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Let's talk about endometriosis with McKenzie

I am Mckenzie, I am 22 years old and live in Tauranga. I was really fortunate that my mum had endometriosis, so when I started having similar symptoms she took me straight to the gynecologist who booked me in for a laparoscopy, and a month later I was diagnosed with endo at the age of 16. I am so grateful that my mum recognized that my pain, heavy bleeding and having no pattern around my periods were all abnormal and needed to be looked at. If more people were educated like this, we would cut down the number of years it takes to get a diagnosis. I have had endo for almost 6 years now, I have had two laparoscopies, one ablation of endo and one excision of endo tissue. My main symptoms are heavy bleeding that is so random, and can range from spotting to filling 6 super tampons a day, crazy pain in my abdomen, thighs, back and chest, and also nausea, dizziness and fainting.

I had some relief after my surgeries, the first lasting 2 years of being pain free, but the relief from the second surgery only lasted months. In the last two years I have been hospitalized on average once a month due to immobilizing pain, causing me to lose consciousness and be unable to do anything. I have lost three jobs due to endo and had to spend almost all of 2022 unemployed because I was always sore and couldn’t last longer than half a day before my symptoms started to flare. It has been so crap. But some good things have come from this too. I started my Instagram page @endo.uncensored in December 2021 where I share everything endo related. My own experiences with doctors, medications, different pain management techniques, as well as education on what endo is, what symptoms can look like, how it is treated, research that is being done on it and findings of recent research studies and so much more.

I am so grateful for the online endometriosis and chronic illness/ pain community! It is a great place to make friends, to learn, to share ideas and experiences and to just be reminded that you aren’t crazy and most of all you are not alone. Another positive thing that has come from me having endo is that I have decided to do a degree in counselling online over the next three years. If I hadn’t spent the last year at home with very limited mobility and a lot of time to kill I never would have considered going back to university! I believe that my personal experiences with chronic pain will make me an excellent counsellor and I may even be able to specialize in this area because I understand how being physically ill can be so impacting on your mental health!

A third thing that would not have happened if I didn’t have endo is I started my own business! I work part time as a social media manager. I created content for businesses and post, promote and interact with people that follow the businesses that I work for. I started this because I was unable to work a standard job but wanted to financially contribute to my household, and have something else to do with my time. I really enjoy my job and the freedom it gives me. Because I can create content and schedule posts ahead of time it is totally fine to take a couple of days off when I have a pain flare as I create my own schedule and as long as I am still achieving what I am contractually obligated to do, then I’m good! I am so blessed that my husband earns enough income to pay our bills so that I had the opportunity to take this chance and I am so glad I did!

So, endo sucks, as I am writing this I am in hospital and have been for days as I am in a lot of pain! But I am still able to earn an income, I am able to connect with people online who completely understand what I am going through and I can look to the future with excitement as I start my degree in a few weeks! A word that embodies this for me: Chiaroscuro- a style of art using strong contrasts between light and dark. You need the dark times to contrast and show the brightness of the light times.

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