Three months ago to the date, I took a really personal matter to my blog and went on a tangent about life with endometriosis. Well, its March, and guess who's back with another tangent? This time, we're going a little deeper, because I am royally fed up with the way endometriosis is handled throughout society and HEY- It's Endo Awareness month, so why not?
Endometriosis is a condition that causes the uterine lining to grow outside of the uterus. It can basically grow anywhere- any organ in your reproductive system, the intestines, appendix, bladder, etc- and it is extremely painful. It can cause heavy and painful periods, pain between periods, pain with urination, nausea or vomiting, pain with sex, digestive issues, brain fog, fatigue, infertility, miscarriage and after years of misdiagnosis and medical professionals who refuse to take one seriously- emotional trauma. In the advanced stages, it can literally fuse your organs together. ONE in TEN WOMEN are diagnosed with endometriosis, and it usually takes anywhere from seven to ten years to be diagnosed. Until recent years, endometriosis was very much overlooked. There was not a lot of research being done about it, and most women who complained of symptoms that could've been related to it were simply shut up with a birth control pill and advice to eat healthy food.
In my case, it took me about five years- five years of being kind of sick, two years of being sick, and about a year of being really sick. Five years of countless doctors, countless shrugs and "Try this birth control", many choruses of "I think you're overreacting", random misdiagnoses, terms like "endometriosis", "PCOS", and "PMDD" thrown around like ping-pong balls without anyone willing to follow up on them, pills I was taking for reasons I didn't really understand, and pure frustration. Listen, I know I am dramatic- but this was real. By the end of it, I was consistently missing work, was passing out from pain, and could barely function. I was withdrawing from people in my life because I could not handle more "this is normal, take an Advil" when I was experiencing this pain nearly every day. I was consistently angry, as no one seemed to understand. The ER doctors didn't know what to tell me either. The tough girl became the sick girl who didn't know where to go. On multiple occasions last year, I desperately called my doctor to get an appointment so they could physically see the pain I was in and hopefully it would help them give me a diagnosis, and I was told by a receptionist to go to the ER- they didn't know how to help me. It was that easy. One morning, I woke up on the bathroom floor after a night of horrendous pain that probably should've landed me in the hospital and my best friend, who was sick of watching me go downhill, pulled out her phone and decided to start researching endometriosis specialists in the area. Within the hour, we found a specialist at Cleveland Clinic in Fort Lauderdale. By stroke of fate, I got an appointment to see him the following week.
The moment I sat down and described my symptoms, he said "I see ladies like you every day. I think you do have endometriosis. Let's get you in for surgery. Don't worry. We are going to get to the bottom of this" and I don't think I have ever heard such beautiful words. He is my angel.
I had surgery eight days ago today. I'll save you the dirty details, but they found what they thought they would- pockets of endometriosis and large ovarian cysts that they were able to remove. Nothing about this surgery is as easy as they make it seem. They blow you up with air and are cutting pieces of tissue out of your organs. I came out of surgery successfully and safely, and I am so lucky.
Unfortunately, millions of other women are not so lucky. Many women come out of this to news that they are infertile, or very damaged. Most women with endometriosis hear the words "IVF" or "infertility" far too often. Many come out with stomas, as this disease has infiltrated their bowels and doctors are forced to cut pieces of their intestines out. Many women are told their condition is too severe and they need to have a complete hysterectomy. It is baffling to me that the government continues to cut funding for endometriosis research.
As if this post wasn't TMI enough, here's a couple pictures of me and my battle wounds. I'm really proud of them. It has taken me a long time to get here, and I have been through hell. They say our silence keeps us sick and our silence will keep other women sick. Hopefully these pictures gross you out enough to spread the word.
If someone you love is struggling with any of these symptoms, encourage them to speak up to their doctor or find one who will take them seriously. Hopefully the next few generations won't have to deal with endometriosis the way we have had to deal with it. Let's find a cure. Fuck Endo.
OK ladies and any man who isn't terrified of reproductive systems (or just isn't educated about them and compares women's reproductive systems to chickens- this happened last week and I am still laughing)- this one's for you. For anyone who hasn't seen my 20 minute Instagram rant today, I am writing this because I am frankly sick and tired of not being taken seriously by medical professionals, as is every single woman living with anything like this.
