Claudia Wright, 28, was told after numerous misdiagnoses over the course of sixteen years that she had stage four endometriosis – a condition that results in tissue extending across her reproductive organs and bowels.
Although Claudia has undergone surgery for the condition, she still suffers from severe bloating that is often mistaken for pregnancy, which is painful since she knows she may never be able to have a child of her own. Claudia, who hails from Perth, Australia, says, “It is a devastating blow every time somebody asks me if I am pregnant and when my due date is because I may never be able to have a baby of my own.”
“It is a cruel joke that I can look pregnant, but I may never be pregnant, the doctor has advised for my partner Michael Crugnale, 28, and I to start trying sooner rather than later as my chances are quickly decreasing,” she added. “I tend to hide under baggy clothing or stay indoors when I have a flare up because of the pain to avoid being questioned by strangers.”
Claudia has been told by doctors that her left ovary is showing signs of shutting down, therefore, she needs to hold off on attempting to get pregnant. She says that surgery isn’t an option at the moment since her condition is chronic. She had part of her endometriosis excised last October by doctors at the Center for Endometriosis Care in America.
‘It is a cruel joke that I can look pregnant, but I may never be pregnant'— Metro Lifestyle (@MetroUK_Life) October 8, 2019
According to the Mayo Clinic, endometriosis is a painful disorder in which tissue that lines the inside of the uterus — the endometrium — grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis often involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes and tissue lining the pelvis. Endometrial tissue may, on rare occasions, spread beyond pelvic organs.
With endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle, yet since the displaced tissue has no way to exit the body, it becomes fixed, which can result in irritation, scar tissue and adhesions, or abnormal bands of fibrous tissue that can cause pelvic tissues and organs to bind to each other. The condition can be very painful, especially during menstrual periods, and fertility problems may arise. Endometriosis affects an estimated 1 in 10 women between the ages of 15 and 49.
Claudia says, "The surgery involved separating my fused organs, a hysteroscopy, checking my fallopian tubes were clear and work and removing the endometriosis from my bowel and reproductive organs. The excision I the gold standard of care and best treatment option to remove the disease but it doesn’t mean I no longer have it.”
Claudia was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 11 after experiencing agonizing lower abdomen pains, fatigue, rectal bleeding and migraines. After being treated for the disease for 15 years, she was told she had been misdiagnosed. Her own research helped her identify the symptoms of endometriosis and she finally received a correct diagnosis from a gynecologist.
She recently bought a walking stick since her pain and fatigue make it hard to stand and she also had to quit her job. “Endometriosis is overlooked because it isn’t terminal but the despair from living a life in severe pain that isn’t believed or going through repeated surgeries with no successful outcomes can be,” she said. “I stay positive because I am surrounded by an amazing support system and I use Instagram to turn my pain into power by using my story and knowledge of the disease to help others. I’m all about researching, advocating, educating and sharing with the endometriosis community and the greater public.”