First of all, they're not Gods, they're human. As a young woman, and especially for people of colour and for those with disabilities, trusting someone with your body can be a dangerous mistake.
Second of all; I have been misdiagnosed numerous times during my three years of chronic pain, yet I managed to get diagnosed with endometriosis in three years when the average amount of time is remarkably longer. In fact, it takes the regular person with a uterus nine years in Ireland to get handed their scratch card with the unlucky result on it.
My father is a pharmacologist, and when I asked him why the funding for research regarding this particular illness is so low, he said that it was presumably because of it's rarity. I then pointed out that it affects one in 10 people with uteruses (to include the transgender community), and he was undeniably disturbed. It's one of the main links to female infertility, yet the progress and pain which women have to go through to be believed and treated is still preposterously lengthy.
Endometriosis is an illness affecting people with uteruses, where tissue which lines the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside your womb. It commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and tissue lining your pelvis, but can appear in the bowel and bladder also. Displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as if everything was regular- it thickens, breaks down and bleeds every time you get your period. It becomes trapped, without any way to exit the body. The symptoms include heavy bleeding during menstruation, lower back pain, pain during sex, infertility, pain during urination or with bowel movements, nausea, bloating and dysmenorrhea (painful periods.) It's zero craic, I'll tell you that for free.
It's often misdiagnosed as IBS, ovarian cysts, Pelvic Inflammatory Disorder (PIV) or even just female hysteria, due to the 'gender pain gap'. Back in the day, people genuinely created an illness surrounding female mental health, with symptoms attributing to; delusions, nervousness, hallucinations, emotional outbursts and various urges of the sexual variety. A bit like witch-hunting, where 'deviant' women (basically all the single ladies and spinsters) were presumed to be the devil's workers purely out of misogyny. The word 'womb' actually translates to 'hysteria', insinuating that anyone cursed with this life-bearing organ is marked with it's limitations and presumptions about the woman's mind and body.
Caroline Criado Perez' vast and valuable work, Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, argues that the gender pain gap is part and pace of something bigger; “gender data gap.” The data which society has collected is typically about men's experiences, and most often straight, white men. The data is used to allocate research funding and design decisions all around us from public transport to housing, healthcare to infrastructure. The 'default', is always male, she says.
Pain medication has been designed by men with men in mind as the default user, therefore the side effects are rarely tested on women. This is only one small example of the repercussions in female healthcare of the gender data gap. We are twice as likely to die of heart related diseases, and far less likely to be given pain relief or treated immediately in the Emergency Department.
After suffering for two years of chronic pain, I know when to spot a doctor who sees my symptoms as 'psychosomatic'. That's in inverted commas because ALL pain is real, even for those whose emotion is controlling their physical torment. After exhausting all my resources in the Irish healthcare system as well as the UK, I decided it was time to remove all my savings from the bank and book a plane ticket to Washington DC. When you have intense chronic pain every single day and doctors have no idea how to help you, spontaneous and stubborn choices are easy. I learned to go with my gut, and to stand up for myself in clinics. Many female chronic pain sufferers maintain that they receive noticeably better treatment and empathy if her boyfriend or husband is in the room with them. I can also vouch for this. When my boyfriend accompanied me to doctor appointments, the practitioner would often turn to him for answers to questions which were directed at me, or about me. 'Health-care gaslighting' is oh so real, and I have lost count of how many times I was told to 'take a Panadol' when I went to A&E.
One of my first consultant experiences where I was having extreme abdominal cramping, nausea and burning sensations in my pelvis, back and legs was in a major maternity hospital in Dublin. It was intimidating for a 21-year-old woman who was neither pregnant nor accompanied by anyone. The consultant who I waited four months in crippling pain to meet was a prominent doctor whose name was tied to the CervicalCheck scandal. Basically, I waited to see a doctor who was destined to shrug me off.
It went downhill from there. Over the course of two and a half years, I had nerve blocker injections, was put on Lyrica and Amitriptylene (two nerve pain medications with enormously harsh side effects and little worth), had intense physiotherapy, diet transformation, two inconclusive biopsies, smear tests, hormone treatments, and every blood, allergy and auto-immune test under the sun. I was refused a CT scan and an MRI, and decided it was time to get a laparoscopy. This is the only way for a woman to find out if she has endometriosis, and despite the fact that I fit all the symptoms, it was never offered to me. Just coming up to my second year of consistent pain, I was sent to a consultant gynaecologist in the Mater Private to stop my menstrual cycle. My nerve pain was cyclical and I desperately wanted to stop this aspect of my pain. I requested a laparoscopy from a relatively young, male doctor, and was refused. I explained that aspects of my pain fitted the symptoms, but nevertheless he denied it. After calling a family member into the room for back-up, he eventually agreed and I was scheduled in for the keyhole surgery.
I was brought in some time later for my results, instead of being called over the phone or sent an email. He spoke to me for under two minutes, said there was no evidence for my pain and my GP ceased my pain medication. He said there was no endometriosis in the scans, and that he had no other ideas to offer me for my mysterious chronic illness. In under two minutes and for €200, his words translated to; 'I don't believe you. You're being dramatic.' I stormed out of his office and slammed the door on the Irish healthcare system.
