Learning to Manage Endo - Sara's Story
By Sara Pascal Ruz
My name is Sara and I am 26 years old. I am originally from Barcelona but I have been living in Sydney for more than three years.
I was diagnosed with endometriosis three years ago, at age 23, but unfortunately my pain and disease journey started much earlier. Since my first period I have suffered horrible pelvic pain to the point of being bedridden for at least one day of each month, unable to move or sleep. Dizziness, nausea, lower back pain, cramps and painful menstruation are just some of the symptoms I suffered (and still suffer), but none were able to tell me what was happening.
I heard infinite times that menstrual pain was normal, that my pain tolerance was probably low and that I should just relax, take an ibuprofen and wait for the pain to be gone; but the pain was never gone. After a few years, I learned how to just “deal with it”. I convinced myself I was just unlucky to feel that pain and became a silent sufferer, probably because I was tired of seeing that “you are weak” face on others every time I complained.
After almost nine years of inexplicable pain I moved to Australia, where the changes of food and environment made my periods very irregular, to the point where menstruation and spotting would occur for more than 15 consecutive days… It wasn’t long after I moved that I went to see a doctor to try to get my periods back to normal, but this time I wasn’t trying to figure out “why” I was in pain. Luckily, this time a doctor was actually asking me the right questions and listened to every one of my complaints.
Do you experience pain during your periods?
And, what about pain during sexual intercourse?
Yes, almost every time.
Have you experienced nausea or constipation during your menstruation?
Yes, and yes.
Does a simple ibuprofen relieve your pain?
After that day, the doctor decided to run some tests and interventions, and a couple of weeks later I was diagnosed with endometriosis. The treatment my doctor suggested was the contraceptive pill, which I have been taking since. This was never something I liked, and from the beginning I felt emotionally affected and constantly nauseous. It took me a while to find my balance, but after a couple months my symptoms and pain had decreased notably.
Nevertheless, as I kept reading and learned more, I started to understand how endometriosis is a disease you have to fight as an individual, because nobody is going to fight it for you. How is it possible that approximately 176 million women suffer from the disease worldwide but I had never heard about it? When you are suffering a disease that doctors can’t explain, that every woman suffers in a completely different way and to which there is no cure, you have to be your own advocate. And so I did. I started by slowly changing my diet and trying to figure out what worked better for me; I quit meat and caffeine, slowly reduced gluten, eggs and dairy consumption and later erased sugar from my diet. It was a slow and personally hard process, but the feedback my body was giving me was completely worth it.
Once I found something that worked for me and was working for other women with endometriosis, I decided to share my experience with other Endosisters. A few months ago I joined Instagram with the account @endospoon to be supportive to any other sufferers in need. To my surprise, I found an amazing community that I could not only help, but that surprise me everyday with their personal stories and support.
Today, I know my story with Endo is not over but I believe I have found a way to help my body fight the disease, and feel better in myself. My ideas may work for some of you, or you might find something that works better in your case, but in any case I encourage each of you to keep fighting and raising awareness. For yourself, your daughter, your sister, your wife, your girlfriend and/or your friend.
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