Endo Strong | Allie Carlson

Hi Herd, happy Endometriosis Awareness Month! It's Allie here. It has been a year since I last talked about my journey with Endo on the blog. Last year I shared the improvements and challenges I had experienced since my surgery. In the 10+ years it took me to get a diagnosis, I figured that once I had an answer, a diagnosis, I would have a treatment plan and I would be good to go, reality has been far from it. My physical symptoms continue to be a challenge, and the mental and emotional toll of this disease are no picnic either.

In my friend circle in Alaska I only have two friends who are my age, also married and do not have kids. We are surrounded by women who have kids or are pregnant, and I am truly happy for them, but sometimes it isn't easy. It feels very isolating to be in a room of women all excitedly asking about when Tom and I will have kids, talking the challenges of motherhood, or discussing baby names. They mean well, and I don't expect them to understand my journey, but those conversations are uncomfortable. Uncomfortable enough that after an awkward encounter at the start of the holiday season, I felt too broken and uncomfortable to attend a Christmas gathering outside of my own home.

Over the last year I have been in counseling working through a few different things in my life, but my journey with Endo has been a big part of that. It's taken me over a year to get to a good place mentally and emotionally with my diagnosis, even if my disease is far from under control. The news of a chronic, incurable illness is a tough pill to swallow. But, with time and help I have gotten to a place where I realize I may not be able to change the hand of cards I have been dealt, but I can use them to help others, and that has become my goal. This month I am wearing yellow, posting about Endometriosis Awareness on social media and just generally opening up about my journey. I've done my best to always be an open book about this disease, but once you have as many transvaginal ultrasounds as I have, you realize perhaps being modest about what you are going through is over-rated.

Here are the symptoms I experience on a monthly basis:

  • Chronic and often painful abdominal bloating
  • Chronic pain in my pelvis and low back 
  • Severe pain when I ovulate, which often comes with bleeding
  • Severe cramping when I have my period
  • Heavy bleeding while on my period
  • Weakness and fatigue when I ovulate or have my period
  • Multiple food intolerances due to the chronic inflammation in my abdomen
  • Passing out while on my period (that one has been better since my surgery)
  • Pain during intercourse (improved with pelvic floor physical therapy)

It is a daunting list. Pain is on that list A LOT. And those are just MY symptoms. Other people have many more things to add to that list. But I have learned to live with that list. To function around the fatigue and pain. To eat the foods that won't make me miserable after I eat. To give myself grace on the bad days, and also how to power through it when I need to. I also learned that my struggle can help others. Even if I don't share the same diagnosis or symptoms, I can love and support others with Endo and other chronic illnesses by being a person who listens and understands their struggles. I now look forward to the opportunity to use my journey to help others. I know exactly what it feels like to be a zebra in a herd of horses, and just because we are a little different doesn't mean we don't need the support of a Herd.