Originally published Thursday, 23 May 2013.
"You have endometriosis," said the doctor as I opened my eyes in a fog of morphine and pain. "I got all the adhesions and you should be feeling better soon."
I knew from an early age that something was very different with my body. At the age of 17, I started taking a contraceptive pill for the purpose of intense menstrual cramps. By the time I was 22, the pain and intensity of each cycle was becoming unbearable. I spoke candidly with my gynecologist about the details and expressed concern. He suspected endometriosis, but there was no way to be sure without surgery. I opted for no surgery at the time, since I didn’t have health insurance.
A few years later, I was afflicted with a nagging pain on my left side. It would come and go, sometimes it was sharp or dull. There were days that the pain was so severe that I couldn’t stand or put pressure on my left leg. The red flags were glaringly obvious and I immediately called my doctor.
In 2010, I was 26 years old and only 3 weeks away from our wedding in the Bahamas when I agreed to exploratory laparoscopic surgery, because the pain was just that bad. The doctor assured me that I would be fully recovered by my wedding day.
I woke up in the day surgery unit of the hospital with pain off-the-charts. It was, indeed, endometriosis. Honestly, I felt relieved to finally have an answer after all these years. But what would my groom think about this diagnosis and the fact that it’s the #1 cause of infertility in women? Would he be prepared to watch me deal with a lifetime of surgeries and pain?
After my surgery, Jon and I discussed all of my concerns about the disease and what it meant for our ability to create a family. He told me, "Mara, I am not marrying you for your womb. I am marrying you because I love you and everything that comes with you, even the hard stuff."
6 months later I was diagnosed with adenomyosis and polcystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) through a second laparoscopic surgery; which was a blessing in disguise. My first surgery was done incorrectly and the adhesions were burned off instead of being removed by lasers. When the adhesions grew back, they came back with ten times the force and pain. Without the second surgery, we wouldn’t have known about the other 2 diseases.
Despite the long road ahead of us, my husband accepted me no matter what it meant for our future. He offers me unconditional love and is my rock on the worst pain days.
Is this why God placed the blessing of adoption on my heart so many years ago? Was he preparing me for a battle with infertility? I’ve wanted to adopt a child for as long as I can remember, plus my husband was adopted from Ukraine at age 8.
It has taken me 3 years to get to a point of being comfortable enough to discuss my battle with endometriosis. Thankfully organizations and Endo patients have been pretty vocal in raising awareness of the disease. It helps to know that there is support and others that understand this pain.
I used to wonder if God was punishing me and thought Endo was God’s result of my sins. Then I came across John 9:3 during my morning bible reading.
Jesus explains to a crowd that a man was not blind because of his sins. He says, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him." (John 9:3 NIV)
Without the struggles and pain, I probably wouldn’t have turned to God in my time of need. Every day that becomes challenging is another day that I am dependent on God’s strength and healing. It’s not easy, but God promises to bring us through each trial.
I don’t know if Jon and I will have the opportunity to experience pregnancy. But I do know that God will provide because we have faith and trust in His plan.
"They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord." - Psalm 112:7 (NIV)
Please check out my article about Understanding Women’s Health published on iBelieve.com - which features tips and risk factors for reproductive health.
Find me on a new Facebook Page - WordByMara. God bless!