Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dealing With Endometriosis


So, what is endometriosis anyway?
Endometriosis is a condition that a lot of people don't know about, but is becoming more and more prevalent among women today. It's a disorder that is oftentimes very painful, where the tissue that usually lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of it, usually around the ovaries, bowel, or the tissue lining the pelvis. The extra tissue outside of the uterus causes cysts to occur because the tissue has no way to exit. These cysts are very painful and sometimes have to be removed with surgery if they don't go away on their own. Endometriosis can also cause scar tissue around the uterus, which can lead to fertility problems later in life.

My Story
(Side note, this story contains a lot about periods so if that isn't your cup of tea, you have been warned)
I have always had really bad cramps while on my period. Even from my very first one, my periods have always lasted a solid week - sometimes even 8 days. My mom was the same way, though, so we really didn't think anything of it. Fast forward a couple of years, and I was working as a camp counselor over the summer when I started to have really bad pains in my lower stomach. They persisted through the night, and finally in the morning my parents took me to the ER. The doctors first thought I had appendicitis since they found fluid in my stomach around where my appendix was. A surgeon came to my room and told me not to eat or drink anything because they would be performing an appendectomy on me later that day. Naturally, I was terrified because all of a sudden I would be getting surgery when I thought I just had a bad stomach bug.
One of the OBGYN's (women's doctor basically) in the hospital saw the results from the CT scan and thought that instead of having appendicitis, I must have had a large cyst that had just burst, resulting in the fluid around my appendix. They told us to go home and wait for a day, and if the pain subsided a bit, then the most likely cause of the pain was the cyst. We did just that, and my pain did lessen. After all of this, I had to go to an OBGYN in order to determine the cause of the cyst, which meant multiple doctor's visits and ultrasounds. Seriously, I think I've had more ultrasounds than a pregnant lady. So, once they were pretty sure the cause was endometriosis (all of the symptoms were there, long and painful periods, the whole cyst fiasco, pain in my lower stomach random times throughout the month, etc.), my doctor decided to do a laparoscopy to know for sure I had endometriosis, and to get out any scar tissue or remaining cysts.
This time, surgery wasn't so scary (although I did almost pass out while talking about it - I don't do so well when talking about myself getting surgery, but with other people I'm fine...weird I know) since I had time to prepare, but I was still nervous to see what the doctors would find. About a week and two small incisions later, my doctor told me I did in fact have endometriosis, and that there were a couple of ways we could keep it under control since there's no cure. She decided to put me on a really low dose birth control to keep a handle on the hormones that cause the extra tissue to grow, and if that didn't work, I would have to get a shot every three months that put my body in a controlled menopause state. My family and I opted for the birth control since there were a lot less risks, and it worked really well for a couple of years. Recently, I have been developing cysts again more frequently, so my doctor decided to change up my prescription, which has helped a lot.

How I Deal With Endometriosis
Now that my endometriosis is mostly under control, the pain has lessened immensely. Before we knew that I had it, the pain was sometimes unbearable which caused me to occasionally stay home from school and lie down for most of the day. I had no idea that other girls didn't get such bad cramps, or feel pain in their lower stomach throughout the month. I'm actually really allergic to ibuprofen so I can only take pain medication with Tylenol in it, so I typically just lie down and let the pain subside. Using a heating pad can really help sometimes, too! Since the hormones that cause the tissue to grow uncontrollably are under control, I have a lot less pain, and a lot fewer cysts.

Why I Decided To Post About Endometriosis
When I first heard the term "endometriosis" I had absolutely no idea what my doctor was talking about. We of course came home from the doctors office and researched it as much as possible, and found some great resources. It turns out it is a hereditary disorder, and affects the women in my own family on my dad's side, and a couple on my mom's side as well. Endometriosis is something that needs to be talked about a lot more because it's affecting more and more women. It's something that can easily be controlled once known about, but also something that can get out of control if let alone. There are some great resources, like the Endometriosis Foundation of America, that have information about endometriosis and just general support. I learned a lot from their website when I found out I had endometriosis, and it made the whole situation feel a lot more manageable!
I wanted to post about endometriosis, though, so there's a little bit more awareness about it. I really think more people should know about it, because it's something more and more women are suffering from, but they don't even know it. Early detection can literally be life-saving, because some women become infertile if left untreated. This has happened in my own family, and it's so sad when it happens, especially to women who really want children.

Symptoms
-Pain in the lower stomach and back, especially during your period
-Excessive cramps during your period
-Heavy flow
-Excessive fatigue, especially during your period
-Basically, every symptom during your periods are far worse than normal

Treatments
-Pain medication
-Hormone Therapy
-Low-dose birth control pills
-Surgery (laparoscopies usually)

When should I see my doc?
If you are having sever symptoms during your period, you should just go see your doctor to get things checked out. Periods suck in general, but if they are debilitating to you, then you should really go in. Early detection is key with anything, so it never hurts to ask your doctor if you could be experiencing endometriosis. It can be a little scary at first (I was only fifteen at the time so I was quite terrified to say the least), but it'll work out in the end, and you can always take someone with you to the doctors! I had my parents with me every step of the way, and the rest of my family was there for me after my surgery to constantly check in on me, so that was really wonderful.

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Wow, this ended up being long! I've been wanting to write about endometriosis for a while now, though, because like I said, it's something that I believe needs more awareness. I'm also in the middle of dead weak (finals are in a couple of days!), so it was nice to take my mind off of studying and just write about something that's been a big part of my life in recent years.

Have you ever heard of endometriosis?

Thank you so much for reading, and have a wonderful day! :)

8 comments:

  1. I've never heard of the term endometriosis per say but my sister did have to get surgery due to having a cyst near her ovaries. She had to have surgery to remove it and the cyst was honestly about the size of a grape fruit. When it was removed she actually lost a lot of weight. My cousin I think has endometriosis (i'm not certain) but she's been going to the doctors lately because she has a large amount of tiny cysts.

    -Crystal
    http://crystallizeddaisies.blogspot.com

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    1. I'm happy to see that your bringing awareness to this because it is just as important as other health issues! I really enjoyed reading this and finding out more about endometriosis. I hope you are doing much better now :)

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  2. Never heard of this, but it will be so helpful to many girls! :)
    ~ basicallychloe xx
    Don't forget to smile! :) ~ x
    www.basicallychloeblog.blogspot.com ♡

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  3. I only just heard about it, through a friend who recently got diagnosed! I hope you're on the improve and it doesn't cause any problems for you, but thats so awesome that you're talking about it, because girls can sometimes be hush hush with those sorts of things

    Gina xx

    www.lifeandlights.com

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    1. That's too bad! I hope she doesn't have too terrible of a time with it! :( Yeah I've been wanting to talk about it for a while because when I was researching it, I couldn't find a lot of real life situations with it, just a lot of medical terminology! Thank you!

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  4. Oh sweetie just today i was studying and talking about endometriosis is a serious problem for women.
    Thanks for be so brave and share your story with us
    xx

    www.sakuranko.com

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