There are days that I think I need to wear a sign that says- I have Endometriosis and cannot have kids, stop asking. Other days, God gives me more grace than that to handle the whole situation, and I can explain it all with a smile on my face. Fact is, for us, being 30 and married and NOT having kids really encourages others to ask why, when will you have kids? Do you even want kids? What's the deal? And honestly, when I get asked that question, even if it's someone who I've known forever, it's like they just sucker punched me in the gut. Infertility is hard people! If I want to talk about it with you, I will, no need to poke and prod me- the doctors do that enough! :)
(If you want to read more about the actual disease, please click the link- John Hopkins- Endometriosis, and at the end of this post, I will include more links for you to check out.)
My case is a little different. I have had trouble with my body ever since age 11, painful monthly experiences, catching every cold, flu, virus that passed within a 5ft range of me. At age 18, I went to my first ob/gyn and she suspected it was Endometriosis, and put me on birth control. I say suspected because the only way to confirm the diagnosis is with exploratory surgery. At 21, I had a laparoscopy done of my abdomen and they found Stage 4 Endometriosis (the worst kind) - everywhere. Not only on all of my reproductive organs, but growing up my ab muscles, covering my intestines and attaching them to themselves, outside of my lungs and had even attached on the outside of my heart sac. She said it's as if an Endometriosis bomb had went off inside my body cavity. The doctor lasered off what she could, but then it was on to birth control that prevented me from having a monthly cycle in hopes that by suppressing the estrogen that it would control the Endometriosis and it wouldn't get any worse than it was.
Fast forward a few painful years to 24- my life was nothing but pain and not being able to fully live without pain medicine, that I didn't want to take. I couldn't work as they would probably fire me for taking too many sick days. The pain was unbearable to the point that it was impossible to do any housework, to even go shopping, much less any fun get-together or event. My mental state as well as my relationships were at an all time low. I simply could not go on. After praying day in and day out, (and boy was my faith tested to it's limits at this time) and coming to the conclusion that I couldn't possibly deal with this anymore, I had to get my life back, I went back for another surgery. This doctor specialized in Endometriosis and it's very rare to find one that does (thanks to God for sending me to him). I was so thankful that he agreed to take me as a patient. Having studied my chart & files, he called me in and we discussed options. He was willing to go into this as a "clean up surgery" meaning going in and getting rid off any adhesion he could, saying that this could possibly leave my reproductive organs for a few more years, only lessening the pain a tiny bit.
Then, he brought up the bad news- if he went in and there wasn't any good parts of the reproductive organs, would I be OK with a partial hysterectomy. Let me just stop and say this here, I was raised Catholic. Hence the reason why I didn't get to an ob/gyn before 18. Not that I disagree with my parents decision, but the thought of taking birth control much less having surgeries that prevented my God given right to have as many children as God wanted me to have, was not okay with my parents. I love them dearly for raising me with such strong faith because if it weren't for that faith, I would probably be... well, who knows where I would be and what state I would be in right now. But I know that I wouldn't be the person I am today without that faith.
Continuing, the surgery lasted hours longer than expected, and he came out to tell my family that there was nothing he could save. All of my reproductive organs were completely demolished by this retched disease and he had to remove everything. EVERYTHING. A radical hysterectomy. I was 24 and would never be able to conceive, carry, or birth my own child. Since this is not what we fully expected, harvesting and freezing my eggs was never brought up beforehand. The doctor and I both thought he could clean it out a bit, and give me a few years to try to have a child. But this wasn't what was in the cards for me. My body was a war zone between it and Endometriosis, and Endometriosis had won.
This is so difficult to talk about. Y'all, as I said in the beginning of this post, I never wanted to share this. It hurts too much to go back to surgery day when I woke up and my Mama had to tell me that the Doctor had removed everything, and that I would never be rid of this disease, that I would have to be on Hormone Replacement Therapy for the rest of my life, and that I would never have my own children. It hurts so much to relive what I felt for the next months to years, as I frantically tried to get a grip on what had happened to me, and what would never happen to me...carrying a child. The long months and years of trying to figure out why this happened to me. My whole family jokes that everyone is "Fertile Myrtles" and have no trouble having babies. WHY ME?
I sit here with a tear stained face, typing this despite of how much pain it brings because if I can reach just one girl, just one, and give her the hope and tell her about the love that God can give you, and how He can comfort you during the rough days, then all of this will be worth it. God is the only one, the only thing, my only comfort during that time, as well as this time. HE is the one who didn't let this disease dull my sparkle. Many friends who know me, and who I have chosen to share my story with, simply cannot believe that I have so much happiness and love left after everything I've been through. And I give it all up to God.
So please, if there isn't anything else you do for me, please share this post, share a photo, just spread some sort of awareness for this disease so that one day we can have a cure. Even if I will never be cured, just to know that they are coming close to a cure will give me so much hope!
Check out more info on this disease and ways you can help!
Endometriosis Research Center
Fight Like A Girl Club
Million Women March 2014
And please don't feel like I am doing this for any other reason other than spreading awareness. I want to encourage others, to help them in any way I can. And for me, telling this story is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Something I never wanted to do, but I felt like God was encouraging me, telling me to share it, to give hope to others and shed some light on this disease to those who might not know about it. He assured me that everything would be OK, and you know what, as much as it hurts to type it out, I feel a sense of calm and peace about it. :)