…I’ve only ran three times since completing the JP Morgan challenge.
But, I promise there’s a reason why. And the good news is, because of this reason, I’ve decided upon the charities I would like to fundraise and raise awareness for when I get around to running a half marathon.
I say charities because I can’t choose between two. The first cause I’ll be supporting is one very close to my heart, the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS). My father lives with ankylosing spondylitis (AS), an incurable form of arthritis, and during my time working for the society I met many inspiring people, and learnt a great deal more about how the condition affects day-to-day life. To be supporting this wonderful, hard-working organisation almost goes without saying.
My reason for supporting a second organisation stems from my own journey and experience of living with a condition that can impact day-to-day life. This charity is Endometriosis UK. And endometriosis, a condition where cells like the ones of the lining of the womb begin to grow in other areas, is the reason why I haven’t been able to run much lately.
Four weeks ago I had an operation called an investigative laparoscopy. I’ve lived with pain in my stomach area since I was 15 and in January this year, by sheer luck, I didn’t see my usual GP. The doctor I saw had experience in gynaecology. He asked me some questions which at first I didn’t think to be at all relevant, enquiring into how painful my periods were and if sex (sorry family) was also painful for me. Well, the answer to both these questions was yes, very much so.
Mother Nature had started to become debilitating, where I’d walk around work like a penguin for two days. The doctor explained that he thought I had endometriosis and advised that going back on the pill would be the first course of treatment.
It started to work. The symptoms that had previously been diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in 2012 became easier to manage, but my monthlies still knocked me for six. At my follow up appointment I explained I was still in pain. Two ultrasounds later and nothing found, I was referred to gynaecology.
Little did I know my referral would become more important in June.
Orange is the New Black season four had just been released. I’d rushed home to get cuddled up on the sofa and feed my Netflix addiction. I was just getting ready to get stuck into the first episode and an almighty pain went through my stomach.
After heading to the bathroom, the pain got worse and the bath edge became my crutch. Except that was no good and the floor fast became a better option. The pain was so bad I couldn’t move an inch and I was absolutely terrified. I was used to living with pain, especially during the time of the month, but not this. This was scary.
After ringing 111 for some advice, an ambulance was sent out to me and the paramedics took me to hospital.
Two days later I was being released with no real reason as to why I had been in so much pain. I’d had two more ultrasounds, both again showing nothing. The doctors sent me on my way and told me to talk to the doctor when I came into hospital for my gynaecology appointment. This is when I was told I’d need the laparoscopy.
It was a success. They found the endometriosis, took pictures (including an accidental selfie of the surgeon), and then burnt away the little red spots that have been causing me pain for so long.
Eight years, with one misdiagnosis, and suddenly I understood so much more what people with ankylosing spondylitis go through. Alike endometriosis the average delay in diagnosis is roughly eight years, and this is why I couldn’t choose between supporting NASS or Endometriosis UK.
Although I haven’t spoken with anyone at the organisation directly for support, visiting the Endometriosis UK website and reading similar stories like my own, provided me with the reassurance I needed through this journey so far. Also the information about the operation and exactly what endometriosis is, helped me immeasurable amounts.
If raising a few pennies and some awareness of this organisation only helps one other person to know there are other people out there in a similar boat, then the hard work that will be going into these runs will be worth it.
So, now that I’m on the mend I better get running huh?! Stay tuned.
P.S. Thank you to my family and friends these past few months for your unbelievable and overwhelming support. I’ve learnt this year that I’m stronger than I think, but it would have been so much harder without your love, friendship and support.