The Battle of Multiple Health Conditions
Managing one health condition can be taxing. I have spent most of my life battling one chronic ailment or another. My personal health issues include endometriosis, chronic migraine, fibromyalgia, and some mental health issues. It can be difficult to manage one of these issues but living with a handful of issues is even more complicated.
Endometriosis was the first chronic health issue I encountered in my life.
I was only 14-years-old when I started having issues related to my periods. There were so many people in my life that told me I was just being dramatic about my period cramps. Considering this, I was so lucky that my mom had dealt with endometriosis herself and did not dismiss my issues like everyone else.
Searching for the right gynecologist
Since I was incredibly young, it took us the longest time to find a gynecologist that would treat me. Even some of the gynecologists mimicked others’ opinions about me just being dramatic or, better yet, just being depressed. It took over ten doctors before finding a team of gynecologists that would start treating me for endometriosis.
I went through multiple procedures and a ton of medications. Eventually, I was even referred to another doctor. There were a few years where I was able to live a normal-ish life due to medication-induced menopause. When this treatment stopped working and my doctor retired, I decided it was time for a hysterectomy.
At the age of 29, I had a total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. This gave me almost two years of endometriosis-free life. Now I am working with my doctor to find a hormone replacement therapy option that will help deal with my reoccurring endometriosis. (Yes, it is possible for endometriosis to return after a hysterectomy).
Endometriosis creates a large amount of pain in the abdomen and it has no cure.
I had episodic migraine as a teenager; they were always linked to stress. At the end of 2009, my migraines slowly became more and more frequent. My family and primary care doctor thought the migraines were due to me working and finishing two Bachelor’s degrees but the daily migraines did not stop after I graduated.
Despite all the years that have passed, no doctor has been able to determine the cause of my migraines. I have tried treatment after treatment for chronic migraine. Even with all the treatments and medications, I have been unable to find something to prevent my migraines.
Chronic migraine causes a massive amount of pain in the head and has no cure.
In 2013, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Despite this diagnosis date, I had been dealing with all the symptoms of fibromyalgia for a year or more.
I put off seeing a doctor for these issues because I already had endometriosis and chronic migraine. The idea of adding another health condition to my collection of issues seriously bothered me. I am not sure why I thought ignoring the fibromyalgia would be a good idea, but I tried to ignore it.
Fibromyalgia causes pain all over the body and has no cure.
Unlike most people, I am not afraid to admit that over the years I have developed some mental health issues. It is only logical to develop issues such as depression and anxiety while suffering from one of these health conditions, much less all three.
The stigma associated with mental health
I know that to some extent there is still a stigma around seeking help for mental health issues. Despite this, I know my quality of life would be drastically different if I did not seek help. I developed major depressive disorder and anxiety issues. Prior to deciding to seek help for these issues, I almost gave up on living my life.
How I manage my mental health issues
For my mental health issues, I see both a psychologist and psychiatrist. I also take several prescriptions. It is extremely helpful to have someone to talk to and to help teach myself different ways to look at events in my life. Mental health issues can feel as though they are physically painful. Luckily, they can be treated and eventually cured.
My health issues don't define me
The majority of my health issues cause a large amount of pain and do not have a known cure. Despite the toll of this chronic pain, I know today that my life is worth living. I am not any less of a woman because of these health issues. If anything, this proves how strong I am.
When it comes to planning vacations or other events where travel is required, how much does migraine factor into your decision-making?