If my journey was a book, I guess I’d call this blog Chapter One after a long, convoluted, and confusing Introduction.
Yes, I do realise that sounds trite as anything, but my health journey has been confusing and all over the place, and I’m still trying to make sense of it myself.
While most of my childhood was marked by one injury or another, I never really felt like I was different from my peers. I was never particularly physically gifted, but I was a budding ballerina, who occasionally experimented with other sports, usually where my participation was required in PE.
It wasn’t until I started competing in athletics in my early teens that it became apparent that there was something atypical about my injuries. After a seemingly innocuous fall resulted in a serious knee injury, which caused a limp for six months and still causes pain almost 10 years later, the idea of hypermobility was first mentioned, but to me, at thirteen, all that meant was that I was “a bit bendy”.
At about fifteen, things were getting weird. For lack of a better word, my shoulders would ‘pop’, which was causing a lot of discomfort, and after a few years of this, as well as a continuation of the knee issues, it came to a head, and at some point it became a part of my medical file that I was hypermobile, with frequent knee and shoulder subluxations.
At the same time, I had another issue, one I continued to be told was just a normal part of being a woman. Since I started having periods at twelve, not only were my cycles absolutely all over the place, but I was in incredible pain on a monthly basis, often missing school, and having issues with low iron, nausea and fatigue.
It wasn’t until last year that things finally came to a head.
Gynaecologically, things were going downhill rapidly. Although my cycles were managed with the pill, I was in pain every day. On good days, it felt like an ache or a cramp, on bad ones, it felt like someone was squeezing a fist around my ovaries, or stabbing me with a red-hot knife.
On the hypermobility front, things were also starting to literally fall apart. I had been a cheerleader at my university for three years, which I absolutely adored, but in the space of a year, had two serious knee subluxations, and I was having at least one shoulder subluxation a week, as well as a few actual dislocations thrown in because, at this point, why not? Unfortunately, this meant that I had to give up my passion, and this is something I’m still coming to terms with.
Last year, I finally made the decision to search for formal diagnoses.
I went to a gynaecologist in March of last year, and was given a ‘reasonably certain’ diagnosis of endometriosis, and started hormonal treatment. As my symptoms persisted, I was placed on a waiting-list for laparoscopic surgery for confirmation and treatment. I had surgery on May 30 this year, which found and removed two areas of endometrial tissue. I still can’t believe how ill I was feeling every day until, suddenly, I wasn’t anymore.
To help with joint stability, I started Exercise Physiology in November, and I am seeing noticeable improvements in some areas, but my overall condition is still deteriorating. I’m now having issues with my hips, my fingers, and ankles, as well as having some other respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms. I’m now counting down the days to my rheumatology appointment, and praying that I get some answers.
I’ve decided that 2018 is going to be my year of answers, and although I’m mainly writing this for me, I look forward to taking you with me.