Anna’s battle with Endometriosis

15 years ago Anna started suffering with chronic pain, it took 4 years for it to be diagnosed as Endometriosis. At 14 years old she started having symptoms and was told she was just ‘a young girl having growing pains’. It took a misdiagnosis and an appendectomy for her pain to be taken seriously, the general surgeon who removed her appendix said he could see Endometriosis surrounding the organ (Endometriosis is a disease where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body causing debilitating and chronic pain).

A week after having a consultation with an Endometriosis specialist Anna had another operation, the Endometriosis was found to be sever and widespread resulting in Anna being given a stage 4 diagnosis. There was so much disease it could not be removed in the one surgery, so two weeks later she was back in for her fourth surgery in less than 10 months.

The surgery was extensive and at 18 years old Anna was told that she would never conceive. Unbelievably, 3 years after meeting her now husband, she feel pregnant just weeks before starting IVF. It was not an easy pregnancy and Anna was constantly in and out hospital. At 36 weeks gestation, Anna and her husband’s world was complete with the arrival of baby Grace.

In 2020, the day before Grace’s 5th birthday Anna underwent a major operation to form a permanent ileostomy. An ileostomy is where your small colon is coming to the surface of your skin. After getting over the shock of having her intestines coming out of her stomach Anna found herself accepting her new body and being thankful to have a stoma that functioned better than her large bowel. The Endometriosis and previous surgeries had left her with slow transit bowel disease, which is where your large bowel gradually stops functioning. Every 3-6 weeks she would be hospitalised to receive treatment to try and partially clear her bowel. Before she had this surgery, she lived day to day life in constant fear of her bowel perforating. Her only option was to have an Ileostomy. It was a life changing surgery, but she knew she could do it. She had lived the past 2 years on and off with an indwelling catheter, so what was one more bag?

Anna's health battles were not over, in 2021 she underwent major surgery resulting in a radical hysterectomy. The following year, Anna had her 15th operation to form a suprapubic catheter to replace the indwelling catheter her body had started to reject. Unfortunately, her body rejected this solution too, eventually she was told her only option was a urostomy. A urostomy is where they create a stoma made with part of your small bowel and ureters allowing your kidneys to drain urine directly through that out of the stoma into a bag.

Her urostomy surgery was completed in June 2023. Anna had just turned 30 a week prior and had once again received changing surgery for a disease that’s not deemed serious. 


Written by Anna Cooper

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