Recent Hurdle

(Note: This could be distressing, caution advised)

That morning started like any other morning.

Up at 7am, dressed and out the door by 8:15am. I felt good. So good, I had heels on.

As I made the commute to work, I sang my heart out. Singing along to my Disney playlist, I was happy.

About 10 minutes away from the office, I felt a strange twinge in my side. With my insides being as angry as they are, god knows this wasn’t anything new. However, the severity of the pain and the rapid onset was. How I made it to the office, I’ll never know, I can’t remember the rest of the drive. Something was very wrong.

I abandoned my car just outside the building, fearing I wouldn’t be able to walk the distance from the car park. I could barely walk. It took all my strength to stay standing. The pain was so intense I had to hunch over, taking slow steps, like an old lady.

I could hardly breathe.

I stumbled into the building, the first to arrive, I clutched the walls as I staggered to the bathroom. How is it possible to feel like I was going to be sick, pass out and scream all at once? What was happening?

This agonising pain increased from 1-10 in just twenty minutes. I didn’t have time to reach for my rescue meds, to apply a heat pad, to do anything. I was alone & scared. Shaking, I dialled my husband’s number. Knowing he would be busy at work, I held my breath, squeezing my eyes shut against the pain.

Between sobs, I cried for the receptionist to pass the phone to my husband.

In all the time I have been struggling with Endometriosis and pain flares, this was the only time where I’ve made a conscious decision to call an ambulance.

Nick reassured me, told me to call 999. I did.

As I was on the phone to the emergency services, my manager walked in. She took one look at me and took over. She will never know how grateful I am that she was there, with me, that day. I laid my head on the desk, crumpled in pain, trying to breathe, trying to stay conscious.

I felt like I was dying. The pain was so bad. Something was very, very wrong.

Three calls later, we were told help was on the way. It felt like it would never come. Just when I thought I couldn’t hold on, Jade said, “Oh! They’re here now.”

The sigh of relief I released was immense. In that second, I thanked everything that they made it.

Like angels, the paramedics swooped in and immediately took over. They took one look at me and hooked me up to Gas & Air. I then had lots of stickies on, that told them how my heart was doing. It felt like it was aching.

‘Why is this happening? Again?’

I had to shuffle to the ambulance, a paramedic by my sides, sucking on the gas.

It was all hazy as I drifted in and out of pain. I remember Jade wishing me well, giving me my bag and then we were on the way to the hospital.

I laid on the gurney, unable to straighten my legs out. It was like my body instinctively knew to curl into itself, to guard against pain.

I winced against the jerky movements of the ambulance as it stopped and reversed at the hospital. And again I was awash with relief as the ambulance driver opened the doors and I heard, “Is this your husband?”

I lifted my head and our eyes locked. And I cried. I knew that I could collapse because I knew I could lean on Nick, that he would watch out for me and pick me up again.

I was wheeled into A&E and I braced myself for the onslaught of questions…

“What’s your name? Date of birth? What’s happened Aimee? How is your pain now?”

It was the same routine, just a new hospital and new faces. These doctors didn’t know me.

I think every woman with Endometriosis struggles with new doctors, reliving all the traumas, the medical history and desperately trying to make the professionals see how bad the pain is, what it’s like and that it’s not all in your head.

The notion that I might not be taken seriously and discharged is always a very real fear, in any hospital visit.

Luckily, something was shining down on me. I was blessed with a very understanding doctor who could read the pain written all over my face. She overruled other doctors and some less-empathising members of the nursing staff, she held my hand as I cried and rolled around the bed in pain.

She heard my “Please. Please help me.” and answered…

with morphine.

There’s always a question that I dread, not because the doctors have to ask it, but because I have to answer. “Aimee, could you be pregnant?”

Something squeezes around my heart each time, I answer in the negative.

Despite my constant rambling about previous surgeries and cysts and MRI results and ovulation pain stories and pain killer lists, there still seemed to be a lot of confusion about what was actually happening to me.

Some theories were:

  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Appendicitis
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  • Some sort of infection

All theories that I’ve heard before, bouncing around my head. Theories that have all been proven wrong. This was my Endometriosis.

The doctors, thorough as they were, insisted on an Ultrasound scan and an X-Ray.

By this point, I had been given paracetamol, a diclofenac suppository and a whole lotta morphine, along with the two tramadol I had taken myself whilst still at work. I know I sound like a drug addict. But that’s just how bad the pain was. I can’t even describe it now, like I’ve blocked it out.

