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Hi, I'm Jaime.
I have been living with severe and painful endometriosis symptoms for almost 27 years, and I'm not yet 40.
I have a Bachelor's degree in Hospitality Management, and went back to culinary school because I wanted to change the world of fast food as it pertains to health.
I spent six weeks of the last quarter in school, in and out of the hospital with severe pain from a sudden leak and weakness in my spine that was causing partial paralyzation from the waist down.
I have since connected this to side effects from the birth control I had been using for many years to kind of "deal with" my endometriosis pain.
I doubled up on classes - doing both day and night for the final six weeks of school - to make up for the lost time and get my degree.
I did this using crutches and on heavy painkillers and nerve medication, and I graduated with honors and a 4.0 GPA.
I missed the recognition for attendance, despite making up my classes - although I had missed no school time all year.
I got a job with a great company and worked my way up to a semi-decent hourly wage, paying my dues with the rest of the world.
I had savings, health insurance, made sure my husband was insured, and thought we had a pretty okay cushion for a minute.
But when we decided to try to have kids, things went far south.
We have been trying to have kids for the past 10 years, meanwhile my symptoms have increasingly gotten much, much worse as endometriosis grows larger inside of me and interracts with my hormones.
At least 25 out of 30 days a month I experience:
bleeding - from spotting to pouring
lack of appetite
symptoms of myalgia
weird hair growth
symptoms of autoimmune
Hashimotos autoimmune symptoms
headaches or migraines
tingly arms and legs, hands and feet
loss of feeling
I have grown several nodules (masses) in my thyroid, causing at first hyperthyroidism and then Hashimotos as my hormones fluxuate.
Although they are benign, they are growing slowly and cause massive discomfort - and I have had to have repeated ultrasounds and biopsies on them to be safe.
I have been to the ER at least 6 times for severe abdominal pain and swelling, and severe bleeding.
I have been diagnosed with everything from "heavy bleeding" (which is not a diagnosis, but a symptom) to colitis - inflamation of the colon, and IBS.
I did not know what the pain actually came from until late last year - after 27 years of suffering - when I found endometriosis through my own research.
I then had to go to 5 different ObGyns to find one who knew what endometriosis was and would help me diagnose it.
This doctor recognized the symptoms and did a laparascopic surgery - which cost me $3500 out of pocket and cleared out my 401K - and I was finally properly diagnosed with Stage 3 endometriosis.
The surgery revealed the the endometriosis was blocking my fallopian tubes completely and causing them to swell - and it could not be removed completely.
After the surgery, I received another hormone treatment to try to shrink what was left - that did not go well and made my symptoms worse.
My migraines got so bad, I couldn't get out of bed for almost 30 days without falling over.
As the previous breadwinner of my family, this has become an issue.
Prior to getting sick, I was covering all of the financial stuff while my husband was helping me to start a home business so I could eventually retire.
He has spent a lot of time taking care of me, getting me to the doctor and the hospital for surgery, shopping, cleaning and taking care of our rescue cats.
We've gotten as much support as possible from our family.
We also have a family of rescue and foster cats - they are my babies since I have been unable to have my own - but they are an added expense.
At the moment I am being given the option of having surgery every 9 months to remove the endometriosis that will continue to grow back, or get a hysterectomy.
I have to do something because I cannot function with this pain - it's extremely miserable.
I am attempting a hormone suppressor to induce menopause, but the side effects are bad, so I'm still in search of new treatment and options.
But I've run out of money and I'm about to run out of FMLA leave - which means losing my health insurance.
I am struggling to pay rent, get groceries, and cat food.
We have cancelled cable and as many extras as possible without fully closing shop on our not yet profitable business - internet and phone bill.
I have not been able to work for over 6 months, and insurance only covered 60% of my paycheck, so everything has been sucked dry.
I am waiting for long-term disability insurance approval, but it's very slow and will pay less than the short term.
I would like to find answers to my pain and end my sufferring, but I need help financially to fund the treatment and pay my back bills - while we focus on keeping us off the street.
I hate asking for help.
But any moment I am not feeling too sick or at the doctor - which is a handful of hours a week - I am doing something to promote endometriosis awareness as a way to give back.
It gives me hope and strength to know that at least younger girls of today might learn something from what I am going through.
I need help and would appreciate anything that you can offer.
The bills in total are now in the tens of thousands with more to come.
Thank you so, so, so much for anything you can do.
I will pay it forward.