I am a firm believer that we should be able to speak freely about our bodies. I am also very aware of the fact that women are not taken seriously and that reproductive health is completely overlooked, which makes it extremely difficult for women to speak out. It took me a very long time to speak to anyone in my life about my pain. I figured it was normal. As it worsened, I was afraid I would be labeled dramatic, so I still kept quiet. As I am moving through this journey, I am learning that silence is deadly. I am learning that if we are not proactive about this, no one will be. As of now, we are shamed for speaking out about our bodies and what happens in them. This conversation needs to be normalized and it needs to be normalized NOW. Feel free to share with anyone you feel might benefit from this.
Millions of women have suffered tremendously at the hands of diseases like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), adenomyosis, endometriosis and any other reproductive issue that I might be missing (I see and validate y'all, I just don't know enough about anything else to write about it).
I am ONE in TEN women experiencing (what doctors have said is) PCOS and Endometriosis (unofficially, only because they have yet to perform exploratory surgery). Endometriosis takes an average of 8 doctors and 10 years to diagnose. It is thousands of dollars, hundreds of nights spent on the floor in pain, multiple medical professionals standing over you looking confused, dozens of perfect test results with no explanation, feeling completely invalidated, dozens of people telling you to take an Advil and move on with your life. It is days of missed work and mental exhaustion. It is rolling your eyes at stupid comments like "well, my sister ate kale every day for a week and it cured her endometriosis". It is trying weird fads like the keto diet and stretches that only make it worse. It is calling your best friend to come walk your dog because getting out of bed feels like being attacked by a shark. It is dozens of ultrasounds, surgical procedures, and for many women, even miscarriages or infertility. It is "I'm just really tired today" and cancelled plans. It is having doctors look you in the eye and tell you "It is fine. One day, we can try IVF". It is random diagnoses like PMDD and IBS because they just don't know what else to tell you. It is ultrasound technicians telling you honestly that something looks very wrong, and doctors telling you that you are fine. It is trials of birth control pills because it is far easier for medical professionals to attempt to control it than to actually treat it. It is embarrassment and humiliation. It is consistently questioning yourself. It is constant apology. It is making life decisions based on your condition. It is feeling like you're going to faint or fainting from blood loss. It is uncomfortable or painful sexual experiences. It is women like me calling the doctors office crying out of pain and frustration, and male doctors telling you to go to the emergency room- they can't do anything for you. It is "you don't look sick" and "but you always seem fine, you hide it really well". It is moving about your daily life with a smile on your face, and not wanting anyone to know that you are suffering. It is multiple different unofficial diagnoses with no answers in the near future.
If you experience any of the following, I ask you to PLEASE see a doctor. I don't know who needs to hear this, but your suffering is not normal.
- Painful periods
- Heavy periods
- Pain in between periods
- Vomiting or fainting due to abdominal pain
- Unexplained miscarriage
- Fertility issues
- Pain with bowel movements
- Pain with sexual activity
If you or anyone you love is experiencing any of the things I mentioned in this post, for the LOVE OF GOD- please do not dismiss them. Please let them know that they are seen, and help them find answers if you know how. The answer to all of this is pretty simple- for these issues to ever be solved, we need to normalize them. We need to be able to talk about them without judgement, without stigma.
In honor of my doggo’s second birthday last week, I thought I would write about my experience as a dog mom. I figured it was perfectly appropriate for my second blog post, because, well, my dog is my life.
If you asked anyone in my life to describe me, they would most definitely mention the "crazy dog parent" factor. I recognize this to be entirely true, and I own it.
Everyone thought I had officially lost my mind, getting a dog straight out of college with absolutely no idea where I was going or what I was doing. I had just graduated and was living with the typical "what am I supposed to do with my life", fresh out of school, anxiety, in addition to my daily anxiety. I had always wanted a dog of my own and had almost gone through with bringing one home on multiple occasions (which were all impulsive and horrible ideas). I had heard many stories from friends and family about the effect that emotional support animals had had on their lives, so I decided this time was the right time for me. One rainy September day, I woke up and decided that this was it- I was actually going to do it. I was done taking other peoples' opinions into consideration over this matter.
I knew I wanted a Havanese. They have few breed specific health issues, are hypo-allergenic (I'm allergic to a lovely myriad of things, including most animals with hair or fur), and are great family dogs. They also originated in Havana, Cuba, which made it twice as cool (Cuban girl had to have her Cuban dog).
After searching through breeders and rescues for what seemed like forever, I actually found him by accident. The best accident EVER. I was standing in my parents kitchen, looking up the breed on Google, and a breeder in Miami came up. I went to his website and Teo was the first thing I saw. I called the number expecting to be told that someone had already claimed this little angel, but instead was told that he was still available. I immediately packed up my stuff and drove back to Miami. The following morning, I asked my brother and my cousin to come with me to meet him, and the second I saw him, I realized there was no way in hell I was leaving without him.
He was twice as big as his sisters, and throwing himself on top of them. He was super friendly, and barking at the others to play with him. He was full of energy, and covered in mud from playing in the trees. My boy. It’s a strange and beautiful feeling, falling for something like I did that day. And here I was, making fun of anyone in my life who treated their dogs like human children. Oops.
Having a puppy was far more difficult than I remembered. I grew up with dogs and have always been an animal person, but this was a whole different ball game. Teo was only twelve weeks old, basically an infant. He projectile vomited all over my car and my brother on the way home. He cried all night for weeks on end, and when he got mad at me, he would stare me straight in the eyes and poop on my bed. He refused to listen to me, and was fascinated by the idea of trying to escape every time I opened the front door. I could not keep track of how many times I had to chase him around the apartment building hallway, screaming, until someone caught him and brought him to me. When I left to run errands, he would howl the entire time. He broke his teeth trying to chew through the crate, he ate under the carpet in my bedroom, and he peed on the majority of my furniture. There were times when I had to walk out of the room just to breathe, because he was about to drive me nuts. He eventually calmed down a little bit, but once he was neutered, he became an entirely different dog. Now, I couldn’t ask for anything better. Everyone who meets him instantly falls for him, and I am more grateful for him with each day that passes.
Teo is, hands down, the best thing that has ever happened to me. Since becoming his mom, I have felt an incredible change in my anxiety and in my life. He has changed me in ways I can’t even explain. He has taught me how to prioritize. He has kept me grounded. He has made me responsible. He has given me countless laughs and countless headaches. He has taught me to enjoy the little things. He has taught me that sometimes the best things in life come to you unexpectedly. He has taught me how to love.
In hindsight, I made the right decision not bringing a dog home until after I graduated school. I could not have handled it during college. Having a dog is a huge responsibility, especially when you're as busy as I am. They take a lot of time, a lot of love, and can be ridiculously expensive (or maybe I am just your typical crazy dog mom who swears that he is deprived and always needs more).
Here are some super cute pics of Teo, even though I think all 7,000 pictures on my phone of him doing absolutely nothing are equally as delicious.
In the spirit of Pride Month, I figured that this would be a great start to my blog. Especially since the topic of coming out and being gay makes a lot of people uncomfortable and I LOVE making people uncomfortable.
For the most part growing up, I was into guys, but I've always had a thing for women. I never really understood it until I was in college, but I remember being younger and meeting certain girls and not understanding why I missed them the minute we parted ways, or why I felt differently with them than I did with my other friends. In high school, there were always rumors that I was the lesbian. I was a lot of things- definitely misunderstood, and definitely the out of place, weird girl- and I didn't want to accept that I was this too.
I grew up in a very sheltered, racist, homophobic, hell-hole of a town- a town where a Lilly Pulitzer dress was every mother's uniform and everyone had the same hair-do. This place was anything but accepting, and I watched my older friends struggle tremendously after they chose to come out. As I started to realize I was different, I also began to realize that I was on my own in this. I had a lot of questions, and it took me twenty years of life and building close relationships with other LGBTQ people to understand and embrace what was really going on in my mind.
And then, my junior year of college, I reconnected with a woman I had met earlier in school and I fell for her. I fell harder for her than I have ever fallen for anyone in my life. Before her, I swore I was going to be the high-powered career aunt who had no interest in marriage or having a family, and if I chose to have kids, it was going to be by myself. I thought I had it all planned out (doesn't every moronic 20 year old, though?) This woman came into my life, and all of those plans flew out the window. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I saw myself in a marriage, and I saw myself with kids. It hit me like a brick. I was so sure that this was what I wanted, and I had absolutely no idea how to break this news to my circle.
