I am absolutely thrilled to see the recent media exposure of Endometriosis, a chronic condition that affects nearly two million women in the U.K.
My world was turned upside down in 2012, the year I came off my contraceptive pill in my mission to conceive. I'd been on the pill since 14 due to extremely painful periods, little did I realise how effectively the pill disguised my (undiagnosed) condition and what hell would be unleashed when normal cycles returned.
The word 'pain' doesn't do it justice. It's exhausting, it's relentless and unforgiving.
Although saddened, I'm not surprised that it takes an average of five years to diagnose for most women. It was 2016 when my endo and adenomyosis were finally discovered so I am obviously very 'lucky' that it only took four years to receive my diagnosis. Potentially the ease of masking initial symptoms with contraception results in many women being unaware of the problem until they start trying for a baby. Potentially the lack of empathy towards women's health is another reason some doctors block thorough investigations. I was fobbed off by many doctors who quite clearly thought I was 'making a fuss'. Either way, we seem to be experiencing a wave of women in their late 20's and 30's realising they may never achieve their desired 2.4 children (infertility is very common for women who suffer from endometriosis and adenomyosis). Often it's too late for women, I was one of the extremely lucky ones when I fell pregnant in 2014.
Since battling with a chronic illness, I've struggled to come to deal with not only the physical issues, but the impact it has on my emotional wellbeing and my interaction with others. The isolation, the inconsistency, and irritability make me one unpredictable human being. So before I burn any more friendships to the ground, here's a letter I've penned to my nearest and dearest.
Dear friends and family,
I would like to make an apology in advance. These are the things I've been doing of late, and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable:
- occasionally cancel my plans with friends.
- miss calls throughout the day.
- take a few days to reply to messages.
- on particularly bad days, I will struggle to get out the house.
- it goes without saying that I will continue to pay for my expensive gym membership but rarely go.
Believe me when I say that it's not my intention to do any of the aforementioned, and before my friends and family start to worry, I'm not suffering from any anxious or depressive episodes (I have been prone to these throughout my life). However, it's becoming increasingly clear that my chronic gynaecological problem will not piss off, not even a little bit, and as predicted by my specialist, it's slowly getting much more painful.
Sure, I can have a hysterectomy sooner rather than later - they've already said I will undoubtedly be having it in my 30's anyway. There's just one slight issue for me. I truly believe becoming a mother is the most gratifying and precious moment in my life. My world is consumed with the little family my husband and I created. So please forgive me for wanting to try to add to it. My want for a baby is becoming desperate and I'm at the stage where my heart physically aches. Not to mention how often my eyes cry for the multiple negative pregnancy tests they read.
Please don't feel sorry for me, that's not what this message is about. I understand how lucky I am to have one child and I also realise that although my condition is chronic and extremely painful, there are so many destructive and life limiting illnesses and diseases in the world which I'm fortunate not to suffer from.
But this is my reality and my pain can be very debilitating. So, again, sorry to my nearest and dearest if I have let you down or will disappoint in the future. I'm not avoiding you, and I love you dearly. But when, most days, you're only just managing to keep your shit together; sometimes people around have to take a back seat.
Now pass me the pain killers and let's try and push through this.