldn’t exercise regularly due to pain. I had days where I could barely walk because it felt as if someone was taking a knife and stabbing me through my “undercarriage”, and like my left ovary was in a vice grip and was being twisted for hours at a time. I tried my best to deal with the pain and never really expressed to anyone that I was suffering so much. It was depressing. I just wanted to be strong and fix myself, but nothing was working long-term and I was really frustrated.
I will be forever grateful to Dr. Palmer, and to everyone who assisted with my surgery and helped to take care of me. I’m thankful for my family, and my wonderful, supportive husband who has been by my side for the past seven years. I’m thankful to be a dog mom to my fur baby, Daisy. While things aren’t exactly the way I’d like them to be, I’ve accepted the cards that I’ve been dealt, and I have a new outlook on life. After all these years, I’m finally able to live my life without chronic pain. I’m able to exercise, and I’m training for my first ever long run – a 10 mile race! I can’t wait to go hiking and enjoy other outdoor activities this year without pain and fatigue. I will continue to be a voice, and to bring awareness to this horrible disease. By sharing my experience, and becoming more involved in advocacy efforts, I hope to do everything that I can to help others in their journey. Please don’t continue to suffer in silence like I did. Pain is not normal! Sending out love to all of my fellow Endo Warriors this Valentine’s Day!
Countdown to the 2019 Minnesota Endo March