powering through with positivity
By: Fela M'tima Dunfee
Fela- Hey girl! Let's start off by learning a bit more about you. How old you are, name, and where you're from?
Sarah- Sarah Yates, 27, Houston TX!
Fela- How long have you been diagnosed with endo and what challenges have you battled during those years?
Sarah- Since February 2013. I started getting really sick, unable to eat anything and feeling tired all the time. I went to a lot of specialists and took test after test. One doctor thought I had an eating disorder and put me on anti-depressants. (I had to stop taking them after the 3rd dose because it was actually making me depressed). I finally found a doctor who put me on a specific diet and told me that I had endometriosis and sent me to an endo specialist. The endo specialist put me on an estrogen only birth control and then told me that due to my excruciating pain that I needed to have surgery. He would not prescribe me pain medication. I flew to Dallas to see another doctor for a second opinion. He told me of some other options and I chose Lupron Depot shots. I took the shots between June and December of '13. I was seeing a pain management specialist for taking vicodin everyday due to the pain caused from the injections. When I finished with the shots I was extremely fatigued (not knowing it was because my body was bouncing back from medically induced menopause!) and went to Dallas to see my doctor. My doctor suggested I see a shrink because he didn't know how to help me further. I did not see a shrink because I wasn't making anything up. I switched to a new doctor in the spring of '14 and we decided on a laparoscopic surgery in July because my pain had returned. After the surgery I continued on a three month cycle birth control that kept symptoms at bay. My major symptoms returned in February of this year. I went back to my doctor who suggested that I see another gastroenterologist and another specialist. She said if the symptoms continue as they were we could look at doing another surgery. The major symptoms have calmed down since then. I still have major fatigue and nausea. I take medicine as needed for nausea.
Fela- Wow, I've unfortunately heard a lot of stories about women being sent to shrinks because of the "it's all in your head" issue. It's just ridiculous. Can you explain more about your biggest symptoms since getting diagnosed and how you manage them?
Sarah- Since earlier this year I have not had as much physical pain, but I deal with fatigue almost on a regular basis. Fatigue coupled with spurts of nausea throughout the day. I have discovered that a nice indian pale ale can help with my nausea so if I'm home I'll have a nice cold beer! Also my nausea medicine is a god send! Recently my fatigue has led me home straight from work to a solid 2-3 hour comatose nap. I do have a wonderful circle of friends who will come over and hang if I'm not feeling well.
Fela- So great you have friends that are supportive and down to just hang with you! I know fatigue can be especially tricky for work. How has endo affected your work life?
Sarah- Yes!! My friends are fantastic. We definitely all need a fabulous support system. Fortunately, I have only had to take one day off due to a huge flare up. I get by by just powering through. I have the ability to not let other people catch on if i'm not feeling well if I don't want anyone to know. I can sleep when I get home!
Fela- That's great to have such a positive attitude! What advice would you give other endosisters that feel like they can't power through?
Sarah- I would say: Do what you can to get though in the moment and don't be afraid of what might come later. Tomorrow is a new day and might just bring all the good things!
Fela- That's a great motto. And how do you handle life with Endo on the "bad" days?
Sarah- Power through. Having have lived in constant pain for almost a year I know that I can get through anything.
Fela- Did anything happen in your life to help you have such a positive attitude? It is really admirable!
Sarah- I gave up fear for lent one year. Changed my life forever. I used to be so afraid of what pain I was going to be in. I just stopped thinking in that way and starting thinking it was going to get better!
Fela- That's amazing girl! I'm sure all that positivity helps your physical state. When your physical pain is out of control, what things do you use to help cope other than positive mind set?
Sarah- After being on painkillers for over a year (and finding out that the pain management specialist was trying to steal my money...) I stopped taking them. I didn't want take pain killers anymore. I rarely even take Tylenol anymore. For endo pain I can thankfully get by these days with a heating pad (or two) and watching a good movie or trying to sleep it off.
Fela- I'm sure that feels good to be off of them now, too! You showed me a photo of yourself after your last Lupron shot, I'm not sure if you read our interview with Kirsten about her experiences with Lupron, but can you explain the ups and downs of yours?
Sarah- The only ups of lupron was buying a cupcake from sprinkles every time I went in for my shot (oh! and the lovely doctor at the CVS minute clinic who gave me three of my shots. She was so wonderful!). The downs were the horrible pain (worse than the kidney stones that I had while in college) and the inability to sleep well due to the pain killers.
Fela - I swear sometimes something as simple as a nice doctor can make any sick person have a good experience. Well, as we wrap up I want to thank you for sharing your positivity and story with me! What advice would you give to someone who is living a life fearful of the pain they live in?
Sarah- You are not alone! Finding endo sisters on social media was one of the best things that have happened to me. There are 176 million women living with this disease and there is no reason to suffer alone. There are even groups for women living in specific areas and have meet ups! Also share your story! You are important. The life you have lived is important. The struggle you are facing is real and there are sisters who can walk with you.