Wednesday, March 05, 2008

My Most Serious Health Concern, Part 2

Lessons in Pain

The year is 1998: three years after my diagnosis. I’ve seen an OB and talked about treatment. I know lots of facts about my new friend: Endometriosis. I’ve discovered that there is no known treatment- Endo is one of those mysterious ‘female’ ailments for which very little research has been done. And most of the research has been in the area of making sure women with endo can still have children.
Very little research has been done in the area of curing it, or in living with the pain it can cause. (This is still basically true- in fact, it was only recently discovered that it’s an immune system disorder like MS or cystic fibrosis because of an accidental discovery during some AIDS research. Endometriosis wasn’t even discovered until within the last 50-75 years. When women used to have terrible stomach pains/cramps doctors would call them ‘hysterical’ and often treat them with valium.)
One of the earliest and more aggressive treatments was & is a complete hysterectomy. This used to be the preferred method of treatment, but it has been proven to be ineffective- women with complete hysterectomies still develop and grow impressive cysts. Now, most OB’s treat it with birth control pills because when you’re pregnant the cysts tend to shrink and can even go away completely- the philosophy is that birth control pills can simulate pregnancy and perhaps convince your body you’re pregnant. It doesn’t work for everybody, and in fact, very little research has been done proving it’s actually effective for anybody. I tried birth control pills for a while and it did not work for me- I spiraled into a massive depression and had more pain than I’d had before.
So, during the three years since my diagnosis I had noticed some pain, but I’d done exactly as the doctor in ’95 told me to do- I’d seen an OB every year and really not worried about it too much.

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