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Medical Conference 2010 - Laura Baldi-Kuhn

Medical Conference 2010 - Laura Baldi-Kuhn

Endometriosis Foundation of America:  Medical Conference 2010

I am not going to go into further detail here, but I do want to call Laura Baldi-Kuhn up to the platform. Is she here? Laura?

The foundation did an essay contest where women were invited to tell their story with endometriosis; it was called "Take Back the Day". Laura was the winner of this contest and she is going to read her story. Thank you.

Laura Baldi-Kuhn

Thank you. First I just want to say thank you for inviting me to be here today, and this is for all the women. I am a bit choked up.

I am sorry this is a little emotional for me. This started for me when I was young, obviously, and my title is, “That Was Then:  Today We Have a Voice, Today We Have Hope. Thank you. Over the course of 20 years, I watched my entire world slowly collapse on me.

But that was then, when my days started like that of any other typical 15-year-old. As I smiled at my alpha choice I thought today is going to be a really a good day, and then halfway through the day I remember sitting in the Principal’s office waiting for my dad to show up at school, and thinking merely life is not so fair. Then it was decided in the end that other girls my age dealt with their period and they didn’t miss so much school.

We left the office, and my dad with his typical reassuring arm around my shoulder, nothing was said but we both knew the outcome. No matter how bad the pain, no matter what, I simply could not even miss one more day of school this year. Mine was an unknown, unaccepted and misunderstood disease. As I look back, I think about the years and how they take so long, and yet they go so fast.

I was in my early 20s a few weeks after my second horrific surgery. I sat in yet another office for what began to feel like routine judgment, and this time it was the office of my OB/GYN. She was a busy lady with a thriving practice. She said I was healing fine, and she wrapped up the consult and mentioned that I have this disease, endometriosis. The questions of course began pouring out of my mouth, endo, what? She said it was too complicated and she simply sent me home with a video. She believed that that would explain it all to me.

The years and half a dozen plus surgeries followed. They were painful and even sometimes unbearable, but like the essay contest said, it is about what day would you take back. If I could take back one day, it would be that day, that that doctor left me hopeless. According to the video and our follow up, there really was not much to be hopeful for. I would probably never have children, and if the pain became too much there were shots, hormones, hysterectomies. But that was then. I endured some treatments, never the hormone shots, many surgeries and from time-to-time that doctor would tell me if there was any hope in me having any children I should really try before I was 30. What did I care? I was single. I was riddled with pain, and I was hopeless.

Eventually the pain branched out and became unmanageable. In my mid 20s, I revisited that doctor, who happily informs me, that my new pain in my lower left abdominal area simply could not be from endometriosis. She recommended I seek out other types of doctors, and oddly my hope began to return. But after countless dead ends, tests and years, I found myself back in this woman's office, hopeless, and she was quite angry to see me. I mean, who was I to second guess her? I left her office sobbing and her receptionist, Maria, hugged me and slipped me the name of her doctor, an OB/GYN up the street. I felt like however small, it was a beginning.

I slowly learned that I have choices. When the pain returned again six months after my seventh surgery, the first with this new doctor, I started managing my pain with hospital visits and having medications, and sedation. As I entered my 30s childless, I lost the drive to keep my business going and I wondered if I had saved up enough to live off, perhaps until one day the pain subsided.

My mom showed up in my house one morning to comfort me. She showed up every morning to comfort me. But that morning, I remember, I sat in her arms and I cried for what seemed like years. She said one more surgery my Lauralee, and I knew I had to find answers. Time was running out, yet I refused to believe that that was it for me. I met with a dozen specialists, and I studied and I learned, and I asked a lot of questions. I became my own best advocate. If they said try hormone shots, I simply left.  If they said remove my reproductive organs, I left.

Then one day in October 2006, a complete stranger gave me the name of the endometriosis specialist that changed the course of my life. This man, his staff, their dedication, gave me a chance to re-live that one hopeless day almost 20 years ago.

Today, I am happy to announce that I live in New York with my wonderful husband Jimmy, and this October we’re happily anticipating the birth of our first child. To all the women who have, and still suffer with endometriosis, I say, that was then, today we have a voice, and today we have hope.