This post has been a long time coming. And it’s only coming right now because of a question I was recently asked: why am I choosing to live in pain when there’s a solution on the table? I mean, am I a masochist? Am I willingly choosing to suffer? The answer is more complicated than simply choosing to live pain-free. So today I wanted to share my reasons for choosing not to have a laparoscopy for my endometriosis.
This post talks about chronic illness and the impact on the patient and their family, birth trauma (emergency c-section), failed anaesthetics and mental health issues including PTSD and anxiety.
1. There is No Cure for Endometriosis
My first reason is the most important one. Anyone who really knows about endometriosis knows that there is no cure. So suggesting that any surgery could “fix” the problem is pretty inaccurate. It might provide short-term relief but the pain will inevitably return… which brings me onto my next point.
2. It’s Never Just One Surgery
When a problem comes back, the solution gets put back on the table. I know people with endometriosis who have had six or seven surgeries since their diagnosis. That’s not something I want to commit to especially when…
3. My Current Management is Working Fine
It really is that simple for me. At my worst, I was waking up in the night howling in pain. Now I get the odd flare-up that lasts a couple of days at most. Do flare-ups suck? Yes, of course. But they aren’t regular. They just pop up out of nowhere which is still preferable to spending three weeks a month in agony.
My biggest pain point with endometriosis these days isn’t so much the pelvic pain but everything else that comes with it. Fatigue. Migraines. Mood swings. Recurrent cysts. None of these things will be fixed by a laparoscopy.
And even if I had a laparoscopy, I’d still be on the pill for the rest of my life. So having surgery just seems a bit redundant.
4. The Procedure Itself Kinda Scares Me
If you know what a laparoscopy is, you’ll know it’s considered a minor and routine surgery. And that’s fair enough.
But it’s so much more than that to me. When I gave birth to my son via emergency c-section (a major abdominal surgery), my anaesthetic failed. And there is nothing pleasant about feeling doctors rummaging around in your insides. I’d be happy to write it off as unlikely to happen again but I’ve had another failed anaesthetic since. So no, it’s not happening.
5. It Could Be A Mistake That Can’t Be Taken Back
Sure, some of this is probably my anxiety talking but… as with any surgery, there are risks. Failed anaesthetics being one. Ending up in worse pain being another. Not to mention all of the other things that could go wrong during a surgery like this. I’ve heard horror stories about laparoscopies. (Obviously I’ve heard positive things too.)
My point is there are no take backs. The second that you have the procedure done, you have to live with the consequences – good or bad. It’s a gamble that I’m not willing to take at this time.
6. Impact on my Mental Health
In case you didn’t know, I suffer from anxiety. It’s not possible to consider my physical and mental health as separate entities at this point because they generally co-exist. An anxiety attack, or higher than average levels of stress, will trigger an endo flare. Endo flares make me more anxious. I have anxiety about my symptoms, when a flare-up might show up and so on. They go hand in hand.
I’ll be honest with you. Initially I was onboard with the laparoscopy idea not because I wanted a quick fix but because I wanted a diagnosis. I wanted to know the monster inside me by name. (Even though I already did.) But that initial ‘let’s do this’ became 5 months of dread, stress and anxiety before I took my name off the waiting list.
The procedure required me to be alone for hours prior to surgery. Nobody around to keep me grounded. No phones to distract me or to access calming meditations. Just a highly anxious me, in a waiting room, wearing only a surgical gown. That’s so far out of my comfort zone that I wouldn’t have gotten through the waiting stage without a panic attack.
And that’s not even factoring in the PTSD triggers of clinical settings, bright lights in my face and (failed) anaesthetics. My poor dentist never even saw it coming when I went in for fillings. I came out hysterical – and not in the haha kind of way. Should I work through my birth trauma? Probably. Is it easier to just avoid triggering situations? Absolutely.
7. Impact on Our Lives
Surgery is always followed by recovery time. And it’s a lot easier to rest and recover when you don’t have a toddler. I mean, how do you even explain to a 2 year old that mummy can’t cuddle right now?
Sure, we had a lot of offers from people to come and support us after my surgery but… honestly, the last thing I want is more people in my personal space when I’m already feeling meh. So even if I wanted to do it (which I don’t), it wouldn’t have been the right time. It would have put more of a strain on our family life and it’s hard not to feel guilty as it is.
And what if, worst case scenario, the surgery made things worse? We’d be back at square one. Desperately trying to navigate a new normal with new challenges and limitations all over again. I’d rather live with infrequent pain and annoying other symptoms long-term than risk go back to being in pain all the time.
So there you have it, all the reasons why I don’t want to have a laparoscopy – even if it may offer me some relief.
For more information on and support with endometriosis, check out the following links:
- 7 Things You Need to Know About Endometriosis (Happily Ever Homebody)
- Endometriosis UK
- How Does Endometriosis Affect Your Body? (WebMD)
- Endometriosis Treatment (NHS)
Photo Credits: Menshalena – Getty Images, Chinnapong – Getty Images Pro & Iryna Zastrozhnova – Getty Images