5 March 2012

Blogging for Endometriosis: Physical Impact

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month! 


I am working with an incredible group of women to help educate and spread awareness about endometriosis. With 5.5 million women in North America alone being affected, there is a good chance that you know someone battling this often unrelenting disease.

Throughout the month of March, we will be hosting a blog carnival with different weekly topics. See the bottom of this post for links to other Blogging for Endometriosis Awareness participants.

Week of March 5th: Physical impact that endometriosis has had on your life
Week of March 12th: Mental impact that endo has had on your life
Week of March 19th: Fertility issues (if any) related to endo
Week of March 26th: Things that you have found helpful with endo or that have allow you to cope in spite of illness

-------

Endometriosis can be physically exhausting. At times, it has literally sucked the life out of me. My life is scheduled around the side effects of endometriosis and my period. Something so simple as a last minute gathering with friends can cause major anxiety if I am dealing with cramps or bleeding or fatigue that day. 

In short, I can't be the woman that "does it all" anymore. Not even close. I am the woman that schedules my life around a chronic illness, and tries my best to maintain some semblance of normalcy. 

It has taken me years to admit that to myself. I still struggle with owning up to it at times. I wasn't always this way. I view myself as was one of the more silent victims of endo. Since I started my period at age 13, I remember having some difficult cycles here and there. Cramps, bleeding, etc. Other than bad cramps, there was nothing too far out of the ordinary. I was rarely sidelined by my period, and was a competitive athlete throughout high school. I would go to school from 8am-3pm, and go to basketball practice from 3:30pm-6pm every day, and those practices were NO JOKE. The one side effect I did suffer from was breakthrough bleeding. I remember visiting my doctor on a number of occasions because I was worried about my spotting. I was given birth control every visit, and told I would grow out of it. I was told that my period was irregular because I was young. I had no family history of endometriosis, and never had a friend or acquaintance with it. I was clueless when it came to this disease. 

My point in sharing this background information is to note that most of my life I didn't have much physical evidence I was suffering from endo. It wasn't until my mid- to late- twenties that I started to really wonder what was going on. After graduate school, and around the time I got engaged (age 26) was when I started to notice my periods were changing. They were becoming noticeably heavier and clot-filled. I would become so crampy and sickly during the first two to three days of my period that I would  need to stay in bed. The bleeding was so heavy that I couldn't really leave my house. 

All of these physical impacts affected my ability to function, and get through my day. I cut back on work, and eventually went part time. I have also had periods of complete unemployment due to physically not being able to work. This has put a HUGE strain on my career aspirations. I rarely talk about it, because it upsets me so much. Other physical impacts include anemia due to blood loss. I was depressed, and I didn't know why. My workouts were significantly shorter and less strenuous due to endo pains. Some days, I simply couldn't work out. 

I continue to deal with all these side effects even today. I feel like I am a little better at tackling them now, because I have had years of practice, yet you never really get used to the pain and isolation. You just get a little better at forgiving yourself for the cancelled vacations, for the missed birthdays, for the times when your husband wants to be out all day, and you need to come home and rest. 

BUT, in spite of all of your physical shortcomings, you find a core strength inside yourself that you honestly never knew you had. It is an ability to move forward and live your best life, even when everything in your body is trying to hold you back. That is an endometriosis survivor. 

Other Endometriosis Awareness bloggers: 

3 comments:

  1. Our stories sound very much alike! I had no issues with periods during my teens at all and like you, I was active in sports. It was in my final years of undergrad that I began to notice the difference and the pain became my constant companion just in time for my student teaching. Like you, I still struggle (despite the length of time I've been sick) to acknowledge that I can't be the champion multi-tasker and do-it-all that I used to be. I think that has been one of the hardest things to grasp since I was diagnosed. I always referred to myself as an almost-Type-A personality so learning to ask for help was a biggie for me. Thank you for sharing your story! Look forward to reading more about you in the coming weeks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for sharing your story. I didn't have anything out of the ordinary until my mid 20s once I stopped taking the pill. Then it all came together... :(
    We are strong!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for sharing your story and doing this with all of us! I think it will help us as much as it helps others! Thinking of you lady :) xo

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin