by Diana Falzone
It was June 5, 2017, when I opened my weary eyes inside the recovery room of NYC’s Lenox Hill Hospital. What time was it? My body stung with post-op pain as my vision came into focus on a nearby clock. I looked for a nurse.
“Is it really 9:15 p.m.?”
“Yes,” she replied, “you were in surgery for over four hours.”
The nurse had shocking news. My endometriosis excision specialist, Dr. Tamer Seckin told her that my ovary fused to my abdomen. My appendix was covered in endometriosis and had to be removed. Endometriosis blanketed my colon, uterus, and bladder. Seckin combed through my abdomen, meticulously removing whatever traces of the disease he could find.
"No one knows how you were even walking," she told me.
Neither did I.
Barely 24 hours ago, I was driving to New Jersey to celebrate my parents' 46th anniversary when the pain on my right side took hold of me, causing me to double over as I shook uncontrollably behind the wheel. I knew I could not tough it out anymore, and had to go to the emergency room. My ER visit came only after three weeks of constant agony. I tried to downplay my condition and hoped it would pass—but endometriosis doesn't work like that. It makes the rules, not you.
Dr. Seckin soon came in to check on me. He told me that many people do not know enough about endometriosis and explained how it not only wreaks havoc on women's bodies, fertility, and quality of life but that it can even cause death in rare circumstances.
He also informed me that if I wanted to become a mother, I had a small window to do so. I am incredibly grateful for that post-op talk with Seckin. Although my eyes welled up with tears about my pre-op condition and how little has been done to find a cure for endometriosis, my heart swelled with the hope that I could one day fulfill my dream of having a baby.
I was later advised by some members of my medical team to undergo IVF as soon as I healed enough from surgery. I followed their recommendations and began the process of egg retrieval in September and embryo transfer in November, which led me to become pregnant. Thanks in large part to Seckin’s thorough surgery and my IVF team, today I'm five months along, and due with a boy in early August. Still, I will not stop talking about endometriosis. Some people may get uncomfortable to hear about a women's disease and how it can harm us below the waist. Feathers might get ruffled; friends may fall by the wayside; some might even unfollow me on social media. But, that’s okay. Because if it were their daughter, sister, wife, girlfriend, or best friend suffering from endometriosis, they would want someone fighting for them. Fighting for awareness, fighting for a cure.
So, I'll keep #fightinglikeagirl until we end endometriosis once and for all.