I wrote about my endometriosis story on the blog a few years ago, but as March is Endometriosis awareness month I wanted to write an updated post.
I was diagnosed with endometriosis when I was 15 and I experienced mild-severe pain every few days for over ten years. I always put my cramping, leg pain, back pain, bloating, upset digestion, and headaches down to endo. I had two keyhole surgeries and had an IUD put in, but still experienced this pain frequently. It wasn’t until late last year that I started to think, what if it is not just endo? I found a really great GP who actually listened to my concerns, and that coupled with my own research, helped start the discussion of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). My GP explained that endometriosis and IBS often go together, and my frequent symptoms are conducive with IBS. This has been a recent discovery and I have only recently started seeing a dietician who is an expert with pelvic pain and IBS. I have been trialling the low FODMAP diet and have noticed a huge difference. While I still have pain (which I now identify as endo pain) every few weeks, I tend to have the other pain (which I now identify as IBS pain) less frequently and typically after eating certain types of food.
I am still at the start of this new IBS journey, and this is something that I want to share more about because honestly endo and IBS have a huge impact on my life. An impact that I guess I am only beginning to allow myself to admit. Chronic illness is hard. It is hard to ‘show up’ when you just want to be curled up in bed with a heat pack. It is hard to go out for dinner when 99% of the options available will ignite pain for 1-2 days after. It is hard to allow yourself to rest up and say no to things.
As I said in my first endo blog, I didn’t write this blogpost for sympathy as I genuinely don’t want it, I consider myself lucky compared to other sufferers who I know have it worse than me. I however do think that it is important to speak out and discuss this as it is an important part of my life and my journey as a person and PhD student. Both endometriosis and IBS are ‘silent’ diseases that have immense impacts on sufferers, we need more awareness, more research, and more understanding.