This time a year ago I was lying in a hospital bed up to my ears in painkillers recovering from my second laparoscopy while all my friends were sinking beers and playing two up. I was looking forward to reaching this ANZAC weekend and my 1 year post-op anniversary fighting fit – the way I’ve felt for months. But unfortunately I’ve had a relapse and lately my health has not been great. Getting the flu coincided with an Endo flare up, both of which have stuck with me off and on for the past 4 weeks. (To me this is a real indicator of the link between Endo and the Immune System.)
15 days of antibiotics has trashed my gut and my liver. 5 weeks without training has had a major impact on my energy. My muscles feel like they’ve been stitched together with a rope of crunchy glass. My body has been knocked around and its protective layer which I’ve spent months building up has been chipped away at. But unlike the last time I had an Endo relapse, this time I have backup. I have tools in my belt to help my rebuild. Everything I’ve been taught, everything I’ve learned, read, diarised and practiced over the past 8 months is going to help me gradually get back to where I was before. But getting to that point wasn’t easy. It meant growing up, being real and breaking some bad habits.
On Tuesday my Mum / Co-founder of EndoActive and I flew to Melbourne for the launch of the Pelvic Pain Foundation of Australia. Before we arrived at the launch we were feeling quite out of place and a little nervous that we wouldn’t know anyone. Cocktail parties are for mingling and there’s only so many wines you can quietly inhale and only so many paintings you can point and nod at before someone notices that you’re the Nigel hogging all the canapés.
Today I had my first grown-up job interview. (Years of cruising into bar jobs aren’t quite the same). But just six months ago I was miserably contemplating a life of unemployment. I had started to listen to the shitty little voices in my head, needling away, telling me that nobody would want me because I had Endo. I couldn’t see past my next doctor appointment. I knew that I had a strong work ethic, a mind that craved stimulation and good values to offer, but I was losing confidence.
Going public about having Endo was a big decision and one which I knew could have ramifications for me in the future. I wasn’t sure if ‘outing myself’ was the smartest move if I wanted a career. Would anyone hire me if they knew I had a chronic illness? I had the opportunity to remain anonymous. Instead, I chose to put myself out there – full name, full disclosure, total transparency. Despite the perceived risks, to me it was a no-brainer. How could I express the importance of public awareness about endo and encourage others to do the same while hiding my identity? It would be a total contradiction.
I am comin’ at you live from beneath the Pandanus. Although I’m currently in Noosa on holidays with my family, EndoActive HQ has traveled with us and is fully functioning in the tropics. We’ve literally gone troppo. So much exciting news to tell you so be sure to read to the bottom ok! First things first. Happy new year err’body. I hope this finds you well. It’s been so hectic up here organising the inaugural EndoActive consumer conference (eeee!!!) and getting in touch with lots of brave, enthusiastic EndoActive supporters from Brisbane & the Sunshine Coast who we’re going to interview and film while we’re up here. On top of that, A Current Affair popped in to see us. They were lovely. We ate Tim Tams together! I’ll tell you about that further down.
For those of you who aren’t aware, my Mum and I started EndoActive Australia & NZ a few months ago as a result of the publicity we were receiving after our petition on change.org went viral and received a whopping 74,500 signatures. You can check it out here. Now we are a non-profit, legally incorporated association which feels FANTASTIC and sounds very grown up and legit. We are so proud to have started this little thing from our living room and watched it grow and grow. Our mission is to promote education, awareness and activism about Endo as much as we can. We’ve already achieved a lot with the help of our fantastic supporters and have lots of exciting things in the pipeline. Mum has ideas coming out of her eyeballs, even while she’s asleep! She is an absolute powerhouse and I’m learning a lot. Together, we make a great team. We are currently planning the first ever consumer conference on Endo to be held in Sydney in the first half of 2015.
Watching the siege unfold last night didn’t feel like real life. The magnitude of what happened took a while to sink in and when it did I was surprised at how quickly I crumbled and felt almost guilty and self-indulgent for being so affected when this was not my tragedy. I shocked myself. Mum explained to me through my tears that some events can open the gateway to release all the emotions we’ve been bottling up. Continuing to watch the news on TV began to feel too sad, too overwhelming and too passive so as a family we went to the memorial at Martin Place. What an incredibly powerful experience.
It felt like a sacred ground where every type of person came together to grieve and show their support. Behind us in the mile long line of people waiting to put down flowers was a homeless looking man named John. He had cerebral palsy, he walked with difficulty with a cane and looked like he’d lived a hard life but even he came to pay his respects. He didn’t have any flowers so I gave him some from our huge bunch, then another woman did the same. It was a nice moment. A group of people began singing John Lennon’s Imagine while hundreds of us silently let our thoughts wander. The expanse of flowers is unbelievably moving. It was so sad being right there where it all happened but what an amazingly uniting experience on a gorgeous Sydney night. Still getting goosebumps thinking about that gorgeous sea of flowers at the makeshift memorial and the thousands of people standing together in humbled silence after the longest night – something positive and meaningful to come out of such senseless horror. Thinking of the victims and their families tonight x
It’s been 4 weeks since my last bog entry and 46 days since egg freezing. Sorry it’s been so long between drinks! Half that time I spent still recovering and the other half I had to bury my head in the books and finish my last uni assignment without distraction. Today I’m feeling 1000 times better than the last time I wrote, which is why it’s so important to diarise the bad days in life so you can see how far you’ve come. I’m not completely back to my old self but by tracking my progress I know that I’m getting stronger and fitter every day. I’m going to give you a long list of everything I’ve felt over the past 46 days since my egg retrieval so you can get a real idea of my experience – which of course will likely not be the same as your experience because we’re all so wonderfully different. It’s been a long a difficult recovery so it’s a pretty extensive list but I’m sharing it because it’s something I would’ve liked to read coming from another girl with endo before I embarked on this wild voyage. Reading another person’s experience would not have made my decision for me but it would have prepared me for the things you aren’t warned about. First of all, I hope I didn’t scare anybody off egg freezing with the last description of how I was feeling…
I am literally forcing myself to type this right now because I feel so fucking weird that I know I need to document it while I’m in the moment. Days of feeling like this are awful but you tend to ride them out then forget about them. I haven’t blogged since my egg retrieval because I’ve literally been too tired to type. Here’s what I managed to jot down in my notes on my iphone when I tried really hard to concentrate on what I was feeling:
Sort of feel like there’s two of me – one inside the other but they’re disconnected. Pins and needs in left hand. Slight falling sensation or that my inner body is much further away from my outer skin. Inner eyeballs are further away from my real eyes. Everything feels far away. I feel weak within in my body and not grounded or connected. I feel lost and small inside myself, not outside of myself as people say sometimes. Loud Noises are too loud too much I feel overwhelmed by looking at my screen filled with emails or anything that requires too much thinking and processing. My vision starts to blur and warp. Left hand getting more numb.
Here’s a video of me doing my final round of hormone injections. I developed a ‘bang bang bang’ method towards the end of my egg freezing process which basically means I lock and load up all the syringes with the solutions and medicines, replace the caps on the needles to ensure they’re 100% sterile, lay them out on the bathroom counter then BANG BANG BANG shoot em up one after the other. That may seem a little extreme to some and even warranted a “Oh Sylvie, NO!” from my mum but I didn’t do this for shock value I can assure you. I actually found this method safer for me for a number of reasons. Keep reading for more details on Day 11…