I was 12 when the pains first started. Excruciating pains such that I would count the hours between pain killers and hide at the back of the class trying not to cry. I watched my mother go through the same thing so I figured it was normal. Periods were to be feared each and every month. They were never on time, never when I expected them and always left me tired. But I carried on.
As I approached my twenties, and boys came into my life, so did the contraceptive pill and at last the periods were bearable. Each month the pain was bad but I could cope – they were always on schedule and the pain lasted fewer days and could be controlled. So life continued and I was ok. Thing was, I had lower back pain. It would come and go and I’d be diagnosed with degenerate discs in my spine, given exercises and I would cope between the false-ups of sciatica and not put two and two together until much much later.
Coming into my last thirties and I started having reactions to the pill. Turned out my body didn’t like the hormone additives so rather than be violently ill each month we tried several different things util I gave up taking the stuff. By this point I was pretty much pain free on periods and I didn’t think twice. The back pain came and went especially as I seemed to carry any stress in my lower back and hips, but treatments and exercises help… so, again, I carried on.
Then I hit 40 and within weeks of that milestone, the period pains were back. This time with a vengeance. The pain was intolerable causing me to sit bolt upright from a dead-sleep in agony. Two days each month would leave me white and shaking. Shooting pains in my hips and legs and cramps beyond anything I had had before. The worst was the flooding – going through a box of tampons and two packs of towels in less than 48 hours. And occasionally the embarrassment of it going through my clothes. Thank goodness for black jeans.
Thats of course when it also started to hit the news more frequently. Maybe this wasn’t actually normal after all? I started talking to friends who though a bad period meant they got through an entire pack of tampons during a week. And they never seemed to need both tampons and towels. Huh?
After another two years of suffering through almost constant bleeding/spotting … I gave in. I saw the doctor and was referred. Had I head of adenomyosis? No… endometriosis, yes… fibroids, yes… but not the first. I gave him my symptoms, got poked and prodded and he declared adenomyosis and a hysterectomy was in order. He demanded, though, I seek a second opinion. I cried as I left. Not because I was potentially about to lose my womb, but finally I felt relief that this wasn’t exactly normal.
My second opinion wanted me to try more hormones in case it was a problem with my ovaries. With my history of hormones? No thank you. So back I went to the first guy.
I read everything I could on the procedure. Saw all the potential problems that could occur. He gave me three weeks just to think on it and I came back resolute. Take the pain away. So I had it done.
I can’t lie, the recovery wasn’t easy. Turned out I had massive fibroids after all (no idea how they snuck past the two scans I had), and whilst my recovery was pretty much textbook (I followed ALL the rules), I was so fatigued that everything was so difficult. I had help, though. My mum and my partner rallied around and made sure I stuck to the rules… the healthy eating and the slowly increased exercise. My first walk outside was tiring but bliss. I had some minor scary moments with a UTI and bowel issues. But they resolved themselves quickly with the right medication. I trusted my doctors and they saw to it that everything went well. Twelve weeks of recuperating and I went back to work and one thing struck me first.
My back didn’t hurt. Not one bit. And I felt free. At peace. Open. And I couldn’t wait for the rest of my life to start.