My name is Jessica, and I'm not going to shut up anymore.

Monday, April 15, 2013


To be clear: I hate the Emergency Room. I hate the feeling of helplessness that permeates the space between myself and the standard changing room curtain. I hate the chill of sterility. I hate being prodded by med students (sorry to my cousin Caiti who is currently in med school!). I hate repeating myself over and over and over again. I hate feeling like someone is going to walk into my room at any minute and tell me that I'm crazy for being there. That because I'm not dying, I should stop taking up bed space and go the hell home.

But as much as I hate the Emergency Room, I sometimes find myself there. Two weeks ago, I found myself in the Hershey ER with severe abdominal pain and a sense that if I strained my bowels or my bladder, organs would start to fall out of me. It was bad.

To keep my story short and sweet, I was doped-up on Dilaudid and still in crazy pain. It felt like both ovaries were burning and the stabbing, throbbing pain crept all the way from my belly into my upper thighs and down my legs. I had only ever experienced pain like this a few times before; it felt like I had an ovarian cyst. A few hours after being heavily medicated, I finally had a transvaginal ultrasound. The results? Nothing. Well, nothing remarkable.

Because I'm super nosy, I always ask the technicians what they see on the monitors. I mean, if someone is sticking a big ole plastic wand up into my vag, I wanna know what's going on in there! Even so, the "charm-free" technician acted like I was a nuisance and said: "It looks like you had a large follicle on the right side that is folded in on itself."
I think: "Oh, could it have been a cyst?"
She says, nonplused, "No. It's normal."

Great. So I'm in the ER for no reason? No Jessica, don't start thinking you're crazy again. (This is what I have to keep telling myself.) Meanwhile, back in my chilly "holding cell" the doctor returns to tell me that it very well could be endometriosis flaring up again.

I'm writing this blog today not to claim my return into a "decline" of health. Rather, I'm writing this because I wanted to point out two things. First, I'm pretty sure my endo is flaring up again. I'm pretty sure that it's because I'm majorly stressed out. I'm pretty sure that when I'm done with this semester, I'll probably start to feel significantly better. Secondly, I freaked out. My doped-up ass starting bawling at the thought that my endo was back. (It never truly goes away--duh!) I started freaking out, thinking: "I'm gonna have to go back on Lupron! I'm gonna have to have surgery again!"

Ladies, I ask you: Have you ever felt like this? Say, after having surgery, after keeping things under control, have you ever freaked out because you thought your body was in severe decline, worrying that you were starting all over again with treatment?

I hope the answer is yes. But I commend you if your answer is no.

Ladies, I tell you this: Stay positive. Honest to goodness, keeping a positive attitude over the last few months as I started to feel pain creeping into my abdomen again, has been the only thing that's kept me afloat. I write this to you after finding myself in the ER again, thinking for a brief (and drugged) moment that I was a helpless victim of my body. After sobering up--and vomiting the whole way home from the drugs (always ask for Zofran before you leave the ER if you've been given pain meds)--I realized that I was going to be OK.

I think back to myself a year ago. I virtually let endometriosis rule my life. It was a horrible experience, and I thought often about killing myself because I had been in so much pain without relief or a diagnosis. (There, I admitted it--FINALLY.) But now, even after having found myself in dire straights, I can tell you that I'm FINE. I'm ok. I'm gonna make it. I'm not depressed any more. I'm well on my journey to discover who I am. Recently, the President of the College (I work at a college) commended me on my professional success and mentioned that the "little girl-ness" inside of me had finally matured into a professional example of leadership. WOW. I'm paraphrasing, but the point is this: NEVER GIVE UP HOPE. Even when you find yourself in familiar territory like the ER. Even when you have submitted your body to scrutiny again. Even when you're pretty sure you're going backwards rather than forwards, NEVER GIVE UP. You'll be ok!

In the meantime, do whatever you have to do to stay positive. Talk to your loved ones about your fears. Talk to your doctor about your concerns. Go for a walk. Sleep late. Read a trashy romance novel. Reach out to anyone whom you know has experienced endometriosis or cysts. Comment on this post! If anything, send your cosmic question into the universe through virtual networks. There there are always resources that can help. I recommend the Facebook Page for the Endo Research Center:

After I graduate, I hope to help establish a Central Pennsylvania Endo support group. If you know of any resources, feel free to share! If you live in south-central PA, feel free to reach out!

Always remember: you are not alone. Don't give up hope.

My loving, supportive husband, Justin, has been an important part of my recovery. This is a picture of us (making plans and having fun!) at a Penguins game in Feb 2013. Go Pens!