If you’re suffering from Endometriosis or experiencing symptoms, always seek medical advice from your doctor for diagnosis and treatment options.
A little over a year ago, I was bedridden yet again — not from me endometriosis directly, but the threat of infertility made me decide to freeze my eggs just in case.
Once the very few eggs I managed to produce were removed from my body I felt strangely sad (like maybe they’d never be there again), in the worst physical pain I’ve ever felt, and utterly shattered.
Knowing that after all my body had been through from egg freezing, I’d likely need to do it again to secure a decent amount of eggs was depressing. I felt so lucky for the opportunity to use incredible technology and the fact I had a family that could afford it, but devastated that this was my life at 23. I should be renting a flat, not freezer space for unborn children.
For weeks I was so nauseous, fatigued and weak that I couldn’t walk up the street without feeling faint.
(I was told prior to freezing my eggs that some women go shopping after their egg retrieval or IVF and have no troubles at all, so PLEASE do not be put off by my experience. I have a history of extensive pain following surgical procedures around my reproductive organs where Endo is or has been, but we are all unique and your experience may be completely different to mine.)
I felt so frustrated that despite being a person who loved sport and thrived off exercise, I wasn’t up for it. Despite wanting to be a healthy person, I was constantly facing obstacles that prevented me from living a healthy, active life. Couldn’t work, couldn’t exercise, couldn’t stand up for long.
The photo at the top may seem a little or extremely shameless and/or vain, but when I compare it to these ones I feel nothing but pride:
April 2014: My second laparoscopy for Endo in 20 months. I had a shocking time recovering from this one.
November 2014: Daily hormone injections and blood tests at Genea in preparation for my first round of egg freezing.
November 2014: In this photo I have over 50 follicles growing in my ovaries due to ovarian stimulation/hormone injections for egg freezing. That’s 50 potential humans! I looked pregnant and felt like I was about to pop.
November 2014: Just before my egg retrieval surgery. I had no idea the pain I was about to be in when I woke up, but I managed to get seven perfect eggs retrieved and frozen for me to use one day if I need to.
November 2014: Following hours of screaming down Genea and frightening the staff and patients after my egg retrieval, I was eventually wheeled out to Dad’s car so my parents could drive me home at 20km an hour. I was in the worst pain I’ve felt. The staff at Genea were so patient and kind – they stayed open after closing hours to make sure I was OK.
October 2015: Thankfully I've had barely any of these days in the past year. This was a random endo flare-up I had right when all my final papers for uni were due at the end of last year. Luckily it wasn’t too bad, but this used to be how I spent so many days and nights for such a long time.
So looking at everything my body and my tummy has been through over the past year, I’m proud of its resilience to endure pain and surgeries and persevere and heal and mend after being sliced and cut and stitched; to then expand and shrink and produce seven perfect eggs that may be my future children; and then strengthen and crunch and make muscle.
It’s hard to believe my tummy allows me to do the things I ask of her after all that she’s been through. But she does. When I look at all these photos I feel astounded at all the things I’ve been through. Did they all really happen to me? Did I do all that in a year?
Listen: Sylvia Freedman speaks about her endo experience on the No Filter podcast. (Post continues after audio.)
Then when I look back to that photo at the top (December 2015) I feel bloody proud of my body. All those awful things – and look at her now. Strong. Healthy. Not giving up. Ready for whatever.
Getting my health back and being in control of it has been the greatest gift out of so many in the last few years. I wish the thousands of other women whose stories I’ve heard, and anyone else dealing with chronic pain or illness, could feel the same. Strength, energy and living without fear of pain tastes so much sweeter when you’ve lost them all. I will never take my health from granted as long as I live.
Lastly, human bodies are amazing things! Particularly female ones.
Mamamia's Endo Awareness Week, curated by Founder of EndoActive Syl Freedman, shines a light on a disease suffered by one in 10 Australian women. To read more from Endo Awareness Week, click here. If you'd like to find out more information on Endometriosis, Syl's story or Endo Active, visit endoactive.org.au and keep up to date on their Facebook page.