Hello stranger. My name is Jo. I am 33 years old. I have two children. I work as a medical secretary. I am a BeYou ambassador.
Oh, and did I mention I’m climbing Everest?
I will give you some context. From my late teens, I knew there wasn’t something quite right but I had no idea why or what it was. Little did I know I would, much later in life, be diagnosed with endometriosis. For those who don’t know what endometriosis is, it refers to when someone’s uterus lining begins to grow outside of the uterus and when it sheds it can be incredibly painful.
Firstly, I was diagnosed with IBS after 2 sigmoidoscopys but my doctors couldn’t find anything they diagnosed me as having IBS or irritable bowel syndrome.
If it wasn’t for my hundreds of GP appointments and one saying have you heard of endometriosis, I’d still be searching for answers. I finally got diagnosed with endo around 2 years ago, by my consultant, only after I’d been made to try all options first like 4-5 different pills.
I work for the NHS and I still feel like it’s a constant battle to get anyone to listen or follow the world health organisation regulations. I have been treated like a time-waster, with the odd person who understands and treats me with some dignity. Most people who I have come across just say, “oh it’s just your periods”.
Oh, how I wish it was that simple!
Now I work in a hospital for 34 hours a week which can be a huge struggle with my endo and have to take regular medication i.e pain relief co-codamol and fluoxetine for the mental struggle. I live in pain every day but I try not to show it but my nearest and dearest are the ones who see me curled up in pain. My work colleagues see me hard working and in control but this comes at a huge cost.
So how did I decide to go mount Everest?
Endometriosis has had a big impact upon my life and after getting dignosed I did fall into a bit of a mental slump. For me I felt like my life was spiralling out of my control, work-life, home life everything was at the mercy of endometriosis! And then I sort of started doing things like trying to get more active again, well trying to sort of, and my husband being in the health service anyway said, exercise is really good. I started to get into running and walking as well.
While scrolling through Facebook one evening I discovered one group who were going to be travelling to Everest base camp. I joined the group soon after and I haven’t looked back. I really wanted to prove to people that endometriosis, or anything similar, never has to stop women from achieving their goals. I remember vividly the day I promised myself that I would share my experience, dig deep and reach for my biggest ever goal. I decided on going to Everest specifically as it has something I have always been interested in and I really do like that kind of thing. Anything to do with Bear Grylls, I’m into! Plus, Everest is so iconic and I thought what a better to raise awareness than at the most famous mountain in the world!
I had been working as a medical secretary in a hospital and for many days I’d been in excruciating pain, looking back I don’t know how I managed to be there. ( like so many times before I thought oh well yet another flare). Over 3 days the pain built and built until I could no longer concentrate, physically do my job! I somehow lasted out the day and as I walked out of my office I walked straight into A & E (not telling anyone or my family as I didn’t want to yet again impose this crappy illness on them).
One afternoon, I took myself to A&E after finishing my shift at the hospital. I thought I was having a particularly bad from my endometriosis. I remember sitting in a daze, I’d taken all the pain relief I could and tears just started silently rolling down my face. I was taken in fairly quickly, and I was given Oramorph. On this occasion, I ended up admitted for 2 days with a ruptured cyst lost a lot of blood. I was so depressed I didn’t talk to anyone unless necessary. After countless scans, investigations I was sent home to rest with yet more pain relief but no real plan on how we were going to go forward with treatment for the endometriosis.
At 8.00am the next morning I got up got in the car and drove to the Everest meeting. I’d never met any of the group before, I felt and looked battered, but something in me had snapped. I made the firm decision that I was going and nothing would stop me. I needed to reach for the ultimate, fight back with everything I had. At 33 I couldn’t lie down and let my body break from the inside out.
When I arrived, I felt out of place. I was sat in a room with ex-army, avid walkers and people who clearly had far more experience at this sort of thing than me. For god sake, I’d been out of the hospital less than 12 hours! Looking back on it now, it was clearly an issue of mind over matter; my body was bruised and broken but my mind was finally in control. I left that meeting certain I would get to Everest base camp and I would prove not only to myself but hopefully inspire others to keep fighting!
We are so proud of Jo, deciding to embark on this amazing venture and we are so grateful she wants to share it with her BeYou followers. We love the message she wants to spread to others about endometriosis and we can’t wait to see how she gets on. If you would like to see more of Jo you can follow her on Instagram and her Just Giving page.
Stay tuned for the rest of Jo’s Base Camp Diaries, coming very soon!
Meet the Author
Jo is a part of our lovely BeYou ambassador team. When she isn't reppin' BeYou, she is working as a medical secretary or training to climb Mount Everest!