Saturday, September 17, 2011

Endometriosis and Infertility

     So I am once again navigating the treatment of endometriosis with surgery.  A little bit of background, I was diagnosed with endometriosis at 17, but I remember having pain as early as 14, and my mom recounts unusual cycles from the very begining, at 11.  I had one surgery at 17, another at 20.  I have been on just about every birth control know to exist, as well as myriads of painkillers, along with bouts into all sorts of alternative treatments from acupuncture to massage to biofeedback to TENS to physical therapy.  I have made diet changes (no gluten or dairy), and I've been charting my cycles for 2 years.  In all this time, all that has managed to happen is maintaining the status quo, or periodic bouts into much worse.  The end result of all this?  I think the ultrasound tech at my last appointment said it best - "Its all messy in there.".

     Definitely not something you want to hear while trying to get pregnant, but I've been under no illusions - there's a reason I've been unsuccessfully trying to get pregnanct for going on two years.  I had actually been rooting for a surgery for some time now - I'm finnaly ready to have children, and pregnancy and breastfeeding can be one of the best treatments for endometriosis.  Such a fundamental shift in hormones and the way your body functions is a lot more powerful, and a lot safer, than most things which can be offered by the medical community.  A big issue of course being that it's been damn hard to get pregnant with all that stuff going on.  What I've been desperatly wishing for is a reset botton of some sort, something only surgery can provide.  If I could just get rid of the pain for awhile, I could get off the drugs, could have the energy to eat better, to do physical therapy, make sure to follow my diet to a T, excercise, all the things that can help keep illness at bay, but that anyone with a chronic pain causing disease knows is virtually impossible when its all you can do to get out of bed most days, and all you can eat some weeks is applesauce and ginger ale.

     But like most people in this country, I don't have enough money to be healthy.  Two years ago I had insurance, but my co-payment was so high ($490 a month at 22 years old!) that I couldn't even afford to go to the doctor, let alone get surgery.  Then I couldn't afford even that, and I joined the insurance-less masses.  Hello free clinic, goodbye considerate or preventative medicine.  Now, two years later, after a year of not working due to my disability, I've finally won the lottery.  I'm now so poor I get Medicaid.  $3 co-payments and foodstamps have made us miraculously able to consider real options for treatments.  Yes, I have to jump through 10 levels of hoops for referrals to the correct person, but once I do, I get surgery, physical therapy, nutritional consultation, pre-prenatal care, the works.  And guess what?  I can actually afford to eat well now that I have food stamps.  On the one hand it really sucks that I have to get to the point of facing loosing my home or being on permanent disability before our government will give me any help, but hey, now that I have it, I'm pretty psyched not to be somewhere where I would have just continued to fall through the cracks.

     How does this tie into Radical Pregnancy?  Maybe it doesn't, maybe this is just a recollection of my personal struggle to try and attain pregnancy while being weird, on the fringes of society.  But maybe that's the point.  How many other "fringe" women are there out there like me, who want children but have none of the options available to our middle class sisters?  Elective surgery?  Hell no!  IVF?  Not in your life!  The basic requirements of real food, safety, rest, and a limited stress environment so your body can try desperately to heal itself?  If you want it, you are going to need to beg, claw, and work yourself ragged just to lay the groundwork for a community where people like us can give ourselves and each other those basic human rights.

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