Story by Rebecca Dimovski. Go and check out her instagram @Smekka and give her a follow and like. Also post features her AMAZING photography taken from her Project Endo check it out and support it.
“I remember the time I became a woman clear as day. It was Badnji Dan ( Orthodox Christmas Eve) 2003, I walked into my grandparents house after church and noticed a change. I thought, ‘This is womanhood! I can have children when I’m older! Wait….. Oh no i’m wearing a white skirt!!!’ All these emotions were so overwhelming as a eleven year old. I had it pretty easy back then. All I was really hiding was my period from all my classmates and trying to get out of swimming without making it so awkward.”
Things were about to change three years later. It was the first time I noticed something different with my body. I was in math class and had a substitute teacher looking after us when my body started to cramp up. I felt clammy, my palms were sweaty, I needed to dash to the bathroom. Said teacher didn’t let me leave though. He thought I was trying to get out of math class. Mind you, I was in Year 10, still yet to receive a detention in my life. 15 minutes passed and i started getting light headed and felt like I was going to puke. I knew the only way to do something was to humiliate myself. What teenage girl would want to openly let a grown male know she was on her period and felt really sick!? And that’s what I exactly did. I told Mr.Kumar that i bled through my clothes and to let me go to sick bay. I had a friend accompany me and stayed in the fetal position until i had one of my parents pick me up.
It only got worse from there.
It ended up becoming the norm you know, EVERY woman has period pains, maybe my pain threshold was weak. So I spoke to my family GP. She instantly wanted to put me on the pill. I was totally against it. With me rejecting that, she tried putting me onto natural remedies like sleep easing tablets and magnesium. I knew that alone would’t benefit me greatly.
Fast forward to around 2011-12, I am a barista working early hours. I used to like partying, I would stay up for hours and get home, work, eat, party, repeat. I loved having so many friends and a great social life! I can vividly recall my bosses at the time saying of all weekends they needed their girls at the store as they were attending an event. I ruined their plans. Both days. I was too embarrassed to tell them I had excruciating period pain so I made my mum call them. I was in hospital twice that weekend, having a reaction to medication the nurses gave me to stop excessive bleeding. It was hell. I also remember one of the nurses saying “we tested and you don’t have endometriosis” now…. what did that mean?! What was that word???? Do you think I remembered it when I got home? You bet I didn’t.
2013-2016 were years of slow-growing fatigue even when I wasn’t on my period and I started napping a whole lot more. Even more embarrassing stories came about. The fainted spells started. My body couldn’t handle the pain of dysmenorrhoea. I would push myself to go shower or get ready for work/day out with friends. It was rough. My brother found me the first time collapsed in the shower. My parents another time. That was so scary. This is where I became frightened of even menstruating, I lost all control of my body and didn’t know when and where it would happen.
These are the years I truly became passionate about focusing on Photography. So Barista and Photographer. Those are two hands on shifts usually involving long days. There were mornings I would brave the pain and go to work, only to last just over an hour or so and then I’d slowly find the courage to walk over to my car and get myself home to pass out for hours until I could even stand again.
These last two years were really where the ball started rolling. I often got asked by my mum about why I was always feeling and getting sick. I never had an answer. It felt like every 2-3 weeks there was something new that was wrong with me. Tummy bugs, low immunity, you name it. It really started to bug me the amount of times mum would say “Why are you always sick????” and I started getting frustrated. It wasn’t for something completely unrelated that I met my now GP who always had my back and wanted to get to the bottom of my ongoing health issues. We started playing and trying different pills, looked for deficiencies and while I was on the low end of normal for a lot of things. Nothing was alarming. Ultrasounds both external and internal showed nothing, other than tremendous pain after examination on my left side. Things were half kind of falling into place. So my GP did another round of blood tests. He found something to go by. He said my bloods showed that I had an infection/and a lot of inflammation in my body. The bad news was that he didn’t know where it was stemming from, though he was adamant it was gynecological. I was unaware of any Gynos as I never had to go to one, so I started asking. I was lucky enough for a friend to direct me to i’m lucky to call my gyno now because he is so in tune with how to treat women.
Mum had come along with me to my first consultation and he was asking me all types of questions, the ones I had answered countless amounts of times to doctors and nurses while trying to get someone to listen. He is the only one jotting things down, asking me to go in depth and really grasping everything I was saying. He explained what Endometriosis was and that I had a good case for it but the only proper way to diagnose it was through a laparoscopy. It was a lot to come to terms with, I’d never had surgery or been cut open before, why if they did’t find anything? What if it made my condition worse? All these questions needed to be filtered before I could give him an answer. This was November last year. I had my lap done Mid January and it was my Gyno operating on me. The one I trusted with recognising my symptoms was putting me under the knife. I was safe.
January 18th rolled around and I was in the waiting bay getting a cannula inserted. I was nervous. The anesthetist got too excited with my vein that she made me bleed all over the bed and floor. Funnily enough she was more worried than I was, blood red was my favourite colour and it weirdly put me to ease! Here walks in my gyno to talk me through what he’ll be doing while I would be under, i felt so reassured. I remember waking up to my gynecologist asking how I was feeling. I was nauseous, I wanted my mum, I wanted my boyfriend. I was zoning in and out. I heard “Endometriosis” You have no idea how liberating that moment was, in my high, and exhausted state. I finally knew what was wrong all this time! Thank you Lord!
This is where this project finally started to kick off, one of my best friends (you will see her story directly below) was diagnosed little under a year before me. It took us 11 years to get a diagnosis. 11 years of silent suffering. And you know what? That is the norm apparently. It takes 7-10 years for a woman to get a full diagnosis! Crazy!
I know there are so many brave women out there that maybe if I share my story that it may encourage others to join me. We can’t keep this silent any longer. We all have voices, We’re all warriors and we are all capable of creating a difference, for our future. ”
— Rebecca Dimovski, South Morang.