A diagnosis of endometriosis is something that many women face today. Here, one woman shares her story on what it’s like living with the condition…
Hi, my name is Larissa. I am a pharmacist who lives in sunny Durban.
We all imagine our future self when growing up. I had a modest upbringing and didn’t have visions of grandeur; all I wanted was to be happy and content. I wanted to be both a career woman and a mom. I imagined looking at myself in the rear-view mirror of the car and catching the gurgling smile of a chubby toddler in the back. That was my dream, to have a simple life, a good husband and two kids. Not too much to ask for, right?
Fast-forward to many years later when I found out that a diagnosis of endometriosis had robbed me of my dreams of becoming a mom. At present, the condition has progressed to such a level that my reproductive organs had to be removed. I went through IVF, which failed, had numerous surgeries and underwent even more hormonal treatments.
Endometriosis: The Diagnosis
I had my first diagnosis and surgery at the age of 24, although the symptoms already started in my early teens.
After that first surgery I felt better for a year or two. I got married in 2006, but in 2007 it was time for my next surgery. My doctor told me that the endometriosis was back and that I needed to fall pregnant soon. What? It was too soon; I only just got married! Yes, I wanted kids but not so fast. However, I decided to stop taking any contraceptives and said to myself, “if it happens, it happens”.
At the end of 2008 I ended up having two surgeries in one year. The endometriosis was stronger and more aggressive than ever before. It spread to my ovaries, my bladder and my uterus, and I eventually had stents put in.
It was a catch 22. Each month that passed where I didn’t fall pregnant was a chance for the condition to progress and become even more aggressive. And it did. It progressed and there was no pregnancy in sight.
In 2013, my husband and I decided to attempt IVF, only to find out that it had failed. While it felt like the world was still crushing down around me, I was placed on one hormonal treatment after the other – each one with different side effects. Two years later, in 2015, my pain levels got extremely high. I had severe pain in the right side of my body and I was constantly vomiting. The endometriosis was now also in my abdomen.
A year later I was experiencing similar symptoms. Another surgery revealed that the endometriosis had damaged the lining of my stomach, creating a hole. It was now everywhere. Crippled by chronic pain and heavy periods I was put on neurotropic medication to block the pain receptors in my brain.
Living with Endometriosis
Today I’m living with endometriosis in areas in my body that cannot be removed. It causes severe pain on a daily basis. Yes, I’m still on neurotropic medication, but I managed to decrease the dosage.
When doctors tell you that you have an incurable disease and that you have to accept living a life in pain, you are forced to become your own advocate. That’s where the present comes in…
I am about to celebrate my 40th birthday, but what has changed?
It all started when I read Louise L. Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life. It literally changed my life. Working with affirmations and learning how to love my body was the first step I had to take on my road to acceptance. I started blogging. After failed IVF I began to do research on skincare to help heal my skin from all the hormonal treatments I underwent. I put myself out there on Instagram, eventually got a good response and in August 2019 I launched my own blog!
Getting a creative hobby was the best decision I could’ve made. When you express yourself creatively you also release various emotions and feelings. Instead of focusing on the pain, I now think about creating content. Instead of asking “Why me?”, I shift my focus to my blog and I think about new topics to write about.
No, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I’ve accepted that there will always be many dark and painful days. But I know that it’s important to acknowledge those feelings, to feel the frustration, the anger. You must cry, you must let it all out. But the most important thing is to not dwell there. Think of one positive thought and you will see that it has a domino effect. As human beings it is our responsibility to love and accept ourselves.
When I now drive to work, I catch a glimpse of myself in the rear-view mirror. Yes, the back seat is empty, there is no chubby toddler. But when I look in the mirror I see a survivor, a fighter, a force. I may not have everything that I initially wanted, but I am super grateful because I have everything that I need.
By Larissa Seebran