March is endometriosis month…. and so it is fitting that I am writing this from my couch, with my trusty heating pad nestled cozily on my lap, right? It would also be fitting for me to write this while self-medicated on whatever I could get my hands on to numb the pain. Right?
Why is this the picture of endometriosis? A bed-ridden woman, clutching the heating pad to her stomach. Crying. Desperate. Alone.
Recently, I described endometriosis to a friend. I described the clinical aspects – not the reality. The clinical aspects, after all, are so clinical they become abstract – a random hodgepodge of symptoms. When we distance ourselves, as doctors often do, it’s just a text-book reading of bodily occurrences. I believe I had a doctor once sum this attitude towards endometriosis as, “you have some extra discharge during your period and possibly more cramps.” Wow, if only.
As I described to my friend how endometrial implants grow on places outside the uterus causing them to bleed along with your monthly cycle, her statement was, “well, that doesn’t sound good.”
As I described how this causes cramping and internal adhesions. Her response, “are you still able to exercise?”
The doctor (the countless doctors) – my friend – most of my family (as well as yours) – they don’t understand. And who can blame them? While I may see a list of symptoms for other invisible illnesses and sympathize with the afflicted (mainly, again, because I, too, have an invisible illness), I can never experience that person’s pain. I haven’t been there.
Yet, there remains that picture of endometriosis – the grimacing, crying woman. The broken woman. The woman sitting alone (alone because everyone she knows is out living life while she is curled up in pain). And while this picture may seem fitting – nay, even true at times with this disease – how does it help us?
I’ve heard from women – women with varying stages of endometriosis and symptom severity – and they, too, are fed up with this picture. They no longer want people to label them by their disease, by their pain. They no longer want doctors to label them “drug seeker” or “hypochondriac”.
They also no longer want to be alone in this fight. And thankfully because of this blog and the myriad number of women blogging about endometriosis this month, when they Google “endometriosis”, they won’t be alone.
This March, let’s change the picture of endometriosis. The saying goes: March comes in like a lion and leaves a lamb. This March, let’s be that lion. Let them – the doctors, husbands, boyfriends, friends – hear our roar!
Together, we are stronger. Together, we have a voice.