This is Lauren, a twenty something, fun-loving woman, who like most of us, is a little addicted to shopping, and loves to play with her dog. You would never know by looking at Lauren in the left picture (above) that she is suffering from a horrible and painful disease that affects more than 11% of Australian women.
Endometriosis is an unforgiving disease "in which cells similar to those that line the uterus – the endometrium – grow in locations outside the uterus."* It has no cure, cannot be prevented, can affect fertility, and due to the large variation of symptoms, takes an average of 7-12 years to be medically diagnosed, which should be viewed as unacceptable in a country like Australia.
I became extremely intrigued by endometriosis, more commonly called Endo amongst its warriors, when I had a few customers reach out to ask me if I had anything that could help them. When I became aware that more than 10 women who were customers of Balm Balm Co. all had this disease, I started to question why something that is so common, and so life debilitating for these women, wasn't something I had heard of, and even more shocking, the negative experiences they were having with doctors that were meant to be helping them were all very similar.
So in an effort to give these women a voice and to spread awareness about endo, I asked a few of my beautiful customers with endo some questions to share with you. I hope this will give you some more insight into living with endo, and may even help you to get diagnosed if you have some of these symptoms, which you maybe were made to believe, was just part of being a woman!
Here is Lauren's interview-
How were you diagnosed with Endo?
I was diagnosed through surgery, which is called a laparoscopy.
What were your symptoms?
pain between periods
How many surgeries have you had?
I have had 8 surgeries.
How long did it take to be diagnosed?
10 years too long.
What would your advice be to women that suspect they have endo?
See your GP and ask to be referred to a Gyno, preferably a Gyno that specialises in endometriosis.
What has your experience been with health professionals dealing with this?
Before my diagnosis and even once I got a diagnosis, I have had some horrible experiences, some that have left me anxious to even meet a new medical professional. Some have made me feel so anxious and not believed me; I was scared no medical professional would ever believe me, until I found my current Gyno and medical team who have been absolutely amazing.
Any horror stories you would like to share?
A month ago I presented to the emergency to have a male doctor be so horrible. He did not let any nurses give me pain relief, refused to do any testing and made me feel so scared for him to even come into the room to see me, the nurses had to tell him to leave me alone.
I have also had a surgeon perform surgery and a week after the surgery things didn't feel right. I was sent to a specialist who told me he (the surgeon) was using a fake name and had been banned from operating from most hospitals. This specialist rushed me into surgery a week later and told me there was no medical evidence that the surgeon did anything for the 2 hours I was under anesthetic.
What have you found to be the most helpful things to help with the pain?
pain relief when needed
How has endo affected your relationships?
Friendships it has affected a lot, they haven't understood and have stopped checking in with me or trying anymore.
I am just forever grateful for my husband.
Has it had an impact on your mental health?
It has had a huge mental toll on me. A lot of anxiety and a lot of days I have been in bed crying not sure how I will cope.
What have you found has helped you cope mentally?
Seeing a psychologist who understands chronic pain/illness has been my biggest help.
What’s something you have tried that hasn’t worked for you?
Ignoring how I'm feeling in hopes it will be ok.
Has endo affected your fertility?
It has made my fertility journey extremely rough experiencing an ectopic pregnancy and a miscarriage all in 5 months.
What advice would you give to someone who’s doctor is not taking them seriously?
Find a new one ASAP!
What is something or somethings you wish more people knew about endo?
That surgery is not a cure
Pregnancy is not a cure
Endometriosis and the endometrium is DIFFERENT.
Thank you so much to Lauren for sharing her story with me and shedding light on endometriosis.