Like many women struggling with endometriosis, I have experienced a lot of the horrible symptoms that come with this enigma disease. Still, I thought that it was normal since, from our teenage years, we are told that periods = pain. Despite my regular bloodwork and ultrasound doctor check-ups, I lived blissfully unaware for most of my 20s that such disease even exists.
After stepping off my birth control pills that I have been taking for several years, I realized something was out of whack. My periods became unbelievably heavy, clotty, dark, and, worst of all, painful as if I was going into child labor. I thought, well, it’s probably because my body is not yet back to normal after the pills, it will go away, it will be fine. But it wasn’t. Each month, with every single period, I was getting progressively worse to the point where I couldn’t walk a few meters down the hall to the bathroom. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I was taking pain killers like candy, double doses on an empty stomach, just enough so I could walk and even prepare something to eat, as at the time I was living in London away from my family, with no one to look after me.
In July 2014, I finally went to see a private gynecologist who told me there is a 4 cm x 5 cm large cyst on my ovary and that I needed to get a laparoscopy done for it as soon as possible to prevent it from rupturing. I couldn’t believe it. A cyst? What?!? I am healthy (or so I thought). How could this happen?
“There have been plenty of warning signs, I just wasn’t in tune enough with my body to notice them and really listen.”
For a long time, I thought the battle was only a cyst on the ovary that I was up against, and boy was I wrong! I didn’t realize I am going against a whole package of a disease. So, being determined to avoid surgery, I decided that I will fight this “thing” naturally. In 2015 came my follow-up diagnosis from a hospital after the performed MRI scan that clearly stated – deep-infiltrating endometriosis (DIE). That’s the first time in my life that I heard the word “endometriosis.” They didn’t know which stage it was at, but the results didn’t look promising. It all seemed like a bad dream, bad episode, I couldn’t believe all of what I was hearing. How did this happen? With no warning? – I kept asking myself. But there have been plenty of warning signs, I just wasn’t in tune enough with my body to notice them and really listen.
Like many modern women of today, I was too caught up in the rat race, working on my career, pushing forward to prove my worth in the ruthless business world. Despite being scheduled for surgery, I decided to postpone it, mostly because, well, I had a brand new job opportunity waiting for me around the corner and a chance to leave the dreary London weather and move to sunny Malta.
After moving to the Mediterranean, I decided to change my diet. I put away the red meat products, significantly limited alcohol consumption, and added a lot of green veggies and grains into my diet. I was still eating cheese and ice cream (that was a hard one to let go of). My symptoms did get better slightly, the pain wasn’t knocking me off my feet anymore, but it was still strong enough that I took a lot of painkillers. It also didn’t help that at the time, I was going through one of the most destructive relationships in my life, and that took its toll on my endo symptoms. After briefly getting better post my move from the busy, stressful life in London, I was back in the stress bucket with my new, toxic relationship. In 2016 I landed in the hospital with excruciating stomach pains, this time not related to my cycle. I was hooked to the IV with no food for 3 days only painkillers and antispasmodic drugs running in my veins. During a gastroscopy, they discovered that I had an ulcer on my stomach (most likely due to the large amount of NSAIDs I was ingesting). It took me around six months, but I got out of the toxic relationship, became more careful about taking painkillers, and slowly recovered from my ulcer using mostly natural methods.
“It’s been a long trial and an error road, surgery didn’t get rid of all of the symptoms, I really had to work hard at it to get where I am today…“
After doing everything I could on the diet front for endometriosis (including letting go of my beloved cheese), I finally knew that I will have to face my fear and go for the dreaded surgery. Thankfully, I found a clinic that specializes in endometriosis surgeries and a doctor who was the first medical provider who I felt really listened to me and whom I could trust 100%. So in 2017, I finally had my 4-hour long operation, during which 3 endometriomas were removed together with numerous lesions from my pelvic and bowel area. That’s also when I was officially classified as stage IV endometriosis.
My belly right after the surgery
My recovery post-surgery, however, was astonishingly fast (to my doctor’s surprise), considering the stage of the disease I was at and what it did to my pelvic organs. I managed to leave the hospital within 24 hours. I credit this both to my skilled surgeon, but also to my already applied various dietary and lifestyle changes even before undergoing surgery that gave those fantastic results.
Since then it’s been a long trial and an error road, surgery didn’t get rid of all of the symptoms, I really had to work hard at it to get where I am today, beyond just changing my diet. Even though life is not the same as it was before, when I was blissfully unaware of endometriosis, I know it based on my own experience and the experience of other women, that there is a way to get better, without the use of hard drugs that hurt your body. It isn’t an easy road and certainly not a shortcut, but it does exist. You just need to find your own healing formula that works for you.
My fast recovery a few days after the surgery
My story is only one of the millions of women who have endometriosis. Yet, I hope it will inspire you to fight with determination to regain your health while treating your body with the gentleness, love, and compassion that it deserves.