In four years I’ve had four surgeries, three visits to the emergency department, hundreds of doctor visits and 10,000 tears! I’m 30 and have endometriosis and adenomyosis.
When I was 15 I got my first period. I vividly remember getting it and thinking ‘oh shit, Mrs Martin taught us about this in sex ed, noooooo, does this mean I have to grow up now? I don’t want it!!” I was so embarrassed that I didn’t want to tell my mum. But she knew something was wrong. I was acting unusually quiet and kept asking for Panadol. She eventually said “Ellie, have you got your period?”. I burst into tears.
My mum’s a nurse and at the time a midwife, so she knew everything when it came to lady issues. She told me that she had this thing called endometriosis and that it made her very sick when she was young. It eventually led her to have a hysterectomy in her early 30s which is ridiculously young to be going through menopause. It can be hereditary and that there is a high chance I would have it (JOY!!!!!) I went on to have painful periods through my teens and the doctor put me on the pill when I was 17. It brought me no relief.
When I was 26 one morning I woke up feeling a bit off. I felt this sharp stabbing pain in my lower stomach. I just thought my dodgy cooking skills made me feel a bit sick, but the pain got worse. I lay on the bed in the foetal position to ease it, and 2 minutes later I couldn’t move. The pain was so intense. My husband raced home and took me to the emergency doctor. 15 minutes later I was on standby for surgery. They thought my appendix was about to blow, so they rushed me in for a CT Scan. What they found was a surprise.
Chocolate cysts on my ovaries and all signs pointing to endometriosis. Within weeks I was seeing one of Sydney’s top gynaecologists and having a laproscopy. My body was a gold mine: stage 4 endometriosis, the worst you can have. It was growing everywhere – uterus, bowel, ovaries, kidney, it even suffocated my poor little appendix. They also discovered I have a condition called adenomyosis, where the endo tissue grows into the wall of my uterus. This little sucker HURTS! My surgeon described it as a badly bruised apple that will never heal and told me I’d have to have a hysterectomy soon. They also said “have a baby ASAP”. Sure, because making a baby is as easy as cooking 2 minute noodles…
At the start of this year, I became extremely sick & lost a lot of weight, I got down to 48kgs. I would struggle to crawl out of bed every morning for work, my energy levels were depleted and I was in a constant state of nausea and continued to get bad pain in my lower right hand belly. Scans showed something unusual was happening, so my gyno conducted a laparoscopy in April. He discovered something abnormal on my bowel, so sent me to a colorectal doctor to find the answer. 2 months later and 2 days after my 30th birthday I had surgery on my bowel to remove endo. Nothing says welcome to 30 more than having bowel surgery!!!! The good thing is, since this op I have got my energy back, put on a couple of kgs, and although I get pain, it’s not as bad and I’m no longer reaching for a bucket or bin every couple of hours. To help with my recovery my doc recommended walking. I put on my shoes and began walking daily to work, around a 45 minute stroll in the sunshine, bliss. I loved the idea of getting into running eventually, but looked at my past running experiences and how much it used to hurt me. That pain was caused by the endometriosis, it destroys ya!!
August 23rd I competed in the Color Run and was looking forward to a walk thru Centennial Park walking out looking like a rainbow. We got ushered to the start line and the race was on, everyone started running and I got caught up in the crowd. All of a sudden, after no joke avoiding running about 10 years, away I went and there was no stopping me (yep as corny as it’s sounds) I was a girl on a mission! I crossed that 5km finish line and felt this sudden burst of happiness I was almost in tears! For so long, the pain of running and endo made me avoid it, it was like I’d been dealt a new lease on life!
That afternoon I was online looking for the next thing I could do – the Sydney Running Festival’s 9km Bridge Run was in my sights. Running over the Harbour Bridge with no traffic, it’s not everyday could get to do that! In the led up to September 20 I would walk to work one day, run the next, gradually building myself up. The morning of the run I had butterflies and thought “I can’t do this”, next thing I new we were off and running, over the bridge, past the Opera House, thru the Botanic Gardens and crossing the finish line after 9kms. I will not lie, it hurt, but it was a good pain. That afternoon I was back online to find my next challenge…
Now I’m embarking on my next running adventure – my first half marathon (I never EVER thought I’d be talking about a marathon event and me in the same sentence!) On April 10 2016 I’ll be completing the Australian Running Festival in Canberra. I am running to raise awareness and money for Endometriosis Australia. I want to represent women who struggle day to day with this debilitating condition, I want to help increase funds to better educate not only women but men (they have to put up with us complaining about it). I want to end endo.
Thanks so much for taking the time out to read my story and I hope to one day be celebrating an end for endo.