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15 Years and Five Doctors Later, I Finally Found One Person Who Believed Me

15 Years and Five Doctors Later, I Finally Found One Person Who Believed Me


On May 17, 2016, I woke up from my first laparoscopy only to hear my surgeon say the three words that would change my life forever: “You have Endometriosis.”

After years of unexplained pelvic pain, it finally had a name. I remember feeling so relieved that the doctors had finally found the culprit of my suffering, but to the contrary, I was furious when I realized how severely my doctors had let me down.

It took 15 years and more than five doctors to finally find one who believed me and recognized the signs of Endometriosis – a common medical condition affecting one in 10 women worldwide.

My symptoms started with my first period when I was in the sixth grade; my attendance and academics suffered well into my college years, along with poor work attendance as an adult. Thinking back on all of the hurtful things that were said to me and the how horribly I was treated, makes me feel physically sick to my stomach.

For years, I was medically mismanaged and misdiagnosed with conditions like IBS, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, depression-induced pain, and anxiety. I was told that I had a low pain tolerance and that I was attention seeking; others implied that my symptoms – the unbearable pain and the bleeding were all part of “being a woman.”

Photo courtesy of Shalee Johnson photography.

I’ve also been told the pain was “all in my head,” not only by medical professionals but by a previous employer. He pulled me aside to tell me that “there was no pain a strong-minded person could not overcome – pain is just in your head.” This conversation took place after I had been missing work due to unexplained pelvic pain, aka “just a bad period.”

After repeatedly hearing things like this, I wondered if the pain I was experiencing really was in my head, or maybe I really did just have a low pain tolerance and a weak mind. To this very day, I still struggle with the emotional trauma caused by years of dismissal, judgment, and mockery by doctors who took an oath to do no harm, friends, and even a few family members.

My poor mom sat with me through countless emergency room visits and held my hand as I screamed and cried during excruciating pelvic exams, transvaginal ultrasounds, IV’s and injections, only to be discharged with more antibiotics, pain meds, or sent away with nothing at all.

For years, I went through this neverending cycle. 

Because all of my lab work and imaging continued to come back “normal,” I was treated like I was the problem. In 2014/15 I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease (also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis). Sadly, my doctors blamed all the pain and symptoms I had been experiencing for so long on my newly-diagnosed thyroid disease.

My fight for a correct diagnosis continued for another year and a half.

This post was written by Amber Wasilewski. Wasilewski is an advocate and a #WorldwideEndoMarch Chapter President. Follow her on Instagram @endomarch.mendocino

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  • I recognised so many parallels to my own battle for diagnosis and acknowledgement. Thank you, Amber, for sharing your story with us, I’m sure it will resonate with many, as it did with me.

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