When I think back to September 16, 2003, I remember two things. First, I remember how anxious and nervous I was about having my first surgery ever. When I was in high school, I took an Anatomy class and the teacher shared an article about a woman who woke up during her surgery but her body didn’t. Mentally she was awake and aware of everything they doing and can feel them inside her body but because her body was still sedated, she had no way of telling the doctors that she was awake. That story scarred me for life. When I woke up in the recovery room, there were all of the nurses buzzing around me that I immediately panicked thinking I had woken up too early but thankfully, everything had gone smoothly and the nurses were just trying to warm me up to stop the shakiness from the anethesia.
The second thing I remember about September 16, 2003 was sitting on my bed giggling with my mom and talking about wedding plans as I knew John was in the next room asking my dad for my hand in marriage! We had already set a date and I may or may not have already had my dress but knowing it would soon be official was so exciting!
What I wasn’t aware of on September 16, 2003 was how much my life was going to change as the result of this surgery. Thankfully my journey from initial, constant pain to diagnosis was really short. I would say that within 6 weeks of meeting Dr H, she confirmed that I had endometriosis. According to the Center for Endometriosis Care in Atlanta, “in one study, the average time from the onset of symptoms to the surgical diagnosis of endometriosis was 12 years.” TWELVE YEARS. I cannot even begin to imagine!
As I went through college, my periods began to get worse as time went on. I would get terrible cramps, shooting pain down my legs, and awful GI issues. The summer of 2003, it became apparent that something major was going on. I was extremely moody and constantly exhausted. Pain in my lower back became constant just as I was starting my student teaching at a local elementary school teaching K-5 music. I thought that I might have had a UTI or kidney infection so I went to the local doctors office near campus. I had previously seen the PA for things like asthma flare-ups or sinus infections so I was expecting to pee in a cup and be sent home on an antibiotic to clear up an infection but instead I left with a referral to see an ob/gyn. It wasn’t a UTI or kidney infection. As soon as she said “female problem,” I lost it.
God knew what He was doing as Dr H was new in town so I was able to get an appointment quickly to get checked out. Dr H has become my rock the last 11 years. I honestly don’t think I could have made it this far without her. I had my first appointment in early August and on September 17 it was confirmed that I had endometriosis. It was a lot to take in in such a short amount of time but being the geek and researcher that I am, it didn’t take me long to catch up. I was able to find a support group for young women with endometriosis and still maintain friendships with some of the ladies I met in that group. I went on to be the program director of that group which I loved but when I knew it was time to step back from that role, A New Kind of Normal was born soon after.
So many things changed in that 24 hour span. There was joy and sadness with excitement and anxiety. My world was turned upside down but as things started to settle into a new normal, my purpose was revealed. God was going to use my pain for something bigger than I could have ever imagined. He was going to lead my journey of finding purpose for my pain. That purpose is A New Kind of Normal.
What comes to mind when you think about your diagnosis? How has that diagnosis changed your life and your purpose?