I could barely stand still for the chest X-Ray. I held onto the machine, my legs shaking, biting my lip to keep from crying out. It was all too familiar, all too much. I lowered myself back onto the gurney. The Radiologist hurrying to make a call to the Ultrasound department. She managed to squeeze me in, luckily. That meant that I wouldn’t have to wait for 7 hours for a scan.

I was taken back to A&E before being taken to the ward. I would be admitted. I was shown to a bed, and waited as my husband went to the car to collect my overnight bag (as practised as we are at this, he knew I would need it).

While I drifted in and out of restless sleep, the drugs starting to overpower my senses, the doctor came. I struggled through an internal exam, I gritted my teeth against the dismissal of my accounts. The gynaecologist told me everything would be fine, told me it wasn’t a problem with my cysts, or my Endometriosis. I couldn’t understand what else it could be. Dazed, I returned to my bed, texted my husband, who quickly returned and wanted to speak with the doctor.

She retracted her original comments, telling Nick she suspected the Endometriosis was the culprit, along with an internal infection. I was filled with antibiotics; a large dose via IV and 2 lots of oral antibiotics. What had caused the infection? 

I will never know.

I was discharged the next day, after being told I should have plenty of medication and pain relief at home and should therefore be able to manage the pain. I was ensured that things should start to improve now I was on the antibiotics.

I doubt that there was ever any infection.

When I had failed to ovulate after stopping the zoladex injections, my doctor prescribed me Clomid. This drug works by stimulating the ovaries, to encourage ovulation. I believe that the Clomid irritated my ovary (and in turn, the attached cyst), increased its size, which then aggravated my Endometriosis and caused the flare up. The fluid in my pelvis, could have been just another consequence of this.

And following a tense few weeks, waiting for a hospital appointment, my Gynaecology specialist confirmed this… Right before he offered me a ‘final’ solution.

I think that’s enough offloading for now, don’t you? Just know that I am incredibly appreciative of all the support and light I have received, and I will be alright in the end – after all this will only be a small part of my journey.

xo

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An Apology.

Being the partner of someone who suffers with Endometriosis is hard. It’s hard to see the person you love go through so much, seeing them in pain constantly and feeling helpless. It’s difficult to watch her lose a part of herself each month as pain wracks her body or hormones warp her spirit, turning her into someone she’s not.

I can only guess how hard it is, I can’t imagine what my husband has thought or felt during this last year; pre-diagnosis and post. I’m just thankful he’s been with me.

Over the past several months, I have not been myself. I have not been the woman he fell in love with. You might say ‘it can’t be helped, you’ve been through a lot’ which is true in a lot of ways. But why should he have to suffer someone he no longer knows?

Pain turns people into a shadow of the person they were without it. Pain takes hold and destroys the spirit like a cancer destroys the body. A person can only take so much before they give up to despair. Luckily my husband has stood by me through it all.

I have had the Depo Provera injection. This will be the third week after my first dose. My doctor told me it would help with the pain. It has a little. But it’s something else that’s worrying me. The Depo Provera injection says ‘Mood Changes’ on the side effects list. Understatement. They say hormones are a big part of distinguishing who you are. Hormones have a strong relationship with emotions. And being someone who is madly driven by emotion- this has had a huge effect. I’m not making excuses, I’m just trying to understand.

My thoughts are darker, I’m moodier and I have mood swings so bad I feel like I might have whiplash. I have just started a new job which is causing me to concentrate and has taken its toll on my brain which has been on sick leave since December. I’m tired, my husband is tired. I don’t find his jokes as much fun as I used to. The little patience I did have has all but expired. This has started to affect my marriage. I’m pretty sure my husband, family and friends have noticed.

I’m trying my best to be me, it’s hard. But I’m just asking for time and patience and a little understanding. Like people say ‘anything worth having is never easy.’ I thank you for your patience.

But in the meantime, I apologise wholeheartedly for being a bitch.

Sorry.

A xo

Endo-what?

“You don’t look sick!”

“It can’t be that bad surely,”

“It’s just woman problems.”

“Have you tried Paracetamol?”

“I know what you mean..”

Well in my world, if you’re not me, you can’t possibly know what I mean at all. For 6 months I have suffered with an agonising pain that appeared like clockwork every month. Tell me, do you know how hard it is to try to be optimistic when you know to expect the worst? As I said, probably not.

