Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Diagnosis

It was only about 7 years ago that I finally managed to put a name to the menace that wreaked havoc on me every month. And I regret to say that it wasn't a doctor who diagnosed my nightmare-it was a self-diagnosis. For years, doctors would brush my concerns aside and tell me that cramps and heavy bleeding were quite normal, but I knew it was not - because I remembered a previous life before pain. They investigated little beyond my annual pap smear and sent me home. For years I just lived with mild painkillers that did nothing for me. A switch to ibuprofen helped but aggravated my gastritis. I was desperate for a cure or anything that would take away the pain. But how do you look for a cure when you don't know even what you've got? Then I met someone who experienced painful periods like me and took meds that relieved her pain. That was when I first heard that E-word: En-do-me-trio-sis. Could that be me? This clue brought the Sherlock Holmes out of me, and with Google as my magnifying glass, I looked through pages and pages of information about endo. The more I researched, the more I realized what a textbook case of endometrosis I had!

  • Pain before and during periods - Check!
  • Pain with intercourse - Check!
  • General, chronic pelvic pain throughout the month - Check!
  • Low back pain - Check!
  • Heavy and/or irregular periods - Check!
  • Painful bowel movements, especially during menstruation - Check!
  • Painful urination during menstruation - Check!
  • Fatigue - Check!
  • Infertility - Check!
And none of the doctors could tell me this. They didn't even bother to ask me the right questions that would have pointed them towards a diagnosis. What the hell was I paying them for? And from what I have read, I learned that there was no cure for endo, and I was devastated.

One day, I consulted a doctor about my infertility and told her that I suspected I had endometriosis. Based on my symptoms, she told me it was likely I had endometriosis - Gee Thanks! Tell me something I don't already know!! My ultrasound had also shown that I had a tipped uterus. There was a thick mass behind it, indicating that endometrial cells had been growing and forming adhesions to the back wall of my uterus, possibly pulling it backwards. Wee! Another problem to add to my infertility! The only sure-fire way to know if I had endo was to have a laparoscopy. That meant cutting me up, blowing my tummy up like a balloon, poking a camera in there to have a look, sewing me back up and then telling me - Yup! You have endometriosis. They could remove endometrial adhesions while they were in there, but they would just grow right back. So-No Thanks! It seemed pointless. Sure - it would have been nice to have visual proof, but it still wouldn't cure me of endo. The straight-from-textbook symptomatic pain in its wonderful variety and intensities was proof enough. I am one of the 80 million women worldwide suffering from endometriosis.

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