I first boarded the Endometriosis Train back in 2010. It was early March, and I was just switching between Administration and the Business Office. It was Employee Recognition Day, and I was sitting in my urologist’s office, awaiting my test results. And he sat down with a very stern look and said, “We found something. It’s a tumor, and it’s located on your ovary.”
That day disappeared in a fog, and shortly afterward, I visited my gynecologist. I was shaken to my core still and wrung my hands, and she did her exam. Then, she brought me into her office, where we would talk. I feared the worst, but a cool sense of relief flooded through me when she said, “It’s not a tumor. It’s a dermoid cyst on your ovary that needs to be removed, but I can’t do it. My partner can, and I can give you the number to her office to set up an appointment.”
With a high recommendation, I decided to go with another GYN, and she cut right down to business. She examined me and then evaluated my past history. She noted the recent ultrasound and discovery of the dermoid cyst, but that was not her concern. Instead, she said, “You have Endometriosis.”
It was the first time that I ever heard that word. She explained to me that it was nothing that needed to be worried about, but it required treatment. Before I could be treated, my condition had to be confirmed, and to do so would require surgery. And since the dermoid cyst was on my ovary, the surgery would happen, killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. And my condition was confirmed.
I remembered sitting in the chair in the hospital, waiting to be brought into surgery. I looked out the window at the gray world outside and worried. How did this condition affect my life, and what would happen from this point on? I didn’t know, and then the stretcher was wheeled into the room. And I was taken inside.
As I came to, the nurse wheeled me back into that same waiting room. She asked me to sit up, and I responded not realizing the impact of that surgery. Pain seared through me, and I almost screamed. As I tried to move off the stretcher, I remembered looking down at my stomach and noting how bandaged I was. It was supposed to be a laparoscopic surgery, but the GYN had cut me open more. On top of it, I bled too easily, requiring more stitches, and these would be the first scars of my Endometriosis.
Shortly after recovering from the surgery, my GYN prescribed Depo-Provera Shots. They were to be administered now and three months later. I was grateful that my insurance covered the brunt of their cost, but I was not prepared to stick a needle in myself. Instead, I made an appointment to go to her office and have a nurse do it, and the nurse said, “I’m so sorry. This is really going to hurt. I just wanted to say that I’m so sorry that it’s going to hurt.” And she finally stuck me with the needle.
Six months later, I’m back at the GYN’s office. I was grateful that those shots were over with, but what next? What treatment did she have in mind? She did her exam and then brought me into her office, and she introduced me to Jolessa, another form of birth control. And Jolessa became my best, best friend until sometime in 2011 when I started having heart issues. And then between the Jolessa and Toprol, I started to put on weight.
It’s now 2012. My heart issues became severe, requiring heart surgery, and the Jolessa had to stop. The hospital staff never heard of it and told me not to bring it to the hospital. I did anyway, but then I listened to the nurses and doctor. And I said good-bye to Jolessa until later, but later on, I would regret taking it. But then again, it saved my life.
I was walking down the aisle of the grocery store with my father. It was on the weekend, and we had just walked around the lake. He was rummaging through one of the shelves when I lost sight in my eye. I panicked but didn’t know what to say. Slowly, the darkness lifted upward and was gone, but I knew something was wrong, something was terribly wrong. And of course, this had to happen right before Hurricane Sandy.
As the aftermath of that terrible storm died down, I went to the eye doctor. He was a specialist in his field, and he went to work, diagnosing my symptoms. My eyes were perfect. My heart wasn’t, and he said, “It’s cardiovascular. You need to see your cardiologist as soon as possible, and stop the birth control. Now.” Good-bye, Jolessa, and another heart surgery soon followed.
Early 2013, I once again returned to the GYN’s office. I brought her up to speed on everything, and she listened. She said, “No more birth control,” and I agreed. I was lucky. That blood clot could have burst behind my eye, and I could have died. Thank God, that didn’t happen, so then I said, “What do we do next?” And she responded, “Norethindrone.”
My body did not like Norethindrone. I started at five milligrams, and a month later, she increased it to ten. I started to feel sick but wasn’t sure why, and then my friend came a month later. And she refused to go away, making a bloody mess, so once again, I had to see the GYN. And she bumped me up to 15, and right around this time, I had blood work done by my cardiologist. And my blood sugar level was high, causing her to take more concern over that, and she did a blood panel on me that same day. But thank God, the results were negative for Diabetes, and I remained on the Norethindrone.
As time passed, I grew more ill, running from doctor to doctor, and using up all my time at work. Nobody had an answer. A urologist down in Manhattan was convinced that I was diabetic, but as far as I knew at that point in time, I wasn’t. And I had no relatives that were, but something was wrong, something was very wrong. And finally no matter how uncomfortable I was going to a gynecologist, I had no choice, and I returned back to Manhattan to find a specialist in Endometriosis.
This GYN reviewed my file from the previous doctor. She then did her examine and brought me back to her office. She folded her hands together and held my attention. I was nervous, wringing my hands, and biting at my lip, and she smiled, putting me at ease. And then she said, “First off, I don’t know if you have Endometriosis. Your results from the surgery back in 2010 are inconclusive. Secondly, I believe you are carrying a gene for Diabetes, and because Norethindrone affects the blood sugar level, it’s possible that it awoke this gene. How about we stop the drug for now and see how you do?”
I was a storm of emotions when I left that office. I was outraged at the previous GYN. Didn’t she know the side effects of that drug? Wasn’t that blood work back in May a red flag of things to come? How could she not know, but how could I have known that I was carrying that gene inside my body that was dormant until that damn drug was introduced into my system? I couldn’t have known, but I did now. And I doubted that gene would become dormant again, and I stopped the drug, hoping that it would.
That was November 2013. It’s now February 2014. I feel much better, and I am under the care of the GYN in Manhattan. The only medication that I take is Aspirin. I’m disgusted with my weight. It’s part of the aftermath from the Norethindrone. I was hoping that it would go away on its own, but it’s not, leaving me no choice now but to join a gym, which I still haven’t done yet. After the heart surgeries and the Norethindrone, I am just trying to get back onto my feet, feel the ground beneath me, and actually enjoy the aspects of being healthy once again. It’s been a long time, and I am done riding that Norethindrone train. I’ve cashed my ticket in, and I’m taking my life back.