“CATA WHAT”?!

That was my question when doctors finally confirmed my diagnosis, “Catamenial Haemo-pneumothorax“.
I was hospitalised, on oxygen and had a chest tube in my right chest to drain blood and air that had accumulated there as a result of ENDOMETRIOSIS affecting my lung space.

In addition I was having my usual painful menstrual cramps that accompanied my monthly flow. As though by magic, the blood draining from my chest ceased flowing as soon as my menses stopped and that provided the confirmation to my diagnosis.
I honestly thought I would die but at the same time, I was relieved that someone had found exactly what was wrong with me.
I have had menstrual cramps for as long as I can remember and mine was usually accompanied with diarrhoea and vomiting. I had menarche at the age of 10 and the cramps followed shortly afterwards. A lot of times my friends and family thought I was exaggerating my pain or I was just being lazy. Those who tried to be positive assured me that it will “vanish” once I gave birth. Doctors kept prescribing stronger pain medications whenever I reported with the same complaints every month. In my early 20’s I started experiencing fever, chest pains and cough in addition to the diarrhoea and vomiting that accompanied my monthly flow. Those were either treated with antimalarials and antibiotics. Until my diagnosis,( I was diagnosed at 25 years) I was told I had a severe form of dysmenorrhoea… not once did I hear the word “Endometriosis”.
That fateful day I was rushed to the hospital for being breathless was a turning point in my life. I learnt after a series of investigations that I had Endometriosis and mine was quite rare. The facility in which I was treated in my country (GHANA) was severely limited in performing Laparoscopy. A laparotomy for a different condition however revealed the presence of endometriosis in my abdomen too.
My doctors however did and are still doing the best they can for me even with their limited resources. My symptoms are better controlled now with hormonal treatment and some diet modification.

At some point in my life,I was furious with life, God,nature and basically everyone. I did not know why I happened to be the 1 in 10 woman to get endometriosis and worse, 1 in 100, 000 woman to get endometriosis in the chest. I was very depressed and ever thought about death being a perfect exit. This was all because I felt so alone. I thought I was the only person I knew with this condition. My relationship suffered greatly at that time but thank God for my family, they were always there.
Being part of Endometriosis Foundation Ghana (EFG) has also benefited me immensely. I have learnt so much and I believe sharing my story will help other women to #BreakTheSilence about #endometriosis and help women suffering in silence.

So,this is my story, what is yours?

Maame Gyamfuaa
Nkawkaw

Copyright: Endometriosis Foundation Ghana
All rights reserved.
March 2017

Stay tuned for more stories on the page this month!
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#BreakTheSilence
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