I’m sharing heartbreaking photos of me in agonising pain to help other women
AFTER suffering in agony for 11 years before being diagnosed with endometriosis, Sally Bostock was desperate to try anything to relieve the symptoms.
So, when it was suggested she try putting her body through a medical menopause, childless and at the age of just 28, Sally felt as though she had no choice, and agreed.
Sally Bostock, 28, started experiencing agonising period pains at age 16[/caption]
Doctors told her to take the contraceptive Pill to reduce her symptoms but her agony continued[/caption]
At university, Sally’s symptoms worsened – she had bladder and bowel problems on top of her pain and everything pointed towards her having endometriosis[/caption]
Doctors said she was too young for surgery to begin with and eventually Sally had to quit work as a teacher because of her condition[/caption]
Now instead of battling abdominal pain, bowel problems, bladder issues and heavy periods with endometriosis, Sally, from North Yorkshire, has to cope with hot flushes and insomnia.
Endometriosis affects around 1.5 million women in the UK, and is where cells similar to the ones in the lining of the womb are found outside the uterus, attached to organs such as the ovaries and the fallopian tubes.
Sally said: “It’s crazy to think I’m going through the menopause at just 28.
“But after battling for 11 years just to get a diagnosis, I’m willing to try anything so I can start to live my life properly.
“It’s already helped reduce some of my severe endometriosis symptoms, which has meant for the first time in four years I have been able to rejoin the gym and exercise again.
“There are so many women who are suffering in silence, and being fobbed off by their doctor. I want them to know they’re not alone.”
At the age of 16, in 2010, Sally started experiencing excruciating period pains.
Her mum took her to see their GP, but he recommended she start taking the contraceptive pill.
Just a year later, Sally was hospitalised in agony, but two days later, as nothing could be found, she was discharged.
‘TOO YOUNG FOR SURGERY’
She said: “When I started university, I kept getting UTIs. Every symptom that I was experiencing screamed endometriosis – I had abnormal bleeding, pain during sex, UTIs and heavy periods.
“When I was 18, I was referred to a gynaecologist. I was under their care for a couple of years, their conclusion was that I probably had endometriosis but I was ‘too young for surgery’.
“Despite experiencing horrendous pains, I tried to live a normal life.
“I graduated and qualified as a teacher, and when I was 25 in May 2019, I went to the US to work. But my symptoms got worse.
“By May 2020, I was home and often bedbound due to dreadful bladder symptoms and heavy bleeding.”
Between July 2019 and April 2021, Sally went to A&E ten times and called NHS111 because of her symptoms and pain.
She’s missed out on countless moments with friends and family because of her condition: “One time, my friends and I were on the way to a meal and I felt so unwell that they had to drop me off at my mum’s house so I could jump straight in the bath because I was in agony.
“There have been many times where I haven’t felt well enough to go on normal dates.
“I sometimes feel like it’s easier to be on my own as my symptoms can be so severe, I wouldn’t want to put that on another person.
“I want children, a marriage and a house, but this condition has taken things away from me.
“I’ve worked with children since I was 16 and would love to be a mum one day but I have no idea what my future holds.”
In summer 2020, she called her GP surgery desperate for help and feeling overwhelmed by her symptoms, but they told Sally they were unable to help.
She also had to stop working in 2020 due to how bad her symptoms got.
Sally said: “I explained my worry of endometriosis, as in my head I knew I had it.
“They didn’t refer me anywhere and I came off the phone in tears. I knew I needed to change GP.
“I was fighting so hard to be heard and it didn’t feel like they cared at all.
FINALLY LISTENED TO
“My new GP was much more helpful and referred me to an endometriosis specialist of my choice straightaway.
“After waiting six months, I got an appointment to see a specialist in Manchester.
“But they told me the waiting list was long and would mean undergoing more tests and scans – plus, I’d be looking at a 18-24 month wait.
“I couldn’t wait that long and I was desperate for answers. I could barely walk because of the pain at this point.”
Sally’s friends and family chipped in and paid privately for her to have surgery within six weeks of her initial consultation.
In April 2021, aged 27, she had her first laparoscopy surgery – and she was diagnosed with endometriosis and adenomyosis – a condition that causes tissue similar to the lining of the womb to bury into the muscular wall of the womb.
The surgery confirmed endometriosis in both of her ovaries, her bowel, ureter and she had internal bleeding.
Sally said: “I got an answer after 11 years and it felt bittersweet.
“I was so happy and relieved to have my diagnosis as knowledge is power and I then knew what I’m dealing with, but it doesn’t make the last 11 years of suffering any easier.”
Since surgery, things seemed to ease but Sally was still unable to work due to the pain.
In July 2022, an MRI scan showed endometriosis had already grown back and Sally had adhesions sticking organs together.
So in December 2022, Sally was put into chemical menopause to suppress her symptoms.
She has Prostap Injections – hormone treatment that reduces oestrogen and testosterone levels – every four weeks to keep her in this until April.
Sally is still early into her menopause journey – but it has helped reduce some of her endometriosis symptoms, including pain reduction and she says she feels more like herself.
She said: “I am still in the chemically-induced menopause, which is meant to be temporary.
“My other option after the injections is another surgery – which would possibly be another laparoscopic surgery to excise the endometriosis.
“It can be quite hard to find positives after a 11-year battle but so far the menopause has helped reduce some of my severe endo symptoms.
“There have been some negative side effects of the menopause like insomnia, but being able to join the gym again and enjoy longer walks has been amazing.”
Despite entering into menopause to help ease her symptoms, experts say this treatment is not a cure for endometriosis.
Sally now raises awareness through her Instagram so her followers feel less alone on their endometriosis journeys.
She said: “I’ve met some lovely people through the chronic illness community.
“I want to show people how much endometriosis can take over your life and how serious it can be.
“I never thought I’d be in the menopause at 28 but I’m running out of options.
“I have even been in contact with schools about doing a talk to help young girls who may be going through what I was at that age.
“I want to raise awareness so that young girls know that they are not alone.
“It took me 11 years to be diagnosed and unfortunately that seems to be the case with so many of us.
“Endometriosis affects one in ten of us and it takes on average 7.5 years between seeing a doctor to be diagnosed, but for many more of us it is longer than this.
“It can be mentally exhausting but you know your body and if something isn’t right, keep fighting.
“You are not alone and all we want is to have our pain recognised and listened to.”
After suffering for 11 years, Sally finally got a diagnosis and paid privately for treatment[/caption]
Now she is going through medical induced menopause and suffers insomnia and hot sweats[/caption]
She’s hopeful that one day she’ll be able to have children, but wants other women with endometriosis to know they’re not alone[/caption]
Source of data and images: thesun