MY INSIDES STUCK TOGETHER
Claire Milner, 25, from Stoke-ontrent, wondered why her periods were so agonising...
As the school bell rang, I stood up from my stool. To my horror, I felt a familiar wetness… Glancing at my seat, I saw a red stain, and died inside. My period had come – and, once again, I’d bled through my school uniform.
Ever since I started having periods, aged 12, this was a monthly occurrence.
As was the agony that came with them.
‘It’s just period pain,’ my friends would shrug. ‘You’ll soon get used to it.’ But nobody else had to keep two spare pairs of knickers in their
bag, or had to buy extra-large tampons every month.
Every time I begged for answers, doctors said, ‘You need to learn to live with it.’
I battled through seven years of trauma and embarrassment, and I wasn’t getting answers.
So I started thinking maybe it was all in my head.
At 19, I fell pregnant with my son Joshua.
Those months with no periods were bliss. No bleeding and no pain… I felt free. I no longer had to dread each new month.
Joshua arrived in December 2012.
It was an excruciating delivery – I tore completely, front to back.
But when I held him in my arms, nothing else mattered.
Not long after, I was back to normality, dreading each month’s agony.
I gave up my job, and started working as a personal trainer and running a cleaning company on my own.
But my main aim was to finally get answers about my periods.
I had ultrasounds and MRIS at the hospital, but they
all came back clear. It wasn’t until March 2015 that I got a diagnosis. During a laparoscopy, my surgeon noticed that my uterus had fused with my pelvis. He operated then and there to separate them. And when I woke up, he gave me the news. ‘You have endometriosis,’ he said. It meant that the tissue that would normally line my uterus was growing on the outside. But surgery could make all the pain vanish.
That year, I was free, able to start building a new life. But sadly, in 2016, the pain came back.
And it was as blinding as before…
But this time, surgery didn’t help.
By now, I was part of a great support group with the charity Endometriosis UK.
For years, no one had believed me when I told them how much pain I was in, but every person I met knew how that felt.
They gave me advice on pain relief and what I could do next.
I started on two types of injections, which aimed to put me in a temporary state of menopause – but after a few months, they failed, too.
Now I have to hope that future surgeries and medication will be enough to help.
I still live with this pain every day. It’s excruciating, and to make matters worse, there are complications concerning fertility, too.
At least now I know my pain isn’t all in my head.
The doctors were right about one thing – I do need to learn to live with it. I don’t really have a choice. But I’m doing it on my own terms, in my own way.
It’s hard at times, but I’m strong enough to handle it.
Joshua keeps me going