Media personality Tamara Wrigley is a successful award-winning businesswoman. A fashionista, TV presenter, former magazine editor and property mogul, Tamara can be found in her real estate office or renovating homes and commercial buildings. Tam purchased her first property at the age of 21 and with continuous hard work she now has an empire of 30+ properties to her name.
Like 1 in 9 Australian Endo Warriors who have tried to find ways of coping with their debilitating monthly pains, I took painkillers for years to cope. It was like my own personal body alarm, knocking on my door, letting me know that “tomorrow your friend is coming to visit”. For the first 3 days of my period, I would be in excruciating pain. Crippling, bent over in agony, knock you right off your feet, pain. I endured this pain for years and visited countless doctors begging for help. They ran blood tests, did x-rays and ultrasounds but would always come back with the same words: “We can’t find anything.”
One gynaecologist said I had fibroids and there wasn't much that could be done, I pretty much had to suck it up and live with it or have a hysterectomy.
With the pain so bad, I had prescription painkillers – the ones that would wipe me out for three days. I was bedridden, a walking zombie and it affected my mental wellbeing. It was crippling physically, but also emotionally. I was a person who doesn't like to slow down. I've got stuff to do and I wasn't going to let this stop me. But unfortunately, it did, for 3-4 days out of each month.
I didn’t realise my pain even had a name until I changed doctors at age 33 and visited my friend’s endometriosis excision specialist on her recommendation.
After six years of pain, this was the first doctor that did a deep dive into my reproductive system and the first doctor to recommend doing a CT scan to get a better look at what was going on in there. There, in the shadows, hiding like the intruder it was, my enemy, appeared. Say hello to Endometriosis.
As soon as my Endometriosis Specialist opened me up, he could see the devastation that had been controlling my body for the past several years. Unaware of what was unfolding, it was my husband that got the phone call midway through surgery advising him that things were pretty bad. I needed bowel surgery, a hysterectomy and my appendix removed. The Endo had spread through my body like cancer, attaching itself to major organs which had to be removed; it had spread through my bowels, causing me to have two bowel resections – I lost one foot (30cm) of my bowel on my left side and about half a foot on the other side. I also lost my appendix as there were golf ball size clumps of endo attached to it. My fallopian tubes and one of my ovaries were also removed. My ovaries were mangled, so he removed the worst one ensuring I wouldn’t get thrown into menopause at the age of 37.
The next morning when I awoke from my mammoth surgery I was shocked to hear the news. I was hospitalised for 7 days before being released on the provision I would rest at home in bed. I did what the doctor ordered but as the week went on, I didn’t feel I was getting better.
I was going downhill fast. Seven days later, my weight had plummeted to just 56kg – and for a near 6-foot woman, for me, that was beyond skinny. I looked in the mirror and was shocked by my skeletal appearance looking back at me. I was feeling very unwell and knew something wasn't right as I had excruciating pain shooting up my body, I couldn't even put my feet on the floor to stand up, I felt like I was being ripped apart.
I called the at-home doctor service who popped in and within minutes of his arrival, and knowing what surgery I had just had, he knew exactly what was going on. He diagnosed me with peritonitis, which left untreated, can rapidly spread into the blood and other organs, resulting in multiple organ failure and death.
I was rushed by ambulance to hospital where I spent another seven days being drained of the infection.
The lesson and moral to my journey is to make yourself a priority and get things checked out immediately.
Listen to your body and always get multiple opinions if you aren’t happy with the one you received – I wished I’d insisted on a few things much earlier. And don’t procrastinate in making decisions when it comes to your health, take it from me, I’m living proof.
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