After a long, gruelling battle with endometriosis, Entrepreneur and Creative Director of Ziva Lagos, Tania Omotayo Teller decided to speak on her journey with the condition. Here, she talks about her life with endometriosis, from being a young girl to a mother, and shares some advice for other women who may be battling with the condition.
As a young girl I always knew something wasn’t right, but it took us a really long time to figure it out. I was always in constant pain, I had everything from horrific cramps to backaches to headaches. I also had very heavy and abnormally long periods. For most of my life, I bled for about 2-3 weeks every month. Having grown up in Nigeria, England and The States, it’s still so crazy to me how no doctor could figure it out. My parents took me to the best doctors in various countries, in around 3 continents and nobody figured out that I had endometriosis. I even had a doctor tell my father that I was looking for attention and the pain was all in my head. After this experience, I tried to suppress my pain and emotions by just keeping my feelings to myself because I started to feel like a burden on my parents. Why did I have this pain that nobody could understand?
The day I found out I had endometriosis, my life changed forever. I don’t think I can ever forget how my heart broke when the words came out of the doctor’s mouth “Wow, how have you managed with this for so long? You must be in so much pain”- as he performed the ultrasound where he saw my ovaries covered in cysts. I felt so defeated. Luckily, I had an amazing doctor who was also very encouraging, which really helped with the first few days of dealing with the news. To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of time to actually process the information as I needed to have the laparoscopy surgery within a few days of finding out. I was so used to the physical pain that by the time I found out, it didn’t bother me. But, emotionally and mentally, I just was NOT prepared for how my mind betrayed me with so many negative thoughts.
I am so grateful that I had an easy pregnancy. People think I hid my pregnancy, but I actually didn’t. I was just so terrified that something could go wrong because of my endometriosis that I needed to keep it out of the media for my own peace of mind, because I knew I would NOT be able to deal with the loss publicly. The whole 9 months, I was so paranoid. I didn’t miss any scans or doctors’ appointments. I would almost start crying when I couldn’t feel her move. My paranoia was out of this world. I had the most negative thoughts during pregnancy. So, although I wasn’t sick and physically had a smooth pregnancy, it was emotionally and mentally very difficult for me.
My life now with endometriosis is much better. I honestly believe my pregnancy hormones helped balance things out. I remember when I read about pregnancy possibly helping to ease the symptoms of it. I prayed and prayed that that would be my case. I still have some very bad days where I cannot get out of bed. I also still get very bad ‘endo belly’ (your stomach basically swells up into a hard and painful pregnant looking belly). It gets so bad that sometimes I look like I’m 6/7 months pregnant. But for the most part, my daily pain is nowhere near as bad as it used to be.
My advice for women in general is if you feel like something is off, then something is off! Your instincts will never fail you. So please go and get checked out. If I didn’t keep an open mind, I would have never pushed to find out about my pain and I would still be suffering today. Many doctors couldn’t understand what I was going through because I myself couldn’t understand it or explain it properly. But the moment I figured it out and knew what I was looking for, I was able to see a specialist who immediately knew what the problem was. If you’re not satisfied with an answer from a health professional, please seek a second opinion. Also, because some people don’t experience symptoms for a lot of women-related health problems, please get checked out once a year whether something is wrong or not.