I’m only 24 years old, but already I’m starting to feel “old.” I appreciate going to bed at a decent hour. Loud music makes me rather grumpy. The cons are starting to outweigh the pros of eating junk food. Some of this is just the natural progression of aging, but a lot of it has to do with endometriosis too.
For a long time, though, I didn’t know that. I thought this was just what getting old feels like. I don’t have as much energy as I used to, I get a lot more aches and pains, I’m not as young as I was! But at 24 I do think I’m feeling a little older than I ought to.
One of the biggest changes I noticed was my eloquence. I’m a writer, and while I’m introverted I do feel that I speak well. Or, at least, I used to. Now I find myself fumbling over words and trailing off into nothing more and more. I thought this could be a number of things – just getting older, using technology and the internet more, or perhaps it was a lasting side effect of the pain medication I’ve spent so much time on. I never really thought it could have anything to do with endometriosis.
For those of you who don’t know, endo is a chronic pain condition in women. It is a disease of the reproductive organs. What do those lady bits have to do with my brain and speech patterns?
Well, something. I don’t know what exactly. But I do know that the more I’ve tapped in to the online endo community, the more reports I’ve seen of this exact problem. It’s definitely a common side effect of endo. It just isn’t talked about much because other symptoms are so much more prominent.
It makes a lot of sense, though. Many mothers-to-be report scatter-brained-ness during pregnancy. Anything that is a side effect of pregnancy can be a side effect of endo because both are instances of shifts and imbalances in hormone levels. This means that endo could be the source of all kinds of things like nausea, tender breasts, bloating, weight gain, and strange cravings.
When I realized that endo was causing me to loose words and stumble through communication, it opened my eyes to how extensive endo really is. No system in your body is an island. Every part of you is connected, and when one part is unwell, all of you is unwell. Connecting the dots has explained a lot about my day to day experiences. Recently I had extensive bloodwork done to try to understand the infertility issues I’ve been having. What we found seemed random and confusing – until you remember to connect all the dots and see the big picture. Because of endo, my hormones are obviously out of whack. For one thing, I’m apparently insulin-resistant, raising my risk of diabetes in the future. That’s something we would never have found – my doctor said that insulin resistance is very rare in people who are underweight – like me. I also have too much male hormones and not enough female ones – that’s embarrassing. So I get angry, I’m hairier than I’d like to admit, and my acne has come back. Acne, I told you back in high school, leave me alone!
But knowledge is power. I’m taking a female hormone pill and a diabetes medication to help get those things in balance. And the talking? I’ve learned to let it go. I keep talking until I get whatever I need to say out. Grammar does not always accompany it. My husband is very sweet and doesn’t make fun of me when I get lost in a sentence or say the wrong word. He knows what I meant. I must say, though, that I feel really stupid when I’m angry and we’re fighting and I’m trying to say why I’m so upset and then I just babble words that don’t go together. It makes it take much longer to win a fight that way.
What about you? Have you ever found unexpected side effects of an illness? Tell me your stories in the comments!