Living with Chronic Pain
For as long as I can remember, I have had a terrible period. Yup, we are talking about menstruation here folks, so if it makes you queasy, hit the exit button and check out our blog next week.
So yeah, periods. I'm going to share my story.
Mine has been debilitating since around 15 years old. I remember times where I would be in the back of my classroom at school, legs up on my desk chair while laying on the floor because the pain was so bad I didn't know what to do. Tears in my eyes, attempting to push through until the bell rang. In retrospect, I probably should have gone to the nurse. Why didn't I do that? Strange.
After a particularly rough episode, where I was at home and ended up in the ER, it was suggested by the doctor that I suffered from endometriosis and cysts on my ovaries. Endometriosis is an un-curable disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. It causes debilitating pain, heavy bleeding, and is a real bitch to live with. If you are lucky, your cysts are benign tumors that rupture on their own, and again, cause insane pain to the person dealing with them, but are not cancer.
The most common way that endometriosis is treated is through hormones by taking birth control. This treatment is fine for many people who suffer especially if they are currently not trying to conceive and don't have any side effects from the hormones themselves. Oh yeah, there are side effects from those too, and they are also super not fun.
I used this method of treatment for many years, until I started to get migraines from birth control. Not a great trade off, as I could NOT function with that pain, at all. No pain medicine could battle it, and all I could do was lie down with my eyes covered and attempt to sleep it away. To those who suffer from chronic migraines: I salute you. I have no idea how you do it.
With birth control out of the picture, my periods grew worse. Heavier, cramping that was unmanageable, bleeding that was scary. It was terrible, but I'd figured out that a combo of Aleve and a few heating pads over my stomach and back could manage the pain enough for me to function. I would be at events for work strapped up with portable heating pads, running around grabbing content for the company I worked for, while also running to the bathroom over and over hoping that I didn't bleed through. I should have been at home sleeping, but because this was an ongoing issue, there were just times that I COULDN'T call out. We had events nearly once a month, I had this issue once a month, and while the company was great about letting me call out when needed, I couldn't miss these staple events, understandably. If I really had to, they would have let me, but how could I expect to be a great employee while also missing the big stuff? I couldn't.
Which brings us to the present time. Shit hit the fan, ya'll. The symptoms got so bad that I finally had to get surgery. You see, there IS another treatment plan for endometriosis and it's called surgery! Yeah man. I'd been avoiding it for as long as I could. The idea of someone putting me under, cutting a bit of me open, going in there with cameras and tools and eventually using a laser to burn off that tissue I told you about above? Nah man. I'm good. But it had to happen.
Luckily for me the surgery went really well. Things we thought were a mess weren't. They got rid of some benign uterine cysts and the endometrial tissue that was causing issues. I got diagnosed with chronic uterine inflammation which is common for people like me, and hopefully this round of antibiotics will make it chill out for a bit.
The unfortunate part of it all though, is that this isn't a permanent solution. There is only one, a hysterectomy (removal of all reproductive organs) which is fine for people who don't want kids, but we do. And while the surgery removed the issues there now, it can all grow back and we start the process again. It's tiring to think of, honestly.
I'm recovering well from the surgery. It's an outpatient treatment which is great, and I have a wonderful doctor I am working with. My hope is that this will at least make my life a bit better for awhile, even if just a few years. Being in pain 3 weeks out of 4 every month is a real bummer and if that can even remotely change, I will be happy.
Endometriosis is starting to be discussed more and more as women come forward with their issues. Most of us have just been told we have bad cramps, that everyone deals with it, but it's a much bigger issue than that. I hope that some day there will be other options besides hormones and surgery, but who knows. I worry if I have a daughter some day that she will suffer from it too. It's a silent pain that is hard to understand if you haven't been through it.
Much love to all the people out there dealing with chronic pain and other health issues. It's tough out there being a human, but we prevail.
Thanks for reading.