Please, Check Your Bits!
By Ash Webb and Chantelle Ernst
Chantelle and Ash are two unlikely friends, bonding over one disease.
During High school Chantelle and Ash both worked for McDonalds, and were very close friends. Once they both gained full time jobs, found boyfriends, they drifted apart. In the past 3 years, the pair have “rekindled” their friendship. These days, they find themselves, picking on one another while raising awareness for Women’s Health Issues, especially Endometriosis & Infertility. While working full time and raising 1 little human each, which they have already married off to one another. They share their scars, and their stories with the hope that it helps someone else have an easier journey through their endolife.
Their message is simple and clear - if something does not feel right, about ANY part of your body. Go get it checked. Who knows, it might save your life. But if not your life, your sanity.
These women really are superwomen!
Let’s start of with Chantelle’s journey:
My Journey began when I was a little girl, I would always get tummy pains. At one point I went to the Brisbane’s Children’s Hospital for a camera exploration. The Doctors brought it down to stomach migraines. As I started to become a woman, I was 12 years old when I first got my period, things took an interesting turn. I remember that day very well as I was away on a Girl Guide Camp. From then on I had good days and bad. Some days I would be curled up in bed with what I thought was period pain, Panadeine Forte was my go to, to try to ease the pain with a heat pack. My periods were never normal, but I didn’t know any different. I clotted and was always heavy, oh and don’t forget very emotional. My body got used to the patterns, irregular periods, pain and I battled through. My journey continued, I got older and I became sexually active. Well that opened another door, not every time, but I hurt after intercourse and again didn’t know any better. Eventually I fell pregnant for the first time (unknown at the time), went to hospital in pain to find this out as well as having a 5cm cyst on my right ovary. My cyst was treated by being put on the pill after a few doctors fought over what to do as I was so young and didn’t want to remove anything as I had many years ahead of me to have a family. The pregnancy was unsuccessful but this was just the start of many heartbreaks.
I got to the point where I didn’t think I could have children. This got me very emotional and broke me down. I didn’t have answers, I didn’t know what was going on. Eventually during one of my outpatient visits I met an amazing Gynaecologist who took the time to ask questions. This is when I was told I have a small case of endometriosis. This didn’t mean anything to me, I hadn’t heard of this before but I felt a slight relief someone had told me something that might explain why I couldn’t be what I had always wanted to be or to explain I wasn’t having normal periods! I continued on with life and again had some more heartache. Unfortunately for me my body continued to think I was carrying precious cargo and it was not until I went for scans that I find we have passed resulting in surgeries. Once I met the beautiful gynaecologist, she continued to give me hope. Finally I succeeded and had a beautiful little girl, my little miracle. Every scan I was petrified, I took extra caution, again very emotionally draining. During my pregnancy the pain disappeared, I struggled with low iron and had a few infusions. After birth and for the first 12 months it all seemed to quieten. I know there is a myth once you have children it cures the disease but it doesn’t. Over the past 12 month I have slowly been feeling the symptoms, which has brought me to now.
I finally went back to my GP after realising I need to stop ignoring my symptoms and classing it all as normal. Two months prior I had some ultrasounds done when then pain started, well that was an experience in itself. The person performing the ultrasound new what endometriosis was but I don’t think they had a compassionate bone in there body as I was practically in tears when I had an internal and external scan. All I got out of it was I don’t know why your sore I can't see anything. Well I ignored the comments and waited for the GP to call to give me the all clear, nothing unusual. I continued on and nothing settled so I went back and insisted on a referral to see my gynaecologist. With my background she didn’t hesitate and booked me in for a Laparoscopy immediately. I was emotional and didn’t know what to expect. I mean I’ve heard about them but I’ve never had one before. So as anyone would I sought advice and I googled.
After my surgery I recovered well, I had a great support network to get me through. I waited six weeks to get my results. I am still unsure where my future is in regards to this but I’m finally accepting what maybe. I’ve been given a 12month timeline to have another child or I have a hysterectomy.
Having this physical problem is draining emotionally and physically but it not only affects me. It has affected many relationships as I can not always keep up sexually , I can be moody and emotional. I am a full time worker, I am a parent, I am a wife, I am a daughter, I am a friend. This problem affects everyone around us. I’m not going to lie I struggle and not everyone understands but I am not going to let it define me! I am determined to ensure other Women are more aware and help them get there bits checked out! Painful unhealthy periods are not normal, if you have any doubts please get checked out, ask questions, nothing is silly, seek second opinions if you feel you aren’t being heard! I've learned that I'm not alone don't be scared to ask for help or guidance! You most likely aren't even aware that someone close to you is most likely going through the same thing! Let's support each other.
Ash has shared her motherhood journey before with us: https://www.qendo.org.au/single-post/2018/05/09/I-feel-like-a-fraud
Infertility: fun. Well, not the F word I would like to use, but here we go.
When my husband and I decided it was time to start trying for Bub #2, we thought that this time around it would be easy. All the myths and advice, we were told this. I have always loved my OBGYN, always. She would text me, month in and month out to check on progress. Finally, after many appointments, we decided I would be best going in for another exploratory surgery. I confirmed with my OBGYN we wanted surgery, and that afternoon received a call to say that I was booked into surgery for the next day. I didn’t even have any time to let this sink in. I raced up to the hospital to collect my pre-admission paperwork and pay the anesthetist. Funnily enough, the next day was actually my wedding anniversary. My husband had made dinner plans, organised his sister to watch our son so we could have a romantic dinner. This all changed when I called him to say I would be spending overnight in the oh so charming hospital ward.
Once surgery was over and I was in recovery, I could barely put two words together, let alone message my husband to let him know I was back at the ward. All I knew, is that I was so damn thankful for the care I received, and that I was awake. When my OBGYN came to see me to let me know that I had no new endo BUT now have PCOS, I was relieved but confused.
I didn’t know what this meant for me. I couldn’t find any useful information or support groups available for women with PCOS. I turned to my QENDO Sisters for support. One question, and I had about 6 ladies all diving in to help me. This was unbelievable. I was SO lucky to have found such an amazing support group.
I am now 3 months post op, on Fertility medication that makes me a crazy person for 5 days of the month and the rest of the month, I just want to sleep. Which is not great with a very active outdoor loving toddler and two highly energetic small dogs.
I try to take each day as it comes. I am, and always have been a planner. But I realise I need to take a step back, and let whatever be, be. There is nothing more I can do but sleep with my legs up and hope for the best. Hopefully this time next year, I will have in my arms, a new little love to complete our family.
So now, you know both Chantelle and Ash’s stories, and as much as their story is unique, there are very similar themes.
QENDO have recently changed their supportive side to not only supporting women with Endometriosis, but now adding Adenomyosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
Women’s Health is SO important, and you need to recognise when it is time to slow down and take timeout for yourself. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
If you need support, you can call our 24 hour support line 1800FORWOMEN and the on call support worker will get back to you as soon as possible. QENDO is here to support you.
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