For Endometriosis Awareness Month 2019 in Barbados, we’re going to get to know a few local endowarriors in Barbados with this blog series: “Ten Questions with A Bajan Endo Warrior”. Today, the 7th of March 2019, we will continue off our 10 Question Series with an anonymous submission: a daughter, friend, entrepreneur and a bajan endowarrior.
(Disclaimer: The discussion which follows is that of a personal experience and does not constitute provision of any medical advice. The experience outlined in not indicative of a typical experience. If you have any questions about your health, always seek the advice of a medical professional.)
Q1 . Tell us a little about you and your background:
Growing up as a child I was very adventurous and outgoing which was often met with punishment due to not listening to the commands of my mother-“not to go outside” or “not to go this or that place”. But my childhood was very good as I would have had what persons considered a young mother. In terms of what motivates me, I want to do good to help people who are less fortunate than me in every aspect. If I can’t help them directly then a simple referral to someone who can help is good enough for me. My motivation at this time in my life is to be self-actualized and be an educated person and successful and make myself as comfortable as possible and to give back and assist with change for the better wherever I am needed or can help. I think the persons who helped in sculpting my character were my teachers at school who first and foremost believed in me more than myself and also the few friends I have now continue to aid in my development. Generally, naturally I am a go-getter. If you tell me something can’t be done and I know it can be, I’ll show you how it is done. My favorite food is fish Alfredo or fried swordfish, pie and chips. The favorite dessert is the chocolate cake from Chefette (and I don’t eat any other chocolate cake except for that one). My favorite color is black and most the items I own are black including clothes. My favorite things to do are either bake or lie in my bed, watch movies on Netflix or my Firestick and eating food.
Q2. When were you diagnosed with endometriosis? Do you know the stage?
I was diagnosed with endometriosis in January of 2018 with stage four endometriosis after being suspected of having such a disorder by a gynaecologist that I was being followed up with. I was having an issue with heavy periods and severe pain where I would have to present to an after-hours service or even the hospital for care regarding losing so much blood and having so much pain. The pain I was having from the time I was 12 years old grew in severity each and every year. The only good thing is at that time and over the years I was only having a period every three months so that’s when the pain presented itself. This pain and heavy periods didn’t start yesterday, it began when I was around 12 or 13 years old and my mother would have taken me to see a doctor at that time who place me on microgynon birth control to help with the pain and heavy bleeding. That helped a bit but as I aged it became so severe that I use to crawl on the floor and clasped my hands around my stomach and scream to the top of my voice about the pain I was having. I had to be admitted to hospital on several occasions. I remembered the last time I was hospitalized I had to get a variety of strong anti-inflammatory and pain medications all intravenous infusions. The pain was not holding up but it then did so eventually. I also remember that during this hospitalization, instead of bleeding I was passing large clots and had to be medicated for that as well. I also can remember being in pain one time and had a heart rate of 170 and the nurse looked and said to the other nurse- “This pain she is in could have her heart rate all the way up here wow. This has me so shocked. “
Q3. What were your initial thoughts/reactions when you heard about this condition?
I remember I was scheduled for an ultrasound to see what was up with my ovaries as I was preparing to become a mother and wanted to find out what was going and also to see if the had the disorder that the physician suspected was laying on the table and having the ultrasound and one ovary was fine and you could have seen the eggs and so forth but the other ovary was totally occluded by what I know as an endometrioma or what is called a chocolate cyst. I literally burst out n tears on the table in front of the physician because I remember not wanting that to be my diagnosis as I know how debilitation it is and what effect it can pose on me becoming a mother. I want back to work that day and I was so sad and couldn’t believed it was actually happening to me because my mother doesn’t have it nor did she have issues with conceiving. That was the turning point in my life and it’s still turning.
Q 4. What role has your family played as it pertained to management and support?
My family is supportive especially my mother and I can often see the hurt in her eyes, and she sees my in such severe pain. She often has to bath me when my menses are on because I am in so much pain, I also have to miss work a lot due to this condition. But at every doctor visit and surgical intervention I have had my mom has been there and the rest of my family. My uncle as well he has been there always. I do have a good support system who understand what I am going through
Q5. Is there any other support mechanism out there that has helped you on your journey?
The other support system out there was the ENDO and PCOS movement where I met one of the members and we had dialogue on our condition and family and medication regimen that we were on. Speaking to her and knowing their was someone out there who was in the same pain as me and had the same condition was refreshing knowing I was not in the fight alone.
Q6. How does being in the health/medical profession affect your outlook on dealing with this condition?
Being in the medical profession has changed my outlook when it comes to this condition because I have definitely experience what it can do to you. Man is considered a bio-psychosocial being and from a biological aspect it has caused me great pain and a lot of changes to my body. From a psychological aspect it has caused me to be depressed and questioning a lot. From a social point of view, it has stopped me on many occasions from socializing and going to events. I remembered one time I went on a date and everything was going well and just out of the blue I had to double over in severe pain in the middle of the date and began to sweat. He took me to the gas station and bought me pain medication as well as something to eat and drink to take it with. That brings me to that point endometriosis doesn’t mean you only have pain during menses you can have pain all the time. I am in pain almost 12 hours a day on a daily basis.
Q7. What have you been doing maintain your health?
In terms if the maintenance of health this is very hard because of how I work and where I work. I have very long hours, but I try to eat as healthy as possible on a daily basis and try to drink as much water as possible. I will be incorporating some vitamins in my regime in a matter of weeks and also intend to lose some weight.
Q8. What do you think should be done in Barbados to better support women with Endometriosis and/or PCOS?
To better support women in Barbados who are living with this disorder, more support services should be offered as well as health services. Legislation should be drafted and health and employment policies implemented to assist the persons who have such a disease. Better management and recognition are needed for this disorder. I believe soon it will be grouped with the other NCDs that are currently plaguing the Barbadian population. Persons also need to be sensitized, educated and made aware of this disorder and health promotion should be steadfast in pushing trying to understand this disorder. Also, more research is needed in this area to show the impact of it on the productivity of humans whether in the workplace or even in reproduction and the impact it has on health and this should be primarily surrounding the Barbadian population. Nothing beats evidence based information.
Q9. What advice would you have for any young girl who may have painful periods?
I would advice any person out there who are having issues with heavy and painful periods to begin seeing their gynecologist as soon as possible. Even if you are underage tell your mother about your issues and encourage her to let you see a gynecologist. The earlier the intervention the better experience you maybe be able to have. I am currently on a drug called Lupron which has been great helping with the pain. Although it has a few side efforts the benefits outweigh those for me. The Barbados fertility center and their team has been instrumental with me being able to manage my endometriosis now. I went from continuous birth control now onto Lupron. When I have a child then I would have surgical intervention but not before.
Q10. Can you give us a quote that you live your life by?
There is no one particular quote that I live my life by, but I believe solely in being educated and putting GOD first and going after everything in life that people say that you could not have. I also believe in being able to reach the self-actualization level of the Maslow hierarchy of needs theoretical perspective. I attended one of the lower secondary schools but am a step away from a doctoral degree. Despite this pain I am a fighter and I am going to do everything in my power to make my future great and I am coming for everything they say I couldn’t get due to having this condition .
Are you or do you know any Bajan Endo Warriors who’d like to share more about their journey? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!