My name is Jamie Boiskin and I am a music theatre and cabaret performer. I have been diagnosed with PCOS, Endometriosis and Von Willebrand’s disease and wrote a cabaret show about de-stigmatising period shame. As someone who has suffered immensely from endo and period pain, this was the best way I could turn my negative into a positive.
I had been on the pill on and off when I was a teenager and decided to go off it because I didn’t like it, and decided to get an IUD put in at 19. I started to notice my periods were starting to last longer, at least 2 weeks at a time. My periods were always long, but they were becoming less and less bearable. I was in the middle of a three year music theatre degree in Ballarat and decided to start seeing a gynaecologist to get on top of my period. The gynae diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and suggested I take the pill alongside the IUD and see how that worked. My periods continued to be long and heavy, and very painful and I was booked in for my first laparoscopy. The gynaecologist removed the IUD and also found a lot of endometriosis and scraped it off. I was given the advice to continue taking the pill and to start skipping my periods, so I’d only have the bleeding once every 3 months.
"2017 was my most eventful year"
2017 was my most eventful year – I was about to go into my final year of my degree, we were performing one of my favourite musicals in Melbourne, we were going to perform self- devised cabarets, and have the ability to start auditioning professionally. 2017 also became my most challenging year with my uterus. My period refused to skip, it went the reverse way and I actually couldn’t stop bleeding. I amounted a mammoth 35 day period where my blood was as heavy and as thick as if it was day 1. I would be on the phone with my gynaecologist frequently, within the 35 days I swapped the pill 3 different times – which made me hormonal, depressed and extremely emotional.
None of the pills made a dent, my gynaecologist recommended I do blood work. We were doing a tech run of “Rent” in Melbourne when my gynaecologist called me excitedly to tell me that he can now confirm what he had suspected I had all along - Von Willebrands disease. He explained to me that it was a blood disease that meant my blood didn’t clot properly and that was the reason I was bleeding so much. I asked him if there was any cure for it, he said no. I must have had a very mild case of it because people with Von Willebrand’s need to disclose this when having surgery and operations cause the blood loss can be particularly damaging, but I had had a laparoscopy a couple months earlier without this knowledge and no complications.
On the advice of a psychologist I was told to get another opinion from a female gynaecologist. This was one of the hardest days, as this female gynaecologist suggested that from my files sent over from my gynaecologist I didn’t have much endo, and that I had IBS and a distressed bladder. She kept talking to me about when I was planning on having a child and made me feel quite uncomfortable, as I am 22 and don’t know what I want.
My original gynaecologist and I went backwards and forwards on it for a very long time on how to fix it. He finally decided to put an IUD in in order to shed the heavy lining we had built up in the continual swapping of the pill. My uterus was more irritated this time when the IUD was put in than the last time and it took me
a week or so to get back to normal.
I am now living in Melbourne, having lots of period symptoms and PMS (which is completely new for me) without any of the bleeding. When I was at university we had a subject called “Cabaret’s” which is best described like stand up comedy with song. I wrote mine about my period, and my inability to be able to discuss periods with people because of the shame and stigma surrounding periods.
I am currently no closer to solving my uterus problems and why it’s so irritated, but I have just completed a season performing my self devised cabaret “Ovariacting: A Period Drama” at the Melbourne Cabaret Festival which aims to make the discussion comfortable and accessible. Over the last 2 years I have been particularly passionate about getting the conversation started with everyone. My wonderful director Fiona Scott – Norman spoke with me about the importance of talking about periods and endo and these topics – it’s akin to the #metoo movement, if we don’t discuss it then we continue to have these isolated experiences, when we can educate and learn from sharing. When I was bleeding all I wanted to do was talk about it, but due to the stigma and shame this topic has been condemned when it’s a natural part of life.
"My best advice is to go out there and talk about it, we all have the power to make a change no matter how small, and this is an important topic to discuss and spread awareness – we won’t be silenced anymore!"
Although I hate how much pain and discomfort I have endured, in a way I’m ridiculously grateful for the uterus Ive been gifted with because it made me create a show that helps me heal, but also helps other women and men come together and share and learn. My best advice is to go out there and talk about it, we all have the power to make a change no matter how small, and this is an important topic to discuss and spread awareness – we won’t be silenced anymore! Find yourself support groups and networks, like this endometriosis page – this has helped me tremendously to value what my symptoms are like and to know that overall I am not alone. We are infinitely stronger together, than we are a part.