Hi there! I’m Ana Maria, a strong woman with stage IV endometriosis. I am on a quest to bring awareness to endo, find ways to manage the pain, and live a healthier life. I also want to inspire other amazing women out there that are fighting this chronic illness.
I was originally diagnosed through laparoscopy with endo in December of 2018, and since I have taken an active role in my health. I suffered debilitation menstrual cramps for 17 years, not knowing what was wrong with me and thinking it was all in my head. Now that I know what I have and that it is incurable, I am on a mission to find the best ways to cope with this chronic illness.
My endo (because I own it now!), has grown into my bowels. Having endo in the bowels means that I have to be very careful as to what I eat or drink because it causes me to bleed in my rectum. Being bloated is many of the “perks” that come with this illness without mentioning the sexy endo belly that I get. Some of the other symptoms that I suffer are pelvic pain, infertility, lower back pain, fatigue, anemia, painful bowel movements, excessive bleeding, nausea… and the list goes on. My symptoms are not always the same which has me on high alert but optimistic at the same time; because sometimes they go mute just to come back with a vengeance.
Throughout the last ten years, I spent prioritizing and preparing for what I thought was my dream career. As I finally became the urban planner/ architect that I ambitioned, my health screamed to take the front seat in my life. After all of the hard work and sacrifice, I forgot about taking care of myself along the way and I was in a debilitating state when I finally noticed. Sleepless nights, poor eating habits, stress, and overall poor health were the breaking point for my body and mind.
My life path has changed because I am prioritizing my health now and because I found a new passion. My passion is about preventing and educating other young girls that like me are in pain. I am passionate about letting the 1 in 10 women around the world that are suffering from endometriosis know they are not alone. I want to spread the word on this illness so we can get funding and finally find a cure, so we can have better menstrual health education in schools, so we can get better treatment in hospitals, and we can get work policies that can help us thrive with this illness. Overall I am passionate about creating a new way of life for women with endometriosis.
Like many of you, I was asked to take Lupron, get pregnant with IVF or a hysterectomy but I decided to go with an alternative route. I was cautioned to get my endo removed because of its position and the high risk of getting an organ punctured during the operation. I choose to treat endo holistically at the beginning until I found the best gynecologist for me, specialized in endometriosis in the bowls. In 2019, I was put on a Norlutate regimen and it helped with my pain but gave me some side effects but I was taking it to improve the chances on my surgery. In October 2020, I got my second laparoscopy surgery to excise endo and a colon resection as it already had infiltrated the colon walls. After 7+ hours of surgery, two surgeons operating on me and 7 days of hospital recovery, I have finally a better quality of life.
Even after surgery I am still dealing with some of endo symptoms but I am very grateful to had the opportunity of getting the surgery. Sometimes I feel small as my own health advocate against this huge unknown, but I have to find the strength to fight this chronic illness that interferes with my daily activities. Just like me, I know there are thousands of women looking for a new way of life that can take some of the pain away and make our lives better.