My Endometriosis Story
I was diagnosed with Endometriosis in February 2013. I remember the day. On February 17, 2013, I had my Yoga test to receive my 200 RYT Certification from the studio where I trained. I passed and was super excited to start my journey as a certified yoga instructor. Later that afternoon, I had an appointment with my gynecologist. I had been experiencing mild and acute throbbing in my pelvic area on a frequent basis for quite a while along with heavy periods and painful cramps and finally decided to get it checked out. Normally, I don’t like visiting the doctor – least of all the gynecologist considering that most of the time your conversations occur with you not wearing any pants and there’s a metal clamp inserted in your most gentle area. However, I knew that the body is designed to work systematically and flawlessly and that any pain is a signal that something is wrong. I was right.
During my appointment, my doctor recommended that I get a pelvic sonogram, which I did. The sonogram revealed that there were hemorrhagic cysts sitting on my right ovary and along my pelvis that were between 3-6cm large. She stated that the cysts were too large for hormone therapy and recommended that I get surgery as well as stop working out to prevent the possibility of ovarian torsion. I was both devastated and scared at the same time. So many thoughts kept racing through my mind: what does this mean for my fertility? Will I be able to have children? Is this curable? How and why is this happening to me? What about my yoga career? I couldn’t help but feel so betrayed by my body.
After the diagnosis, I started doing more research about disease. Endometriosis occurs in women as a result of a hormone imbalance causing the endometrium tissue (the lining of the uterus) to pocket itself outside of the uterus but within the pelvic cavity. It mostly affects women in their reproductive years. The tissue can attach to any of the female reproductive organs including the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, the uterosacral ligaments, the peritoneum, as well as any of the spaces between the bladder, uterus/vagina, and rectum. It can also be found on the bladder, bowel, intestines, appendix or rectum. Endometriosis is still an under-researched disease and many aspects are heavily misunderstood.
I found a highly specialized Reproductive Endocrinologist to perform the surgery and manage my treatment. She first went through my entire family history of illness and then made me go through several tests including another sonogram, CAT Scans, and blood tests. Words like cancerous, benign, infertility, severe, and ovarian extraction were thrown around which freaked me out even more. I spent many nights researching Endometriosis, watching surgical procedures on YouTube, and crying myself to sleep.
By the time of the surgery my cysts had grown to over 9cm. My doctor scheduled the surgery but warned me that only during the procedure will she know how severe the Endometriosis really is. We agreed that the procedure would be laparoscopic however, if it was really severe, she would need to perform emergency abdominal surgery to ensure that all the tissue was visible for removal. She also mentioned that if the ovaries were severely damaged, she would have no choice but to remove them. Again a sense of panic, anger, and devastation surged through my body.
The day before the surgery, I had to go into the hospital to fill out paperwork and get blood work to confirm my blood type. The blood work was also to ensure that there was enough blood in stock for a transfusion in case of complications. You could probably tell by now that my doctor was a ‘worse case scenario’ kind of person. I also had to do a cleanse in order to deflate my bowels to prevent any avoidable complications during the procedure.
On the day of the surgery, I tried not to think about anything. I didn’t want to stress myself out or raise my blood pressure because I was scared it would cause complications during the procedure. I was pretty calm overall and ready to get this over with. After a series of paperwork, questions, and multiple attempts to insert an IV into my vein, I was finally called into the operating room. I walked in and there was the surgical team all scrubbed up and ready to work. I laid down on the bed and was out before I knew it. The next thing I knew, I was being wheeled through the halls of the hospital into the post-acute-care-unit (PACU) drowsy and in pain. I woke up for just few seconds and blurted out “do I still have my ovary?” Once I heard my doctor say “yes” I fell back asleep for the next few hours. In PACU, I couldn’t be released until I voided, which means urinate. This is essential because anesthesia can relax your bladder muscles causing it to be difficult to urinate potentially leading to bladder problems in the future. After several unsuccessful attempts to void I was finally able to go to the bathroom the following morning. I was released from the hospital shortly after.
The recovery was slow – it took about three weeks for me to feel somewhat normal again. If you’ve ever had abdominal surgery you know it feels like you’ve done one million crunches and you’re whole body is sore. I didn’t realize how much I took my core muscles for granted. Walking upright, getting out of bed, holding a cup of water were all very difficult for weeks. I’m grateful that I had such a nurturing and supportive family to make sure I had everything I needed during my recovery.
About a week after surgery, my doctor recommended that I get the Lupron Depot shot to prevent me from getting my period as well as prevent additional endometrial tissue to accumulate in my pelvis. It was supposed to last for three months but lasted for six. My first period after the shot had me scared, nervous, and crying on the way to the doctor. I immediately started taking birth control to manage my hormone levels.
I am no longer on birth control and my symptoms have improved substantially on their own. I eat better, I’m more active, and I work on being more positive. I believe that both your internal and external environment play a huge role in your health and wellbeing therefore it is important that we focus on making decisions that are serving us not hurting us. That includes food choices, the people we surround ourselves with, the jobs we choose to have, and even the products we endorse.
I’m sharing my story because I want to bring awareness to the cause and let other women know that they are not alone.