Six months later I was on a plane to see one of the top doctors in the US, and knew I wouldn't regret a thing. I met the doctor in a serene clinic in Washington DC, and he greeted me with a hug. Already I had more confidence, even though I was paying a huge price for it.
Two hours with the doctor included an examination, a comprehensive survey of my entire medical history since birth (mental, physical and sexual) and a consultation. As it turns out, I also walked away with a surgery plan and diagnosis. After three years, I got my hope back in two hours. I'd have paid millions if I had it, and it was worth every cent. I booked the surgery for a few months later, and organised time off work. Then I booked my flights to New York, packed my bags and brought two family members who would take care of me for the four week recovery. Three of those weeks were spent holed up, unable to move, in a New Jersey Airbnb. After the surgery, my doctor (who has a stellar reputation and has carried out over 800 of these surgeries) said that endometriosis was mysteriously found during the procedure. He exclaimed that it was the first time he'd ever seen it in one of his patients, and that it was in an extremely rare place which no other doctor of his type would have been able to remove except him. He's full of confidence in himself, but he's right to be this way. He gives women their lives back and sees them go on to live without pain and to be able to have children and happy, healthy relationships.
I pushed aside my surprise about this setback, and focused on my nerve removal surgery recovery. Six gruelling weeks later, I had watched enough Netflix to power a large, densely populated city and was ready to fly back to New York for my check-up. I brought the laparoscopy from the Mater Private one year previously along with me for my surgeon to inspect. He had sent off the tissue to the pathology department, who were baffled by this and said they disagreed with his diagnosis. They had no suggestion for what it could be, despite the fact that the tissue looks exactly like endometriosis lesions. For those who aren't aware, endometriosis lesions look like black gunpowder rings. (Kind of like something from Stranger Things.)
My surgeon and a gynaecologist both examined my Irish scans and immediately pointed out the disease in the images, thus diagnosing me with the illness. It's safe to say I am not impressed with the Mater, but I also feel let down by nearly every doctor who saw me. I went to a GP with this pain over 15 times (5 separate GPs, I might add), visited three Irish hospitals on numerous occasions, flew to the UK multiple times to see professors in the chronic pain field and was misdiagnosed. I am now on a progesterone pill, which will hopefully suppress my symptoms, and am investigating whether the endometriosis is in my bladder. Yet how can I trust what results I am given in the Irish healthcare system, after this?
There is so much left to be done, when it comes to this illness. In terms of funding, it is increasingly shown that male pleasure trumps female pain; research of erectile dysfunction receives more funding than every female pain disorder combined, despite the fact that one-in-three women will experience this at some stage.
A blood test is currently in the works to discover endometriosis without having to undergo a flawed keyhole surgery. Amazingly, a new pill is being trialled which could potentially cure the lesions themselves, according to scientists at Washington School of Medicine. It's only early days; the drug has been tested on mice, but it's hoped the human trials will present similar findings. The antibiotics could potentially cure or reverse the effects of endometriosis, essentially ending the pain of millions of women. While I wish this pill could have been available three years ago, I will still stand up for myself to demand access to this treatment, I will still research the side effects and long term tested effects doggedly, and I will still never stop questioning every detail a doctor tells me. It could change your life, even if they call you hysterical.
Anyone who has gone through IVF knows just how daunting, intense and overwhelming it can be. It’s a physically and emotionally draining and deeply personal journey that millions of women go through all around the world, including Amy Schumer.
The actress, who welcomed her first child Gene last year, revealed that she has started IVF because she wants her darling son to have a sibling.
The mum shared a photo of her bruised tummy to reveal that she is in the early stages of IVF. Alongside the photo, the mum wrote, “I’m a week into IVF and feeling really run down and emotional.”
Amy encouraged women who have been through IVF to share their story with her, “If anyone went through it and if you have any advice or wouldn’t mind sharing your experience with me please do. My number is in my bio.”
One woman praised Amy for sharing her IVF journey with the world, “From a fellow IVF survivor. Thank you for speaking out. Wouldn't wish the experience on anyone, but stay positive. This is not for the weak at heart. But there is an amazing community of women out there who get it.”
Amy is so strong for sharing her story. There’s no doubt many women will seek comfort in her honesty.
Clap-back queen and general amazing human Chrissy Teigen made an important point when a fan asked if she was pregnant.
The internets favourite social media darling has a reputation for slamming the trolls, but she had a dignified response to an Instagram user who asked about a possible baby bump.
Teigen is currently in Italy with her husband, John Legend, and her two children. Her latest Instagram snap sees the model wearing a towel as a dress, and one commenter wrote, "Baby bump?" as a response.
Jessie opened up about her fertility issues on stage during a concert.
She said, ''I was told four years ago that I can’t ever have children. I don’t tell you guys for sympathy because I’m one of the millions of women and men that have gone through this and will go through this.''
She then took to Instagram and continued, ''I will be a mother. As will you. I believe in miracles. But if it doesn’t happen naturally then that wasn’t meant to be the journey. But a mother is within all of us.''
