My emotions about the illness has changed over the years. When I was young I used to dread the arrival of my period. I remember saying to my mother that I was jealous that she wasn’t having periods while she was pregnant. It’s indicative of my pain and the dread I felt when contemplating my pain when I didn’t consider pregnancy a drastic act just to avoid 9 periods.
I felt vindicated when I finally had the diagnosis of endometriosis at the age of 35. While in some ways it was a relief to finally know the name of my arch nemesis, it was also a disappointment to know that I had suffered for over 20 years without appropriate treatment. No. Disappointment isn’t the right word. I was angry. I am still angry. I regularly call doctors “idiots in white coats” with venom in my voice. How dare you think that that much pain is remotely normal? How dare you take the easy option by giving me ineffective painkillers instead of referring me for the surgery that I was so desperate for!
Endo for me now is a familiar pain. It is something I no longer dread but it is something that I still hate. I hate the fact that I have to organise my bodily functions in order that I won’t suffer while at work. I hate the fact that I have suffered pain for decades before I got a diagnosis. I hate the fact that the only treatment I have found remotely effective is something that masks the symptoms. Imagine having a toothache and being told you can only take aspirin for it, no root-canal, no cap, no filling, no tooth extraction – just aspirin. It’s just not good enough! I hate the fact that the time in my life that I wasn’t suffering symptoms, I had so much potential. I felt I could achieve anything. I don’t feel that way anymore.
Endo hasn’t just attacked my body. Another casualty was my first marriage. Being fair, the end of the first marriage had several causes but Endo was certainly one of the nails in the coffin.
My dreams of becoming a teacher were also – in part – crushed by Endo. Despite the fact that I’m intelligent enough to achieve great things, I never had a career. When I was in my early 20s I had a successful university career. These days I’ve settled into my body and strictly manage my stress levels so that when I have “off” days at work, no one notices. I don’t want too much responsibility because I fear what my body will do to snooker my chances at a proper career. I’m content in this now, but in my 20s and early 30s this was a real problem for me. I felt I wasn’t living up to my potential. I felt guilty that I’d gone to university, while holding down a job, and doing volunteer work but couldn’t seem to do anything after that. I put too much pressure on myself.
These are the things I’ve had to overcome thanks in part to Endo. It’s hard to adequately express how Endo has affected my relationships and coloured my views. Despite my chronic illnesses, I am happier now than I ever have been. Endo cannot take that from me.