So, the OHW. I’ve alluded to it a few times over the past few months, in a most vague and sketchy fashion. Part of the reason this is just because I didn’t feel like talking about it. Most of it is because the OHW involves something pretty personal, and as much as I like to blog and talk things out, I do feel like there should be some boundaries. However, I also believe that talking about serious issues can be helpful, because it gives voice to problems that aren’t always commonly discussed. Maybe someone will stumble upon this and find it helpful. Or something.

In that spirit…my OHW is endometriosis. In a nutshell, I have uterine lining growing like crazy in places other than my uterus. It swells, it bleeds, and it hurts like hell, a lot of the time. I started having some trouble when I was in high school, and by the time I got to college, I was in agony on a semi-regular basis. Some days I would have cramps that were so bad I vomited. It got to the point that I would struggle to get up out of a chair during my period because the pain was just so crippling. I took birth control pills for about 6 years, and they only kind of controlled the issues. In 2003 I had laparoscopic surgery and then six month of Lupron injections (more on those later) to get rid of the growths. I noticed the pains returning in around 2005, but they weren’t intolerable. In 2007, I got a hormonal IUD to basically keep me from having a cycle, which would then presumably control the endometriosis.

It didn’t. Within a few months of the IUD insertion, I feared something was terribly wrong. At first I attributed the pains to my IUD, but after some consultation with my doctor, we eliminated that as a possibility and concluded that my endo was coming back with a vengance. I started another round of Lupron in October 2008, with one 3.75 mg shot, and then two more 11.25 shots three months apart. This makes 7 months, and most people get 6 months of shots, usually with the 3.75 mg shot each month rather than a wallop of hormones flooding in at once (hence, fewer and less severe side effects).

Oh, so the Lupron. It’s a drug that basically inhibits the production of estrogen. Upon injecting the Lupron, I go into menopause immediately and violently. You know all those stereotypes of the menopausal woman? That’s me, but to the extreme. The first few days after the shots are always rough. I get unbelievable hot flashes, night sweats, severe cramping, and serious fatigue. The other night I went to sleep before 10 and didn’t wake up until 7:40 the next morning. I’m absolutely exhausted, and it’s frustrating. I have so much to do, yet I can’t seem to pick up my tired bones to do anything. I can’t concentrate. My moods swing in really weird ways, and sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy. As you can imagine, these conditions are not conducive to good academic writing.

I’m having surgery in May (complete with frickin’ laser beams) to get rid of the growths that are left after this round of shots. After that, I’m not doing this again. The first twinges of endo will lead me to either 1) procreate or 2) get a full hysterectomy. I’m a bigger fan of option 1, but depending on how things are going for me, I may have to keep an open mind. These shots suck, they have bad long-term side effects (like bone loss), and one possible cure for endo is having a kid. Ironically, it’s also one of the biggest causes of infertility, so we’ll cross that bridge when we reach it.