‘They Thought I Was Gluten-In­tol­er­ant’

Caitlin, 23, en­dured count­less tests and doc­tors’ vis­its be­fore she was di­ag­nosed with a con­di­tion that changed her life

Cosmopolitan (South Africa) - - HEALTH -

‘It’s a Fri­day night and in­stead of par­ty­ing with my friends, like most girls in their early 20s, I’m curled up on the couch bat­tling crip­pling pe­riod pain. To pass the time I scroll through Face­book, and an ar­ti­cle about endo pops up. Click­ing on it, I quickly read through the symp­toms and ind that all of them – painful sex, ter­ri­ble pe­riod pain, di­ar­rhoea, headaches and nau­sea – are things I’ve been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing for the past eight years. Af­ter years of doc­tors do­ing test af­ter test and in­cor­rectly di­ag­nos­ing me as glutenin­tol­er­ant, this could be it.

‘I went to my GP and ex­plained the ar­ti­cle I’d read. I was sent for an ul­tra­sound – but noth­ing showed up. I en­dured an­other 12 months of pain be­fore my mom put me in con­tact with a fam­ily friend who is a gy­nae­col­o­gist. I ex­plained my symp­toms and was re­ferred for la­paro­scopic surgery with a spe­cial­ist in De­cem­ber 2015. It con irmed that I had en­dometrio­sis.

‘ When I irst got the di­ag­no­sis, I felt so many emo­tions: re­lief at in­ally know­ing what was wrong; anger that I hadn’t stuck to my guns and pushed for a test ear­lier; and sad­ness at hear­ing it can a ect fer­til­ity, that there’s no cure and that I’ll have to live with this con­di­tion for the rest of my life. That’s a lot for a 21-year- old to process.

‘I’m a teacher. I love work­ing with chil­dren and I’ve al­ways wanted chil­dren of my own, so the fer­til­ity fac­tor was a big blow for me. I went home and spoke to my part­ner, let­ting him know that be­cause of my con­di­tion I needed to have kids much ear­lier than ex­pected – and if that was too much for him, then we needed to end things. He told me he was in for the long haul, which was such an in­cred­i­ble re­lief.

‘De­spite it all, I feel like I’m one of the luck­ier ones. I caught it early, so I have the chance to try to start a fam­ily sooner rather than later.’

CAITLIN BE­FORE AND AF­TER THE SURGERY THAT RE­VEALED HER EN­DOMETRIO­SIS

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