My endometriosis wasn’t always THIS bad.
In fact, my very first period at 12 wasn’t painful at all… more of a surprise actually It continued with that painless trend until I was about 16 when I began an episode of menstrual bleeding that lasted approximately six months. I went to the doctor and they gave me the option to wait it out or go on birth control pills. I had no desire to go on birth control. I thought that birth control was only for if you planned to be sexually active and I didn’t plan to be anytime soon.
I was a naÃ¯ve child who just plain didn’t get the big picture, nor did the doctor bother to try to explain it to me. So I ended up waiting the episode out and cut back on things that make you bleed, like the asprin and ibuprofen. The latter I had been taking in large doses for a shoulder injury incurred while swimming competitively. Those changes worked and the bleeding stopped a few weeks later.
Unfortunately my periods began to be painful and gradually they became worse and worse. I just didn’t feel like the doctor I had seen before was worth going back to so I popped ibuprofen like candy during that time of the month, used a heating pad and ignored the rest as best I could. My periods made me miss more school than any other illness combined during this time but I was a very good student so no one really cared.
At 22 years old I had a college degree and a good job. I finally had my own medical insurance and it was good insurance! I was employed by a major hospital and boy did they take care of their own. I was having painful periods and my family practice doctor was very concerned with my iron deficiency anemia, which was seemingly impossible to treat. The sent me to the gynecologist for birth control. They found two cysts on my cervix that were benign and removed them and after several months on the birth control they prescribed the periods were better and so was the pain! After 6 months the hemoglobin and hematocrit levels went back to normal, no more iron deficiency either!
I got married at 24 years old and with new insurance came a new town to live, a new doctor and new birth control pills. This doctor felt that a stronger pill would be “even better” and would knock out the rest of the pain I was having. He encouraged me to skip the blank days on my birth control pills to help the hormone levels remain constant and he also did a two ultrasounds, the abdominal and the transvaginal.
Then he said the phrase I would choose to ignore for the next 5 years:
“I think you have endometriosis.”
I hope you will follow this blog through my journey, learn from my mistakes and find comfort in knowing you are not on this road alone. Tune in next time as I discuss facing infertility due to endometriosis.
Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.