A year ago, Melissa was diagnosed with Endometriosis (at 37 years old), but her symptoms became noticeable in her 20s. It took a decade to get answers…
Melissa’s Journey: I first noticed that something was wrong when I was in my mid 20’s. I would have extreme pain in my lower back, lots of gas, and lots of pain when going to the bathroom. I noticed that a week before my periods it would burn when I peed and that would last until a week after my period (total of 3 weeks). I also dealt with bouts of constipation and diarrhea.
After a long battle for answers, Kimberli was finally diagnosed with Endometriosis at 27 years old. Four years later, she’s forging ahead with the disease, spreading awareness, raising hopes and spirits, and supporting EndoWarriors everywhere!
I remember getting my period at age 11, one of the first out of my group of friends. Besides heavy bleeding, I didn’t think too much about anything being ‘wrong’. I was athletic, I played all sorts of sports, ate fairly healthy for a kid and was always playing outside or doing things with my friends. My immune system was pretty crappy though, I got sick a lot. Just your typical strep throat and flu type sicknesses. It wasn’t until high school, where I really started to notice some more symptoms. Bowel issues, severe headaches, horrible cramps.
Before I get started, let me explain the image above. A talented artist by the name of Ivy Denton created it for me (they also created the EndoGuy and PoopChuteSnakie you’ll see below). They’re taking commissions if you’re interested in throwing ideas their way! “What is it,” you may be asking yourself. It’s a whimsical interpretation of my insides: a uterus with two cervix, no fallopian tubes (hence the band-aids and floating ovaries), and it’s accompanied by it’s new buddy: an intestine missing some pieces. I think it’s adorable! Thanks, Ivy!!
On with the good stuff! If you didn’t already know, back in July 2018 during an excision surgery Dr. Kurtulus discovered a pair of Endo lesions on my small intestine . He brought in a colo-rectal surgeon, Dr. Schultzel, to look at it and decide if we could remove it then. Unfortunately, it was deemed too deep and risky without a proper bowel prep and a future resection would take place.
Here I go again, once more intrigued by Endometriosis growing in odd places inside the body. Today I’m going to focus on the appendix. I’ve read that many Warriors have their appendix removed because physicians may confuse Endometriosis pain for the symptoms of appendicitis. But on Tuesday an article hit my email about Endometriosis growing on the appendix…and I became obsessed.
Please remember: I don’t write this to scare you, or freak you out, or say that all of your right-sided abdominal pain is from Appendix Endo. Take a deep breath – I like to document these things in case anyone would like to discuss it further with their healthcare providers so they may be aware during surgery. Appendiceal Endometriosis is considered extremely rare and it is suspected that only 1-3% of all cases of Endometriosis involve the appendix. But…knowledge is power.
Lakia was diagnosed with Endometriosis when she was 29 years old, after suffering with symptoms since the Sixth Grade. Now she’s 30, living in San Diego, and she’s found our little support group. I met Lakia just a few weeks after her diagnositic surgery and she’s recently undergone a difficult decision for her second surgery! Lakia has proven to be an amazing and incredibly strong woman, and someone I am proud to call friend. Her story follows…
Lakia’s Journey: I always thought in my mind that my reality was normal. But what is normal? My first period was in sixth grade. I remember being so excited because I finally felt like a woman! I stuffed my bra everyday, secretly shaved my legs, and wore tinted lipgloss. But that first period felt like a rite of passage. All of the boys will like me now! Little did I know what was ahead…
Alex lives in New Zealand and was diagnosed with Endometriosis when she was 14.
Alex’s Journey: Well at the age of 14 I was seen by my specialist after going into hospital 2 with in a few weeks with abdo pain… She said I’ll see you for surgery so she did! Adhesions, endo and appendix.
By the time I was 18 I was back to square 1, pain killers are useless to this day. I have seen specialists around the country for other opinions…
I’ve read bits and pieces here and there that Endometriosis can grow on your heart (or the lining of your heart). And have heard from a friend that she may have it on her heart. That’s scary business!
Which got my juices flowin’ to find the documented cases of Endometriosis on the heart, how it was excised (if at all), etc. Here goes ( PS – there’s not a lot out there…)!
Endometriosis is usually found within the pelvic cavity, but has also been known to travel northward and latching onto the liver and diaphragm. It has also been found on the membranes surrounding the lungs. Even rarer, it has been found on the brain, in the lymph nodes, and on the eyes. But today, we focus on the heart…which is also SO INCREDIBLY RARE. Please, I’ll preface it by saying this is so super duper rare.
Last night, my boyfriend and I were talking about Endo’s “weirdness” how it can pop up in strange and unheard of places, and he popped the question (no, not THEquestion…), “Are there any reports of men having Endometriosis?” I remembered reading somewhere that there were a few rare cases of it, but hadn’t read them deeply enough to understand their situations, diagnoses, and prognoses. So, we have our topic for today!!
In rare cases, cis-men develop Endometriosis. Transmen also suffer from the disease. But we will focus on cis-men for this blog: it appears many have been treated with long-term or large doses of estrogen therapy, but some are healthy men who have no history of cancer or estrogen treatment. Here’s what I could find:
Lauren was diagnosed in 2011. She has had ongoing battles with fertility, miscarriages, and a battle for disability benefits. Her story is a heartbreaking one.
Lauren’s Journey: I first started going to South Jersey Fertility in February 2010, to help conceive a pregnancy. On August 4, 2011, I started to develop excruciating pelvic and abdominal pain. The pain was so bad, I had to go to the emergency room.
On September 16, 2011, I had a laparoscopy, which found classic endometriosis lesions of the left pelvic sidewall and a single band-like adhesion involving the right ovary to the uterus. There was a large peritioneal window under the right ovary. This is consistent with endometriosis.