We are about to be well acquainted.
In February, my last round of blood tests had come back saying that my hormones were normal but I was low on Vitamin D. The doctor told me to take 10,000 IUs of Vitamin D daily and I should be fine. I knew that wasn’t my problem, I knew the doctor was missing something, but I didn’t know where else to turn.
I was sinking into hopeless resignation that my life would be like this forever. After speaking with a friend who told me not to give up until I find a doctor who will listen, I mustered up my last bit of resolve and made an appointment with my holistic practitioner at Heights of Health. I was hoping she could point me in a new direction. She tested me and said my issue was with my female hormones, and told me to make an appointment with Dr. Monica Roberson, a gynecologist who specializes in balancing hormones.
2 weeks later, my mom and I are sitting in her office. My nerves are shot, I’ve had insomnia for months, and depression has found a little nook inside my brain where it can take root and flourish. My entire body hurts all day, every day, and there’s an incessant dull ache in my pelvic area.
My life has completely crumbled by March. I can’t work, I can’t sleep, I’ve lost all coping mechanisms, I have chronic pain, my cortisol levels surge so much at night that you can find me running laps in the kitchen at 2AM because I don’t know what else to do to get the energy out. I’m pretty sure the quickest way to reach insanity is to have cortisol surges at night. I had to move from Austin back to Houston with my parents so they could look after me while the life force continued to drain out of me, and no one could figure out why.
It was my mom who suggested I move home until we figured out what was going on. I didn’t even protest. Her words gave me the safety net I needed to finally let go and fall.
We decided she would go to all of my appointments with me because 1) I didn’t want to do this alone, 2) Severe exhaustion leads to memory loss, so I need someone there to listen to what the doctor says. I forget things almost immediately.
In Dr. Roberson’s office, I launch into the same sad song of my insomnia, the anxiety, the depression…the medications that didn’t work which led to more medications….I was taking up to 25mg of Melatonin, Ambien/Lunesta/Trazadone/Xanax – all with zero results.
She asks me about my cycles, and I briefly tell her about my pain but redirect the conversation back to my insomnia and anxiety. In my mind, those were my 2 main stressors and needed to be dealt with as soon as possible. She gently nudged me back to the topic of my periods, and I open up more and share with her that I take 800mg of ibuprofen 2-3 times a day to manage pain. When my cycles start, I bump that up to 1600mg every 6 hours for 5 days. I tell her about other pain meds and muscle relaxers I get my hands on to try to find relief from my cramps. From Vicodin to Codeine – nothing works. My uterus just continues to grind away at my insides as I writhe in agony.
She stops writing in my chart and looks at me with a mixture of alarm and caution. “Erin, this isn’t normal.”
And for the first time, I consider I might have a serious problem.
“I think you have endometriosis, and it may be time to make an appointment with Dr. Mangal.”
It never occurred to me that my pain was anything more than just bad luck. It ended up being so much worse.