Did you know that it’s Endometriosis Awareness Month? This month I hope to blog as much as possible about the stories of women with endo. I want to focus this month specifically on working with women and sharing their stories on how this disease has changed their life, for the good, the bad and the ugly.
Today’s story is about my friend and endo-sister Stella. Stella looks like a girl trying to live her dreams, however, Stella has a not so secret secret; she has endometriosis. Stella, like most women, had a very difficult time getting diagnosed. The doctor (whom shall remain nameless) diagnosed Stella as having stage one endometriosis Stella was told that she would have to have a laparoscopy in order to get her endometriosis under control. For any woman that hears the word “surgery” we get a little nervous and have a thousand questions. We also need time to process what is going on, figure out how this is going to affect our every day lives and if surgery is really going to work, especially when the first time is always the scariest one because you don’t know the impact it will have on you and those around you. For Stella she became scared of the surgery and put it off for a little while. One day in 2016, while thinking about the surgery a huge pressure spike was happening her abdomen. What Stella was experiencing was a rupturing cyst that was leaking fluid into her abdomen. She was seen by the same OB but instead of being sympathetic to her situation and finding a treatment plan, she did the “I told you so routine” and kept making Stella feel guilty for wanting time to think about a major surgery. What most don’t know is that you sign an waiver when you get to the hospital. The doctors have no idea what they are going to find once they actually see what your uterus and surrounding areas look like. That waiver we sign is to giving them permission to remove parts of our reproductive systems if they will do harm to us in the future. I understand one hundred percent why someone would want time to weigh the pros and cons of the surgery. One month later Stella decided to have her first laparoscopy. During that first laparoscopy her OB found that the ovary with the ruptured cysts was adhered to her abdomen and she had found endometriosis in other areas of her body as well. At the time of this surgery she was diagnosed with stage 1 endometriosis. However, come to find out later she was misinformed by this OB and is now seeing a specialist who can help her get back on the right track and really figure out what stage she has. Knowing what stage you are prepares you for a lot. Each stage has different symptoms and each stage affects your body differently. If women want to preserve their eggs they need a way to figure out how to do that and when because the clock on having good eggs is running out and fast.
Stella has always known something was off with her cycle. Since she was 14 years old she thought, like the rest of us, that this is how a period is. She just lived with the best way she knew how and her best friend had the same symptoms so they had each other to go through this with. It wasn’t until the last few years when things started to escalate.
This disease takes a hold of everyone in your life and unfortunately some are not strong enough to stay with us. Often times when a woman is sick a lot, it can be hard for man. Not just because his needs aren’t being met but the needs the couple has aren’t being met. As a couple you have goals, dreams, and many milestones you hope to accomplish together. Stella thought she would have these things in her ex, but then things started to slowly change. At the beginning of her diagnosis her boyfriend was there for her. One of the things she said is that she had been incapacitated for three months before her first surgery. At the time her boyfriend was telling her he’d always be there for her and take care of her for the rest of their lives if he had to. He was that support guy who would be there for when she just needed a day filled with relaxing and binge watching their favorite shows on Netflix. But slowly a shift was taking place. She could feel it for a while and didn’t address anything right away. After all they were making plans to move in together and that’s a huge relationship step. That step means you are willing to make a commitment to be there for one another, in good times and in bad. Stella noticed things started to change after her first surgery; he would just not be be present and he wasn’t there as much and she had to force him into spending time together. Sadly, the shift in the relationship was too strong because in July when Stella started to do better after her second surgery, right before her birthday he broke it off. He was telling her a bunch of nonsense like excuses to get himself out. But the one thing he said that she’ll never forget is ” I can’t handle being with someone who has this kind of chronic health issue”.
The constant back, hip, and leg pain (which is common areas pain for women with endometriosis) were just too much to handle. After this last relationship Stella has put dating on hold. A lot of times women with endometriosis are too tired to do normal things, let alone date. She has no sex drive, which is another common factor when having endometriosis. So for now dating is a no go. However, her friends and family have been her constant. They are unconditionally supportive and understanding, although Stella’s been more isolated since her endometriosis seems to have escalated a bit. Stella’s self confidence has been affected as well. She feels like there’s something wrong with her, like her body is defective. This has a ripple effect because she has trouble going on and being social because of her self-esteem issues. Throughout these highs and lows her family is there through it all. They are the biggest support for Stella and she doesn’t know what she would do without them. They are there for her in times when she needs them the most. To say she loves them and she’s grateful for them would be an understatement.
I wanted to share Stella’s story with you all because it’s profound. She has exhibited a fighter’s mentality and continues to fight every day for her happiness, health and peace of well being. Stella is an amazing woman who deserves nothing but the best. I know she has had some major trials throughout her endometriosis journey but she is going to come out the other side of this dark tunnel a winner. She will conquer all the goals and dreams she has and so much more. She has a huge and wonderful support system. She is beautiful, kind and thoughtful. Endometriosis doesn’t define her, it’s just apart of her. Stella is a warrior that continues to fight every day and I am grateful to know her.
Please remember it’s Endometriosis Awareness Month and if you have any questions regarding endo or want more facts please ask!
Until Next Time