Opening your eyes in a morning with a pain so severe you can’t even sit up. You can’t even walk, having to crawl into the bathroom to throw up, having to lie there on the cold tiled floor whilst the bath fills slowly with scolding hot water. Having your abdomen covered, front and back, with heat-pads just to try and find some relief.
And worse, having to contact your employer and tell them you can’t go into work today as you’ve got really bad pains, “period pain”, trying to make them understand just how bad it is. Willing them to understand, thanking god when they do because you know there’s no way you could possibly make it into work without fainting and vomiting. Calling your boyfriend before he finishes work to make an emergency stop at the all night chemist for Tampax because you’ve almost used a full box in a day or so. Losing clots of blood the size of 50p coins, feeling so exhausted you think you might never move again. Asking your partner to carry you, put you to bed, rub your back, listen to you cry and scream in pain; then watching the hopeless, helpless look on his face as he tries to look after you the very best he can.

It’s funny really, I can’t actually explain to you what the pain feels like. When I try and think back to how it’s been the month before, it’s like I’ve blocked it out. All I can say is, when I think about having to go through that pain again this month, I feel a gut-wrenching fear that brings me to the edge of tears. I cannot do it again. And yet, it comes and I do and a month later I find myself back in the same situation.

Endometriosis. For those of you who aren’t aware of what it is (and there are a few, I was one!) It’s an illness where endometrial tissue is found outside of the womb. It causes excruciating pain, infertility, chronic fatigue, and in some cases; financial problems and relationship breakdown.
There is no cure. It’s average diagnosis time is 7 years; from first appearance of symptoms to diagnosis. That is not good. Understatement. Women are struggling all over the world, visiting their GP, being rushed to hospital, being admitted to hospital, trying to get help. To be in pain is the worst feeling in the world, worsened by the fact that you feel alone and unable to get help.

I have had 3 hospital admissions since August 2014 and several out of hours doctors appointments. I have struggled since February 2014 when my gynaecologist decided it was unlikely I had endometriosis and decided not to send me for the diagnostic laparoscopy. This man I met again on my 3rd hospital admission, he waltzed on to the ward and I felt an impending sense of despair. He had no idea who I was, or that he’d seen me before, he then told me he was sending for (another) scan and that the pain could be due to a water infection or I could be constipated or appendicitis – all that I’d heard before. The frustration I felt at the moment was strong enough that it could have lifted me off of the bed. He informed me after checking the scan that he would just help manage the pain as I was booked in for surgery in January 2015.

A week after I was discharged, 20th December, I married the love of my life. I only just made it down the aisle.

I mentally prepared myself for surgery, thinking positive despite several doctors telling me not to pin my hopes on the operation as they might not be able to find a cause of the pain. That in itself is a frightening thing. If they can’t find anything, I’ll just be left to deal with this every month by myself. Surely I wouldn’t have all this pain for no reason? But doctors assured me this could be possible; “some women just suffer more harshly than others with period pains.”

So I went under. I can’t tell you how long I was in surgery for, it felt like I’d only blinked. But the moment I opened my eyes, I was in agony. The nurse pumped me full of Morphine and Tramadol as I tried to listen to my consultant explain he had found severe endometriosis. That my ovaries had been fused to my pelvis. That if I wanted children, to have them sooner rather than later as my fertility would only decrease as I get older (but hey! there’s always IVF), and that an hysterectomy would be the final decision but was hopefully years and years away.
I can tell you, the relief that he’d found something, found an answer when I’d had none for months, I’ll admit I cried. And I have cried a lot since my surgery over 2 weeks ago. I’m still sore and I’m still learning what I can do to help myself and what options are.
But the first thing I realised, it’s not all hopeless. There are success stories. There are alot of women I have come to know that are surviving with endometriosis; brave, strong women. Most have been surviving a lot longer than I have, years they have endured such agony. All smiling on the outside, while suffering awful pain on the inside. I salute you ladies! You inspire me to look to the future with a positivity I didn’t have before Christmas, pre-op.

I debated whether or not to write this entry. Thinking it might be too much, it might not apply to everyone, maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but this is how endometriosis has affected me and my life. I hope whoever reads this has had a better time, or that this can help you understand and appreciate what I’ve been through.

My name is Aimée, I’m 24, married and I’m surviving with chronic endometriosis. There I said it.

xo

Deep breath! aaaand let’s smile. These have made me smile:

George Michael – Faith —    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29GWMT0GB6s
Olly Murs Ft Demi Lovato – Up —      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cs3Pvmmv0E
Jimmy Fallon’s lip sync battle with Will Ferrell & Kevin Hart —
Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson – Uptown Funk —   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPf0YbXqDm0
Ed Sheeran – Thinking out Loud —     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lp-EO5I60KA