Tuesday, 3 March 2015

My Endometriosis Journey

I was diagnosed with Endometriosis on March 15, 2013. March also happens to be Endometriosis Awareness Month, so I will be sharing my journey, and the journeys of a few incredible women with you.

Endometriosis is a incurable disease affecting up to 1 in every 10 women. In simple terms, endometriosis is caused when the lining of the inside of a woman's uterus (endometrial lining), starts growing on the outside of the uterus, on the ovaries, intestines, bladder etc. These excess cells continue to function as endometrial cells, thickening, shedding, and bleeding with each menstrual cycle. The excess tissue gets trapped within the body, leading to irritation of surrounding organs, which can cause scar tissue and adhesion's, which binds organs together.

Symptoms of endometriosis include painful periods, pain during intercourse, pain with bowel movements or urination, excessive bleeding, and infertility. Although most women admit to pain during their menstrual cycle, women with endometriosis experience so much pain that it interferes with their daily life, putting strain on relationships and work life, and in many cases leading to depression.

The cause of endometriosis is not known, and there is also no definite cure. Most patients undergo countless surgeries, intense dietary changes, lifestyle changes, hormone therapy and pain therapy just to keep in under control.

I count myself under the lucky ones, and have a very mild case. I have always struggled with painful, heavy periods, but after the birth of both my children, things seemed to get a little better. From 2012, however, my menstrual cycle become very painful and heavy again. I experienced intense pelvic pain throughout the month, cramps that had me double up in pain. Intercourse was incredibly painful. I tried various hormone treatment, none of which made much difference. Pelvic scans revealed nothing noteworthy, and after quite a few months of searching and struggling, my gynaecologist suggested a Laparoscopy.

The surgery was painful, recovery was hard, but I was relieved to finally have a confirmed diagnosis and a treatment plan. They removed several white and chocolate endometrial masses, a few cysts, and scar tissue from my uterus. I had a Mirena (IUD) inserted during the surgery to help control the heavy bleeding, and my doctor wanted to prescribe further hormonal treatment which I refused. Endometriosis seems to feed off the oestrogen in your body, and the medication he wanted to put me on would halt excess oestrogen production. I felt I was too young to be messing with my hormones in such an intense way.

Things seemed to improve after surgery. My pain levels were manageable, my period disappeared all together thanks to the Mirena. I was convinced my endometriosis was under control, and for about 7 months everything seemed to be going well.

Slowly, however, my pain increased, I was swollen and uncomfortable again, I had stabbing pains under my rib cage that left me gasping for breath. Disheartened, I went back to the gynaecologist. I had a few cysts on my ovaries, which I was treated for, but my pain levels didn't subside. He wanted to book me for another surgery (less than a year after my previous one), but again I refused. I researched alternative treatment, and finally found a homeopathic doctor close to home.

My sessions with the homeopath were life savers! For once, I was treated as a whole, not just as a collection of symptoms. My levels were all over the place, and even the doctor said I was a mess. After a thorough treatment session, we discovered that I am gluten sensitive as well. Within 2 treatments, I felt like a new person. My levels were all almost back to normal, and the doctor was surprised at how much better I seemed.

Cutting out gluten went a huge way towards improving my overall health. I also cut back on sugar and caffeine, as well as soy products, and products treated with excess hormones. I function normally on most days, and only resort to taking pain medication in dire circumstances. I practise meditation, eat healthily, and try a positive, holistic approach to managing my own disease. I know I am not cured, but for the most part feel I have a grip on what is going on within my own body.

For a long time, I was ashamed and scared to share my story with others. This March, however, I am taking a stand, I am speaking out, and I am doing so on behalf of millions of women around the world who suffer like I  do, every single day!

And remember, happiness, no matter what your circumstances, is a choice!

(source ; source)

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