The following are your tasks, my friend, if you so choose to take them...
You are living with symptoms that don’t add up to any well-known disease. You have terrible pain either in conjunction with your cycle, or sometimes all the time, pain during intercourse and bowel and bladder problems. Your period is often heavy or irregular. You are constantly fatigued and nauseated, and, to your immense unhappiness, you are having trouble conceiving.
Convince a doctor to figure out what is wrong with you. Go to specialist after specialist and describe your symptoms. Don’t get frustrated when he or she sends you to a different doctor, saying that whatever you have is not under their jurisdiction. Try not to become overwhelmed when you are sent for MRI’s, CT scans, X-rays, sonograms, and blood tests and they all come back negative. Pretend to be strong when you are told time after time that nothing is wrong with you. Try not to kill the doctor who tells you that your symptoms are all in your head.
Imagine your abdomen and pelvis are indeed encased in barbed wire so that the spikes of the wire are actually piercing them, stabbing them sharply every time you move. Now imagine that the barbed wire is actually attached to some sort of electrical current that shoots electricity through the spikes, increasing the intensity of each penetration. Next, add a machine that alternates shooting the electrical spikes into the body and pulling them out again in random intervals, thus adding a surprise and shock factor to the pain. Lastly, in addition to the shocking electrical stabbing pain, there are deep, underlying waves of pain that crush and release the muscles, causing a cramp so excruciating it takes your breath away.
Live with the aforementioned pain for a minimum of one week of the month, and for maximum of every day of your life. Act normally, smile and say “great” when someone asks you how you are, or carry on a three minute conversation. Perform every day activities, like food shop, or make dinner. Go out with your friends a night, see a movie and try to sit for the full two hours without fidgeting. Go to work and act like all the other employees, make sure no one knows you’re in pain. Go on a date with your significant other and make love to him or her without mentioning the agony you are in once.
You have been in excruciating pain for the past three days. You’ve tried every method of pain relief possible, from a hot water bottle to heavy-duty narcotics. Nothing has helped. You are at the point where you would wish you were not alive, and you decide to go to the emergency room.
Wait three hours in the waiting room, writhing in agony until you are triaged and they decided you are in enough pain to earn a coveted bed in the emergency room. Change into gown while you feel like you are going to pass out. Next, drag yourself over to the bathroom to ensure that you get your all-important urine in a cup before you even dare to think about receiving pain medication. Stumble your way over to your bed and try to hold your screams in while you are prodded and stabbed with an IV needle. Wait another hour before a doctor actually saunters over to you like he has all the time in the world. Try to explain to the doctor how much pain you are in, what endometriosis is, and how much medication you need, and then try again after he accuses you of having ‘drug seeking behavior’. Try for the third time after he prescribes Motrin for you instead of the narcotics that you most definitely need. Wait another hour to receive the narcotics you so valiantly fought for. Attempt with all your strength to not yell at the nurse who goes on break instead of getting the pain medication that she promised to get you. And lastly, continue to be optimistic as you leave the hospital while contorting in agony, no better off than when you came.
Your body feels as though you are nine-months pregnant with quadruplets. Your limbs feel like they are wrapped in lead, and your eyelids covered in cement. All you want to do is climb into bed and sleep for sixteen hours. In addition to the exhaustion, you are immensely nauseated at all times. Every item that you place in your mouth causes you to either become nauseated or throw up.
Make sure that you do not slack off while doing any of your everyday activities. Ensure that you eat enough to keep your energy high. Go to work. Fulfill every task you have there without once slowing down. Do not drink any caffeine, as it makes you sick. Go out to eat with friends but don’t let them know that you can’t eat anything on the menu. Don’t get hurt when they call you “flaky” for cancelling on them. Play ball and horse around with your children, if you are fortunate enough to have any. Feed, bathe and dress them and put them to bed. Ensure that they are unaware of your exhaustion. Spend time with your significant other without yawning. Sleep six hours a night, wake up refreshed and repeat.
You are tried for many years to conceive. Despite numerous medications and shots, intrauterine inseminations and in-vitro fertilizations, you still remain childless.
Pretend to be happy when your friend is pregnant. Paste a smile on your face and hug her without letting your jealousy and anger emanate through. Jump up and down and scream when your sister or sister-in-law has a baby and jump at the opportunity to baby sit whenever you are asked. Continue to spend as much time as you can with all your pregnant and parent friends and ooh and ahh over their children’s pictures when they are shown to you proudly. Never, ever let it slip that you wish you had one of your own.
Make sure that your relationship with your husband remains sensual despite the constant need to plan sex. Don’t let your sex life become all about getting pregnant, and try not to remind him that you are ovulating when you are making love. Try not to focus too much on the all the money you have spent on trying to become pregnant. And don’t allow yourself to become too disappointed when you get your period every month.
Would you choose any of these tasks if it were up to you?