How Endometriosis Changed My Life Path
I was just a newly married, 22-years old young woman when I was diagnosed with a medical condition that would change my life.
“Excuse me, miss, we can’t give you any more pain medication. You were just here last month asking for the same thing—we’ll have to refer you to a pain management doctor this time.” These were the words I was told by a physician on one of my countless visits to the Emergency Room, searching for relief from the excruciating pain this medical condition called endometriosis was causing me. I visited more than 10 different doctors in search of the proper diagnosis for “my painful menstrual period.” Although 10 percent of women have endometriosis worldwide, according to recent research, it often takes women years and numerous visits to different doctors to get a proper diagnosis.
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is when the tissue that usually grows inside the uterus instead grows outside, spreading to different parts of the body and causing pain and inflammation during menstruation. In my case, I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis. I had this abnormal growth all around my reproductive system and colon.
In order to have a proper diagnosis, I had to have an extensive 12 hours of surgery. Before the diagnosis I had never heard of endometriosis—it was shattering to learn that this condition had no cure and that this specific surgery was just part of a temporary solution. I was advised that I would have to be on hormone therapy until I decided to conceive. The thought of being on medication for the rest of my life was daunting, to say the least, but I also didn’t want to be in pain.
Due to the hormone therapy I was on, I started having menopause symptoms at the age of 23. I had night sweats, felt very irritable, and experienced depression to the point that I just wanted to end my life. Endometriosis was changing me, alright! I was unrecognizable. I went from being a healthy and vibrant young woman to to feeling like a debilitated and uncertain human-being.
Endometriosis + Fertility
When it was time for me to have another follow-up after the surgery, the doctor found that the endometriosis had come back—and I was advised to try and get pregnant. There have been myths about pregnancy helping with endometriosis. I was happy and nervous at this “prescription” but I went ahead and prepared to put this suggestion into action, trusting my body to the doctors.
I tried conceiving naturally but it turned out that endometriosis had caused infertility. I felt devastated at this news. Not only were my hopes of becoming a mother destroyed, but my hopes of finding something that would help get rid of my endometriosis in a more “natural” way were also dashed.
What began as a fight against endometriosis turned into be a journey into fertility. I was advised to do in vitro fertilization (IVF) in order to conceive before my uterus was completely damaged by the endometriosis. I did two rounds of IVF, one fresh and another frozen in the lapse of two years. During those rounds, I was able to get pregnant twice and have my miracle boys. At the time I had my boys, I thought I had won the battle with endometriosis.
A year after having my second baby, to my surprise, the pain was back. Yep, the endometriosis was back. I couldn’t believe it. I felt defeated and devastated. In that desperation, following the suggestion of my doctors, I had a hysterectomy to, in my mind, once and for all get rid of the endo.
I wish I could say that my endo journey ended there, but my condition was back even after having a hysterectomy. It was not my answer to dealing with endometriosis. After not finding any relief from surgeries, hormone therapies and pain medication, I knew I had to take an alternative route—and take matters into my own hands. I decided to become my own health advocate. I started to research more about endometriosis, reading books, studies and articles on the subject. I became thirsty for knowledge about endo.
Treating Endometriosis Naturally
I went from a conventional modern medicine approach to a more natural and holistic path. I started to first work on my eating habits and changing my diet. I tried the “endo diet,” which removes most inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, alcohol and caffeine. I tried it for about two months before I started having pain again.
I then proceeded to remove all animal products from my diet, becoming vegan. I would love to say that being vegan helped the most with the endometriosis symptoms, but it actually caused me to feel very weak and become borderline anemic. So, I opted for supplements such as vitamin B12, and superfoods such as moringa, matcha, spirulina, chlorella and more. I incorporated exercise, which led me to lose weight and find a new love for nutrition and how I treated my body.
The more I learned about how to care for my body, the more I wanted to share and bring awareness to others in regards to alternative approaches to health. I was starting to become the go-to person for family and friends when it came to family-friendly healthy meal ideas, exercises and even natural remedies. Teaching has always been my calling but sharing something that I felt so passionate about and that had changed my life, became my new way of helping others in similar situations.
Adding Spirituality to My Journey
But food, exercise and natural remedy changes weren’t the complete solution. I started having unexpected bleeding, which made me hit rock bottom. It was then I realized that through my wellness journey, I was missing the spirituality element.
I started to work on my healing by connecting my body and my mind through meditation and journaling. These practices allowed me to work with my body’s energy and identify the emotional build up that had been passed down from my parents, and absorbed from my childhood experiences. I was able to pinpoint a root of my endometriosis: I was a victim of abuse as a child, which affected the energy build up in my reproductive system.
This may seem a little woo-woo for some, but for me, understanding this was eye-opening (and there’s research to back me up). It helped me make sense of it all. My entire journey led me to this point, where I could learn to love my body and myself, and to know my self-worth.
Because of endometriosis, I think, act and feel differently. I know I have a purpose beyond myself and I am committed to helping other women find health and healing by sharing my story.
Interested in how plant-based foods can be part of your endometriosis treatment plan? See how one woman used food to help manage hers.