Raising Endometriosis Awareness With Art: Part Two
January 21, 2018
To recap from the last entry: I explained the symptoms I had been having for 2 years, and we left off at my diagnosis at the gynecologist's office.
The word "Surgery" is enough to worry anyone. I think my mom was more worried than I was. I was just looking forward to getting the diagnosis confirmed, and having the endometriosis treated.
The doctor told me he was going to do a procedure called a "laparoscopy." This is a medical device, about the size of a pen, with a light on it and camera to look around inside. As defined by Wikipedia: "Laparoscopy is a surgery that uses a thin, lighted tube put through a cut (incision) in the belly to look at the abdominal organs or the female pelvic organs . Laparoscopy is used to find problems such as cysts, adhesions, fibroids , and infection. Tissue samples can be taken for biopsy through the tube (laparoscope).
I went through all the paperwork, knew the risks, and knew what to expect after the procedure. The purpose of the surgery was to diagnose endometriosis, and remove whatever endometriosis was found.
I had my surgery on April 4th 2011. The doctor did indeed find endometriosis in a few places. He said he cauterized all of it, and scheduled a follow-up appointment for two weeks post-op.
I was told that I would recover from the surgery within a week, but for me, it took longer. I was able to walk around just fine, but things like bending over to tie my shoes, picking things up, doing household chores, and other things were still painful for me after a month. At the time, I thought it was normal. I also had a lot of post op fatigue. It was so bad that I had to take an extra week off from work. I also had post-op depression. Something I didn't know about. I talked to my doctor about this later on, and he too was puzzled by it. Luckily, it went away on its own after a short time.
Once I was finally recovered, I felt amazing. I had a lot less pain, I was able to exercise more, I had more energy, and I had a lot less digestive comfort and bloating. I started taking a tiny pill that contained only progesterone to manage the endometriosis. I was told that if I took the progesterone continuously with no breaks, my periods would stop, and the endometriosis would "slow down." It didn't.
Six months later, my symptoms returned. I was getting breakthrough bleeding too, and at one point, I bled heavily for 2 weeks straight. I became severely anemic, and my fatigue returned with a vengeance due to that. Also, despite hearing that my periods would improve with the endometriosis now "gone," mine were just as painful as ever. I expected the first one after surgery to hurt, but not the next one, and the next, and etc. you get the idea.
By the winter of 2012, I was in need of another surgery. I remember being upset and frustrated by this. I just wanted my life back. I had recently gotten promoted at my job, and I thought the endo was gone. I spent a lot of my shifts in pain, and it was enough pain that people noticed. I had been taking the progesterone pill (medroxyprogesterone acetate in case you're curious) as directed, but it didn't help the pain. I had an ultrasound where an ovarian cyst was discovered, and I was booked for surgery two weeks later.
My second surgery was an awful recovery. I had my operation in the middle of December, so I had to somehow do Christmas shopping while unable to lift anything over 10 pounds, and with terrible, terrible fatigue. I ended up doing most of my Christmas shopping at Wal-Mart from a wheelchair. I couldn't reach most things, so I needed help, and since I was taking painkillers I had THE WORST TASTE. I bought the worst gifts for people. I'm amazed they still love me. (Just kidding. They're family so they have to heeheehee :P)
On Christmas morning, I woke up super sick from being out the night before celebrating Christmas Eve with my family. I was exhausted, and I had taken too many pain medications to make up for the fact that I did stuff and was in agony from it. I ended up vomiting it all up around 3am and it was some of the worst pain I've ever experienced. Throwing up less than 2 weeks after having abdominal surgery is not recommended.
I had inflammation of the stomach lining from one of the anti-inflammatory drugs I was prescribed. It's kind of heavy duty, and normally used to treat gout. I got it from my family doctor that thought it would be a good thing to take after I finished the tramacet I had from my operation. It took a few weeks for me to get over it, and I was nauseous every single day.
After I finally recovered from all of this, I felt great again. This time, it lasted longer, but not as long as I hoped. 2013 was a very good year for me. I was active, doing well at my job, I loved where I lived, I had friends, I was social - I was happy.
Unfortunately, before year's end, I was struggling with constant nausea, which made participating in my favourite sport - indoor rock climbing - extremely difficult. My activity level decreased, and I started to lose weight quickly. By 2014, it was confirmed that my endometriosis had indeed returned, and my surgeon didn't want to do a third operation on me in such short a time period. Each time you have surgery, you risk more scar tissue, more adhesions, and it's just not a way to live.. Having a surgery once every year.
My gynecologist understood that he didn't have the skills required to remove my aggressive endometriosis completely, and referred me to the Endometriosis clinic in Vancouver, at BC Women's Hospital.