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There must be more awareness on endometriosis

An American celebrity is calling for more awareness about the health risks endometriosis poses to women and especially those in the African American community.

When it comes to period cramps and women complaining of particularly painful ones, the consensus is usually to suck it up and keep going, because it is normal to have painful cramps when on your period.

In an essay published in OprahMag.com and WomensHealthMag.com, Tia Mowry-Hadrict, reveals that it took years for her to learn that the pelvic pain she had always dealt with was actually endometriosis, even going to multiple doctors.

“I’d been experiencing extreme pelvic pain for years and went to several doctors. Each one would brush me off. ‘Those are just really bad cramps, some women get them more severely,’ one told me. ‘Just put heat on it,’ one suggested. Another doctor simply said: ‘Get on the treadmill — working out helps,’ ”she said.

This is the story many women who experience the painful health phenomenon usually tell, until they are diagnosed accurately by a doctor who is well verse in the signs of endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a painful disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus instead grows on the outside. The displaced endometrial (uterus) tissue continues to act as it normally would, however because it has no way to exit the body, it becomes trapped and can cause severe pain especially during the period, which can also lead to fertility challenges.

The primary symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain and is generally associated with the menstrual period.

Twenty-seven year old Yomi Perkins, an attorney in Barbados recalls her own battles with endometriosis stating that before her diagnosis, she would need to be on drips for the pain every month.

“I didn’t think anything of it as everyone always told me it’s normal to have cramps with your period. Years went by with these monthly cramps. I realized something was wrong when I was 21 my periods started coming every 2 weeks so I decided to see [my doctor], he did an ultrasound and told me my right ovary had a large cyst and he would have to run some test to ensure it’s not ovarian cancer.” She said in an interview with this magazine.

When the results came back, she was diagnosed with endometriosis and scheduled to have surgery to remove the ovary.

As most women with endometriosis can attest to, becoming pregnant is rare, and delivering a successful pregnancy can be extremely tough.

Recounting her experience with her now 4 month old twin babies, Perkins explained that every day she was still carrying was nothing short of a miracle.

“The pregnancy was a tough one I had to have an emergency cerclage in place as my cervix was practically nonexistent at 15 weeks and had to be on bed rest having weekly progesterone injections for the remainder of the pregnancy. I also had an elevated heart rate for the entire pregnancy my resting heart rate was 110.  I was also on tender hooks as every day I felt like my period would come,” she said.

Tia Mowry- Hadrict, revealed that she revamped her diet and underwent multiple surgeries to not only relieve her pain, but also increase her odds of successfully having her two children.

“Compared to other communities, it feels like there’s a void when it comes to talking about healthy living and medicine from African American women, for African American women,” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helping a loved one cope with a mental health diagnosis

It was seven years ago when the news of a loved one’s recent mental health diagnosis hit me with the shock of an ice-cold wave in winter. I was a recent Toronto transplant just acquainted with university life when one of my favourite people in the whole world called me to tell me the beast we knew of finally had a name and to pardon the silence, as a days-long hospital stay required a communication shutdown. I listened to the details and my heart sank to the curb as I watched the walk sign on Dundas street flash red to signal stop. Years later, this is what I’ve learned about helping a loved one cope with a serious mental health diagnosis.

Bottle your emotions

This is a rarely-prescribed piece of advice, but it is absolutely essential to keep personal emotions in check in order to make space for those of a loved one. When I found out everything this person who I adore had gone through, my heart broke in a way it never had before — and never has since. A family member or friend’s mental health diagnosis, however, is about them. Don’t cry or panic. Be the crutch they need. Express emotions to a third party later if need be.

Listen without judgement

Judging a person never paved the way for open discussion. Let this person lead the conversation. Don’t flinch at their reality. Do encourage them to share whatever they need to. Don’t suggest what they should have done or ask why they didn’t do things differently. Certainly don’t ask why you didn’t know. Many need to process by vocalizing. Be a responsible listener.

Follow up

Your friend will need you the moment someone gets a diagnosis, finishes a hospital stay, a rough week or a change in medication, but don’t just be available during those periods, but during all times – without being invasive or helicoptering, of course. If there’s a relevant book or article to pass on, do so. Asking someone how they’re doing never hurts. Find out first what kind of approach works for this person and show support within that scope so as not to drop the conversation.

Ask the important questions

There’s a sweet spot between prying and playing too polite by not asking enough. Find that zone. For example, asking someone how they’re adjusting to a new medication isn’t self-serving and it brings the conversation to a space where if they want to share more, they will.

Do what the medical professionals can’t

There are things that medical professionals with even the best bedside manner cannot do. Details of a mundane day at the office, for example, could be just the thing to make an otherwise chaotic or emotional day seem normal. During a turbulent time, penning a phone call time into the schedule to chat for even five minutes could be a big deal for someone grappling with a new mental health diagnosis. While doctors did their good work, my purpose was simply to dial the number and shoot the shit for a few minutes. That’s an important job too.

Learn what the disorder isn’t

My person’s mental health condition has a name and I know both what it is and also what it is not. It is not, for example, an eating disorder like one nurse ignorantly assumed. It is not temporary. It is also not a life sentence preventing this firecracker of a human being from being anything less than that. By knowing what a disorder is not, those who provide support reduce the likelihood of uninformed remarks causing harm.