Men-o-what??? Preparing for Menopause: My Endometriosis Journey

“So, it’s not cancer?” I asked, my entire body was tense and rigid. It was the question I had been holding onto for months. My heart and soul were prepared for the worst. I was more concerned with preparing those around me for the inevitable truth. “No, it’s not cancer” the doc replied with a smile. “It’s endometriosis, and we need to treat it right away” she said, in a very factual way. I was at my follow-up appointment, one week after diagnostic laparoscopic surgery. I was flushed with emotions, relief and concern washed over me. Before I knew it I was agreeing to menopause induced by hormones as the least invasive method of treatment. It wasn’t what I wanted, but it’s not like I have a choice in the matter, be it complete hysterectomy or hormones, menopause has to be done for healing to begin.

I’ve been trained by the military to compartmentalize my emotions. So, it’s what I did. It’s what I do. I find a rational place to park the feelings, and I put them there until I can process and deal with them later. I live in constant conflict, somewhere between trying to be present in the moment as required by my recovery efforts, and trying to be present without emotion to accomplish the task at hand as required. It’s just a matter of time before the emotions have to come out of the parking space. The time is now.

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I began to sob on the way home from the visit with the Doc. It was one of those inconsolable, overwhelming, much-needed sobs. It’s the sob I can only accomplish when speaking with God about my circumstances. It’s been a long journey to find this diagnosis. I spent the last 3 years in excruciating pain. I’ve had several emergency room visits  seeking relief. I’ve seen specialists. I’ve given up ungodly amounts of blood for testing. I’ve had image after image taken, with no logical conclusion for the problems. I’ve had an appendectomy for lower right side pain and inflammation, a procedure in which many of those who suffer with endo go through; often times it is completely irrelevant and un necessary.

It wasn’t until this moment that I felt my pain and all the complications with it were finally validated. I took a moment to praise God for giving me someone who finally did the work. The periods have been intense, ungodly intense, for many years. No one listened. The pain was blamed on functional ovarian cysts and cyst ruptures. I had constant sonograms that resulted in no new diagnosis. I saw a gastroentrologist, the bowel problems were blamed on IBS. The cramps were blamed on a tilted uterus. The back pain was blamed on the cramps and the IBS. The heavy bleeding was blamed on hormones. It was all there, all the signs of endometriosis (endo) were there.

This is where my heart begins to sink. We, as women, are expected to suffer. There’s this code that comes with having a uterus that states we suffer, we experience pain, and we push through, and we don’t complain. We can’t complain. We got shit to do right? Momma doesn’t get time away from motherhood for gynecological pain. The shit still has to get done, and I’m the only one who can do it. Life. Goes. On.

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I am so sick of normalizing pain, just because historically we have suffered through it. There was a normal, logical explanation for my pain, and I was told I was “fine” I was “perfectly healthy and normal”…until I wasn’t. Sometimes the pain is valid, it is abnormal, and we shouldn’t have to fight so damn hard to prove it. My husband has witnessed this all firsthand and is just as upset by the process of diagnosing endo  as I am. He told me, “If my balls hurt for more than a day, I would be at that office and would refuse to leave until they found the reason for it.” Yeah, it’s spoken like a true man, but it shows the relevance of my frustration. Why do we put up with it?

I was hoping that maybe there was just a touch on the uterus, that we could yank that, leave the rest, and be fine for at least a little while. No such luck. Because of the length it took to definitively diagnose my endo, my reproductive system is covered in it. The doc showed me the images, and my frustration grew with each little lump of endo covering my organs. It’s on both ovaries, in the tubes, on the back of the uterus, and it’s on the abdominal lining. What was previously diagnosed as a ruptured cyst, ended up being a tube that was backed up by endometriosis. The only way to give it an opportunity to heal is to completely shut down my reproductive system, which is the process of menopause.

So, there you have it. I’m 35 years old and going through menopause due to endometriosis. It could be worse, but it could be better. I feel cheated that I didn’t get the extra 20 years to process it like most people get. I feel cheated that I don’t get the extra time for maturity and wisdom to process the hormonal induced emotional hurricane that I am about to endure.

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I find myself back at the beginning phases of recovery, starting with surrender. Every journey begins with surrender, right? I’ve recovered from a whole lot of things in life. What I’ve learned is that once one journey ends, another begins; and that my friend, is the circle of life.

“Each one of us has our own evolution of life, and each one of us goes through different tests which are unique and challenging. But certain things are common. And we do learn things from each other’s experience. On a spiritual journey, we all have the same destination.” A.R. Rahman

Thanks for joining me on this journey my friends.

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