It’s the third week of my #EndoCantTakeMyHappy project and what a great day to think about happiness!
Today is International Happy Day, a day celebrated around the world to reclaim happiness. It got me thinking of how many people around the world are struggling and suffering and how spreading joy and happiness – even through little projects like this- is so important.
Kate Orman lives in Bournemouth, England. She was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2007. This is her story…
Kate Orman knew something was wrong, no matter how she tried the pain wouldn’t go away. Doctor after doctor told her that it was all in her head: they told her she had IBS. As each doctor shut their door, she reached for more pain medication hoping it would mask the pain.
“The pain was so bad that I couldn’t work,” she says. “Even the strongest pain killers didn’t block it out.”
Finally, after much searching, she found a doctor who correctly diagnosed her with endometriosis, a painful gynecological condition in which endometrial tissue implants in areas outside and around the uterus.
Follow Your Intuition
Kate was glad to know her intuition was right: there was something wrong. “I had been in severe pain for a number of months with doctors telling me it was IBS and to go away. Knowing what was finally wrong was a weight off my shoulders, the doctors were taking me seriously and there were things we could try to make it better.”
So she began on a journey of medical treatments, one after another. “I have had two operations to remove cysts and legions,” she explains. The doctors also gave her contraceptive pills and a medication to induce menopause, each to control and maintain the sex hormones prior and post surgery.
Many women are prescribed birth control pills as a way to control symptoms of painful or irregular periods. While this may be a good temporary solution, like a band-aid, the birth control pills only mask the real underlying issue.
The average woman with endometriosis will go 8 years (often on birth control pills) without being properly diagnosed.
For Kate, the surgery and treatment only tamed the pain. Unfortunately, the pain lingers on.
“I [still] have very painful periods and pain throughout the month with no pattern and sometimes in the middle of the night. I get pains in my ovaries like I’m being stabbed – this is the most regular type of pain,” she says, adding that she also gets abdominal bloating and pain.
Still she is hopeful and won’t let endometriosis stand in her way: “My motto is to accept the things you can’t do and enjoy the things you can. Over the last 7 years I have had a successful career, travelled, partied and had lots of fun. I can’t do everything I want which I find really frustrating, I feel like I let people down and this can be upsetting. However, feeling bad won’t change that so I make the most of my time with energy and without pain.”
She is happy and she expects to stay that way. “I love spending time with my friends and family. I love the countryside and walking my dog. Both of these combined with good food and great wine make me happy. Which generally leads to singing and dancing.”
Be Your Own Warrior
Over the years, she has become an advocate, spreading the word about endometriosis and encouraging other women to seek treatment. She warns them that it won’t be easy, you have to be your own warrior:
“For those who think something is wrong but have not been diagnosed I would say that you have to be strong and determined. I kept going back to my doctor until they took me seriously, I got my appointment fast tracked, I asked for follow up scans. Every time the doctor sent me away I cried and felt so helpless, but I knew something was wrong so didn’t give up!”
She says she would be lying if she said that endometriosis didn’t sometimes take her happy away, but generally she tries to stay as happy as she can be. “I have a very happy life with lots to be thankful for. Everyone has challenges in their life and endo has been a big one for me, but it has not beaten me or taken away the happiness and enjoyment from my life.”
In the meantime, Kate has a wedding to plan- a day that is sure to bring her endless happiness. “I am getting married in May which is a very happy occasion to look forward to and after that I would like to have a family. Although my chances of this happening naturally are low, my partner and I are considering adoption, which I am very excited about.”
No matter how much interference endo might cause, Kate says she hopes to manage her pain and “enjoy my life as much as humanly possible!”
And she will….