Being an undergraduate communication student with a lot of ambitions, I finished my study on time and got hired by Indonesia’s first unicorn even before I graduated. Life was pretty much perfect with everything according to plan, until my period pain led me to the lowest point in my life.
I had started to have painful period cramps since I was in junior high school. They came in excruciating pain before menstruation that would get worse when “the day” came. Because of the very heavy bleeding, I had to cover red stains on my white skirt with a correction pen (girls know what a pain this is is this). The first days of period was a living hell, I had had to take painkillers just to function normally since I was just 12 years old.
For years, I really thought the struggle was a normal part of being female, until it led me to the emergency room. The doctor said couldn’t find anything abnormal in my uterus. I was just having a mittelschmerz (ovulation pain). He even mentioned that I might have a twin in the future because my eggs were bigger than the average women’s.
I came back home relieved that nothing was wrong with my body. But years later I was hospitalized for a week for the same pain with no clear diagnosis. With all the tests resulted in normal. I was just given a strong painkiller. The doctor said: “The pain is just in your mind”. Maybe this is what it takes to be a woman.
Right after I passed my probation period at work, the pain came back and it got worse. After an inconclusive blood test, USG, and CT scan results, I finally did an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). After 10 years of pain, it turned out I had endometriosis and adenomyosis in my uterus, as well as an infection named colitis in my intestines.
Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus, while adenomyosis grows inside them. The conditions causes debilitating pain and severe menstrual bleeding which can lead to infertility.
Due to the cramps that happen every day and every second, I had to resign from work to focus on my medication. I had to say goodbye to my co-workers and a supervisor I knew I would never be able to replace, in an office that I had always dreamed of.
It took me two months to recover before starting a new job – not to mention several mental breakdowns after a degrading interview I had because of my illness. Eventually, I was hired in a company with a position I dreamed of. My world is finally being rebuilt. It was a thrill to have a chance for a new start, thinking maybe this is where I actually meant to be.
But after two weeks working, the pain came back. I went through the same routine again: doctor visits, lab tests, medications. I even had to be hospitalized for a week because my regular painkiller was not helping anymore and I was crying in my bed for not being able to walk. I had to to take morphines to bear the pain.
Physical pain is not the only thing that made it heavy. Being in pain every day from the time you wake up to the time you sleep is also a major stress trigger. Moreover, the complexity of this illness is often misunderstood simplicisticaly as mere “period pain”. Most people would never know what it feels like to be shadowed constantly by chronic pain.
To help others so they don’t have to experience my pain, here are some steps you should do if you suffer from period pain:
- Observe your pattern of pain and menstruation schedule
- Take notes of what did you do to make you feel better (pain killer, meditation, etc.
- Visit an obstetrician/gynaecologist
- Do a USG, CT scan, or MRI (depending on your doctor’s suggestion)
Period pain is not normal. If you or someone you know have a very bad period pain, please visit a doctor before the pain gets worse and takes longer to cure.