‘Wow, I feel great, they must have given me some awesome painkillers’
The nurse is calling my name ‘Andrea, Andrea.’
My eyes start to open and I look around, there is something not quite right, I am still in the pre- op room.
‘Are you with us Andrea? Andrea, you have just fainted whilst we tried to give you the anaesthetic’
There was something quite fitting that the day I was about to finally start my road to recovery, started with me comically passing out before I had even made it into the operating theatre! Growing up I had become renowned for fainting, having stomach pains and always being tired. For many years I was repeatedly told that it was all in my head, or it would be put down to the fact that I was extremely sporty and undergoing a rigorous training routine.
From my very first period, I would always have pretty excruciating pain. I didn’t really talk about it, because at that age it was embarrassing and besides I didn’t know any better, so just assumed it was normal! As the years went by, it got gradually worse. There would be many a night that my Mum would take me to A&E because I was in that much pain. The, routine would always be the same, the results would always come back clear, I would be sent home with painkillers and told to go to bed with a hot water bottle. On one occasion (when I was just 14), I coincidently had an infection that resulted in a fever, so with the other presenting symptoms I was rushed down to the operating theatre and had my appendix removed. Later I was told that there was actually nothing wrong with my appendix, but they removed it as precaution anyway!
Despite the increasing pain and fatigue, I continued to train and I continued to compete at a high level. People within my sporting family could be forgiven for thinking that I always fell short of my full potential because I was over trained and put a lot of pressure on myself. In the end I actually started to believe this myself. After many sports psychology sessions and no improvement, I eventually gave up competing. I had reached a certain level and achieved things that many people could only dream about and for that I will always be grateful.
Deep down though I always knew it was something more. After giving up my intensive training regime, I continued to experience the same problems. In fact my symptoms were getting worse and I was growing increasingly concerned about the new symptoms I was experiencing, heavy periods, extreme bloating and headaches.
After graduating in 2005, I started working for a multinational company and I was very fortunate to have private healthcare as part of my package. Convinced that it was gynae related, I asked my GP to refer me to a private Gynecologist. My luck was about to change. Based on my history and symptoms, he recommended having an investigative laparoscopy. The results showed that I had severe endometriosis.
It was a relief to finally be able to confirm that there was actually something wrong with me. However, It was also a bit scary and confusing. I had no idea what Endometriosis was. Now I was about to start another journey; coming to terms with endometriosis.
If you or somebody you know is suffering from similar symptoms as I describe, I would strongly urge you to read this article on understanding endometriosis and consult your GP.