I want to reach a wide range of women through All Eyes Up and one way I feel like I can achieve that is by asking other unicorn women to share their unique and interesting experiences as they walk through womanhood. I attended high school with Adrienne, and even though we were never super close, I have kept in contact via social media. I learnt through her raw honesty and courage that she battles Endometriosis. I asked her a few questions and asked if I could share her responses.
We would love to know more about you. Can you tell us five fun facts about yourself?
1. I was bitten by two different dogs within the space of two weeks – one bit me on the calf and one bit me on the lip (12 stitches later). I haven’t had a third one. Yet.
2. I broke my leg in half ice-skating in 2006 after I was told not to go by my parents (wow, there’s a pattern here!)
3. I met John Travolta in 2019 and it was one of the greatest moments of my life.
4. I met my husband on Plenty of Fish, we moved in together within five months of meeting, got engaged at our six-month dating anniversary and were married a year later! When you know, you know. We have been married for 3 years this year!
5. I was originally born in Echuca, Victoria and moved to Campbelltown when I was 4.
When did you first hear about Endometriosis?
I first heard about endometriosis in 2011 (I was 16) when I saw a gastro-intestinal specialist, I had been in pain for a period of time and my doctor has first referred me to see if that was the issue. I remember the specialist mentioning Endometriosis but I had never heard of it, I specifically remember him asking were my periods abnormal (which they weren’t) so he quickly detoured away from that diagnosis and went towards the IBS path. In the meantime (six of so months later) I had done my own research and when another symptom had appeared (painful sex) I addressed it with my amazing GP who straight away referred me to a gynaecologist. Sitting in the gynaecologist’s office he concluded that this was most likely what I had. I sat there and he spoke to my mother and I and stated that once I had a laparoscopy he would have cured me and life would continue as normal (biggest lie I’ve ever been told). I was unaware that symptoms I’d previously pushed aside did all relate to endometriosis (really painful periods, its all part of being a woman?). Some common symptoms of endometriosis are fatigue, pain that stops you on or around your period, pain on or around ovulation, pain during or after sex, pain with bowel movements, pain when you urinate, pain in your pelvic region, lower back or legs, having trouble holding on when you have a full bladder or having to go frequently and heavy bleeding or irregular bleeding.
How long did it take you to get a diagnosis? Are you still waiting?
I am one of the lucky women who didn’t wait too long from first presenting to my GP to getting an actual diagnosis, on average however it can take a woman 10-12 years to be diagnosed. However, I wish I could say that having that early diagnosis meant that I was able to get on top of everything and I’m pain free – this is unfortunately not the case. When I first saw my gynaecologist, he assured me that I would be cured. I did not know (through lack of endometriosis education) that you can never be cured from this disease, you can certainly be pain free and symptom free however you can never be cured. Since 2011 I have had 7 laparoscopies (this is where incisions are made in the stomach area) I have been placed into medically induced menopause for 9 months, been on way too many hormones and pills and yet I am still one of those women who unfortunately is in pain every day. I am currently waiting to see my new specialist who specialises in a different type of laparoscopy which will hopefully assist in finding any hidden endometriosis, I truly believe this could be why I am still in pain daily so fingers crossed!
I have always found you to be an absolute pillar of strength and authentic beauty. What are your coping strategies?
I allow myself to cry and/or feel sorry for myself on a limited time frame, I try not to focus on it too much (although on certain days it’s very hard). I regularly speak out and post around my illness on social media, its never my intention or aim for people to feel sorry for me but rather become educated in the disease and what I experience on a daily basis. I find this is more of a venting safe space for me. I truly also believe that I was given this illness to educate people. I have had multiple women reach out over the years and have discussed their symptoms which has led to a diagnosis, I am in no way a professional, however, it is very humbling to help someone with their journey either to a diagnosis or to speak out and be raw about their own journey. There are some issues that we are afraid to speak out on and I find that by talking about them, you may give someone hope for their own journey. If I can inspire someone to speak out about their journey, I feel I have done my job.
Have you found there is enough support for you? What do you think is important to remember when women are supporting others through Endometriosis?
In my personal life I have pillars of support surrounding me. When I first met my husband, I was brutally honest with him with (that is a lie, I put up a Facebook post about endometriosis and hoped he would look into it – which he did!) After that we had a discussion around what it was and how it impacted me. I spoke to him around the fact I have been told multiple times that I will not have children naturally and potentially our road is IVF. I think its vitally important to have a support system around you that will be there for you every step of the way and pick you up when you are down – whether this is family, friends or an online support network. I do believe that there needs to be more early education on the disease – especially in high schools. I do not remember it ever being mentioned in PE class even though we learnt about PCOS. Endometriosis impacts 1 in 10 women. Out of an all-girls high school grade of 100 girls, that’s roughly 10 that will suffer. By educating women they won’t necessarily have to wait to have a diagnosis, I can only hope that further education means that one day we will have a cure. If you are concerned you have endometriosis, speak up and make sure you are listened to. Further information can be found at https://www.endometriosisaustralia.org/
Thank you so much for putting in your time to answer these questions, Adrienne. Your insight, wisdom and story impacts many and you are a hope for other women out there battling their own Endo story. I truly believe God puts others in our lives to help us through our own stuff, and you have been one of those people for me. Go give Adrienne a follow and some love over at her Instagram @adriennemaree_x and be totally inspired by this gorgeous woman.