I noticed something wasn't right when I was 15. I would experience moments of intense pain in my lower abdomen that would knock me to the ground and take my breath away. I had my period twice a month and would have symptoms such as cramping, breast tenderness and leg/foot pain.
A GP referred me to a gastroenterologist who took me in for a colonoscopy, endoscopy and biopsies which left me with a diagnosis of IBS. Over the years I saw numerous naturopaths and GPs, but my symptoms remained no matter what the treatment. With worsening pain, I was referred to an internal medicine specialist who performed an abdominal CT. I can't remember the name of the procedure but it was horrible and I was totally unprepared. I was under the impression it was a normal CT so I told my mum to go home and come back for me. After changing into hospital clothing, I was told, "We will take you in to insert your Naso-gastric tube now."
I was so scared, I went to the bathroom and hurriedly called my mum and told her to come straight back, but she was already 20 mins away. The nurses were lovely but the procedure was awful. The CT nurse pumped my abdomen with fluids and dye, I almost threw up. After all of that, my results showed nothing. I was referred to a psychiatrist, put on anti-depressants and told it was all in my head. This was the third time I had been given this diagnosis and I began to believe it. A few months later I decided again that enough was enough. That week I saw two GP’s about the pain. Without knowing each other's diagnosis, both suspected endometriosis and I was referred to a gynaecologist.
An internal ultrasound showed my left ovary was incredibly swollen and I was booked in for a laparoscopy a few weeks later. This revealed endometriosis and scar tissue which covered my bowel, anus, ovaries, bladder and uterus.
I'm still not sure what the word endometriosis means to me. I'm reluctant to tell people this is the reason for my suffering as no one understands how much each case can differ and how much it personally affects me.
After my diagnosis, I wish I had been told it is never ending. I was told the symptoms would subside and my chances of having a baby were high. Six weeks after my laparoscopy, the pain returned with a vengeance and I am booked in for a second surgery this Friday. I'm not sure what this means for my fertility.
My advice for others with endometriosis is that no two cases are the same. Just because someone else has endometriosis with different symptoms, that doesn't mean your symptoms aren't real. You know your body. If something isn't right, don't settle until you have done everything to obtain a diagnosis. It's hard to find doctors with a thorough understanding of this condition, but they do exist!
I want to add that not long after writing this, Rourke experienced terrible surgery complications and is still in hospital. Wishing you a smooth recovery from here Rourke, you are so courageous and you are in your Perth Endo Sisters thoughts. Much love x x x
Rourke has set up a Facebook page detailing her new reality for the next little while. Check out Billy the Bag