Endo Warriors: Kelsey

Saturday 11 March 2017

Tell us a little bit about yourself….where you’re from, what you do…

I’m a Hawke’s Bay girl, who grew up in Taradale and have recently returned home after a four year stint studying in the Waikato. I completed a Bachelor of Management Studies majoring in Public Relations and Psychology, and am now working full time in Napier and studying Event Management. I’m an active person, who grew up as a keen footballer and enjoys skiing in winter and water sports in summer. 

How old were you when you were diagnosed with endometriosis? 

I was officially diagnosed with endometriosis when I was 20.

What were your symptoms? 

My symptoms ranged from poor immunity, extreme fatigue, bladder pain, back pain, intense cramps, light-headedness to a ‘mild essential tremor,’ a very temperamental digestive system and hormone imbalances. 

How long did your diagnosis take? 

My diagnosis took around 10 years, if not more. I can remember my first symptoms being issues with my bladder - under the age of 10. I was diagnosed with endometriosis at 20 and then with irritable bowel disease and PCOS tendencies. 

How did you feel when you found out you had endometriosis?

Both relieved and defeated at the same time. It was relieving to finally have a medical professional validate every sickness, tiredness and pain I’d felt and to tell me it wasn’t all in my head (despite what most people thought). However, finding out that there was no easy fix, and that my symptoms will have to be continuously managed – that was defeating.

How do you manage your symptoms now? 

I focus on a healthy diet, trying to avoid foods that upset my digestive system. I take a variety of supplements and aim for decent sleeps where I can. I also focus on maintaining my physical health, and working around my symptoms to still achieve my physical activity goals. But mainly I try to focus on what “healthy” means when you live with endometriosis, and having a healthy mind. 

When it comes to your health and well-being what’s your biggest fear? 

I suppose that my biggest fears to do with my health or endo is that I will lose the drive to keep managing my symptoms. Or give in to negative thoughts about myself. However, the thought of potentially not being able to have kids, is something that scares me frequently. 

What’s the most frustrating thing about living with endometriosis? 

I think the most frustrating thing about living with endo is that it is an “invisible disease,” meaning that you can’t necessarily look at someone and determine that they’re sick. Often our symptoms can’t be seen, and often I mask them for fear of society rejecting my claims of pain. When you may physically look fine it’s hard to explain to someone that you are sick and that sometimes you struggle with the energy to get out of bed. Not to mention that having a day in bed to rest, won’t “cure” the flare up days or endo itself.

What have you learnt about yourself by enduring this condition?

I think that having endo has taught me to listen to my body, listen to the signs and try to understand where or what might be happening. I have learnt that my body might be different or react differently to other peoples and that comparisons against others are not fair on myself. However, I have also learnt that I have the determination not to let endo get the better of me, and it has given me a strength I never knew I had.

Does it impact your relationships with friends/family members/partner?

Completely! Growing up, my parents struggled to be sympathetic to a pain that was to their knowledge, “not there.” Not to mention, not all “friends” were accepting or understanding of what endo can be like. It has caused people to pull away from me, and has been a challenge both emotionally and intimately in relationships. 

What advice do you have for people living with similar health conditions? 

First of all I would say “I believe you, and I understand,” because I think those words can do wonders for someone with an invisible illness. But I would also say to them that for every person that isn’t supportive, or that doesn’t understand, there will be someone out there that is willing to listen and provide support. I would also say to do as much research as you can, get to know your health conditions and make plans that work for you to help overcome the issues you can tackle. 

What made you start your blog?

I started my blog because I enjoy writing and I wanted a platform to be able to express my thoughts and hopefully relate to someone. However, in saying that, I wasn’t expecting anyone to actually read my blog beyond my friend circle. I think even giving my friends and family an inside look into my thoughts was something that is valuable to both them and myself. 

Why do you think we need to be talking about endometriosis?

I think we need to be talking about endo purely for the fact of allowing more girls to get the diagnosis they deserve. Many people have never heard of the condition, let alone the symptoms involved, yet 1 in 10 women in NZ have endometriosis. For a number that large, it amazes me how it is not yet widely talked about. Endo can have some serious impact on one’s life, and everyone needs to at least understand what many NZ women are going through. 

What are your health/fitness goals at the moment? 

My goal at the moment is to run some sort of event in the near future. Faint moments and a back injury have always held me back, not to mention running not being my favourite activity, however I’m determined to train and complete a run. I am also always looking to create new habits in my diet that help minimize my symptoms. 

Any last words?

Just that endo can be easily overlooked by doctors. So, if you think you might have endo, make a list of your symptoms and push and push to get them investigated. I diagnosed myself and asked to be referred. And this was a result of hearing about my flat mates (3 out of 4 girls diagnosed in that flat). So get talking with your friends and family, maybe your Mum or other family members had similar symptoms but thought nothing of it. I know mine did. 

Check out Kelsey’s blog "The Tackling Twenties Club" here - http://thetacklingtwentiesclub.weebly.com/blog/talking-truths-spreading-the-word