Dubai diaries: No, you needn't embrace pain
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month.
In 2020, as the tsunami known as Covid-19 hit our lives and confined us to our shells, I found myself on a different battleground. Working from home following a lockdown, I had begun experiencing shooting pain in my lower abdomen. Sometimes, it would be bearable. At other times, I’d feel as though 100 pins were pricking me. When I headed to the doctor’s, I was asked to undergo a few tests, following which the news was broken to me.
“You have endometriosis,” my doctor said. “Endo… what?” I asked, as I reached out for my cell phone. My doctor muttered something, but my gaze was fixed at the Google page that had just opened up. “It is an often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the one that normally lines the inside of your uterus grows outside,” was how Mayo Clinic defined it. “How bad is the pain going to be?” I interjected. My doctor wasn’t willing to sugarcoat anything. The pain would be bad and could get excruciating. Solutions are either laparoscopic surgeries, which do not have a 100 per cent success rate, or popping prescription drugs to relieve pain and manage hormones. It’s been nine months since that diagnosis. Pain has become an albatross that I have no choice but to carry. In the initial months, it put a halt to everything that was important to me.
There would be meetings to attend, assignments to go for, and all of a sudden, I’d find myself incapacitated by the pain. However, if there is one thing that’s more limiting than the pain you experience, it is the lack of conversation on the subject. Sure, there are celebrity influencers on Instagram who have been there, done that, and often talk about it in public platforms, but in the social settings we inhabit, a conversation on endometriosis evokes a frown. It may have something to do with the fact that many are not used to have women talk about their health problems, especially if the condition does not tick the conventional boxes. As a friend, who also suffers from endometriosis, recently mentioned, we fear being judged for our vulnerabilities, we also want to avoid presenting ourselves as beings less capable — physically and mentally — when we strive for ‘equality’. But physiology has its own norms.
It is never easy to reconcile with a condition that just won’t get off your back easily. So what do you do? Personally, learning to live with endometriosis has made way for acceptance.
I know there will be good, bad and ugly days, but managing it with medication and certain lifestyle changes has helped. The biggest prescription, however, is enabling a conversation on the subject. No, it won’t alter anything physiologically. But empathy and acknowledgement can go a long way in destigmatising the dialogue on endometriosis. Someone somewhere is likely to feel less alone in their suffering when women’s health is not so easily edited out of conversations. That is the pledge to take this Endometriosis Awareness Month.