Happy International Women’s Day.
We continue to share our stories and raise our voices as we #pressforprogress.
It’s difficult to tell the battle a woman is fighting by looking at her. Endo is an invisible force, it is tiny and mighty. It attacks from the inside out, Endo pain is something that all girls would love to live without.
There is a resilience, a fire in her eyes, a desire to win that Reshma Maru has that lets you know that she is determined to beat Endo. She first shared with me her story in 2017.
My name is Reshma Maru, I am twenty-seven-years-old and I work in procurement for a furniture store. I smile when I see the face of a child – the innocence they show and their purity of heart. Joy fills my heart when I day-dream about holding my own child and cradling them close to me.
I started my periods at the tender age of eleven. I would hear girls in schools saying that it is like a disease where if one touched a girl who had her periods it would spread, so I kept it hush from friends and even from my mother. Being the only girl brought up in an Indian family I didn’t have someone to confide in, the day that my mother found my bed sheets stained she was furious that I did not tell her I had started my periods. In the Indian culture, it is important to tell your mother so that she can explain to you that when you are on your periods you do not go to the temple or touch someone who is going. So many myths came together with this.
I went through years of painful periods that would last 7-8 days. Panadol was my best friend and without it, I would not last any of the days. I knew that, ahhh it is periods, they are always supposed to be painful, so it is normal.
The pain got worse when I was twenty-four years old. I would have the normal painful period but the pain would continue even after the periods were over. So two weeks down the line I said to myself, ‘This cannot be the period pain, it must be something I have eaten.’ I went to a general doctor and explained all my symptoms to him, and he said that it sounds like amoeba. He took a stool sample and said that he found traces of amoeba and that was a sigh of relief as I knew there are medicines to get rid of them. I was on medication and a few days after ovulation I was pain-free.
The next month came and I got painful periods and the same pain after the periods. This time I ignored it and took antibiotics for two weeks and voila I was back to normal. I just thought to myself that since the previous periods were painful I may have a less painful one next month. Come next month the pain was worse. I would get hot flashes, nausea, lack of appetite, and pain all over my abdomen especially my left side.
Since I had a medical cover at work I decided to go see a gynae and just to get things checked out as it may be a small issue, and besides since I wasn’t paying for it I didn’t have an excuse not to go. I got advise from fellow workmates on which gynae to go and see since they were using the same cover. The gynae advised me to do a blood test and a scan so that she could have a clear view of what was causing the pain. When she saw the scan report she looked at me and said ‘You have Endometriosis.’ At first, I was like ‘Huh? That is a long name to even pronounce, let alone spell.’
I took the prescribed medication and decided to google the sickness she had talked about. After the research, I concluded that it was a common disease so may be the Vissane that she had prescribed would cure it as the box read: specifically for Endometriosis. I took it for 6 months as I went for regular checks with the gynae and I was really really happy. Vissane suppresses your periods, so no periods = no pain for me.
I was three months away from my wedding and pleaded to the gynae to let me continue with the medication until my wedding and honeymoon were over. She agreed and said that I should get a baby and all these problems would disappear. I was happy that I was pain-free, able to work, plan my wedding, and run around.
I actually ditched the contraceptives when I started gaining weight and getting very emotional almost every day. I started going to the gym to lose weight but after 3 sessions max and I could hardly keep up. I was always tired, my feet always hurt, my shoulders felt like someone was sitting on them, I would cry for no reason over the tinniest things. My husband would be like, ‘What is the matter? Be strong,’ and I would just look at him and just cry, and cry.
The next time my periods came, the painkillers did not work at all. I could feel a sharp pain like I was being stabbed on my left side, but nothing was working. I even went to work in all that pain as I waited for the painkiller to kick in. I was hoping to get distracted from the pain while I was working but that didn’t seem to help either. I rushed to my gynae and pleaded with her to do something about the pain. She injected me with stronger painkillers but nothing changed. Now helpless, at the end of my strength, I asked her, “Please just tell me anything else we can do because I don’t think I will last another day like this.” If I saw a knife that day I would have stabbed myself just to remove whatever it was that was causing the pain, as I knew exactly where it was.
She advised that I be admitted right away for a Laparoscopic surgery. Without knowing the details I was ready to go through it just to get out of this hell. In the evening as I was prepping myself for surgery, I started thinking ‘What is this I have agreed to do?’ but I prayed all will be well and went in for it. A surgery that was to take 2 hours ended up taking 4 hours. I came out of surgery with a numb tummy and no pain, and I said ‘Wow! I like this feeling.’
The pain started after I was out of hospital, I was constipated, dealing with pain from the surgery itself, dealing with a dry throat caused by the tube they insert down your throat during the surgery, extremely emotional and hating on those who didn’t come see me in hospital including a best friend who I decided to let go of. I went back to the gynae for my report and to ask why the surgery took so long and she explained that I had a normal cyst and inside it there was an endo cyst that was growing, both the cysts measured at 5.5cm. These were on the left ovary therefore causing the excruciating pain. They were removed but since they were on my ovary the top tissues had to be removed as well, this would prolong the healing time.
Post-surgery, I am still struggling to join this diet plan that endo patients are asked to follow but my workmates give me support and also join me in eating right. I do not want to lose a job or give up on life because of this. Believe me, it is so hard, I lived for food and now I get told do not eat this or that. It is a struggle to find organic food, when you do find some you are too weak to cook it for yourself.
But believe me nothing is worth your health. The bills that you get with medication and surgery are more expensive than just eating right and taking care of yourself. I am now hearing about different foods or herbal meds and I’m willing to give them a try.
This has really changed me in many ways – I am closer to God more than ever, thinking of him every day – I am more positive and really willing to help someone else through this because NOTHING is possible without the support. When you are left alone your negative thoughts echo within. Listening to someone vent is good enough for me because we all, at one point or another , want to do that.
I always want to help and be there for anyone going through this as no one understands your pain like a fellow endo-sister. I believe this will be a thing of the past but this can only happen if we create awareness and conduct research on what works or doesn’t work for each other.
What I always keep in mind is that God gives the toughest battles to those he loves the most. Let’s not give up. Always be there for someone whenever you can because time is short, let’s not run out of it!
My favorite flower is a black rose as it is unique and rare to find just like you!!
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Reshma! We pray that 2018 will be a better year. Here’s to health and many moments that make you smile.