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Endometriosis Tried to Sabotage My Career, but I’m Not Going Down Without a Fight

Endometriosis Tried to Sabotage My Career, but I’m Not Going Down Without a Fight


When I graduated, I was officially qualified to be a physiotherapist. I was ready to take on the world — one patient at a time.

Like most recent graduates, I couldn’t wait to start my first job, to begin helping people, and further develop my skills. During this time, I’d considered myself “healthy.” Yes, I’d caught Freshers’ Flu (British slang for an illness new students suffer within the first few weeks of college) and managed to get some form of tonsillitis, but I felt I was fine.

What I didn’t pick up on was the fact that the agonizingly painful periods I was having weren’t normal.

Some days, my flow was so heavy I struggled to leave the house, fearing I’d make a mess. (One time I bled through my uniform!) I also started developing nasty urinary infections every month, accompanied by distressing bowel symptoms. Looking back, there was an endless list of symptoms that I was often told were just a “normal” part of “being a woman.”

Working in the healthcare industry with any health condition has its challenges, especially when it is a condition that not many people know about (let alone pronounce).

Two years after graduating, I was finally given an explanation for the not-so-normal symptoms I’d been experiencing — Endometriosis (in addition to a few other conditions). Post-graduation I was forced to resign from a job I loved because I was so unwell. My symptoms often prevented me from working, and my bottomless amount of treatments, doctor and hospital appointments left my employers struggling to accommodate my needs.

In the end, my (now) fiancé and I decided to move closer to our families and that was when I landed the best physiotherapy job I’d ever had. This time, I was straight up about my Endometriosis in hopes that I would have more support and understanding — after all, honesty is the best policy, right?

It turns out that short convo was one of the best things I could have done. I remember sitting down with my line manager and having an open and honest conversation. To my surprise, my employers took me seriously! They even spent time reading information leaflets from Endometriosis UK and referred me to an occupational health specialist.

Even though having a great support network at work helps, living with Endometriosis isn’t easy. Each and every day is a challenge.

Between having time off for surgery, treatments, and appointments, I spend days on end in pain so severe that it can be difficult to walk. There have been times I’ve felt so fatigued it was almost impossible to function.

Even so, I’ve found a few ways to cope. One of the most constructive methods I found for coping at work is to have an open and honest relationship with my co-workers about my Endometriosis. I have no problem with any of my colleagues asking me about Endometriosis and how it affects me. If they ask about an appointment or doctor’s visit, I see it as a positive sign that they’re actively trying to understand.

Although it can be a bit nerve-racking (I was terrified of being judged), I found that being truthful with my colleagues when I was struggling or having a bad day was really helpful. We have a saying with our physiotherapy students: “If you don’t tell us, we can’t help you,” and my colleagues stay true to this. There have been several times when I was scared of being judged or being forced to justify things to my colleagues, but I’ve come to find my worrying was over nothing.

9 Tips for Coping With Endometriosis at Work


Make sure you have all your pain meds in your work bag.

I have a separate makeup bag that contains any medicine I might need, from specific pain relievers to “just-in-case” antibiotics.

Stash a few adhesive heat pads in your bag.

I find heat beneficial while I’m waiting for the pain relievers to kick in.

Ask for help when it comes to heavy lifting or manual handling.

Heavy use of my stomach and pelvic floor muscles can really aggravate my pain at times, especially if I’m flaring. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help.

Be honest with your employer and other team members.

(If possible and you’re comfortable doing so). I can honestly say that this has helped me hugely. If you’re honest, your co-workers will be able to better understand and support you.

Seek a referral to an occupational health service.

When I first went to an occupational health specialist I was worried they’d tell my line manager I wasn’t fit for work, but it was quite the opposite. They are there to support you!

Distract yourself.

When things become too overwhelming, I like to listen to music or talk to my colleagues.

Take a break.

Taking a few minutes to relax and de-stress can work wonders!

Pace yourself in your work and your social life.

Don’t take on too much and don’t be afraid to say “No.”

Exercise (lightly).

Exercising might sound like a strange way to cope when you’re in pain, but I’ve found it helps. My fiance and I go on short walks on the weekend or in the evening if I can manage.

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