Living with endometriosis - from a mums perspective
"I'm so tired", a phrase I find myself repeating quite regularly, especially of late. OK so I run two businesses and have two children to look after. I suppose then, I can be forgiven for not feeling full of energy all of the time.
This tiredness I am talking about however is not a regular feeling sleepy and looking forward to bed kind of feeling. It is a feeling of pure and utter exhaustion. Sometimes I feel so exhausted that I can barely find the energy to allow words to leave my mouth. There are times when I am so exhausted I could literally crawl from the sofa to bed because my legs, at that moment, just do not feel like they have it in them to carry me there. The reason for feeling this way? It'ss just one of the unfortunate symptoms of endometriosis!!OK, let me try and begin by explaining just what endometriosis (endo for short) is. The invisible disease, as it is often referred to (purely because apart from rolling around in complete agony, there are actually no physical symptoms). Endometriosis is an extremely painful condition that affects approximately 10% of women worldwide. Each month, in women, cells that line the uterus break down and bleed, producing what we all know to be a period. In endo sufferers however, these cells, as well as being in the uterus are also found in other parts of the body. They behave exactly like those in the uterus, breaking down each month and resulting in bleeding. The difference here however, is that the blood produced from these cells has no way of escape. It causes debilitating pain for most women who suffer from it and it can affect every aspect of your work and home life.
I have suffered with endometriosis for most of my adult life, in fact the symptoms actually began in my teenage years. After years of unexplained pelvic pain, I was diagnosed via a laparoscopy operation (a small incision in the belly button area and the only way to accurately confirm the condition). In truth this diagnosis offered a sense of relief, as the invisible suffering I was enduring, now, finally had a reason behind it. It was also at the same time quite daunting. I had a long list of questions; how bad would the pain get? Would it prevent me from having children? Would it cause more serious illness? The list went on. The most shocking part of it all however was that the medical people I turned to for the answers, really, in all honesty, did not know much about how to answer many of the questions I had. That was down purely to the fact that the disease,back then was just not really recognised, I feel, within the medical community. It seemed to be a very specialist area and I had to search quite hard to find websites and forums to give me answers to the questions I had.
So I just kind of plodded on, dealing with the symptoms and trying my best to live with them. I have to admit that I did not suffer continuously year on year, there were times when I had some relief. For example when I became pregnant, my symptoms almost completely disappeared throughout the pregnancy and for quite some time after. The obvious reason for this being that you simply don't have a period during this time. I also experienced relief after my operation to remove the endometriosis. Although not completely pain free it did allow me to enjoy some time with very little symptoms. Unfortunately though, endometriosis can not be cured, only managed, and so it returned.
So fast forward 15 years and I am now a 36-year-old mother of two . Even though this mother spends at least a week out of each month with a very swollen stomach, abdominal and back pain and that sheer exhaustion I mentioned earlier, I am extremely fortunate to be able to say I am a mother. Of all of the suffering I have endured from this awful condition, it did not take away my ability to have children and I will be eternally grateful for that. I understand everyone's journey is different, everyone will have different symptoms and the affect it has on one woman's life will be different to that of another. The thing I will say however, is that if you have recently been diagnosed with endometriosis please please do not allow yourself to be overcome with fear that it will affect your journey into motherhood. I am just one example that this is not the case and I know so many women who have become mothers whilst living with this disease.
Endometriosis in 2021 seems to have a much bigger voice. There are many women in the public eye now advocating for a better understanding around exactly what endometriosis is and the affect it can have on a woman's daily life. Comedian and actress Amy Schumer recently went public with her battle with the disease in a bid to raise awareness and encourage other women to seek help if they suspect they have it.
I can honestly say that now