Welcome to Focus On The Fight (previously called Spoonie Spotlight), a series of interviews that will be posted every Friday, focusing on a blogger and their health.
This week we will meet Samantha Bowick who has Endometriosis (Endo).
Samantha Bowick, is 28 years old, and from Aiken, SC where she has lived most of her life. She enjoys reading, listening to music, and going to the beach. She is the author of Living with Endometriosis: The Complete Guide to Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Treatment Options. She is currently working on a second book about alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. She is also A Chronic Disease Coalition Patient Ambassador.
Samantha has been diagnosed with endometriosis, osteoporosis, vitamin d deficiency, interstitial cystitis, polycystic ovary syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome. We will be focusing on Endometriosis today.
Endometriosis, sometimes called "endo," is a painful condition found in women. There are around 200,000 cases every year. This is condition which is often very painful condition. Endo causes the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus - known as endometrium- to grow outside of the uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves the fallopian tubes, ovaries and the tissues that line the pelvis.
When the the endometrial tissue is displaced it continues to act like it normally does. It thickens, breaks down and bleeds with every monthly cycle. Since the displaced tissue has nowhere to go and no way to leave the body it becomes trapped. When this happens the surrounding tissue becomes irritated and will eventually develop adhesions and scar tissue. The abnormal bands fibrous tissue can actually cause the tissue in the pelvis and organ to stick to each other.
- Painful periods (dysmenorrhea). Pelvic pain and cramping that may begin before your period and can extend several days into your period. You may also experience lower back and abdominal pain.
- Pain with intercourse. Many women will experience pain during or after sex.
- Pain with bowel movements or urination most often experienced during your period.
- Excessive bleeding. You may experience occasional heavy periods (menorrhagia) or bleeding between periods (menometrorrhagia).
- Infertility. Endometriosis is first diagnosed in some women who are seeking treatment for infertility.
- Other symptoms. You may also experience fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods.
Now that we all know a little bit about Samantha and the condition she lives with I would like to share the entirety of Samantha’s Interview.
How long did it take you to get diagnosed? Now that you have been diagnosed and can look back at your past, is there an event that you can pinpoint as a flare now that at the time you didn’t know what it was?
The chronic illness I most identify with is endometriosis as it was the first illness I was diagnosed with and is related to the other illnesses I suffer with. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2010 at 19 years old. Looking back, I’m sure I started suffering with endometriosis soon after starting my period at 13 years old because I’ve always had the same symptoms. I didn’t know anything about endometriosis then and was always told that’s just how periods are and what women have to deal with.
Tell us about how your illness(es) impacts your daily life?
All of my illnesses impact my daily life, but I’m going to focus on endometriosis. Endometriosis caused me to have to change my career path, lose friends, miss out on plans, and so much more. The pain was just too much to deal with for me to complete pharmacy school so I withdrew and went to school online receiving my MPH in 2017. I took ballet until I started my period at 13 because my periods were painful and I didn’t want to continue falling behind in classes when I missed. I’m not as active as I used to be because of the chronic illnesses I have. I haven’t been able to work a full time job because I can’t stand on my feet for eight hours a day, which has caused financial stress, especially since I’ve needed to have surgeries. I have had six surgeries for endometriosis, which caused me to miss days of school and work to recover.
Have you noticed that your health has impacted any of your current or previous relationships!? If so, how?
I have lost friends because I canceled plans multiple times and I think they thought I was making up excuses for canceling.
In what way has your life changed since your diagnosis? Is there anything that you cannot do now that you could do before diagnosis?
I started working in high school when I was 16 years old. It’s frustrating that I’m not able to work as much as I would like and depend on my parents for financial support, but I’m thankful that they are willing and able to help me. I feel like I should be able to support myself, but haven’t been able to because of my health. Before, I would pick up extra shifts when someone called in and I worked full time. Now I can’t because I know what will happen if I do: increased pain, nausea, and headaches. This is just one way my life has changed since being diagnosed.
Everyone’s disease will act different, for you how do you know you are having a flare?
Since I had excision surgery with an endometriosis specialist in 2015, I haven’t had an endometriosis flare. My bones hurt most of the time and I’m sure that’s from osteoporosis, which I was diagnosed with at 23 years old.
What do you do to treat your flares? Or to make your bad days better?
Any time I had a flare, you could find me using my heating pad or taking a hot bath to try to fill the pain. I also colored and wrote to try to take my mind off of things, which I still do.
In closing I asked Samantha two questions. I asked her if she could only give one piece of advice to some who is going through the diagnosis process, or is newly diagnosed, what would it be? She said, “One piece of advice I would give is to listen to your body and your gut. If a doctor recommends or is trying to force you to try a treatment that you don’t feel comfortable trying, don’t try it. Find another doctor. Get a second, third, or fourth opinion. You know your body better than anyone does. Also, do your own research to make sure what your doctor said is accurate and your doctor may not give you all the information you need to make a decision. Trust yourself.”
Lastly I asked what she would want the world to know about living with a chronic illness. She says that she would want the world to know functioning with a chronic illness is difficult and exhausting. Many of us who have a chronic illness have multiple illnesses, which makes it that much harder to manage our lives. We have to plan out as much as we can (or at least I do) so that we know what to expect and can somewhat gauge how we are going to feel and go from there. We don’t like not being able to work or canceling plans. We don’t like spending more time in our bed than anywhere else. But unfortunately, this is our reality. The more people that understand this, the easier it will make our lives and dealing with our chronic illnesses.
I would like to thank Samantha for sharing her story with us. She has such a passion and drive to get information about Endometriosis our to the world. Please take a moment to check out her social media platforms.
If you want more information on Endometriosis you can check out The Office On Women’s Health
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