I have endometriosis.
Endometriosis sucks. Sometimes I like to imagine the disease as that machine created by the six-fingered Count Rugen in The Princess Bride – you know, the one where it uses a water wheel to suck years of your life away through pain. For eight or so days a month, Prince Humperdinck storms into my uterus every day and cranks that thing up to fifty. You remember Westley’s screams? Yeah, I recognize those. They’re the ones I try to stifle with my heating pad.
Worse, endometriosis is, in my personal experience, minimized by health professionals and dismissed by many family members as a psychological attention-seeking gesture. I’ve been through four ob/gyns in the past three years, because the first three insisted I was “exaggerating” or “making up” the pain — because I only saw them when I was not in pain, since the pain is so bad when it hits that I can’t drive to a doctor. My sister has told me that I “just need to change [my] perspective”. They don’t see what I experience: crawling to the bathroom to throw up from the pain because I can’t stand up; going to bed at 8pm, completely exhausted; physically, emotionally, mentally drained from fighting my uterus; crying over the children that I will never have.
Endometriosis isn’t just “period pain”, and it isn’t “just” infertility. Unlike breast cancer, endometriosis is a woman’s disease that receives very little research and funding. There are only a handful of endometriosis specialists in the entire United States. And yet, millions of women have this disease.
It’s time for us all to have a conversation on why we let this disease continue to slowly suck our lives away.