“The Doctor Said Yoga Would Fix My Endo.”
“The doctor said Yoga would fix my Endo.”
What a statement! What a joke! Anyone in their right mind would agree that this statement couldn’t be further from the truth.
The truth is that Caitlin Healy is a 22-year-old student. She is a netball fanatic, a daughter in a divorced family, an admitted emotional, a supporter of the #MeToo movement and a sufferer of Endometriosis.
I wondered how she could possibly balance all of these things. The answer is – She didn’t.
She first got period when she was 11 and since then she has always had heavy periods and lots of pain but thought it was normal because her mum had the same experience.
During her teen years she started getting breakthrough bleeding. Every period-producing person will agree that the two worst places to unknowingly get your period is 1) whilst swimming with sharks which is closely followed by 2) within the exit-less labyrinth of an Ikea store. There she was trying to DIY a solution to her unexpected period. Enough was enough so she consulted her regular doctor.
Her doctor thought this breakthrough bleeding was caused by stress and advised she start taking the pill to help manage the symptoms. It wasn’t long before the side effects of the pill in combination with her anxiety and sinus medications all became too much, and she ceased taking any medication for a while.
Around 20-years-old her pain significantly worsened. She booked another appointment with her regular doctor and he recommended nothing more than following his previous method. Like that was going to work. Not satisfied with the conclusion Caitlin approached a more than 10 doctors to try and get to the bottom of her problem. One of the doctors told her to do yoga for stress and pain relief ‒ which, as you would all agree, was beyond ridiculous. Depression set in, heavy as her period flow, a flow no tampon could plug, no pad could contain.
“One time the pain was so bad she thought that her appendix had burst.”
She was finally recommended by a friend to another doctor who did some tests and referred her to a specialist. This doctor disclosed that her condition could be one of three things: polycystic ovaries, a cyst or Endometriosis ‒ all almost as bad as the next. The one she was most nervous about was Endometriosis. For those who don’t already know Endometriosis is where endometrium tissue grows in the pelvic region outside of the uterus. The biggest problems with Endometriosis is that it is not always curable and it is not visible on any type of body scan and the only other thing that is that undetectable is intelligence in men.
All jokes aside, she ran soon into another roadblock ‒ the specialist was booked out for 8 months. It got worse and worse, and so she got referred to another specialist. He was blunt, to the point with no bedside manner. As the only way to diagnose the problem he wanted to do a laparoscopy (exploratory surgery). Finally, Caitlin felt some relief because there was finally progress.
However, it got so bad she couldn’t get out of bed, she couldn’t attend the compulsory Uni tutorials and was on the brink of failing. Unsympathetic tutors meant she had to appeal to the discrimination board so that she could submit her last assignments late and get her Fail grade reversed. And with all that going on she had to take 3 months off work.
One time the pain was so bad she thought that her appendix had burst. She cried all night, and took so many pain medications which provided her with almost no relief. For months she lived off pain killers.
She felt she was letting everybody down. She thought she was burden to her family, her friends, her netball team, her tutors but most of all to herself. Clinically depressed and in immense amounts of pain she had to convince the surgeon to move her up the public hospital waiting list. After lots of deliberating he finally agreed.
“It is so important for men (and other ignorant women) to realise this as a real condition it does exist, and it is as bad as its victims say.”
The surgery involved of two incisions (one in bellybutton and one near the pubic bone). The procedure consists of blowing the stomach up with gas to be able to better see the organs. Despite all the doubt doctors found Endometriosis deposits on the right broad ligament of her uterus, near the main nerve in her pelvis, in her cervix and in her Pouch of Douglass. After the procedure is completed the gas is sucked out but some of it generally gets trapped under the diaphragm which can cause inordinate amounts of pain in the shoulders as well as nausea.
But the surgery was a success.
He put her on Trifeme (which she basically has to take until menopause) to prevent the Endometriosis from growing back. He also told her to skip periods. This was hard to do. He didn’t understand her further problem. Although she was appreciative of what he had done for her so far, it was not a cut and dry fix.
She finally got into the other specialist who was a female – Bless her soul. The specialist gave Caitlin options and made her feel like her experiences were real and legitimate, that she wasn’t overreacting or just emotional. The specialist put Caitlin on the only pill that has worked, and Caitlin has thrived ever since.
But this isn’t always the case. For many the surgery doesn’t work. Some continue to have pain afterwards. Having this experience has showed her how society never believes people. They never believe women and their struggles. They consider us as emotional and people who overreact to a thing that society thinks is not painful or inconvenient.
Caitlin got through it, physically and emotionally from the help of women. From her mum and her friends. But it should be different. It is so important for men (and other ignorant women) to realise this as a real condition it does exist, and it is as bad as its victims say. Our cold, brush-it-off society needs to extend a helping hand to women in need. Scientific solutions need to be created. It is a chronic condition that needs to be managed post-surgery. There is no real solution except surgery, the pill and IUDs and these don’t work for everyone.
We need to raise awareness so women like Caitlin don’t have to experience this. It is essential to break down the barriers, to expose these issues that may have been previously too embarrassing to deal with. Don’t suffer in silence. There is always someone out there to help you.