Speaking up about my endometriosis

Nothing will ever prepare you for the moment you are told that you have a chronic illness.

Nothing will ever prepare you for the moment you are told that you will never be able to have children.

Nothing will ever prepare you for the moment that you are told you will experience fatigue, hormonal imbalances, and pain for the rest of your life.

Endometriosis is a disease that affects 1 in 10 women, yet no one is talking about it. Endometriosis occurs when tissue resembling the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, attaching itself to other organs, causing scarring, adhesion's, inflammation, and cysts. This leads to excruciating pain and worsens when a woman has her period -as if having a period wasn't enough. Endometriosis causes infertility in 30 - 50 percent of women. That's right, half of all women facing fertility issues are victims to endometriosis. Having endometriosis also increases the risk of obtaining ovarian cancer. There is no cure for the disease, in time the tissue reforms.

Unfortunately, the cause of endometriosis is undetermined. Many doctors say that hormonal imbalances are a major factor along with the role of genetics.

So here I am, twenty-one years old with grandma panties and a pad so thick I might as well be wearing an adult diaper. When my doctor told me that the only treatment options I had were to 1- go on the pill or 2- have surgery, I lost it. I felt hopeless. I didn't want to put fake hormones into my body and I definitely didn't want to go under the knife. However, the pain I was experiencing was taking a major toll on my day to day life. I had unknowingly been experiencing symptoms for years, many signs I would brush off or tell myself that it was just in my head. But after two months of being diagnosed, the pain was affecting nearly all areas of my life and I said enough was enough. This photo was taken about two days after my laparoscopic surgery. I am extremely bloated due to the gas they put in my body during the procedure. You can see 2 of my incisions, the one on the right side of my body has some bruising because I experienced a hematoma (internal bleeding), as did my third incision under the panties.

They found scar tissue everywhere-like something freaking blew up inside of me. There are four stages of diagnosis, minimal to severe. My doctor told me I was at stage three, meaning it was found on nearly all of my organs but not completely covering the intestines. My uterus was connected to my abdominal wall, turning it completely sideways. The doctors said they've never seen anything like it.

I am thankful for the ability to have surgery but feeling weaker than ever in recovery. My body is crying for rest and I can't seem to give it enough. Each day is getting easier although I am battling a constant fear that the pain will still be there after I recover, what if the surgery was for nothing? Many thoughts are clouding my mind along with the morphine I've been reluctantly taking. I know that this is not the end, this is the beginning of my journey. I will need more testing and more surgeries in my lifetime. I am still waiting for my moment of relief. However, I know that I am stronger because of this, I know that I am strong.

My goal is to create a platform that will spread awareness about this very underfunded, understudied disease. I want to shine a light on holistic medicine and the benefits I've experienced from living a natural plant-based life. I want to help others by documenting my journey.

It breaks my heart that women are ashamed to speak about their periods or to speak about their bodies. It is natural and it is beautiful. Our bodies should be looked at as temples, women literally create life. I mean a woman created you and your next-door neighbor, and the person you're sitting next to. Think about that for a minute. Essentially, we were all created by women, so why are we constantly shaming them?

I want to reach out to others that are suffering, even if that means helping only one person. LETS LIFT EACH OTHER UP. Let's normalize periods. Let's stop hiding our bodies in fear of what others might think.

Ladies, please get yourself checked. Women go years without being properly diagnosed. Listen to your body! If you're experiencing pain of any kind don't ignore it because you could be 1 in 10. Periods should not be painful. Stop putting it off and make an appointment with your gynecologist.

I ask those of you reading to be patient with me, I am still learning and still healing.

I am one in 10.

And I am speaking up.