Let's Talk About: Endometriosis with Daisy
Daisy is a force to be reckoned with. Not only does she run her own female empowerment music platform (@baextraordinaire), but she is also an advocate for spreading awareness about the condition that has changed her life, Endometriosis. Daisy wanted to write an article for us to help educate us and maybe help someone else who might be struggling with the same symptoms.
"Have you ever considered that maybe this is just part of being female?" Another doctor, another year, same patronising tone and missing diagnosis. 5 years in and I was beginning to agree with the faintly sympathetic medical professionals sat in front of me: I was just being a drama queen.When considering what 'being female' entails, my answer probably would have once consisted of stereotypes like crying hysterically at The Notebook, taking 10000 hours to get ready and regularly quoting Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging in daily conversation. But 2 years later, I find my answer is entirely different.
“I was treated as just another careless teen, greeted with pregnancy tests, heavy sighs and rolled eyes.”
I am a sufferer of endometriosis, a condition which means that the lining of the womb is found elsewhere in the pelvis and causes internal bleeding and potential fertility issues. As a result, I am in excruciating and debilitating pain for days on end, this pain completely unaffected by every form of painkiller I've ever tried (everything from Nurofen and Paracetamol to Mefanoic Acid and Co-codamol, both of which made me physically sick). If all this didn't affect my mental health enough, when first approaching doctors from around the age of 15, I was patronised, type-casted and labelled a drama queen. It began with subtly patronising diagnoses: "it's just your body changing" or "it’s part of being a girl" or sometimes just "is your mum here love?" However as I grew up and the issues grew more severe and even more debilitating, it became assumptions and stereotypes based on my gender and age. Despite the lengthy nature of my issue and the fact nothing showed up in examinations, tests and ultrasounds, I was treated as just another careless teen, greeted with pregnancy tests, heavy sighs and rolled eyes.
For me, a diagnosis was not found in a sickly white doctor's office, but in the pages of Cosmopolitan. Flicking through, I came across an article on endometriosis and clearly listed were each one of the symptoms I had endured for 5 years:
- excruciating pain that can often cripple or cause fainting
- debilitating periods
- heavy bleeding
- allergies to certain food groups (for me, gluten) - nausea
- intense back pains
My local medical centre's response to this idea was underwhelming (no surprise there), meaning I had no option but to pay to be referred to a specialist in endometriosis and fertility issues elsewhere. It was suddenly a speedy process from there, immediately he agreed with my self-diagnosis and a month later I was admitted for laparoscopic surgery to find and remove all traces of endo. All sorted yeah? Sadly not. There is no cure for endometriosis, meaning I may always suffer with the symptoms and there is forever the risk of its return. That operation was in January 2017 and since then I have had a Mirena IUD inserted to remove the symptoms and slow the growth, 9 months of completely random periods and crippling anxiety and mood swings, only to find a year later that it has returned. Today I pop 3 tiny hormone tablets a day and will do for the next three months, this hopefully an easier (and cheaper) alternative to a second operation.
“Have you ever considered that maybe this is just part of being female?” My answer to that question would still be no. For me, ‘being female’ is not about periods, pain and PMS, about being sexualised, catcalled and felt up on nights out, nor is it about being able to have children or not being able to have children. Instead, ‘being female’ is experiencing some/all of the above and still being able to support and empower one another on a daily basis. It is to challenge rather than accept, change rather than maintain and unite rather than divide.