March (like every other month) is a busy time for awareness. But right now I'm going to prattle on for a bit about endometriosis, a disease that has a huge effect on girls and women and the way they live their lives.
Like the picture says- endo is caused by the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) getting out of the uterus somehow (scientists and doctors aren't sure and there's no conclusive evidence to support any one theory) and attaching itself to surrounding organs and tissue. If a woman has a normal cycle, that means that every time she has a period, the hormones in her body will signal the endometrial tissue outside the uterus to bleed and swell, which causes lesions, cysts, and scarring to build.
A lot of women are told to just "suck it up" when it comes to their periods. People are a bit more understanding nowadays than they were when I was in school but the general attitude is that all women deal with having a period, so you should just get over yourself. But if you're in enough pain that you cannot function normally, even after taking an OTC pain medication, then something is wrong.
A typical period for me starts with extreme heaviness in my abdomen and thighs, like my muscles have been replaced with cement that is burning hot. I have cramps that usually make it impossible for me to move- I usually end up crawling to the toilet. I'll have diarrhea and I'll be constipated, I'll usually get pretty nauseous and I'll be exhausted all the time. If it's a financially reasonable thing at the time (I take HBCP- hormonal birth control pills- continuously so that I have two or three periods a year) I will take a week off work because getting out of bed is almost impossible. Over the years I've learned that taking prenatal vitamins help a lot- not just with periods but with my endo symptoms as well. They contain extra B vitamins and extra iron, something most endo girls need to try to keep a handle on their symptoms.
A typical day for me starts out with pain. I don't sleep very well at night so I wake up and drag myself out of bed, quickly shove some cornflakes down my throat so I can take a pain pill. A lot of days I'll try to tough it out until I can't take it anymore, but that also means I do nothing but stare at the television with a glazed look in my eyes and a heat pack stuck to me at all times. I take Percocet for my pain.
One of the worst parts, at least for me, is the stigma that comes from taking prescription narcotic pain medication. I don't look sick. My illness is invisible. And I'm a young woman. So obviously there is no legitimate reason for me to be getting this medication, right? I try to let the comments roll off, but a lot of the time it's almost impossible- people think they can say whatever they want about your life because they want to be "helpful".
Some of the biggest fears for women with endo are things like infertility, disability, and early menopause (whether it's drug induced from medications like Lupron, or from having a complete hysterectomy at age 25). There is no cure, only treatments that may or may not work. The only way endo can be properly diagnosed is through a laparoscopic surgery. It will almost never show up on an imaging scan, like an ultrasound or MRI.
If you have any questions about endo, want more information, think you've got it and are looking for a doctor, have been diagnosed and want to join in, or just want me to prattle on because you love the sound of my voice (or the look of my words on your page 😉) please leave some comments. Let's bring out some awareness for the millions of women all over the world that are suffering from this invisible disease so that they don't have to suffer in silence and alone.
I would be happy to direct you to some excellent resources, great support groups on Facebook, and excellent doctors.
If you'd like to see more posts like these from me, I'm happy to do a few more on different topics (great doctors, different treatment options, excellent forms of relief that are not drug based, location-specific help, etc.) so that everyone can be better informed.
Information is power, GTers! 💛💛💛💛💛
And now, a message from baby cat-erpillar:
I sleeps like a ninja. 😸
As always, I miss and love you all. 💖