Thursday, 23 Mar 2023

Woman’s organs found ‘stuck together’ after 11 years of misdiagnosis

Endometriosis: Dr Larisa Corda discusses symptoms on This Morning

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A health influencer who suffered with endometriosis for 11 years before it was discovered is now unable to have children aged 31. Carla Cressy first began experiencing issues when her periods started at 13 years old. They were very irregular, she said, and she would throw up and pass out from the pain. Little did she know this was the start of a long enduring battle to get the correct results, which has caused her a catalogue of issues throughout her adult life.

Recalling her first experience with a gynaecologist, she said she had an ultrasound scan aged 14, which revealed nothing and only led the expert to tell her “periods are meant to hurt.”

Then, when she was in her first serious relationship at 20 years old she began to experience bleeding during sex and intercourse was very painful, but she says GPs just “didn’t want to know.”

With the doctors not connecting she turned to Google and typed in her symptoms which pointed her in the direction of cervical cancer. But she was refused a smear test at that age, with women only being offered the life-saving test from 25.

A year later she began experiencing bowel and bladder symptoms and spent a lot of time in hospital with a non-functioning bowel. Her bowel had got so blocked that it started to “back itself up”.

It wasn’t until 2015 when she was in hospital with what was suspected to be acute appendicitis when surgeons actually saw her organs that they discovered what was causing her issues.

Ms Cressy, from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, told Express.co.uk: “They removed my appendix and realised it wasn’t my appendix causing whatever was going on.

“I was really sick, and they were syringing the contents of my stomach out through my nose because I just couldn’t stop being sick. I couldn’t keep water down.

“In surgery a few days later, they found that I had stage four endometriosis and it had progressed so far, this was 11 years after I first saw a gynaecologist – it had turned into frozen pelvis disease.

“All my organs were stuck together, twisted in places they shouldn’t be and from then on I’d been referred to specialist hospitals and have had a few more surgeries. Eventually I had to have everything removed because endometriosis had invaded all my pelvic organs.

“I had to have part of my bowel removed, I had a stoma bag for 18 months, my bladder had to be reconstructed, the stents that go from the kidney to the bladder reconstructed, and I had to have a total hysterectomy so I don’t have children and I can’t have children.”

The 31-year-old says that by the time she was 20 she had seen around 17 GPs and nurses and none of them had connected the dots and worked out she was suffering from endometriosis.

So to help females who are suffering from the same issues she has set up a charity called The Endometriosis Foundation and also shares information on her Instagram page.

She said: “This condition changed my life. I don’t want to say it ruined my life but it certainly changed it and I just want to do whatever I can so that nobody else has to go through what I went through.

“I’d never heard of endometriosis before I was diagnosed and it took me a long time to even be able to pronounce it.

“I ultimately want my charity to be everything that I never had. There was no support through my infertility diagnosis, the pain, the surgeries, and going into menopause at 29 years old.

“I’ve never once been offered an information leaflet about endometriosis or any type of support outside my family or friends and it’s horrendous.”

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‘It was such a battle to get doctors to listen’

And she has teamed up with health food shop Holland and Barrett, with electronic signs in the windows of the stores detailing her experiences to educate people about what happened to her.

Ms Cressy said: “It was such a battle just to get doctors to listen and it still is. It’s a huge problem.

“I’m so grateful to Holland and Barrett because when you’re going through the journey of endometriosis you constantly hear ‘Oh it’s just bad periods’.

“It’s so frustrating when your hormones are depleting, your chances of having children are declining and perhaps you might have gone through some life changing surgeries or losing organs and to hear it’s just a bad period it’s really quite undermining.

“The campaign with Holland and Barrett puts it out there and lists the type of surgeries I had that I know speaks for so many other people.

“It was such an incredibly empowering campaign to really just get that message out there. It’s amazing.”

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