Endometriosis is just a bad period, right?
With one in 10 Australian women suffering at the hands of endometriosis, it’s more than just a period, and definitely more than just a woman’s disease.
It’s something that all of our society needs to stand up and pay attention to.
It’s reach spans fertility, families, relationships, employment and more.
Endometriosis Australia (EA) is this country’s national organisation aimed at creating awareness of the disease, educating people on it and raising funds to support the ongoing research that’s needed.
Less than a year old, it’s got a long road ahead but it will get there.
EA Co-Founder, Jodie Dunne, has first-hand experience of the affect of endometriosis and what a lack of education around the disease really means for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Below, Jodie shares her story.
Note that endometriosis affects everyone differently so one experience will never be the same as the next.
I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2004. My experience of the treatment of endometriosis has basically been: have surgery, clean it out and off I’d go.
None of my doctors at that time told me of the damage that it could do, the treatment options and alternatives available, or the severity of my condition.
So, I got on with life and as they say “sucked it up”. My periods were horrible and the only solution I was offered was the pill, which in my case did nothing.
That all changed in 2012 under a new doctor, which surprisingly does make a difference.
I’d started having bowel symptoms from 2011 but put that down to food intolerance. By mid 2012 I was in A LOT of pain and my digestive system was not operating as it should be.
My periods were getting worse and one month was horrendous, they finished and then I bled again a week after they finished.
So I went to my GP to get it checked out, I had some tests and they found a fibroid, I was referred on to a gynaecologist for surgery. While in surgery that gynaecologist discovered that my endometriosis was extensive and had gone into my bowel.
My bowel was stuck to my left ovary and my ovary was stuck to my vaginal wall. To his credit he decided that my condition was too complicated for him so he removed the fibroid and some endometriosis and referred me onto a gynaecologist that specialises in endometriosis.
It was here I learnt that surgery for endometriosis is complicated and that there is a difference between doctors. The next surgeon made me realise that I was actually sick and that I needed to be taken care of properly.
He gave me options for surgery and explained that depending on the extent of the damage to my bowel he would have a general surgeon on hand to take over if a resection was required.
I chose to have a hysterectomy, it is not a cure but it was my decision. That surgery was the biggest and scariest I have ever faced because of the unknown, they wouldn’t know what would happen until they were operating.
I had a bowel resection, an ovary removed, a section of my vaginal wall, as well as my uterus and cervix. I had post surgery complications, which required multiple procedures.
My remaining ovary has stopped working and I am now menopausal at the age of 37 and my endo story is not over yet.
You could say I’ve been through the ringer with endometriosis but it hasn’t stopped my life.
I have just completed my Masters in Business majoring in HR and am about begin my final year in psychology, fingers crossed.
I have an eight-year-old daughter and she has been my little supporter through all of this along with other members of my amazing family.
Having seen the affect of endometriosis on women around me, including my sister and a dear friend, I know that this is a disease that we cannot ignore.
If you want to find out more about endometriosis and how you can support research into this disease, visit the Endometriosis website at www.endometriosisaustralia.org.