Young, energetic, and to the best of my knowledge – healthy. This is how I began my journey into womanhood. I got my period when I was 11 but because I got it every 14 days, I was put on the birth control pill to regulate it. Out of personal preference, I decided to stop taking the pill when I was 23 and was doing well off it. I had minor cramps when I had my period but nothing an Advil couldn’t manage. This feeling changed quickly – and suddenly my life turned into a roller coaster of health issues, doctor visits, and surgeries. It started with a sharp, shooting pain in my uterus one day that made me scream, but I didn’t have my period. I was 25 years old when I found out that I likely had Endometriosis. My doctor gave me the option of surgery or to restart the birth control pill; I decided on the latter because who wants to have surgery?
Endometriosis Has No Cure
I had my doctor write down this word – Endometriosis – I had never heard before but now is a part of my daily conversation. This random reference I found in a book mentioned something about painful periods and infertility. I know many women are misdiagnosed from the start and in Canada it can take up to 9 years to receive the correct diagnosis. So while I was grateful that my doctor was able to provide me with this diagnosis from the start, did he or this paragraph I read say that Endometriosis had no cure? Did either of them say that my life would change in ways I never imagined? No.
With 2 unsuccessful surgeries performed by a gynecologist in Vancouver in under 2 years and Endometriosis now taking over my life, I began to do more and more research into this disease. The information that I found blew my mind. This disease has no end, no boundaries. It’s like a cancer, with the potential to spread anywhere in the body but unlike cancer it doesn’t kill. It leaves you standing, looking like nothing is wrong with you. The symptoms vary from day to day but my Endometriosis never fails to remind me it’s there.
The South Asian community silences periods, and conversations of any sort to do with female reproductive issues. This is extremely unfortunate as Endometriosis is not just a painful period. Aside from heavy, painful periods that can be debilitating, it can present itself through pelvic pain, nausea, bloating, leg pain, lower back pain, infertility, fatigue, etc. and these in turn affect school, work, finances, and relationships. Narcotics and birth control are not the answer to Endometriosis as they help suppress some of the symptoms, but the disease continues grow.
The gold standard for treatment is laparoscopic excision surgery and I first learned this from Padma Lakshmi, a well-known author, model, TV show host and foodie. She is also a woman whom I have come to admire for sharing her experience with Endometriosis. I was at my lowest point and didn’t know how I was going to get through this when my friend emailed this article saying I had to read it. Padma Lakshmi opened up about her ordeal with Endometriosis and she mentioned a doctor who not only helped diagnose her but also was able to provide the proper surgical treatment. That article was a turning point for me; had Padma Lakshmi not opened up, had my friend not seen that article, had she not sent it to me, I would not have gained the knowledge that has helped me get to where I am today.
Although there is no cure for Endometriosis, I have found information and resources that can help to manage the pain and associated symptoms. When I first learned of this disease, I felt alone and hopeless, unsure of where to go or what to do. I understand the pain, the sadness, the anger, the feelings of judgment that come with Endometriosis and I want others to know that they are not alone in this battle.
In a community where periods are not discussed, I wanted to break this silence by sharing my story and resources on a site I created just for this: endointhe604.com. I hope to not only educate and inform the public about Endometriosis but to help my Endosisters get the help they are looking for.