health

"It took 14 years for me to realise my period pain was not normal."

Imagine being punched in the stomach continuously. Or someone sticking nails into your lower abdomen.

For me, that’s what endometriosis felt like.

Yes, I know, the common thought is that every girl suffers from period pain, grow a pair and deal with it. But, for those who suffer with endo, the sad reality is that the monthly pain is completely debilitating.

For those lucky enough to catch the pain early, before it sets right in, Nurofen Plus or Panadeine Forte will usually help you at least get out of bed, but taking strong pain killers monthly really isn’t ideal.

Another symptom I suffered with was constantly feeling sick in the stomach. Every time I drank alcohol or ate certain foods, I would feel off for days. In hindsight, I was naive to think these experiences were at all “normal”. I had no idea that the period I was getting since I was 14 years old, and the nausea I had constantly, wasn’t healthy and certainly wasn’t normal.

So, as all good, caring mothers do, mine took me to several doctors when I was a teenager suffering severe cramps each month. I was simply told to go on the pill, so that’s what I did.

The good news is, the pain certainly lessened for the whole eight years I was on the pill. The bad news is, it was only masking the internal problems I had, which were progressively getting worse by the year.

Things guys need to know about endo…

I went off the pill about six years ago and those dreaded cramps came right on back, but with a vengeance. Once again, I was back on the endo train, struggling monthly for years trying everything from pain killers and hot water bottles, to essential oils and creams that promised to ease the pain. Of course, nothing worked. Then, a couple of months ago, I decided to do my own research and sort this out once and for all.

I was turned away from two doctors who said period pain is normal. Nothing ever showed up in my internal ultrasounds, so I was told everything was fine. But I knew it wasn’t. I spoke with friends and family about their experience, even my sister didn’t suffer through the same type of pain I was experiencing. It wasn’t normal.

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I saw a third doctor who said to me “you could have endometriosis, but I doubt it”. But this was enough for me to insist on digging deeper. I was told that the only way to know for sure is to get a laparoscopy, which is key hole surgery. The sucky thing about endo, is that it can’t be diagnosed without surgery. The good thing about endo, is they can diagnose and treat it in the same surgery. A laparoscopy in Australia costs around $1,600 – so it’s not cheap, but I knew in my gut something would be found, so I proceeded. One week later, I was in Liverpool Private Hospital dressed in a gown and ready to be poked and prodded.

Just before they put me under, my doctor said to me, “look, chances are we won’t find anything today, but at least we will be able to cross endo off for you”. Four hours later I was out of surgery, diagnosed and treated for stage 3 endometriosis. Yep, you heard correctly. Not only was endo found, it had already progressed to stage 3 which is one step before it becomes extremely hard to treat.

My surgery took four hours and was considered complex, but they managed to cut out every bit of endo, leaving a clean, clear pelvis. I spent the night in hospital which sucked. I was woken up every hour on the hour by a nurse checking my blood pressure and prodding around my incisions. But she was lovely, so I didn’t mind.

My amazing husband also spent the night with me which made the whole experience so much better.

I am sharing my experience with you all to simply raise awareness.

Endometriosis is not talked about enough. One in ten women are affected, and it takes women an average of seven years to get diagnosed.

If you suffer with severe period pain, please know that it is not normal and if you feel something is wrong, go with your gut and look into it further.

If I had caught the disease 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have had to suffer all this time. I am, however, grateful that I have been able to have it diagnosed and treated now.

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