Martina Mercer speaks to us about her seven year fight with Endometriosis, and her struggle to obtain the hysterectomy that would change her quality of life
For all my adult life, I’ve suffered with painful periods, bloating and cramps but after numerous tests I put this down to being weak and having a low pain threshold. Even when I gave birth to my children without pain relief, and welcomed the contractions, I still believed I was a bit of a wimp when it came to the monthly cycle that most women must deal with.
Stop whining and deal with it
I’d been told by professionals that there was nothing to see, and numerous ultrasound scans showed a normal womb. Consultants tried to force me onto the pill despite adverse reactions to all types in the past. The last thing I wanted to be was a victim and I had a clear career path in mind, I didn’t want this to stand in the way of global domination (haha) and so I carried on, until it became impossible.
Chronic pain is a fickle beast, and one only few will understand. Many will tell you to push through the pain and to live a normal life, but when the medication makes you drowsy or the pain removes the use of your legs, it becomes difficult not to resent those that happily dance in the rain. It can be difficult not to feel resentment as others take mobility for granted. It’s not just a case of pushing through the pain, it’s the exhaustion that comes with it.
It can be difficult not to feel resentment as others take mobility for granted.
If she turns blue, press the button
Six weeks after my daughter was born, I became crippled with a pain unlike any other, I also bled uncontrollably. A call to the doctors informed me this was just a heavy period, and again, I shouldn’t be concerned, it was perfectly normal. It wasn’t until I spoke to a friend, a GP, that I took myself to A and E. At this point I was so ill, that the doctor told my husband that if I turned blue and stopped breathing he should press the emergency button. (She was leaving for a minute to bring blood transfusion apparatus).
I’d had a haemorrhage, I had an infection, I was told, quickly, that I had endometritis (not endometriosis). It would clear up with 48 hours of IV antibiotics. The trouble was, they didn’t like me having to take care of a 6-week-old baby at the same time, and so they kicked me out prematurely. (There was a virus spreading around the ward, they asked me to stop breastfeeding so I could rest without the baby, but I wouldn’t entertain the idea).
Keeping it a secret
Fast forward a few months and I was told I was better. Why then did I experience the exact same excruciating pain on bending? Why did my legs refuse to work some days? Why couldn’t I put on my own socks? I was 33 and felt 80. In fact, I envied the 80 year olds who could walk to the shops, ride a bike, drive and enjoy a normal life. My family bought me a walking stick and I hated to use it. I also hid the pain from clients, as I didn’t want them to think I was unreliable, or that I’d be taking extra time off.
Why couldn’t I put on my own socks? I was 33 and felt 80.
As luck would have it I’d built up my business so I could mainly work from home. Sitting at a desk didn’t put too much strain on me and so my career continued to flourish. I was determined to get to the bottom of this though and saw multiple specialists. Finally, I insisted that one actually cut me open to see what was going on inside. They reluctantly agreed and told me they’d find nothing untoward as the scans came back clear.
How wrong they were. They discovered two wombs, four fallopian tubes, fused ovaries, and endometriosis. They didn’t apologise, just tried to force the pill onto me again, which I tried, until my husband took it away due to the negative side effects. It really doesn’t agree with me at all.
I’d love to say there’s a happy ending but now, seven years on from the diagnosis, I’m no further on. I keep begging for a hysterectomy but the consultants refuse. The scans show fibroids now, which make me look six month’s pregnant, but still, they won’t operate, so I’ve given up and am trying natural routes.
They discovered two wombs, four fallopian tubes, fused ovaries, and endometriosis.
I gave in an accepted the morphine, the zomorph, the tramadol, the codeine for a while but I felt it just made me worse, so now I take a plethora of vitamins, and revel in the good days while hiding as much as I can from clients and friends. I can’t hide the belly though that looks as though I’ve enjoyed a few too many beers over the last twenty years!
I do have goals.
Soon I will return to the consultants and beg them again to cut me open for the last time. I will plead for the hysterectomy. I’ll be 40 in 3 months, and so I won’t be too young for the op, and they may finally believe me when I say I don’t want any more children.
It scares me a little, as I will need to take real time off work, and as I’m self-employed, if I don’t work I don’t get paid but I’m saving up, I’m nearly there. In the meantime, I will try to raise awareness of this silent, painful affliction that is so often ignored and so difficult to diagnose.
Freelance marketer and PR guru
She works with clients such as Willie’s Cacao, HealthClic, Tax Rebate Services and DSMRandDTaxCredits.