Editor’s note: Here is Part 2 of Benewaa’s story. You can find Part 1 here, Enjoy!

Getting serious, again!

The thing about period pain though is that you never get used to it. I was okay managing the daily pelvic pain like a pro but looking forward to my period was an anxiety riddled nightmare. By 2017, I had started publicly talking about my period and the pain that comes with it. During one of my periods in the latter part of 2019, it showed me pepper. I was in tears and crawling on the floor from morning to evening. It was a different kind of pain, an upgraded version of the previous. At a point, I vomited and passed out laying in my vomit. I woke up and found it dried all over my body. The sight of that had me wailing like a mother who has lost her child. The tears weren’t for the pain, they were for the condition I found myself in — sick, weak, pitiful, pathetic, sad. I remember crying so much my flat mate returned from work and heard me cry. We joked about it later but in that moment, it was anything but funny. This incidence marked a turning point for me. I decided to resume seeking medical help with the hope that this time, doctors would be able to figure out what was wrong. I was determined to never feel that pain again, and girl was I in for a shocker.

So, off I went, to the Airport Women’s Hospital with high hopes and a fragile renewed hope in doctors. The gynaecologist I met patiently listened to me, took in my lengthy Genesis to Revelation narration of my condition and concluded that I had endometriosis. Endo what? What is that? My mind kept searching as though it had existing data on the disease. I eventually gave up because up until that moment, I had never heard of the disease. The doctor, a man by the way, briefly explained it to me, picked up an endometriosis management drug from his desk and handed it to me to go try, for free. Finally! I could put a name to what had been terrorising me for years. The relief was overwhelming. I was excited about this drug that was going to fix me, and curious about this disease. That day I made my bed on Google. I researched medical journals, read articles written by other women who have the disease, I watched videos, I did it all. I found that Endometriosis happens when tissues similar to the lining of the uterus forms in other parts of the body, including organs in the pelvic region, the lungs, and others. For a while, I was an endometriosis nerd. After my second visit to this doctor, I decided I wanted a female gynae so I switched. Same hospital, different doctor.

She reviewed my case, did an ultra sound and said she didn’t think I had endometriosis; it was rather a fibroid but it was too small to cause the pain I was experiencing. This was November 2019.  She put me on stronger pain medications and said if by January 2020 I was still experiencing the pain, we would have to surgically remove the fibroid. At the mention of surgery, guess what happened — yea you’re right; I stopped going to the hospital. What if I died in there? She said the fibroid couldn’t be causing my pain, what if I got the surgery and nothing improved? So many thoughts run through my mind. I hadn’t had surgery before and the thought of it scared the hell out of me. My heart and mind eventually came to the conclusion that we didn’t want the surgery.

I went on to manage the pain with pain medications and occasionally the Endometriosis drug the male gynae gave me. Its effectiveness had a bipolar characteristic to it but I took the gamble every now and then. Life with chronic pain was manageable until the third week of March 2021. I woke up one morning with excruciating abdominal pain that wouldn’t respond to medication. Having lived with chronic pain for years, I like to believe that I have a high threshold for pain but yo! This was beyond my limit. I cried so much my eyes and nose were sore. After two days of failed trial and error with pain medications, I went to see my doctor. She didn’t judge me for disappearing on her since November 2019. She did her checks and noted the fibroid hadn’t significantly increased in size but I had two ovarian cysts and that could be causing the pain. So, I had a fibroid, cysts on both my ovaries and potentially Endometriosis. I thought Damn! My pelvic region has been busy. I already knew about ovarian cysts. I had a friend who had had surgery for it so I wasn’t caught shocked by it. The doctor recommended that I have a laparoscopic diagnosis to know whether or not the cysts were benign and possibly drain them at the same time. I agreed. The receptionist booked me for this. My period was about a week away so she recommended I take an injection that will prevent it from coming so I get the laparoscopy done, and that people, that was when my already gloomy day jumped up a gloomy notch.

I was to take an injection meant to help ease my pain before taking the injection that was meant to stop my period. When I went to hospital pharmacy to purchase both injections, the pharmacist saw much pain I was in and was extremely empathetic. She came out from behind her counter and helped me to the room where I was to take the injection. She clearly and with emphasis told the nurse to let me rest for a few hours after the injection before she lets me go. However, after the injection, the nurse asked me where I lived, when I told her, she said I would definitely get home before the injection kicks in and so I should go to the other nurse for the second injection and then go home. I was on my way to the nurses’ station when I started feeling uncomfortable. I paused for a about a minute and continued up the stairs. I had to wait for a particular nurse as she was the only who knew how to administer that kind of injection into the abdomen. As I sat waiting for her, I suddenly started feeling really sick and before I could blink, I was throwing up all over the place. The little food I had managed to eat and hold in came gushing out. I was weak and short of breath. The nurse I was waiting for came and upon knowing I had been made to walk prior to taking the previous injection got upset and scolded the first nurse. They cleaned me up, mopped the entire room and took me to a ward to rest for some hours, after which they discharged me and told me to return the next day for the second injection. (To be continued…)

Abena Benewaa Fosu is a transfinancial Feminist Activist with particular interest in women’s sexual pleasure, bodily rights, queer rights, sexual and reproductive health, economic liberation and political participation.