Every three months I go there, to the lab where our infertility journey started over 15 years ago. I walk back to the room and hear the familiar buzz of the overhead fluorescent lights. My heart rate starts to increase and my palms sweat as I make a fist and they draw my blood. Again.
What will they find this time? Will they ever get my hormones balanced?
After I had our first baby, at just 33 I went into premature ovarian failure. Basically, I was in menopause, my body was attacking my ovaries. This wasn’t a surprise as I’ve dealt with stage four endometriosis all of my life. Of course, I didn’t know it until I was 26 years old and couldn’t conceive.
I’ve had two surgeries to remove endometrial tissue which was preventing me from getting pregnant.
I’ve had surgery to remove a grapefruit-sized endometrioma, which was twisting my fallopian tube and cutting off blood flow to my ovary. It resulted in the loss of most of that ovary.
I’ve taken Clomid and tried multiple inseminations that never worked.
I did acupuncture to try to heal my body of the disease.
I even tried the endometriosis diet to the point of almost becoming emaciated and anemic to try to stop the endometrial growth.
We did In Vitro Fertilization twice to conceive and were so lucky it worked.
And after having our second IVF miracle I had a uterine ablation to stop the horrific, non-stop bleeding.
But after our second was born the menopausal symptoms worsened. Hot flashes, weight gain, anxiety, chronic cramps all month long, and not sleeping. I tried every hormone replacement treatment known to man, including bioidenticals. But there was always something more.
Adrenal Failure. Hypothyroidism. Low Iron. The list went on and on…and so did the blood tests.
So after four holistic doctors and more supplements, diets, and treatments than I can count, I gave up. I decided to stop trying and simply SURRENDER. I went back on estrogen patches and eventually had my hysterectomy which pathology reports showed adenomyosis as well. I cried for days because I felt like I was a failure for not healing myself and choosing this surgery, but I just needed the pain to end.
And it did.
Finally, at 43 years old, I don’t feel the same symptoms of endometriosis. I don’t have horrible monthly pain, don’t have a cycle, and finally, feel semi-free. But I will always have endometriosis. I’ll always have the threat that it could come back and because of endo, I will live in a menopausal state for the rest of my life. Watching my diet closely, managing hot flashes and anxiety, this will forever be my reality most women will never discuss.
Over 200 million women worldwide and 1 in 10 in the United States live with endometriosis. They deal with chronic pain, ridiculous heavy bleeding, 1/3 to 1/2 have trouble conceiving and are at a higher risk for ovarian cancer. And most of the time they deal with it alone and there are very few treatment options.
If you too silently suffer from endometriosis and are tired of chronic illness, I have to tell you three things I’ve learned:
1. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are so many of us who are going through something and are just too tired or scared to admit it.
2. ACUPUNCTURE HELPS. I can’t rave enough about the positive outcome of acupuncture and infertility. It really helped to lessen my cycles, alleviate pain, and there are many herbs you can take depending on your condition.
3. SURRENDER. I can’t tell you how freeing it felt to stop trying to heal and just be. It was such a hard diagnosis to accept, but after I was lucky enough to have our two children, I took steps immediately to feel better. Sure I tried the natural routes, but eventually, I had to do what was best for myself and my family. And that was a hysterectomy.
Endometriosis was one of the many topics discussed with national news reporter Diana Falzone on my podcast Be Who You Want to Be. She too lives with Endometriosis and was able to have her miracle son. You can listen on iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud or here on my website!
If you liked this post, you may like, What Every Women Recovering from a Hysterectomy Needs to Know.