Monday, 23 March 2015

Endometriosis Awareness - Leandri's Story

Leandri Laubscher is another of the inspirational women I met through the Endometriosis Warriors Facebook Group.

 If you are in South Africa, and have been diagnosed with Endometriosis, please join us! We even have a spouse support group!

1.       Please tell my readers a little bit more about yourself, your family, career etc?

I am currently 26 years old, turning 27 in August. 
I have two addictions in life - tattoos and coffee.  I am a "coffeeholic" and cannot start my day without my first "cuppa", with that said I am not a morning person at all and am in my element over weekends when I get to sleep late.  I enjoy shopping, which girl doesn't and using hubby's card is an added bonus. I also enjoy spending time with friends that are very close to my heart, these are the people I trust and I know I can rely on.  I absolutely love animals and if my husband didn't stop me, I would most probably take in every stray animal I see. Talking about my husband, I am a hopeless romantic at heart and believe in fairy tale endings.  I married my best friend (we attended the same school since grade 1) and high school sweetheart in November 2013.
I am a personal assistant to a financial planner and really enjoy my job as I get to interact with clients and like to build a relationship with each one of them to get to know them a bit better on a personal level and not just another client.

2.       At what age where you diagnosed with Endometriosis and what initial symptoms prompted you to seek medical advice?

I was diagnosed in September 2012, 6 months after having an ovarian cyst removed laparoscopically and was 23 years old and was in the process of planning my wedding.  Initially I thought that the ovarian cyst had come back because the pain and symptoms were similar.  After running a few tests, the results for all the tests were negative, the gynae at the time decided to do investigative surgery.  The night before the operation I started to think that I am going crazy and that the pain was all in my head.  With a lot of emotions going through me, I went for the surgery the next day.  The gynae came to me post-op and diagnosed me with Endometriosis.  After being diagnosed I had mixed feelings.  I was relieved to find out that the pain was not just in my head, but I was also confused because I had no idea what Endometriosis was.

3.       Do you have any other medical issues which complicate your Endometriosis diagnosis (eg. PCOS, IBS)?

No, I have no other medical issues that complicate my Endometriosis.

4.       Have you shared your diagnosis with others? If so, what reactions have you encountered on sharing your story and diagnosis with others?  If not, what has stopped you from talking about it?

I have shared my diagnosis with others, most family, friends and work colleagues.  These were people that knew I had gone for surgery and wanted to know what the outcome was.    The most popular response I got when sharing my diagnosis - "What is Endometriosis?", followed by confused expressions when I explained to them.   Because I don't look sick, it is hard for people to understand.  They also don't get as to why I have to have the same surgery over and over.    

5.       Have you been for surgery? What other avenues of treatment have you explored?

I have to date been for 5 surgeries to have the Endometriosis removed.  The most recent operation was done on 21 January 2015.  I opted to get a second opinion and he also operated and confirmed Endometriosis.  He has also informed me that I have a high risk for recurrence.
I have not tried any other avenues for treatments.

6.       How would you say living with Endometriosis affects your daily life, including work and relationships?

Living with Endometriosis has affected my entire life! 
The pain being the worst.  I have booked off sick or left work early on so many occasions because of having too much pain.  The pain also hinders me to do daily activities.  I literally just lie in bed with my warm water bottle, pain killers, hoping and praying that the pain will pass soon.  It is a pain that is indescribable!
Endometriosis has not affected my relationship with my husband too much.  I am one of the lucky ones I guess, who has a husband that is supportive.  For every surgery he takes leave from work to sit at my hospital bedside.  He sits with me in pre-op holding my hand as the tears roll down my face, making silly jokes to take my mind off the surgery ahead.  I hate surgery!  When I get back to my ward after surgery, he is always there waiting.  We have had some fights about Endometriosis but that is because he hates seeing me in pain and there is nothing that he can do about it and also he cannot understand how there can be no cure for Endometriosis. I am truly blessed to have him support me and no words will ever be adequate to thank him enough. 

7.       What is one thing you wish you knew about Endometriosis when you were first diagnosed?

The one thing I wish I knew about Endometriosis when I was diagnosed would be to have had more information on the disease.  I did not even know that this diseases existed until the gynae diagnosed me with it and explained to me what is was.   More awareness should be made about this disease.

8.       How would you describe what it feels like living with Endometriosis?

Living with Endometriosis is a constant battle between physical, mental and emotional pain for me.  Yes, I can take pain killers for the physical pain and wait for the pain to subside, but then there is the mental and emotional pain which no one, except someone who is living with Endometriosis, will understand.  It can sometimes consume.  It definitely drains you.  Getting my hopes up with every gynae visit that it will not result in another operation, only to be informed that I need to have another operation.  People have said to me that you cannot be "sick" referring to the Endometriosis because you look so healthy.  Yes, I look healthy but in the inside it is a whole different story.  When I get undressed either to change or have a bath, I see and feel the scars left behind from all the operations and this is a constant reminder that I have Endometriosis - a disease, yet not life threatening, for which there is no cure! 

9.       What advice do you have for other ladies suffering from Endometriosis?

My advice to other ladies suffering from Endometriosis is to stay strong!
Be positive.  Don't be afraid to talk about your feelings, even if you write about them. Remember that you are not alone.  Find a support group where you are able to talk to people that are going through the same experience as you.  There are others out there suffering from the same disease. 
When it comes to your gynae, do not be afraid to ask questions, do your own research and arm yourself with sufficient knowledge so you can ask questions, and if you are not happy with something speak up.  Also if something doesn't sound right to you or you are not comfortable with something, get a second, or even third, opinion if you need to. 
This disease does not define who you are.  I often tell my husband that my biggest wish it to want to be normal and the one day he said to me that with Endometriosis I need to accept and adapt as this is now my "normal".
Take it one step at a time, one day at a time and don't ever give up!

10.   What have you learnt about yourself while living with Endometriosis?

I have learnt and realised that no matter what life throws at me, I will always walk away stronger.  Things happens for a reason.  Like the saying goes, "When life gives you lemons, take a shot of tequila". 

11.   What are your fears regarding your future living with Endometriosis?

My fears regarding my future living with Endometriosis is the uncertainty that lies ahead - not sure what the outcome at the next gynae visit will be etc.  Being unable to know what is about to happen next or what will come has always been one of my fears.  I am a very organised person and I like to plan ahead, but with Endometriosis this is not possible!
 
12.   What is your one message for the community, regarding Endometriosis and living with the disease?

This in an "invisible" and sometimes misunderstood disease.  We look and come across looking healthy but inside is another story.  It is not as easy as you think to just take a Neurofen and lie down for bit.  It is also not just a case of "We all have painful period".  You will and cannot understand what we are going through and it is not always possible to explain.  

13.   Anything else you would like to share?


I saw this beautiful quote not too long ago : " It might take a year, it might take a day, but what is meant to be will always find its way".


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