Endometriosis

Saturday, February 22, 2020
My best friends visiting me at the hospital, Dec 2014



Chloe Bennet’s Instagram post opening up about her battle with endometriosis was so refreshing to see. In better words, sis snapped. Not only because she’s talking about a health issue a lot of women struggle with, but because she’s advocating for women’s health and how to manage our feelings of discomfort when speaking up about our health issues. It’s terrible that society raises women to believe we should keep hush-hush about periods, or that symptoms of extreme pain when getting your period are normal. I find no other explanation as to why women are more uncomfortable pooping than men than the ludicrous belief created by an extremely patriarchal society that women should be delicate, hairless, odorless, and have our nails painted pink. It’s some dumb crap, if you ask me. Ha-ha, get it?

I find it irrational that we still reduce womanhood to reproduction and it’s interesting to see how women are treated by health care professionals. I once told a gynecologist that I probably didn’t want to have kids and she called me selfish. Then I switched gynecologists. I’ve always hidden my pads or tampons before heading to the bathroom, and I’ve always felt awkward telling someone I was dating that I was on my period. I’ve never been able to talk about periods on Instagram without getting DMs from men saying: “TMI.” I’ve rarely been able to tell someone I probably won’t want kids without them responding, “Wait ‘til you get married,” “Don’t say that,” or “You’ll change your mind!”

As a side note: You don’t hear people dismissing men when they say they don’t want kids. You also don’t hear people wondering how men struggle to balance work and family the way women do when they have kids. And the truth is... yes, I might change my mind. When I was 13, I promised I wouldn’t have sex before marriage. And when I was 15, I swore I would NEVER drink alcohol. When I was 17, I said I would never get a tattoo. And even at 25, I swore on my life I WOULD NEVER pursue a master’s degree. And yet here we are. That’s the thing with people. We change our mind, and we change it again. And while it’s important we recognize that not every decision is absolute, it’s also important we validate the decisions we do make at present time as they are not less valid because "we might change our mind." Or because we are women, or because the world likes to raise housewives.

Endometriosis 

Let me tell you the story of how I found out I had endometriosis, and how suddenly every pain I had ever felt during my period made more sense. I’ve always had painful periods. There was a time in college that I couldn’t even get up from bed because my cramps were so painful and strong, they felt like 1000 rusty needles stabbing through me. My periods were regular, usually lasting 3-4 days, and my only major symptom was really painful cramps. I Googled it, I asked around, I talked to my doctors about it, and heard the same conclusion again and again: “This is normal. Take some pills for the pain and put a warm bag of rice on your stomach.” So, I mastered the art of managing really painful periods for years because no doctor ever validated my concerns, so this must be normal.

Until one day in December of 2014 I had a really terrible stomachache. I went to urgent care (thinking it could be appendicitis) and they found a mass in my ovary and fallopian tube. I was immediately sent to a hospital where they did further analysis, and it turned out that the mass was a massive cyst. Insanely, my first thought was, “how embarrassing.” I felt embarrassed! Isn't that wild?

Within 24 hours, I went into surgery to get the cyst removed, and that’s where all the magic happened. During surgery, the surgeon noticed I had been suffering from endometriosis and, right then and there, removed as much of the endometrial tissue as possible. I had no idea that I had been suffering from endometriosis, nor that cysts can result from it.

Endometriosis is hard to understand. By definition: “Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is an often painful disorder in which tissue grows outside your uterus. With endometriosis, the tissue can be found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes or the intestines. The most common symptoms are pain and menstrual irregularities. Effective treatments, such as hormones and excision surgery, are available.” But what the heck does that even mean, you know? Doctors have explained it to me, I have read about it, I have heard people talk about it, and had plenty of chats about what it is. But still. What the heck does all that even mean?

My gynecologist also explained you can treat it with either birth control or surgery. When I found out I had Endometriosis, I felt weird and uncomfortable about it. However, it was soon after I discovered that a lot of women suffer from endo – 1 in 10 to be exact. Some women are asymptomatic while others have intensely severe symptoms. Many women have the condition most of their lives without being diagnosed because doctors and others around them attempt to pacify them by saying things like, ‘Your pain is normal. Just take some pills. Use a bag of rice.” Or simply because they don't have any pain and can live with it. Endometriosis is more normal than people think it is, and it's treatable and manageable.

That surgery was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Now I visit my gynecologist frequently, and I speak up whenever I feel abnormal discomfort, which doesn't happen as much. About 4 months ago, though, my pelvic area felt sore. I concluded, DR. CABI, that I probably had a cyst, so I spent a whole afternoon at the E.R. getting all sorts of tests done. Turned out... my jeans were just too tight.. lol.

I do get painful cramps sometimes, but they are nowhere near as terrible as they were before. I try to talk openly about periods on Instagram (despite the DMs I get from some men saying ThiS tOo muCh iNFormATIOn, Ew). I just want to normalize the conversation, for me. So I never feel “weird” about my health again.

And I want to encourage you to do the same. Any discomfort, any pain, any concern. Tell your doctor. Get yourself checked. Get that pap smear you've been putting off. Check and check again. Your life may literally depend on that one doctor visit you just don't have the time for. Make time for you.

Speak up.

Be kind to people.

 -Cabi

1 comment

  1. I've really enjoyed following your health journey both on Insta and here -- been missing your blog posts, so am glad you are back! Sorry for your topic material though, my friend. As someone who is currently in the struggle to determine what is happening in my body (endo has been ruled out, so still getting pricked and prodded on this end), I am thankful for your honest talk. Don't let the DMs get you down; your experiences are so appreciated by many of us! Good luck on your continued journey, and I hope you continue to manage endo moving forward so Life only continues to become more and more beautiful for you.

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