Can every female remember the exact day down to the smallest details, the day she got her period?
I was 11 years old. It was summer. And it.was.excrutiating.
I remember not having time to be confused by what was happening to my body because the pain made it too hard to think. I remember crying and asking my mother to make the pain stop. I didn’t know it then but years later I would discover that I had endometriosis.
My teenage years would be full of doctor visits, a dread for “Aunt Flo” coming to town and beginning to take birth control at 13 to try to gain some type of relief. My first surgery was in my early twenties, an exploratory surgery that diagnosed and tried to remove the evil tissue that made everything a struggle. They even discovered at that time that one of my ovaries had grown into the wall of my uterus. The ovary had to be freed from the tissue and stitched back into place. After that surgery I was put into medical menopause twice.
For those that don’t know, the endometrial cells are fed and grow with every monthly cycle. I was put into medical menopause in an effort to slow down the growth. This comes with all the fun of hot flashes, mood swings, etc. Two back to back surgeries in my mid-thirties, I was having intense problems once again and they thought the endometriosis was back. However, the first surgery found a fibroid the size of a grapefruit in my uterine wall that had to be removed, at which point if I could carry a baby to term a c-section would be the only way of delivery. This fibroid could not be removed in the first surgery though, too much recovery time. So, a second procedure had to be scheduled for removal. And then finally at 39 a total hysterectomy removing everything that makes me female, all but one ovary.
I had to laugh a little… Our plan was to leave my left ovary (I have always had pain on my right side), however once inside the surgeon discovered that the left ovary had a fibroid and was covered in endometrial tissue making it larger than my uterus. Thankfully, the right ovary was quote “gorgeous” and I will not have to take hormones right now. This will not be the end of surgery for me though, add to all this that I have an increased risk for ovarian cancer. So, I will be tested through ultrasounds every six months and an annual CA125 blood test. It is not a matter of if but when we will go back and extract the remaining ovary.
I’m currently in recovery for the hysterectomy and it’s painful and emotional and has left me wondering what kind of woman I will be when I am healed. You see, I do not have biological children of my own. I am blessed with a wonderful, supportive husband and 3 step children that I love so much.
But the sting when you realize that no biological part of you will live on is a bit too much to take at times.
Endometriosis has taken so much from me… my health, children, things that I’ve had to miss out on along my journey. But I am a faithful Christian woman and this journey has also allowed me to lean into God. To rely on that peace that surpasses all understanding. Otherwise, I don’t think I could face each day.
I will get past this surgery; my pain will subside, and my scars will heal. Life will go on. But I know there will be times when I will grieve and that is when I get to lean on my Father in Heaven. Maybe He has given me this trial to speak about it, to offer encouragement to someone else. We all have trials in life and this one does not make me less of a woman, it makes me even more so.
When life hands you a condition or circumstance that you don’t understand, rely on faith.
Submitted by: Stacey Bicknell
Stacey and I have been friends for a very long time. And while relationships, life, and basically everything in between caused us to lose touch for a period of many years, our friendship remained. She is such a beautiful soul inside and out.
Thank you Stacey for being so brave and sharing such a personal part of your journey with us. So many women suffer with endometriosis, and oftentimes silently. My hope is that your story will break others silence.
Love and lemons,