Ciao amici buoni! Have a seat and grab a cup of coffee, because we’re going to get deep today. I am going to share some personal details about my life: specifically, my experience with endometriosis and vegan diet. A video on the same subject by YouTuber Mic the Vegan inspired this (long) post. The video is called “1 in 10 Women Have the Missed Disease” and it’s about how a going on a plant-based diet can affect endometriosis.

I like watching Mic’s videos partly for his snarky sense of humor but mostly because they are heavily research-based and well thought out. I never doubt that Mic has gathered the requisite evidence to support the information he covers in his videos. Had it not been for watching his Missed Disease video, I probably wouldn’t have thought to share my experience. You see, I’ve never declared it publicly, but I have endometriosis.

Sharing my story with the world is a new experience for me and feels a bit awkward, but I think it is really important to talk about it, especially after having watched Mic’s video. I want to help people who might be going through what I went through, so I’m just going to get over myself and spill it all. Got your coffee? Good, let’s get started.

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where endometrial tissue—tissue that normally grows inside the uterus—migrates outside the uterus. The tissue implants itself in all kinds of crazy places inside the body where it’s not supposed to be, but continues to act like uterine tissue. The rogue endometrial tissue still tries to shed every month just like normal uterine tissue, only it is doing so in the wrong place in the body. You can imagine this causes all kinds of problems, not the least of which is extreme pain, and sometimes infertility.

As far as I know endometriosis is not curable, but plant-based diets can help greatly reduce the symptoms, according to the scientific research that Mic cites in his video. You should definitely watch it to learn more about the nutrition aspect, but right now I just want to share my unscientific experience, which I have to say upfront is promising but inconclusive. You’ll see why it’s inconclusive when I tell you my story, and though no hard and fast interpretations can come from my experience, I’m hoping it will at least help you have a conversation with your doctor or loved ones, or help you to consider information you may not have considered before.

My Endometriosis Story

When I was in my early 20’s, I had the worst periods. The WORST. That time of month was always so painful, but I lived with it for a long time because I thought I was just one of those women who had really painful periods and it was my cross to bear as a female. I also knew painful periods were common so I had no reason to think anything was wrong with me. But over time, the pain seemed to get even worse each month if that was possible. It got to be so painful that eventually during that time of month, I literally couldn’t function for days on end. Unless I took a lot of pain killers at the very first sign of discomfort or ideally before it started, then it wouldn’t matter how many pain killers I took later on, nothing would stop the train wreck of misery I’d have to face. Once the pain started, I would ball myself up in a fetal position and stay that way for an hour or longer because I couldn’t straighten out my body, the pain was that bad.

My wake up call came one night when I was living at my parents’ house after graduating college. I had gotten my period the day before, and I could always count on the pain starting around day two or three of my cycle. This particular night I felt fine so I went to bed without taking any preventive medication. Unfortunately I woke up around 2:00 am to full-on, excruciating pain. Not only did I have the usual “cramps” in my abdomen (If by “cramps” you mean someone reached up inside my hoo-ha and was pulling my innards out, then yeah, I guess you could call what I had “cramps”), this time the pain shot around my back and down my legs. I tried adjusting position in bed, but there was no position I could find that would relieve the relentless agony.

I didn’t want to wake my parents, so I tried to fix myself on my own at first. I tried a hot bath, which did nothing. I tried a hot water bottle. Again, nothing. I tried taking the maximum amount of painkillers I could take without shutting down my liver. None of it made a damn bit of difference. After trying all these things, I crawled back into my bed and rocked myself back and forth, tears streaming down my face, just willing myself to sit and take the pain until it was over.

It soon became clear that even willing myself through it wasn’t an option, so in spite of the ungodly hour I called out to my parents for help. “Mom! Dad! You have to help me!” I cried. My Dad was the first one in the room. “What’s the matter? What’s the matter?!” he rushed up to my bedside.

“I can’t take this pain anymore! You’ve gotta help me!? I wailed, tears streaming down my face.

“What’s going on, do you need to go to the hospital??

“No!” *sob* “I need to get drunk! You have to help me get druuunk!”

I wish I was making that exchange up for effect, but sadly, that is exactly what I said to my father as he stood there watching me suffer.