I decided to let myself enjoy a few months of this closeted bliss, where only we knew what was happening. I allowed myself to just enjoy the newness of this until it was no longer a secret I was willing to keep. I was ready to share my joy with people in my life. Most of our friends didn't know, and I had no plans of telling my parents, as my brother had recently come out and I knew my parents were really struggling with it.
When I finally decided to tell my friends, they were, for the most part, extremely supportive. The first person I told was my best friend, who I thought would freak out and run (she was a Trump supporter, people). Instead, she looked at me, smirked, and said "Ok so how does being a lesbian work?" She genuinely didn't care and was ready to hear it all. I received a lot of positive support and I also faced a lot of "Well I don't think you're really gay, but OK" and "It's a phase, but I support you". I also had multiple people look me in the face and say "Wow, she finally came out." Finally.
Once we were out, I was really out. I'm talking rainbows and boobs galore. I didn't care who stared anymore. I didn't care how uncomfortable us holding hands made other people. I didn't care if dancing with my girlfriend at a bar got us dirty looks. I had waited so long for this. The only issue was, everyone knew but my parents, and I needed them to find out from me.
I drove up to my hometown one weekend to visit my parents and my mom and I were driving home from a doctors appointment when I decided to break the news to her. As we were nearing the garage, I quickly told her that my best friend and I had been in a relationship for the last 6 months. After giving me the weirdest look she has ever given me in my life, she sighed and said "OK". A few minutes later once we had arrived, she walked up to me and handed me a note that said "I need time to process". She was angry that she hadn't seen it in me before this moment, angry that I waited so long to tell her, and angry for reasons I think even she didn't understand.
I realized then that this was going to be harder and much more than just sharing my joy with people. This was going to take time and patience. It took some time for her to adjust, but never once was my mother unaccepting. If she ever thought anything negative, she just swallowed it for my sake. I knew she wasn't thrilled because she knows that being gay is hard, but never once did she do anything but embrace me and my relationship. I have to give my mother a lot of credit, here. It can’t be easy having two kids come out within a year of each other and feeling completely blindsided, but she has been extremely supportive and is behind me entirely.
As for my dad, I was terrified to speak to him. Being that he was 81 and has been through so much with all of us already, I thought my coming out was going to physically kill him. I didn't hide my relationship- I brought this person everywhere. She was at Christmas, birthday celebrations, and came with me often to visit my parents. I just figured he thought she was a good friend. About two years into my relationship, I happened to be moving apartments (AGAIN, by the way. Fun fact, homegirl has probably moved more in her college life than most people have in their entire lives and I am never moving again, thanks) and my dad stopped me in his kitchen one day and asked me if she was moving in. I asked him why on earth she would possibly be moving in and he looked at me and said "Wow, you really do think I'm stupid. Don't forget I have six of you kids. And by the way, I don't care". Then, he smiled and that was basically it. We never really spoke about it again, it was just kind of understood. My dad understands me and I understand him.
I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world. As far as gay goes, I am surrounded. My life is full of LGBTQ individuals. I have had many people to guide me through this journey. Don't get me wrong- I am proud to be bisexual- but any person that is part of this community can tell you that it is hard and at times, even terrifying. The hate and discrimination we face each day is very real. We are judged and ridiculed and misunderstood. Only those who have experienced it could truly understand this, as well as the sheer beauty that is being able to be yourself after basically being in hiding for half of your life. It helps to have people like you in your corner, and I have more of those than I can count.
I do look forward to the day when we don't really need to come out, though. I look forward to the day that kids with two same-sex parents won't be "the kid with the two moms"- maybe they'll just be called by their name. I look forward to the day when Floridans don't have to worry about being out at work. I look forward to the day that I won't have to explain myself or my sexuality and that if I decide to date another woman, I don't have to explain why I'm not dating a guy. I look forward to the day where I'm not viewed as confused for being interested in both men and women, because trust me, there is no confusion here. Can't a girl just be into what she's into?
I never take for granted that I am surrounded by people who accept me and appreciate my openness. I never take for granted that my parents didn't kick me out or stop speaking to me when I came out or that they actually embraced me and my relationship at the time. I know that the majority of people in our community have not been this fortunate. I know that coming out will always be one of the most difficult things that you will have to do in your life time. At least, for me it was. If that's you, just know that there are people who get it, and people that are here to listen. It gets better.