Finding a Voice - Abbie's Endo and Adeno Story
By Abbie Britt-Keen
I was 13 when I was diagnosed with Endometriosis. It wasn’t really that simple; I spent five days in hospital getting tests and pain relief to then be told that it’s all in my head and I’m imagining the pain. I eventually wound up at a specialist who put me straight into surgery. The outcome was Endometriosis on both ovaries and my Fallopian tube. I have battled with the symptoms of Endometriosis ever since. I have always had severe abdominal pain, abnormal bleeding, bloating, hormone problems etc. I got to the point where I stopped going to the doctor and stopped speaking about any of the symptoms. I live in a rural area where you don’t really discuss reproductive problems let alone a painful period. My family are fairly old school and if there was work to be done in the garden or cattle yards then you buckled up and did it - regardless of some stomach cramps.
Due to my pain being invisible it didn’t really get noticed and I felt bloody ridiculous for bringing it up. So it became a very silent struggle and I learned to accept my different symptoms as normal. At 19 I was having some other health issues when my GP referred me to a specialist in Brisbane. I explained my symptoms to him and was in surgery ten days later. Coming out of surgery, I was told that very minimal Endometriosis was found however, my uterus was twice as large as it should be and has major discolouration. I am now on Hormone Replacement Therapy for Adenomyosis which is similar to Endometriosis however it grows within the muscle lining of the uterus.
I found QENDO after my last surgery and I love using it for a source of knowledge, community and sanity. Sanity, because it comforts me to know that I’m not weird or disgusting for having the symptoms I do and being ill 24/7. As a young girl in the rural sector I can see the need for greater discussion surrounding female health - not just Endometriosis but many various illnesses. Having an illness like this impacts your day to day routine; it influences how you feel when you wake up with regard to how much pain you’re in; it influences how you work all day - and if that happens to be in the sun then Lordy help that packet of Panadol in your pocket; it influences how you eat, sleep and exercise; most of all it influences your mental health and self esteem.
I don’t think any girl in the rural area - or anywhere for that matter - is asking for sympathy or attention (being in pain actually makes us repel all of those things!), but I do think we need to get better at having a conversation about the topic. Better conversation will encourage young ladies to seek help if they realise their symptoms aren’t normal, it will encourage women to support each other through what can be a rough patch, it will (help) make men more understanding of why the attitude is full pelt this week, and it will help illustrate to ladies in regional areas that they are not alone. We have sisters in the city feeling the same struggle as sisters in Bourke; we’re in it together.
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