This is why I was so shocked to find out, last week, that my gut feeling was right. On Wednesday I was diagnosed as having a Uterine Anomaly. Were it not for my gut feeling that I had Endometriosis, this anomaly would not have been discovered for years. And were it not for multiple people sharing their stories about endometriosis, I would not have known the condition existed.
So, because I believe in being honest, and because I believe my story has the potential to help other women, today I am sharing part two of my Endometriosis Story. (read part one here)
Two months ago I got a call from my primary care doctor saying that the results from my pelvic ultrasound came back negative. I did not have endometriosis, just incredible horrible periods. Knowing this information, I made a follow up appointment with my gynecologist to discuss pain management options - birth control? Lifestyle changes? Chloroform and a rag to knock myself out for a couple days each month? (totally joking.....sort of)
On Wednesday, I entered the office in a good mood, cracking jokes to the receptionist and my mom (who I was so lucky to have with me). An hour later, I exited in tears after learning that I am one of 5% of women in the United States to have a uterine anomaly called a "uterine septum," a congenital malformation of the uterus caused during the early stages of fetal development. Beginning as two halves, the uterus slowly comes together,the two sides of the uterus connecting to one another. But in some fetuses, instead of developing into the normal uterine shape, the uterus remains slightly separated with a vertical septum dividing the two halves. My gynecologist explained it as having a heart-shaped uterus. Had this not been discovered now, I would have suffered from multiple miscarriages in the future - since currently, my uterus is not big enough or in the correct shape to carry a baby to full term. Due to the abnormal shape of my uterus, my monthly blood flow is being redirected out of the falopian tubes, which both explains my incredibly painful periods, and puts me at an increased risk of having endometriosis. As you can imagine, my head is spinning with information, unfamiliar emotions, and a million questions that won't be answered for another month. Do I have endometriosis? If so, how bad is it? How extreme is my uterine septum? Will I be able to get pregnant? Will I ever be able to carry a baby, healthily, to full term? My first pregnancy would have most definitely ended in a miscarriage. To know that, and now to know that thanks to one person mentioning her experiences with endometriosis, I won't have to experience heartbreaking miscarriages in the future is an unbelievably bizarre feeling. To mourn something that would have happened. To know what my future would have held for me. And now, to know that that WON'T happen, and that my future holds a different outcome, makes me incredibly grateful for modern medicine and for good friends who share their stories.
Now, I have a plan. Tomorrow I have an MRI, next month I have a follow up appointment, and then a surgery - and then, hopefully, a future clear of the miscarriages and fertility issues that so many women suffer from.
Three months ago I had never heard of Endometriosis or a uterine anomaly. Life happens quickly.
So, if you are suffering from an endless list of symptoms - related to the uterus, chest, ankle, or forehead - and keep thinking you'll get it checked out a month from now, or a year from now, or when the timing is right, let my story motivate you to GET IT CHECKED OUT NOW. Nine times out of 10, it will be nothing. But that 10th time always comes. And it's better to get to it before it gets to you.