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I was 16 years old when I first began suffering the horrific symptoms of Endometriosis. I suspect that I had it earlier than that due to debilitating fatigue when I was a teenager, but 16 is when I had my first period that involved severe cramps, vomiting, and passing out on the bathroom floor. Although I was able to self-diagnose right away based on my symptoms, it took me almost 12 years to be officially diagnosed and treated for the disease. In March of 2018, I finally found a doctor who listened to me. He is an amazing surgeon who heard me out just in time to save my fertility, but not after years of heartache and struggle.
In October 2017, I found out I was 5 weeks pregnant after several years of infertility. My husband and I were shocked, but definitely on cloud nine because we always suspected we wouldn’t have biological children. Finally we would get our miracle baby! Sadly, only four days later I ended up in the E.R. due to bleeding, vomiting, and pain. We had lost our baby. Everything happened so fast it took me several days to even realize what I had gone through. We were completely heartbroken.
After spending a couple of months letting myself grieve the loss of our baby, I got angry. I realized that I had gone to nearly a dozen doctors over the years since I began having symptoms of Endo, who would send me home with ibuprofen prescriptions and nothing more. “Some women just have painful periods”, they would say. My pain was no big deal to them because I sat on the table in front of them looking fine on the outside, but that wasn’t the case. For all those years that I was dismissed there was a disease that was taking over my body, and it continued to worsen from year to year until it became so debilitating I could barely walk or dress myself. Because the Endometriosis was allowed to continue growing in my body all those years, my fertility was greatly affected, and I do believe it caused us to lose our first pregnancy.
I’ve gotten really good at directing my anger into creating positive change in my life, and this situation was no different. Anger over being dismissed by doctors and losing my baby lit a fire in me. I did my research on doctors in the U.S. who specialized in Endometriosis. This probably isn’t news to you, but there’s not very many. The closest one to me was 3 hours away, but he didn’t take my insurance, so the next best thing was 6 hours away. Yep, SIX. Taking that step and deciding to go to an expert Endometriosis surgeon changed my life completely. I had so much hope going into my first laparoscopic excision surgery. I didn’t even go into it hoping that I could get pregnant again, but to lessen my pain levels which were catastrophic at that point. I definitely had a lot of doubts that the surgery would work for me, but there was that little glimmer of hope keeping me going. I couldn’t give up on living a life free of pain.
After my surgery was complete, the surgeon found my husband in the waiting room to tell him that everything went perfectly and that I had come to him just in time. If I had gone any longer without receiving the proper treatment, I would have suffered permanent damage to my reproductive organs losing my fertility all together. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Endometriosis, and was borderline Stage 4. I really believe my miscarriage and the decline my health took over the past few years could have been avoided if doctors knew more about this disease. It kills me that we lost our first child due to this disease, but I don’t think I would have fought so hard to get the treatment I needed if I hadn’t gone through that loss.
To our surprise, about a month after surgery we found out we were pregnant again. We had decided to wait a few years before trying again, but my surgery went so well that apparently my fertility was back in full-swing. We were scared at first because the loss was still fresh on our minds, but our son is now 6 months old! He’s our little miracle, and I am so thankful for him.
Pregnancy loss is hard, but I share my story because I want to spread hope to other women who are fighting Endometriosis and infertility. I know it’s difficult to read stories like this. I will never forget what it was like to be on the other side of this journey. I never thought I would get to be a mom, and it’s a difficult road to navigate when you don’t know what your future will be. Never give up on receiving the treatment you deserve for this disease, and feel free to reach out to me if you need help finding resources.