It took me 11 years to get diagnosed with endometriosis. My symptoms started when I was 17. I still remember those first couple of months. I had horrible pelvic and vaginal pain. I used to cry so much while my mother just held me. My parents couldn’t understand what was happening to me. They took me to a doctor and I was diagnosed with a UTI but it didn’t make sense to me. That year I was in form 4 living in Botswana. I was a in a public high school and they didn’t like the fact that I was missing school so much, so my dad transferred me to a private high school for my final year. That year I made some new friends and started smoking weed. Luckily I was passing all my classes so it didn’t matter how much I missed school but that was the beginning of me masking most of my symptoms with weed without me even realizing it. I graduated from high school and went to Medical school in China and while there I continued to experience a great deal of pain every month but I never tried to see a doctor again, everyone I talked to kept saying how they have painful periods too and I felt like it was more than that but I kept doubting myself because of other people’s opinions. Through out medical school I drank and smoked and didn’t quit stop until after I graduated. When I left China I went back to Botswana shortly then decided to get my medical license to practice in Kenya and moved here. While doing the pre internship in 2018 I started noticing more symptoms apart from the pain. Nausea, sometimes vomiting, fatigue, headaches. I was only able to notice these symptoms because I was more sober than I was in the years prior, I had to be in order to practice medicine. In 2019 I began my internship and I was able to finish one department in a public hospital then decided to transfer in order to be closer to family and live in the capital city, Nairobi. There at St Francis hospital I felt like my symptoms were getting worse. I was experiencing more fatigue, extreme bloating which I later found out was endo belly, nausea, sometimes vomiting while at work, and so much pain during ovulation and on my period. I mentioned it to a colleague who said he would ask a gynecologist. He found out that I possibly could have endometriosis. I got a clinical diagnosis soon after that. I was out on Visanne for a month and it didn’t help my symptoms at all, in fact I started bleeding outside my period and at that time the hospital where I was doing my internship decided that I needed to take a break in order to seek treatment. In early 2020 the same doctor who gave me my diagnosis said I needed a laparoscopic surgery. He said he would do it. During the procedure the doctors decided not to remove any of my endometriosis lesions, my gynecologist said that it was deep infiltrating endometriosis and he feared he didn’t have the skill to do the surgery well. After the procedure he put me on Lupron depot, I was given two injections of it and my body did not take well to it. At around the same time I had been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, I was going through so much emotionally that it seems my symptoms became more apparent and that’s how I was diagnosed. The Lupron depot ended up giving me high blood pressure and I started experiencing new symptoms, pain in my extremities. Pain in my arms, my fingers, my legs, my chest, all on top of every symptom I had before. This came at a bad time as I had just returned to internship. So I ended up being removed for the second time and not being able to complete it. I was so upset that I ended up getting depression. Some of my family and friends didn’t really understand what I was going through, I think some even thought I was just being dramatic or exaggerating the pain, while some didn’t even do any research into my condition so of course they wouldn’t get it. The bipolar treatment was helpful though so by 2021 I was in a better mental state, I decided to focus on myself, exercise when I could and keep hoping that things would get better eventually. That year though I decided to stop all treatments and just go back to the way I was living before. Since I couldn’t make money as a doctor and all the internship money had run out I ended up having to move in with my mother in another city. In 2022 my family convinced me to try internship again, a family member even told me to lie that I was better but I said no and informed the Kenyan medical board of my condition. They were so understanding and sent me back to the hospital I was doing internship at before with a letter saying that I could do internship two weeks at a time, because that is how bad my symptoms were, about two weeks every month I could not work. So I went back and tried again but the same thing happened. I missed a lot of work, which was to be expected this time of course, but the hospital I worked at did not like it at all, even though I was working without pay, so they removed me from internship for a third time. At this point I gave up, I felt like no one would ever understand what I was going through or give me a chance so what was the point? I decided to move back in with my mom but this time try a new treatment. I saw an endometriosis specialist this time and he suggested surgery but I couldn’t afford it, the next best thing was Depo Provera. I tried that for 6 months until early 2023 and it didn’t work. I was bleeding almost every day for a month after the second dose. I decided to stop that treatment. Since I was living in a different city from my doctor I decided to see another gynecologist to help me. He put me on COCs for about 3 months and I feel like my symptoms worsened. I was extremely fatigued most of the time, none of the pain had stopped either, my gastrointestinal symptoms were worse and I gained so much weight but I wasn’t able to keep up was exercising due to how much worse my symptoms got. We decided to stop that treatment too. Towards the end of 2023 another endometriosis specialist was recommended to me. I travelled to Nairobi to see him and he believed me immediately when I told him about my condition and suggested surgery. At this point I felt hopeless since I knew I couldn’t afford it. He told me he would waive his fee for the procedure but it was still a huge amount. My mother and family decided to organize a fund raising and I was able to get more than half of the request amount thanks to family and family friends. I ended up being able to get the surgery. He diagnosed me with deep endometriosis and said he was able to remove the lesions. As I write this I am exactly 1 week post operation. Over the past two years I have done an amazing job of dealing with my mental health, mostly by changing my habits, choosing what to focus on, meditating and getting over a lot of the things that happened to me, also getting to see how other people on social media who have gone through similar experiences has been a huge part in helping me feel less alone. I wish I knew about endometriosis earlier, I wouldn’t have felt like I was imagining my pain or being overly sensitive or dramatic. I’m happy that I was able to get a proper diagnosis and my friends and family can actually see that it really is a serious condition that can affect so many aspects of your life, I find that people are a lot more supportive now after my second surgery, which is crazy, no one has to go through so much just to live a normal life and get support from the people around them. One thing I do hope for is that I get to be a able to able to practice as a doctor one day, it’s been a dream of mine since I was a child and it makes me so sad that I almost gave up on it forever, even if my symptoms don’t go away completely, I pray that I am able to live a somewhat normal life soon.

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