We admire her strength and also bravery in being so candid about her struggles – and we wish her every success in her hopes to become a mum one day.
Taylor Swift is set to turn 30-years-old on December 13 and apparently this means she has to settle down and have kids.
When women reach a certain age they are bombarded with questions about their family plans, how many kids they want to have and when they’re going to get married.
We’ve all experienced this at some point in our lives, whether it’s the awfully nosey aunty asking when you and your beau are going to tie the knot or the obnoxious neighbour passing remarks about how you ought to hurry up and ‘squeeze a few puppies out’.
During an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur, a journalist asked the Shake It Off singer if she was planning on settling down to start a family now that she is approaching her 30th birthday.
Did it ever occur to those who ask these absurd questions that some women don’t want to get married, others may be happier single or simply don’t believe in marriage?
Marriage is one thing, but quizzing women about their family plans and ‘advising’ them to get pregnant at this age is simply ignorant. You never know what is going on in someone’s life, especially when it comes to their fertility.
Millions of people struggle with infertility around the world. An estimated 10 percent of Irish women suffer from polycystic ovaries, which makes it harder for women to become pregnant and increases the risk of developing complications during pregnancy.
Other women simply don’t want to have children and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that decision.
Taylor Swift’s response to this rude question was completely fair and I couldn’t applaud her more for it. It is a personal question that can make women feel pressured, uncomfortable and distressed.
I’m sure the interviewer didn’t mean to cause offence but his ignorant notion has certainly highlighted a vital conversation about the expectations placed on women when they reach their 30s.
Did you know that you will have approximately 450 menstrual cycles in your lifetime? What if we said we have the perfect supplement that can help you combat those nasty period symptoms that we all suffer through every month.
Triumph® Monthly Cycle Supplement is the only product in the world with changing formulations designed to support a woman throughout the three main phases of her monthly menstrual cycle.
“For years, through busy work and family lives we endured the ups and downs of our monthly menstrual cycles. Curious to find out what was putting us off balance and if we could find a natural solution, we set out on a path of discovery. There are three distinct phases to our menstrual cycles, each directly influencing our overall wellbeing.
"The more we talked to other women, the more we understood the need for a supplement that changed throughout the month. Triumph Monthly Cycle Supplement is a unique three-part programme containing PhaseBlend technology. Each blend has three different formulations of botanicals, vitamins, minerals and amino acids to support optimal health, balance and harmony,” explained co-founders Donna Ledwidge and Renée O’Shaughnessy.
This unique three-part monthly programme contains 30 sachets and 30 tablets with three different Phaseblend® formulations. The formulation in the sachets and tablets change three times as the monthly cycle progresses. Each different PhaseBlend® contains a proprietary Vfusion® complex combining over 35 essential botanicals, vitamins, minerals and amino acids to complement the menstrual, pre-ovulation and post-ovulation phases.
Triumph Monthly Cycle Supplement (€49.99) is a full menstrual cycle programme, one tablet and one sachet to be taken daily. Simply start the programme on day one of your period.
A gorgeous and powerfully vivid collection of essays written by Emilie Pine has won the An Post Book of the Year for 2018.
Notes to Self sees Pine writing on a variety of important moments in her life, including sexual assault, fertility problems, sexism in the academia sector, feminism, depression and addiction.
Published by Tramp Press, the book has been widely read around Ireland since it's publication, and has deeply resonated especially with women nationwide who relate to the stark and emotional work.
Delighted and honoured to win Book of the Year 2018, in the An Post Irish Book Awards! Thank you to everyone who voted, and most of all thank you to @TrampPress for asking me to write my story https://t.co/KOJHYh34jr
The esteemed prize boasts previous winners such as John Crowley's Atlas of the Irish Revolution, written with Donal Ó Drisceoil, Mike Murphy and Dr. John Borgonovo, Solar Bones by Mike McCormack, Academy Street by Mary Costello, The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan, Belinda McKeon's Solace, Staring at Lakes by Michael Harding and Asking For It by Louise O'Neill.
Chairperson of the An Post Irish Book Awards Maria Dickenson said; “Emilie Pine’s Notes to Self was one of the great stories in Irish bookselling in 2018 and I’m delighted that the voting public has chosen it as the An Post Book of the Year."
"The power and honesty of Emilie’s essays have captivated readers, and it’s truly gratifying both to see her talent rewarded and to see an Irish publisher like Tramp Press receive this well-deserved recognition," she continued.
Readers of the book couldn't put the engrossing work down. David McRedmond, CEO of An Post, commented on Emilie's wonderful win,
“2018 was a huge year for Irish writing and no book illustrates better why An Post is delighted to sponsor the Irish Book Awards: Emilie Pine’s book, a challenging read, is deeply human and Irish, emotional and clever. An Post thanks all the voters for engaging with the Awards in such large numbers.”
The An Post Irish Book Awards celebrate and promote Irish writing to a wide range of readers, bringing together a massive community who are passionate about writing. Readers, authors, booksellers, publishers and librarians unite to recognise Irish talent.
Congratulations to Emilie on her deserved achievement, we can't wait to consume her next piece of beautiful and fearless writing.
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