‘I Wish I’d Been Di­ag­nosed Ear­lier’

In crip­pling pain and un­able to con­ceive nat­u­rally, Thessy Kouzoukas, 28, is de­ter­mined to fight the endo stigma

Cosmopolitan (South Africa) - - HEALTH -

‘I’ll never for­get bleed­ing out dur­ing a wed­ding. It felt like a poi­son was re­leas­ing into my body – it was the worst pain I’d ever felt in my life. I had to race to the hospi­tal and miss out on wit­ness­ing my friends marry each other be­cause a cyst on my ovary had un­ex­pect­edly rup­tured. But that wasn’t the irst time en­dometrio­sis stole pre­cious mo­ments from my life, and it won’t be the last.

‘De­spite bat­tling ex­treme pe­riod pain for 10 years, it wasn’t un­til the pain be­gan to last all month that I knew I had to do some­thing about it. Ini­tially my GP re­fused to re­fer me to a gy­nae­col­o­gist be­cause she didn’t think any­thing was wrong; but I per­sisted and, re­luc­tantly, she agreed. The spe­cial­ist found an 8cm cyst on my right ovary al­most straight away and sched­uled me for surgery, which re­vealed that I have en­dometrio­sis. At the time I didn’t even know what it was, but I was happy to in­ally have a di­ag­no­sis and a cause for all my pain. I felt like I had a point to prove. I wanted to say to ev­ery­one, “Hey, I’m not crazy. I’m not a drama queen.”

‘Endo has im­pacted my life in a huge way but it has also a‘ected things I didn’t even imag­ine, such as my re­la­tion­ships and my sex life. My iancé Ge­or­gio knows all about it. He’s had to deal with the daily strug­gles of my pain both men­tally and phys­i­cally – but also with our sex life be­ing put on the back burner. Thank­fully, he’s been very sup­port­ive, from bring­ing me painkillers and heat packs to say­ing pos­i­tive words in my ear when I’m dou­bled over in pain.

‘It can be diicult to be pos­i­tive with endo be­cause it takes away things you look for­ward to. Per­haps the worst thing it’s taken is my abil­ity to have chil­dren nat­u­rally.

‘ When a se­cond 8cm cyst on my left ovary rup­tured, it changed ev­ery­thing. Af­ter I woke up from surgery, I was told my left ovary and my Fal­lop­ian tubes had been re­moved be­cause endo had dam­aged them too badly. To say I was dev­as­tated is an un­der­state­ment. Af­ter much pro­cess­ing, re­search and talk­ing to spe­cial­ists, I’ve suc­cess­fully com­pleted a round of IVF, and frozen em­bryos. With only one ovary that was an amaz­ing re­sult; hope­fully, one day, I’ll have them im­planted.

‘My sis­ter-in-law Yiota also has endo and had diicul­ties con­ceiv­ing. When she got preg­nant it was such a re­lief. I’ve loved see­ing her belly grow; it’s given me faith that any­thing is pos­si­ble.

‘But what hurts most in my jour­ney isn’t miss­ing out on hol­i­days, mile­stones or even my fer­til­ity – it’s that I wasn’t di­ag­nosed sooner and wasn’t able to get on top of my con­di­tion ear­lier.

‘Endo is a silent con­di­tion be­cause no- one talks about it. You can feel so alone, which is why I’m speak­ing up. If you feel that some­thing is wrong, please say some­thing. Rais­ing aware­ness through one lit­tle con­ver­sa­tion such as this one can hope­fully change an­other girl’s fu­ture.’

THESSY AF­TER A RUP­TURED CYST AND ON MED­I­CA­TION

RE­COV­ER­ING FROM SURGERY WITH HER FI­ANCÉ

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