I'd like to introduce you to an inspiring young woman, Elizabeth Hay. She contacted us a short while ago enquiring about supporting Endometriosis Australia through Fun Runs. Towards the end of November, Elizabeth set up her Everyday Hero account and in the short time since she has managed to raise over $1500.00! Congratualtions on the huge effort and we thank you for your hard work to date. Together We Can! Put and End to Endo. Donna
Elizabeth Hay’s Story ...
Like all journeys, the path to womanhood can be an exceptionally testing time. For some of us, the intrinsic beauty of transforming from a child into a woman is a direct challenge to our resilience and character. Before we can even spread our wings, the hurdles we have to overcome can seem insurmountable. And that goes for the more fortunate ones!
The battle I was faced with was not at all what I expected upon reaching puberty at age 13 and my menstrual cycles began. No-one can really prepare you for the shock that coincides with your first period, let alone the pain that some of us experience as a result of this process.
Is it supposed to be like this? Is it natural that I should be crying myself to sleep due to the pain? Surely, all women don’t go through this, do they? The worst part about it was that I didn’t understand it at all. Other girls seemed to be taking it in their stride, while I was pretty much curled up in a ball of pain. What, exactly, was wrong with me?
By the time I was in my mid-teens, there were days where I couldn’t move or walk. The pain was so excruciating I didn’t even want to get out of bed. You can imagine the effect this had on my moods, social life and relationships. A particularly severe episode during this time led to hyperventilating, going into shock and escalating body temperature. I decided then that enough was enough. This was not normal. It was the opposite of normal! Fortunately, an Aunt who was a nurse encouraged me to seek professional guidance.
As I faced my first pap smear at age 17, I explained my symptoms to my very sympathetic gynaecologist. It was only then that I discovered endometriosis – an abnormality affecting about 10% of women whereby tissue that is normally found in the uterus grows also on the fallopian tubes, or even ovaries or pelvis. Excessive bleeding is common, especially during periods.
And yes, so is pain.
The path to formal diagnosis was a long and difficult one, and I suspect it might be the same for others unsure of the battle occurring within their bodies. I had trouble finding a specialist I was comfortable with, endured countless physical examinations and ultrasounds, and was administered a variety of medicines to alleviate the pain.
The answer eventually lay in a procedure called a laparoscopy, which confirmed once and for all that I did indeed have endometriosis. This was a weight off my mind because my life was being unduly affected by the pain and a process that seemed arbitrary and unresolved.
At this point I could get on with addressing the proper treatment.
Now 24 years of age, and several operations and two artificial menopauses later, I have learned how to manage and tolerate my condition. My experience was severe, so I still have some bad days, but it is a war I’m determined to fight. The desire to have a family makes me fight even harder, and is a light at the end of a tunnel that has had more dark little alleys than I care to remember.
Throughout my ordeal, it was my support network of family, especially my Mum and friends that were crucial in helping me find strength at every turn, and gave me the resolve to rebound from my lowest moments. My extraordinary boyfriend has been there for me since the age of 16, and stayed even through the roughest patches.
I have found that maintaining good health and fitness is an important element in keeping the illness at bay, and allows me to get out and live my life to the fullest. So when I’m not working (which I couldn’t even imagine all those years ago), I want to be out enjoying the sunshine with my family and friends. And soon, hopefully, a family of my own.
I can count myself lucky to have had the level support I did, and recognise that not all women are blessed with such an uplifting influence. Endometriosis Australia hopes to provide education, research and awareness to others coming to terms with their condition.
Young girls experiencing endometriosis need to have these resources to complement their own support networks to smooth their transition to womanhood.
Every dollar I raise is one dollar closer to finding a cure. Help me to help end endometriosis for good.