Infertility

I am 1 in 10: Endometriosis Awareness

Tyler was born and raised in Louisiana and has been married to her husband since 2012. She is an advocate for adoption, her faith, and sharing her story of infertility for other couples walking through the same journey.  Her and her husband have 3 children, 2 of whom were adopted at birth. For Endometriosis Awareness Month, Tyler has allowed us to share her endometriosis story in hopes that it can help other women feel less alone:  
 
Ever since I was a teenager, I have lived with chronic monthly pain. Month after month my life revolved around my cycles. I lived dreading how bad the pain would be that upcoming cycle. Every month, I would spend 1-2 days laid up in my bed…missing out on life, responsibilities, family events & fun because I would literally be too miserable to get up. Even on the days of my cycle when I wasn’t bedridden, I would still struggle to function normally. In addition to pain, I struggled with extreme moodiness, tearfulness, fatigue, bloating, upset stomach, heavy bleeding & clotting, back pain & after getting married, infertility. It became typical for me to schedule & reschedule events on my calendar & my family’s calendar months ahead based around when my cycle would or even might fall.
 
Year after year, at my annual appointment, I brought up my concerns over my monthly misery to my OB. And year after year, she continued to shrug off my pain & never really offer me any help or guidance with what was going on. I suspected endometriosis all along, but started to feel like maybe it was just all in my head & wasn’t really that bad. Years ago, I asked her if she could do laparoscopic surgery to check to see if I had endo. She half-heartedly said, “Sure…I could. You just let me know if that’s something you want.” I responded with, “Well, I’m not sure…I was hoping you could give me some guidance based on all I’ve told you. Don’t you think it would be worth it to have the surgery if I do have endometriosis?” To which she replied, “Well, surgery is always hard on the body so it’s not something I am quick to recommend…” I knew then that I was never going to get the care I needed from her…but honestly I didn’t know where else to go for help. I decided this was just something I would need to continue to manage on my own. 
 
Shortly after my husband & I got married, we started trying to get pregnant. It wasn’t long before we discovered we were dealing with infertility. Still, our infertility wasn’t enough to get my OB or the Reproductive Endocrinologist we saw to take my concerns over endometriosis seriously. 
 
About 2.5 years ago, I reached a breaking point with my pain, moodiness & other symptoms. I saw a family friend doctor for help. I knew he was familiar with Napro Technology but I didn’t really know what that meant. After spending an hour talking with me about my symptoms & asking me questions, he looked at me & said, “I am 95% sure you have endometriosis, you definitely have hormone imbalances & you have severe PMS. You don’t have to keep living like this. There is help available to you.” For the first time, I felt heard. I realized that it wasn’t all in my head & it certainly wasn’t normal to live this way. I remember barely being able to hold my tears & feeling like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Turns out, I had almost every single symptom indicating endometriosis. All those years, all I really needed was a more thoroughly trained doctor to take my symptoms seriously & offer me some help. It shouldn’t have taken half of my life for a doctor to recognize what I was dealing with. 
 
The doctor went on to refer me to a Napro Technology clinic for further testing & encouraged me to have a laparoscopic surgery scheduled with a specialist. It would take me about a year & a half from that appointment to be ready (emotionally & spiritually) to see the doctor I was referred to. One year ago this month, I went for my first appointment. Right off the bat, it was obvious to the doctor that endometriosis was a huge concern & needed to be addressed right away. Last April I had exploratory surgery & my doctor found endometriosis between stage 2 & 3. A few weeks later, I had another surgery & my doctor was able to remove every spot of endometriosis using excision technique. 
 
I remember waking up in recovery, still groggy from anesthesia & asking my doctor, “Will I be able to get pregnant now?” In that moment, the desire of my heart was laid bare. I remember the compassionate look on her face as she replied, “I hope so.” I never would have imagined that we would go on to conceive one month later after five years of infertility! I am so grateful for our doctor! Her knowledge, compassion & thoroughness changed our lives forever! 
 
After so many years of struggle, it’s still surreal to me that I am experiencing pregnancy. I have five small scars across my growing belly from my laparoscopic surgeries. Every time I look down, I am reminded of the painful road I walked to be able to experience the beautiful gift of carrying a child. 
 
The past 9 months of pregnancy have been such a sweet time of relief from my monthly pain. Even though my doctor was able to remove the endometriosis, it is often a chronic and reoccurring disease. I don’t know when, if or how aggressively my endometriosis might come back…I pray it never does. All I know right now is I am SO thankful to have been given a break from it! 
 
The most important lesson I’ve learned over the past couple of years when it comes to my health is that I must advocate for myself.
 
I hope someone reading will realize that they don’t have to continue to live the way I lived for so long. We deserve better than to have our health concerns dismissed. I hope my story will give other women the courage to seek out better care for themselves! 
 
Here are a few facts about endo:
  • Endometriosis occurs when tissue that acts a lot like the lining of your uterus—called endometrium—starts growing outside of your uterus, where it doesn’t belong. These out-of-place growths can cause severe pain and inflammation throughout the month. Definition taken from https://www.speakendo.com 
  • Endo symptoms can vary greatly from woman to woman. Some women present with all the symptoms & lots of pain, while others might only have few symptoms & little to no pain. The severity of pain isn’t always a reliable indicator of how bad your endo is. 
  • Endometriosis is linked to infertility. One third to one half of women with endometriosis will have trouble conceiving. 
  • An anti-inflammatory diet can help with managing endometriosis symptoms. 
  • Napro Technology surgeons are often trained in more thorough techniques for removing endometriosis than other doctors are. https://www.naprotechnology.com/surgical.htm 
I hope my story & this little bit of additional information helped bring awareness to endometriosis. If you’re struggling, please know you’re not alone. I hope you are able to find the resources & care you need to help you navigate life with endo.
 
With love,
Tyler 
 
To follow along with Tyler, visit her blog at http://theadventuresofbabyk.blogspot.com