What are your endometriosis symptoms like? 

The symptoms started as a sharp and stabbing pain on my right side and this pain usually varies day by day. Sometimes, when I am in a lot of pain to the point where I couldn’t function, the only thing that helped with the pain was sitting on the floor in a fetal position where I would then rock myself back and forth. Heating pads and analgesics such as acetaminophen and Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs did not help relieve the pain, it felt like it just made the pain worse. Furthermore, the other symptoms I had were chronic fatigue, brain fog, headaches, constipation, legs aching, back pain, malaise, chills, and many more. As a healthcare student, I couldn’t keep up with the school workload while suffering from this debilitating pain as it impacted my quality of life.

What was your journey to diagnosis like? 

When I started nursing school in a pandemic in September 2020, I was experiencing pelvic pain on my right side, which eventually became an everyday issue. Some days this pain felt like a gnawing and throbbing sensation as something was twisting and pulling on my right side. In November, the pain became so intense and persistent that I became severely fatigued and sleep-deprived. It sometimes felt like my own body was slowly trying to shut down and felt that the whole world was against me. As the pain worsens as the weeks goes by, it came to the point where I couldn’t control the pain with just over the counter pain medications.

I reached out to a new family doctor who took my symptoms seriously and booked me lab and diagnostic works to have done. My ultrasound showed that I had a big endometrioma cyst on my right ovary and that was the cause of why I was in much pain and inflammation. My family doctor then referred me to an OB/GYN and then ending up being referred to another OB/GYN because the first one truthfully told me that she couldn’t do the surgery because she was not skilled to do it. At the time, I did not know what endometriosis is and this all happened fast as I am still trying to process and cope with everything. Two weeks and a half later, I had an appointment with the second specialist that treats endometriosis who offers to do a laparoscopic surgery on me and that the wait time for this surgery would be in 3-4 months. I was officially diagnosed with endometriosis in June 2021 through surgery. In the end, this journey of getting diagnosed with endometriosis was a battle to fight for as it affected my physical, social, and mental well-being. I want to thank you to the doctors I had who are devoted to improving the lives and health of people with this disease. I really appreciate each of you.

What do you think healthcare for endometriosis in Canada should look like? 

There is a lot of women’s health disparities surrounding endometriosis within the healthcare system. There are myths and misconceptions about pelvic pain and periods that some health care professionals still believe in and results from these women not being able to get access to the care they need and stopping them from getting a proper diagnosis. Health care providers should recognize the signs and symptoms of endometriosis and do a better job of listening and advocating for these patients because women’s pain is real. Patients should get the accessible medical care they need from physicians regardless of their age, ethnicity, and income. Implementing educational resources about endometriosis in school can help spread public awareness and educate girls and women about their health.