Battling with endometriosis
Period pain is a normal occurrence for most women during menstruation. However, when the pain is so intense that it affects your ability to carry on with your daily routine, then it is wise to get it checked. This pain may show up before your monthly period and does not ease out during and even after your period is gone. Additionally, most women with Endometriosis experience painful bowel movements and urination sometimes accompanied by blood in the stool, painful sex and in extreme cases infertility. These are just some of the symptoms of Endometriosis.
What signs or symptoms raise a red flag? When is it time to see a doctor? Is the condition treatable?
Ms. Hadassah Abuto shares her story on her battle with Endometriosis.
My name is Editah Hadassa Abuto- Trip. I am the 6th born in a family of 8.
I was brought up by strict, church loving and committed parents who both happened to be teachers. Their policy was simple, if you were too tired to study; church was the only other option church. My life revolved around school, the church and the house. My family is close nit with very tight bonds with my siblings. What do I mean? My childhood was pretty much normal.
I remember life is high school. When I had my menses, I had to take a break. My period was kind of painful which I though was normal. I always knew that menstruation equals pain.
When I got married in year 2007, life was fun, enjoyable, near perfect. I was in my early twenties and looked forward to having a family after two to three years. Some months into marriage, I still experienced period pain which formed my decision to visit a gynecologist. I was diagnosed with cysts which were treated with medication and they cleared.
Year 2010, I had excruciating menstrual pain; I visited a hospital and was diagnosed with ovarian cysts and Fibroids and ended up in the theatre for laparoscopy. My issues didn’t end there; I was back in the theatre in year 2015, this time for an emergency open surgery.
My symptoms were severe, the pain was indescribable, I literally couldn’t stand straight, my whole body was shaking from pain and my back felt like it was being hacked. I was in my periods but somehow the blood just wasn’t coming out , my body was letting me down, I just couldn’t understand myself. I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis, a painful chronic condition that I would not wish even on an enemy. I was put on hormonal therapy for six months. Those painful tummy injections also came with menopausal hot flush and the likes. Somehow I survived!
Less than a year later, the pain was back!!! Worse than before. For some reason, the pain didn’t improve, it only got worse. After one more hormonal therapy trial, I was back to the theatre for a third surgery in 2018. This time, the diagnosis came back not only as endometriosis but also adenomyosis. Every time I ended up at the hospital, it was pain related. The pain can be described as 11 on a scale of 1-10, you get the point?
The condition has no known cause or cure. Every effort is on management. Diet and lifestyle changes also help in relieving the pain sometimes. This is what I currently do lest I lose my mind.
Endometriosis can cause infertility. Even though that hasn’t been confirmed as the reason for my several unsuccessful attempts to conceive, it’s hard to rule it out.
I founded Waiting wombs Trust in 2016 to create awareness on childlessness and infertility while offering support for those like me, who battle with involuntary childlessness. This is not just for endometriosis cases but for all other cases e.g. PCOS, hormonal imbalance and the likes. My desire was and still is to educate the society while also DE stigmatizing childlessness.
This we do in partnership with doctors, psychologists, adoption agencies, pharmacies, and other interested organizations and individuals. We would also like to empower women, men and couples to live a full life in spite of what life throws out way like infertility. So far, we have reached out to thousands through our social media page and groups with a total reach of over 11,000, conferences in Dar es salaam and beyond, partnerships and more. We have successfully held retreats for waiting couples (involuntarily childless) and not only educated them on available options but also empowered and encouraged them to stand tall while they wait and look at life beyond infertility .More men are calling our line to ask for help, this is a good sign to me since infertility affects men too; it’s not just a woman affair.
Sometimes I am overwhelmed as I attend to over 8,000 people. What keeps me going is the deep desire to encourage even just one person per day, to reach out to the depressed due to childlessness and I can confirm that they are many, to be used as a vessel to bring hope in marriages. This we do with my husband and a larger team while totally depending on God’s grace.
Waiting Wombs Trust is close to my heart for it came at a time when I was so tired of pressure and stigmatization that comes with childlessness. I was tired of being referred to as barren or infertile and being given unsolicited advice. I had no support locally, I needed to talk to someone in the same shoe, I needed to be reminder that I was still a woman, I was whole. There’s some relief that comes with having a support group with people who understand. There’s some strength that comes with giving hope to the hopeless. My pain is turning into something beautiful.
I thank God for the awards and opportunities that have come with waiting wombs trust. I have won some awards as a result including the 2018 Zurie award- Humanitarian category, WLA awards Disruptor of the year 2017 and 2018 Kotex ‘She can’ award.
I have also managed to share my experience and create awareness on all local dailies and TV stations where I am frequently invited to share on the infertility and endometriosis subjects. We often visit schools at every available opportunity and educate young girls on menstrual hygiene and reproductive health in general. I do not want anyone to think that period pain is normal, no it’s not. I have participated in awareness campaigns with BBC Africa and engage Tanzania platform and others. In addition to those, I have successfully moderated several events e.g. Parents’ magazine -breaking the infertility barrier, waiting wombs ladies conference, couples retreats, church awareness events bringing together members from all over Tanzania including Tanzania, and other countries. I have been to several other public events to educate, inspire and influence and still look forward to more opportunities.
Endometriosis and childlessness have made me a warrior. Even though I have severe monthly pain, I chose to look at life differently. To give hope where situations seem hopeless, to brighten someone’s corner at every possible opportunity. My policy in life is to live a day at a time.
If you are in my shoes, remember that childlessness doesn’t define you, remember that a marriage is compete with or without a child, remember that you are whole, you are enough. Walk tall, do you.
Endometriosis is a condition that can affect women across all age groups with those between 25 and 40 being at a higher risk. It can be a challenging condition to manage. However, an early diagnosis can help ensure that you get on with your daily life effectively. See your doctor if you have one or more of the symptoms that may point to the condition.
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