I like to hide.
My struggles, my pain. All of it.
Sure, I'm comfortable talking about the battles I have already won; the strides I have already taken. But it is the current challenges, the current battles that I try to suffer in silence.
I have decided that I need to share and be open with you about what I have been going through lately, because inspiration does not only come in the form of won battles but in the wounds themselves. So let's begin...
In September 2015 I was very sick for about two weeks. I couldn't eat (literally - and I can always eat!), I was exhausted and my belly seemed puffier than usual. But then I got better and assumed it must have just been the stomach bug that was going around.
In December my belly started to really swell and I was sure I had accidentally eat gluten or corn (both which I avoid due to allergies and intolerances). My game plan was to ride it out like other allergy reactions, knowing that the symptoms usually subside in a few weeks.
By January I was starting to think maybe there was more going on. By February I was barely able to get any food in to me and was living on green juices (which I didn't have the energy to make so I bought them from the local health food store) and brown rice cakes called Mochi. I also started running low grade fevers every single night.
Now, if you're like me and you enjoy a good medical mystery, you'll understand that the first thing I did was start researching online. That's right, good 'ol Dr. Google to the rescue! But here's the thing... Symptoms can be tricky and sometimes you get more than you bargained for with Google. Imagine my dismay when every article I found after searching "persistent bloating and nausea" pretty much every article warned of ovarian cancer. Yup - the big "C".
And that's when I called my doctor.
As bizarre as it may sound, I was fortunate to be sick often as a kid so I learned young that the medical system is only as good as your own knowledge and understanding. There are holes in our system the size of a Mack truck and I have fallen through them before. Multiple times. Which is why this time would be different.
Luckily, I have a fabulous family doctor (shout out to Dr. Yves Petcho!) who took me seriously and sent me for a battery of tests, all of which came back as normal.
By this point I had gained about 20 pounds while existing on maybe 800 calories a day. So something was definitely going on, but every test we did showed nothing. Blood tests, urine tests. Ultrasound, MRI, CT Scan. All showed nothing, which is unfortunately consistent with ovarian cancer (which I learned is one of the hardest cancers to diagnose and is typically deadly because it is found so late). Needless to say, I was not feeling relieved by the lack of diagnosis.
I finally demanded an appointment with a gynecologist (which took over 4 months to get in!) and after close to 9 months of pain and fear and the "C" word, I finally had a diagnosis: endometriosis.
Endometriosis is something I had heard of before, but never really investigated. Only now that I'm living it I have become a veritable expert on the topic (as is my style).
And here's the thing. It's not big deal. Sure, every medical article paints a grim picture and talks of "chronic suffering" and "lifelong battle". But I've heard these words before. When I battled anorexia. When I struggled with bulimia. When I felt the crushing weight of depression and anxiety. And each time I have risen; I have proved them wrong. And this time will be the same.
So there you have it. Me, out of hiding. Me sharing a part of myself that I thought I needed to hide and am now realizing, these are the moments I need to share the most <3
After years of dealing with frustration and blame from the medical community, I finally chose to take control of my own health journey; a path which has led me to where I am today.