By Alyce Collins
THIS POOR GIRL had crippling pain and bleeding in between menstrual cycles which doctors repeatedly blamed on a ‘BAD PERIOD’, but after two years of suffering she was finally diagnosed with ENDOMETRIOSIS, leaving her worried that she may never become a mum – and now she wants to educate others about the misunderstood condition.
Kate Robertson (19) from Auckland, New Zealand, started experiencing painful and heavy periods when she was 16 but she didn’t think too much of it at the time, telling herself that every girl suffers with bad periods now and then.
However, these periods grew increasingly painful and Kate’s dad took her to the hospital after she began having chronic pain in her pelvic area as well as bleeding. Scans revealed nothing, and Kate was sent home without answers.
The symptoms disappeared for a year, but by mid-2017 the pain returned for a few days every now and then. As it was sporadic and didn’t last too long, the symptoms didn’t bother Kate too much, but they were still concerning.
In June 2018 Kate moved in with her boyfriend, Ezra, and she had just achieved her dream job as a fashion stylist. After a few months of thinking she was on the up, the chronic pain returned and became an everyday occurrence.
Kate and Ezra were lying in bed when she began bleeding, despite not being due her period. She doubled over in pain and was rushed to the hospital, only to be told it was a bad period and sent home. This pain returned and Kate called an ambulance the following day, but paramedics couldn’t advise her as they didn’t know what was wrong.
Scans and blood tests didn’t reveal anything, so Kate was sent for a smear test, despite being under 21. However, it was Kate’s doctor who suggested she could have endometriosis, a disorder whereby the tissue which should line the inside of the uterus forms outside of it. Unfortunately, the constant pain meant Kate lost her job because she couldn’t be on her feet all day as it required.
“When I was 16 my endometriosis started to show as I was constantly getting bad periods, but I thought every girl did,” said Kate.
“By mid-2016, my dad took me to the doctors when I had chronic pain in my pelvic area along with bleeding. They did scans but found nothing. The next day it went away, and I never had pain that bad again.
“That was, until the same time in 2017 – a year later. The same problem returned but lasted a few days then went. I was studying at the time, so it didn’t affect me too much. It lasted about one or two days here and there.
“June 2018 was a pretty exciting time for me as I had got my dream job with plans to go far and my partner and I had just moved into our own place.
“One night we were lying in bed when I started bleeding, but my period wasn’t due. Then 10 minutes later I was in chronic pain and being rushed to the hospital at midnight, just to be told it was a bad period and sent home at four am with pain killers.
“A few days later the same thing happened. I called an ambulance because I was home alone and couldn’t get up. Yet again I was sent home from the hospital with the recommendation of changing my pill, but I was in pain for days.
“Sometimes the pain was random and there was no reason for it to appear, but if I was stressed or was on my feet all day, I knew that’s why it occurred.
“I would get pre-period pains that would be long and painful. When I was bleeding it was heavy and painful like shooting sharp pains, then once my period finished, I would get post-period pain that would be almost as bad as period pains.
“I felt like no one understood. The people who you’re meant to trust the most with your health are doctors. You’d think that they would do anything to get to the bottom of what was wrong with an 18-year-old girl in chronic pain.
“After being in hospital a few times and sent away with a ‘bad period’ and some Panadol, I went to my GP and she was the first person to suggest I had endometriosis.”
After her GP suggested she could have endometriosis, Kate felt relieved to have answers to the problems which had bothered her for over two years.
Now, Kate hopes to educate more women about endometriosis after professionals repeatedly told her it was a ‘bad period’ and minimalised the pain she was going through.
“After hearing that I could potentially have endometriosis my stomach felt tight and my hands were sweating. I was filled with so many different emotions,” said Kate.
“After leaving my appointment at my GP, I burst into tears. How could the doctors at the hospital not have picked this up when I first went there? How could they have looked past it so easily? I had so many questions.
“A few days after the appointment I was still in pain and I was bleeding heavily on and off. I went back to my GP to see what she could do about it and she gave me more painkillers and hormone pills to stop the bleeding.
“I was hoping this would make it possible to work full-time without being in chronic pain and bleeding all the time. It took away the bleeding, but the pain was just as bad.
“As a result, I lost my job. When I got that job, I thought it was the beginning of something new. I don’t blame them for getting rid of me, to be honest. I couldn’t even get up in the morning and have breakfast without bending over in pain, let alone be working all day.
“I was booked in urgently to a specialist who ran me through how endometriosis works and all the details. He told me how my birth control was feeding my endometriosis and recommended I had something called a Jaydess put in.
“I was told there was a four per cent chance of them finding nothing and a ninety-six per cent chance of finding endometriosis.
“My surgery was booked in for the October. After the surgery, I woke up and was told I have stage two endometriosis, located on my uterus, bladder, and liver.
“It took me about two weeks to stand up properly and I’m still getting used to being out all day. The pain simmered down for a month and then came back again and stayed the same.
“There’s no real treatment, however. They removed any existing endometriosis but there’s no way of saying whether the pain will get better or worse.
“I feel like my whole life has been set back. My career has been put on hold. There are no words to describe how much of a dent it puts on everything, not only on myself but also on my partner.
“Endometriosis makes me fearful all the time for so many reasons. I worry about my fertility because I’ve always wanted children, I worry about whether my career will ever pick up and about my health in general.
“Endometriosis is a real illness. When a woman suffers from it, her whole life changes. Help us raise awareness so we can get the medical attention needed.”
You can see more by visiting https://www.instagram.com/endobykaty/