We all share a fear of the unknown. This can be fearing how you did on a test, if you got into your dream college, or if a diagnosis exists. Everyone experiences these fears several times in their life, but it occurs more prominently with those who suffer from chronic illnesses. I for one can definitely vouch that the fear of the unknown is worse than receiving a bad news upfront.
This at first sounds absurd, but upon further inspection, makes plenty of sense. We have all been in positions pacing around a room, or even pacing in our minds awaiting important news. The suspense makes you anxious to the bone, and the anticipation is eating away at you. Now imagine that important news you’ve been waiting anxiously for, took 5 years to produce. For me, this was no hypothetical scenario, but in fact my life.
When I was in 7th grade P.E. on january 12th 2016, I was running the mile when out of nowhere came this awful stabbing pain in my lower abdomen, so strong it forced me to the ground. My teacher excused me to the nurse once I could get up. Initially I assumed this must be a side crampy from the large breakfast I had that morning, or due to not drinking enough water. I waited in the nurse’s office for about an hour and the pain had not subsided, so she called my mom and I went home. Later that night the cramping was slowly getting better but I felt this stabbing and shooting pain from the neck to my shoulders and my back. We went to the E.R and was told I had a ruptured ovarian cyst. The ER doctors told us that these textbook symptoms and that I should start to feel better in a few days and possibly consider getting an appointment with an gynecologist. It took us quite some time to process all this, but upon the seeing a specialist, more things became clear.
When I was younger, I got my period earlier than most girls, and it was extremely heavy and made me very sick, accompanied with excruciating cramps. I dealt with this for several years before anyone told me this is not normal. I thought everyone else went through 8 maxi pads a day and got dizzy all the time too. I tried not to complain too much because I thought it was normal, but it turns out these symptoms are warning signs for endometriosis.
After 5 years of experimenting with different forms of birth control, aygestin and estrogen supplements, to no prevail, we made to the decision to have an exploratory laparoscopy to officially diagnose or rule out endometriosis, which was the last resort. You see, endometriosis can only be officially diagnosed through surgery due to the fact that it is a bacteria that cannot be detected in blood work, ultrasounds or x-rays. When I saw my OBGYN for the first time, she told us endometriosis was possible, but wanted to exhaust every other option first, before surgery. So after 5 years of failed medications and the anxiety that comes with that, they found and removed a golfball sizes patch of endometriosis from the back of my uterus. After I awoke from surgery the first thing I said was “Please tell me it’s gone.” My mom and seemed to tear up a bit and whispered “yes” I was so incredibly happy with this news. I knew recovery would take a week or two but that did not phase me. I was willing to endure the recovery pain than go another day with a constant lurking uncertainty.
Laura Doti is an 18 year old afflicted with several chronic illnesses, which she doesn’t allow to define her. She is a proud supporter and participant in patient advocacy and is a member of her school’s Speech and Debate team.