Maybe my pain wasn’t normal.. If there was a potential cause for my pain, then maybe there was a treatment. That was what spurred me on to keep questioning the pain that I had accepted for so long. I have had many instances where my period pain has rooted me to the spot. I remember one Saturday in my late teens where I was going to my friends house for her birthday. I was standing on the bus and my cramps got so bad I thought I was going to faint. I had to get off a stop early to be sick. In university my period came a day early on a Friday morning and I was walking to my first lecture and a shooting pain seared through me, it felt like it cut me in half. I had no choice but to double over and stay hunkered down until it passed. Once I moved in with my boyfriend, he really noticed how bad my cramps were. About two years ago he heard me cry out in pain while I was in the shower. He rushed in and panicked when he pulled back the curtain to see me crouched down in a ball still covered in suds. I was so embarrassed. I had to explain it was just a bad cramp and I would be ok in a few minutes. I got quite good at hiding my pain because I had to put on a smile and be very upbeat and full of energy in work. There are hundreds of models ready to take your place. Calling in sick or being a miserable cow is not an option. Even when you really feel like it.

Back to the doctors I went, again and again. Each time I asked more questions as more symptoms seemed to appear, looking for suggestions of what could help. Most of the time I was told to go home and take a paracetamol.. I have always had back pain during my period, but now I was getting daily back pain that made standing all day very draining. I was also getting bad bloating and needed to pee almost immediately if I drank even the smallest amount of water. I was often fobbed off when I asked about any of these symptoms being connected. I didn’t know what was wrong with me but I starting thinking maybe it was an autoimmune condition because I felt drained all the time.

I have been told everything under the sun at this stage…Some doctors focussed on the fact that I am very slim. I was even told I must be tired because I probably over exercise and under eat because I’m a model. I have always been naturally thin so having people imply I must be starving myself was really frustrating. I even brought my mum to an appointment once so she could tell them I eat like a horse so that they would focus on getting to the bottom of my constant fatigue. They implied to my mum that I was a Hypochondriac. I felt totally infuriated that I was being put in the ‘hysterical woman’ box, as if what I was experiencing wasn’t that bad and I must just be too sensitive. Other doctors suggested I must have IBS or Urinary tract infections. I couldn’t count the amount of times I went to the doctors and left feeling so disheartened. One doctor said I should change my job as it’s obviously too stressful and standing in heels must be causing my back pain. At this point  I actually started to believe them, Maybe I needed to just suck it up, maybe it was all in my head?

When I turned 25, I went for my first smear test. This is to check for any abnormal cervical cells. I urge all women to take advantage of regular smear tests. Please don’t let the next part of my story my put you off because a two minute test can save your life (and for most people it is no more that a little uncomfortable and shouldn’t hurt). I had the loveliest nurse that day that reassured me it would be all over in just a minute. Unlucky for her, the swabbing hurt so much that I nearly kicked her in the face trying to stop the test. She comforted me afterwards as I was in tears and mortified at my extreme reaction. She gently asked if sex was ever painful too and what were my periods like. She said she was going to write to my GP and send me for an ultrasound because I shouldn’t have found it that painful.

I had an ultrasound a few weeks later that came back clear. I was in two minds about the result. At first I was relieved because I didn’t want anything to be wrong with me. But I came away with a sense of disappointment. I had been hopeful they would find something so I wouldn’t feel like I was a Hypochondriac after all. My family supported me to persevere and keep looking for answers. One day after attending the GP with severe abdominal pain and swelling they referred me back to the gynaecology team in my local hospital where they had done my first scan. Due to extreme pain I was experiencing in my side, they were worried I could be having an ectopic pregnancy, where the foetus grows in the fallopian tube rather than the womb. I had an internal and external ultrasound scan this time. Both scans showed nothing again. I was so relieved that I wasn’t experiencing an ectopic pregnancy as that would be both a potentially dangerous and distressing situation. I was however left once again perplexed at what was happening and why all tests indicated I was fine, when my body was telling me otherwise. This time a nurse saw me after my scan. She explained that she didn’t have any answers for what is causing my pain from the scan, but wondered if anyone had discussed Endometriosis with me before. I told her that has been mentioned a number of times but never followed up and she suggested I ask for a referral to see a consultant. She explained that Endometriosis is very hard to detect on a scan unless you have cysts. That day I went home and told my boyfriend that I think I have Endometriosis…

Until next time…

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