Endo can push you to the wall, and force you to give up some of the things that you were so sure you couldn’t live without. Then, what started off as a diet becomes a lifestyle, a way of life. Shiru Muraya shares with us her journey of pain, courage and a new found hope.
My periods begun in high school. To be more specific, mine begun while on a fantastic holiday in Naivasha where I now had to explain to everyone why swimming was not an option.
I am now a 26-year-old daughter, sister, cousin, niece and, for 1 year now, a proud wife.
From the information I gathered, my endometriosis began in high school when I was around 17. The period pain intensified. I would narrate the pain to my mum she’d tell me that it is okay, what I need to do is pop a pill. I always thought lightly how my mother took comfort in pills, not realizing my mother and I faced, and still face, the same battle.
As a teen I had severe acne, and the dermatologist prescribed for me birth control pills. The relief was instant, the pain decreased. At such a tender age, not knowing the side effects of the pills, I began to experience anxiety, depression and heart palpitations. I was a newly initiated health freak and I got to researching. My conclusion was that this method was not going to work, so stopped taking them and this disrupted my menstrual cycle. I discovered that I loved to read about health and wellness.
I became a vegetarian. Yes people, by choice. And let me tell you, my family took turns at challenging my new lifestyle. I am glad to say that it has been ten years and counting. The diet change made a small difference in my pain levels.
For over 5 years, I continued with Ponstan, Panadol and hospital visits to relieve the pain. One major symptom held me down every month, I was fatigued.
Yes, I was eighteen and fatigued, and still not aware I had endometriosis. I continuously blamed myself for not being good enough. I told myself that I was lazy, and started exercising two to three time a day, pushing my body further into a vicious cycle of fatigue, insomnia and pain. I would bloat so much that I could not button my trousers.
In 2014, as I went through the wild fun of university, I began to drink and neglect my health. With school and a part time job, my body began to deteriorate and even though I was not eating well I gained 5 Kgs. What could this be? I was well rested but exhausted. No matter how much exercise I did, the weight would not budge. Then my period did not come for one, two, then three months. I panicked!
With an insurance cover that I insisted on getting during the year, I took to the hospital. The doctors told me I was pregnant and my hormonal balance was causing the issue. This was without any positive urine or blood test. Doctors!
As my symptoms grew worse, I researched my symptoms and diagnosed myself with either an ovarian cyst, PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) or endometriosis. The next time, I marched into the hospital and demanded an ultra sound. And lo and behold, there was a 10cm * 10cm ovarian cyst in my right ovary! The doctor did not even apologize for the misdiagnosis. After three months I had had enough, I packed my scans and patient history never to return to the hospital again. I booked an appointment with a gynaecologist who came highly recommended.
With my appointment on the Monday, I continued my weekend with hope. Unfortunately, the ovarian cysts ruptured, and I has no idea what was happening when they ruptured. I fell to the floor in agony, sweating and feverish as my boyfriend, confused, helped me into the shower for a cold rinse. The pain subsided and I insisted I was fine enough to wait for my appointment.
In the morning, my boyfriend insisted on accompanying me to see the doctor. When I got to the clinic, the nurse took my temperature and blood pressure asked me how I felt and she left. Two seconds later, the gynaecologist entered the room and confirmed the tests, he then asked me if the night before I had suffered severe pain, and I confirmed. He calmly explained that the cyst had ruptured and I was experiencing internal bleeding.
He drafted a letter for an emergency laparoscopy surgery to be performed the same day and off I went. At this point, I was scared out of my mind! I was not mentally prepared for this. The surgery was successful. As I sat there in bed, my mother took to the university with doctor’s letter for leave of absence, and came back empty handed as the university did not understand.
With only two weeks to recuperate, I took to the internet, YouTube videos, articles etc. I began my lifestyle change. When I resumed university, a stinging pain began to torture me. The doctors confirmed that an infection was imminent and I had to rest. It was either I failed my classes for missing them, or the infection spread. Neither was a choice. This is when I accepted help. My boyfriend took to helping me with life. Feeling vulnerable and weak almost sunk me.
I discovered Ayurveda in the quest to grow my hair. That is a story for another day. Ayurveda has a lot to offer in natural ways to heal your body. I use Eve Care by Himalaya Herbal healthcare. This helps stabilize my hormones and diminishes the pain significantly. I take it for six months and it keeps me going through the year.
Early 2017, I had my first flare up in two years. It’s said that after two years after surgery the symptoms are more than likely to return. I had been drinking a lot of coffee to get through the day for one year and my body was done. As the month began, I started vomiting every morning. I could not eat. I started to gain weight, I had chronic backache, pelvic pain, fatigue, fainting and hair shedding. For one year, I had been deemed ‘overwhelmed’ at work, but I was too embarrassed and ashamed, to share the real story.
The challenge of endometriosis meant that as an outgoing lady, I was easily reduced to a crying helplessness due to the pain, fatigue, confusion, frustration. Chronic fatigue can make a professional career difficult.
Let’s just say I was a mess. After some deliberation with my family, I made the decision to leave employment and take care of myself. Some said it was a drastic decision, but it was necessary for my sanity and that of those around me. I have taken 8 months to recuperate and regain my balance. It has been a lot of sacrifice.
I had to sit and really think about the quality of life I wanted. After quitting my job and sleeping for like two months, I began to research more and more on diet and Ayurveda. I started to eliminate more items from my diet for the long haul. I mentally prepared myself for a transformation. This led me to transitioning from pescatarian to vegan or whole plant-based diet, giving up ALL caffeinated drinks and swimming at least 5 times a week. Ladies, this truly has been a transformation. My body, mind and spirit have been restored. I no longer need days of auto pilot to go through my menstrual cycle. During this transition, I fought hard with myself as I slipped back to cheese or bread. This is not a diet for me, it is my lifestyle now. My symptoms are not all gone, but they have subsided.
In my time off the corporate world, I’ve concentrated on my business @Urban.bantu. A business I had started last year in my kitchen. The facts are out there, that lotion, detergents and beauty products have chemicals that elevate estrogen and cause more harm to us. My history with eczema, acne and un-even skin tone brought about the curiosity to explore DIY cures. I currently offer whipped body butters and African black soap with more products to come in this year.
I have a new spark in my life, I have learned the value and greatness of self-care, sacrifice and family. I will NEVER sacrifice my health and well-being. Remember that no one will understand what you are going through until you speak up. As I continue this journey, I aspire to help endo warriors through their journey of healthy living.
Thank you for sharing with us your story, Shiru, and for inspiring us not to be afraid to make seemingly drastic decisions for our benefit. We hope that you will have more happy, painless, boisterous and hope-filled days. We are looking forward to the other endo-friendly products that are in the pipeline.