In a world of highly intelligent doctors and advanced medicine, it can be intimidating to go against their advice, to refuse to accept their diagnosis, but that’s exactly what I had to do. At a young age, I had to learn to use my voice to speak up for myself because my health was at risk. When I was about 16 years old, I felt an overwhelming sense of pain starting from my lower stomach shooting down my legs around 10-12 days out the month. I did not think much of it as a teenager. I just took pain meds and worked through it, as I thought it was a normal thing that all females went through before their monthly cycle. My first appointment with my OBGYN resulted in a confident diagnosis of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). I was prescribed birth control and was told that after my hormones became balanced, the pain would decrease. After years of taking birth control, the pain increased. I gained 25-30lbs, bloated most days, felt depressed and was a nervous wreck. I needed a solution to this pain. All doctors gave the same diagnosis and even gave me anti-depression pills to calm me down. My gut feeling told me there was something more to my pain.
In 2005 I decided to move to California. Naturally, in California I adopted a healthier lifestyle and exercise became a ritual. After losing some weight and feeling in charge of my body again, I decided to see an OBGYN in Los Angeles. The first doctor I was referred to was a famous doctor in Beverly Hills who told me I was not having enough sex and that it was a hormonal thing. I felt disgusting and embarrassed leaving the office. I was then determined to find out what was wrong with me. I started to google my symptoms and I found information about endometriosis (when the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus). I wrote down a list of questions to ask my next doctor and educated myself about anything and everything to do with my reproductive system. My second visit was with a female doctor that I was referred to by a friend. I needed a doctor that would actually listen to my symptoms. I asked about endometriosis, and let the doctor know I felt all the symptoms. Endometriosis sometimes does not show on a vaginal ultrasound, and that was my case exactly. The doctor said the only way to really find endo lesions is through laparoscopy surgery. I was willing and ready.
After surgery, I was told that I indeed had endometriosis and the doctor took out as much as she could without causing damage. My gut feeling was right. I changed my lifestyle completely. I turned to exercise and started an anti-inflammation diet, low in sugar and gluten, high in fiber and healthy fats. My symptoms are now manageable and I have a beautiful daughter even though all of my past doctors told me it would be very hard to have children. I am lucky to say I had my baby girl with ease. Doctors will prescribe hormones/pain meds and tell you things are impossible when they are certainly possible. Your life and health are in your hands. Listen to yourself, your symptoms, and educate yourself. Believe in the power of change.
By Michelle Gerdak