Disease in darkness

The battles fought against an invisible disease

By Alexandra Lachine Editor-in-Chief

endometriosis

(Image from SouthernOaklahomaWomensHealth.org)

Endometriosis is medically defined as a condition in which tissue similar to the uterine lining grows elsewhere throughout the body. The disease is often claimed by painful, life-altering symptoms that tend to be brushed off with comments like, “you’re just having a bad cycle” or “everyone gets cramps.” Bad periods don’t last for months on end with little more than a week of breakage.

The fact that endometriosis (endo) takes an entire decade on average to diagnose is plain proof of the misunderstanding and stigma around the illness. Endo is many things, but easy is not one.

It’s a serious condition that deserves more awareness, research and support.

It’s every day, excruciating pain and emotional turmoil.

It is an authoritatively silencing stigma around women’s most intimate health issues; you don’t talk about it or if you dare, you make sure there are no men around to feel uncomfortable.

It is the inability to stand up straight because the pain ruthlessly invades your sides, hips and back as well.

It’s when people tell you “you don’t look sick,” in some attempt to downplay your symptoms.

It’s struggling since adolescence to lose weight or even manage it, but you always fall short.

It’s eating clean and working out as much as your body permits you to, but still crying before a mirror on any given day because the severity of bloating makes you look like you’ve entered the second trimester of pregnancy and the scarring is often visible on your abdomen as well.

It is the countless women across the world who are unable to ever have children, many of whom have lost their partner as result.

It is the 17-year-old girl who can’t enjoy her senior year because she’s missed so much school for being physically unable to crawl out of bed and having to lie there with a basin nearby to save her from the constant, looming nausea.

It’s countless surgeries and medications that turn out to be in vain or only temporary treatments.

For some women, the mere possibility that they may suffer from endo or are in the early stages of developing the disease is enough to set fire to their dreams of certain careers because several institutions consider it a disability.

But despite all this, women who live with endo are not their disease and should not be defined by something so uncontrollable and severe. According to the World Endometriosis Research foundation, roughly 176 million women across the world have endometriosis, and they know all too well that the condition has daily effects that dramatically exceed those of a “normal menstrual cycle.”

If you or someone you know suffers from the disease or suspect that you may be in its early stages of development, visit endometriosis.org or contact your healthcare professional for more information and to discuss the possibilities of treatment. Remember, you are not alone and you are not this disease.