When I was a young girl, I was at an all-female Christian conference with my mother. All of the children were asked to sit in the front row, away from their mothers (I think so the parents could focus without distraction). Anxious to be away from my Mum, I flopped in half in my chair, arms around my waist, dangling my head between my knees so I could at least see my Mum’s shoes a few rows behind me. The woman who was speaking at the conference stopped what she was saying, and (in front of EVERYONE) placed her hand on my head and prayed that God would take away my period cramps…and also from that day forward, that I wouldn’t have any period cramps. Ever. I was devastated!! As a young girl in 6th grade, I hadn’t started my period yet and there were classmates sitting with me. Dev-a-stated. Anyway, needless to say, her prayers were not answered and my cramps were horrible, and I had a time in my life where I thought God was mad at me personally. Or punishing me for my reaction to that woman’s prayers. I’ve since let all of that go, but man, what a mess it made on a child’s psyche.
So here’s the stuff I heard about my pain while I was growing up and through my adulthood until my diagnosis. Do I blame anyone for not “catching” my Endometriosis sooner? No. Blame anyone for not looking further into my pain? Not really. Hell, I thought it was normal! It just…is. And it’s definitely all in the past. I’m not casting blame on any of my family, friends, or physicians for not thinking of a disease I’d never heard of before.
I’m sure some of you EndoWarriors have heard similar:
“Cramps are normal during your period.”
“It’s gonna hurt…it’s just part of being a woman.”
“It’s God’s punishment to women because of Eve.” (Oh, how I despised Eve)
“I have bad cramps, too.”
“Take one of these pills every 8 to 12 hours for the pain.”
“You must have a low pain tolerance.”
“It can’t be that bad.”
“Sex makes cramps go away.” (who the hell wants to have sex when they’re insides are screaming?)
“It hurts twice as much for you because you have two cervix.”
“If you miss anymore days from work, we’ll have to consider disciplinary action.”
Looking back now, I still think I never would have gone to my doctor just for period cramps. First, it’s an embarrassing topic of conversation and secondly, I thought they were normal. My gyno five years ago prescribed Naproxen Sodium for my “bad cramps,” but never gave any indication that something could have been wrong. I’m just ecstatic that my new gyno opened me up for cyst surgery and found the Endometriosis. Knowing it wasn’t normal gives me something to strive for. And also gives me a baseline to tell my doctor when those Killer Cramps return.
I’m severely grateful for organizations like the Endometriosis Foundation of America for their youth outreach programs. Killer cramps are NOT normal. They’re a red flag for further follow-up. Spread the word. Don’t let one more girl think it’s just supposed to be that way…The more awareness that’s out there, the quicker a diagnosis and steps can be taken.
What kind of things did you hear growing up? Or even today? Feel free to drop a comment below…