Personal Brand Strategist, TED talker and all-round leading-lady, Kelly Lundberg shares her first-hand experience on her crippling endometriosis, and how she battled her way back to good-health and happiness
As Endometriosis Awareness month draws to a close, I am reminded of the first time I experienced crippling pains during my period. I was 16 years old, coming home from school, and facing a 20-minute walk ahead of me. I knew that it was impossible to navigate the route home, little did I know how challenging the path ahead would be as I faced years of excruciating pain and undiagnosed endometriosis.
I remember vividly calling mum from the phone box next to the bus stop where my school day had just ended. Yes very 90’s yes, no such thing as mobile phones in my early school days. Dismayed, the only person that could come and pick me up was my Grandad, and yes also very awkward!
It was to be just one of the many times during my teenage years, my twenties and into my thirties that my life would be affected by painful periods. Such was the intensity that I questioned my pain threshold, was it just me that was in such pain?
For those who have not experienced the effects of endometriosis a flare-up can be challenging to say the least. Chronic and acute endometriosis pain can vary between dull, throbbing, and sharp. Killer cramps can stop you in your tracks and can very often get worse as you get older. Pain medication rarely helps!
I regularly questioned if this was to be my life forever. But it appears I’m not alone in my thoughts. The more I read and having been on the endometriosis journey myself, I am shocked that the average time for a formal diagnosis is eight years. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s and trying for children that a doctor diagnosed endometriosis. With a certain diagnosis and medical tests, I finally underwent treatment process of laser surgery. Furthermore, I was faced with a devasting blow and told that I had a very small window in which to conceive, sadly that did not happen.
Endometriosis is a painful and often debilitating condition; it affects millions of women worldwide. Tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside, causing inflammation, scarring and pain. Symptoms can vary from one individual to another, and whilst not for everyone it can lead to infertility. Having a formal diagnosis and unsuccessful treatment, I decided to undertake my own research. It was a conscious decision during my 30’s, such was my desperation to make manageable lifestyle changes. I started with a diary to track patterns, I found that symptoms and my periods were and noticeable worse after a big weekend or a holiday, usually an excess of alcohol and too much pizza. I looked to change my diet, cutting out dairy and reducing my drinking days. Whilst there were some positive changes it wasn’t a long-term fix, then someone told me I had to see Dr Jelena a Gynaecologist at The Dubai London Clinic.
Following what I thought was going to be a routine check-up she found I had found that I had developed complications that needed surgery. The first post-surgery step in the treatment plan was the use of the Mirena coil. For me, it was a game changer. I wished that I had been aware of options and educated enough to realise that there is help. At 39 for the first time, I had no pain and for some months no period at all.
I want to share my story so that others don’t have to suffer in silence. We need to break the taboo that exists around this topic. Raise awareness so that women are encouraged to seek medical advice if they are experiencing symptoms. Then we can enable others feel more comfortable about seeking help.
Check out The Endometriosis Association It’s now observed worldwide through activities such as education, fundraising, and marches. To honour Endometriosis Awareness Month, the organization provides free, worldwide distribution of popular yellow ribbons and brochures.