Searching the web for one’s symptoms is a dangerous game. It’s anxiety-inducing and pointless. Type something like“stomachache,” and the first thing that comes up is some deadly disease that is very unlikely to be the reason behind the digestive discomfort.
Most of the time, I avoid web searches. Sometimes, when I behave like a rational grown-up, I go on the National Health Service website and do my research in that safe territory. But due to my work, I have to read every article, every keyword alert, and blog post on endometriosis. And while I’m OK with my disease and know how to manage it, I struggle with the emotions that come from thinking about the other conditions associated with this disease.
Let’s start with the biggest and most horrifying: cancer. Countless articles link endometriosis to several kinds of cancer. Some research concludes that women with endometriosis are 1.9 times more likely to develop ovarian cancer. Yet, when it comes to endometrial and cervical cancers, there are no increased risks. To bring a little perspective into this, smoking is more likely to result in cancer than endometriosis. The likelihood of developing cancer from endometriosis is still pretty slim.
Then there’s fibromyalgia, the one that’s currently occupying my mind. My muscles are complaining quite a lot lately, and my restless legs syndrome is at an all-time high.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes pain all over the body. Symptoms include chronic fatigue, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, difficulties with mental processes (brain fog), and more. It is hard to diagnose, and some people still question the veracity of it. Performer Lady Gaga famously shared what living with fibromyalgia looks like in her Netflix documentary “Gaga: Five Foot Two.”
After looking at the symptoms associated with this chronic disease, it turns out I have every single one of them. Interestingly, most of them are also associated with endometriosis. But then again, it could also be multiple sclerosis … so, here I am, a tad panicky.
Mentally, this does me no good.
I could have fibromyalgia, I could have MS, I could be living with a myriad of conditions… or it could just be my endometriosis.
I know my panicked state is linked to the fact that I also went on a break of anything medical-related after becoming extremely anxious when told my specialist was retiring. Am I being irresponsible? Should I be getting checked every six months without fail? Or should I care for my mental health and give myself a bit of a break?
I guess the healthiest approach begins by tracking my symptoms, but also listening to my emotions before embarking on a quest for medical appointments and tests. I am lucky to have a therapist I can discuss this with. Chatting about these sorts of fears can bring much-needed perspective into the situation and contribute to a calmer mind.
I also must recognize that I won’t get all the answers I need now. A ban on late-night Googling and a renewed focus on self-care may be the only way to go.
Until I can explain each and every one of my symptoms: It’s not me, it’s the endometriosis … and probably nothing else.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.