I recently had my left ovary and fallopian tube removed via laparoscopy. They were frozen to the left of my pelvis and my gynecologist removed them along with the endometrial growths in my pelvic area. He said my endometriosis was very bad and had the medical students watching my procedure reiterate the same while I was still in a daze of anesthesia in the hospital. In the big scheme of things, losing an ovary and tube is not a big deal. Countless others have lost worse. I can still function to a certain point, but I can’t help grieve their loss.
I originally went in to get a big endometrioma on my ovary removed after having gone through routine vaginal ultrasounds to monitor its growth—as if it was a bomb about to detonate. I do really like my doctor because he is attentive, sensitive, and gave me a big hug before my procedure. He’s semi-retired and white, and I actually wouldn’t trade him for a woman. I know I’m lucky in this respect.
Having endometriosis is extremely painful and burdensome; it’s a state in which you must be as still as possible, otherwise, the sharp corner of a heavy wooden dresser weighing down on you will finally cave into your ovary and crush it into nonexistence. Or the even sharper edge of a metal bar will do worse damage. You learn to develop a heightened awareness and stillness while grudgingly accepting, for the moment, that your desires and wishes in life will somehow and hopefully manifest. The sheer anger and depression resulting from this consignment to pain—such visceral pain—is enough for one to want to destroy everything.
As horrific as this disease is, rendering you an invalid for months at a time, if not a week or more per month during your period years, I am grateful for it all. If it wasn’t for this disease, I would not have been introduced to balance, self-nurture and care, and learning how to draw healthy boundaries with others. There’s a huge learning curve involved; trying to find a level of balance and harmony amidst what feels like a constant nightmare is quite elusive.
Many years ago and ten days before my 23rd birthday, I had a large ovarian cyst, which had to be removed immediately for fear of it bursting or having internal bleeding. I was told I would likely lose my ovary and was in emergency (invasive) surgery the morning after I saw my doctor. Fortunately, my ovary was saved. But I had to take the semester off from law school due to a three-month recovery. I plowed through the last year and a half of school on birth control to ‘graduate on time’ and not incur additional costs.
Needless to say, given the other horrors of life, my 20s were awful—but thankfully, and haphazardly, I found acupuncture helped with pain relief and other crippling symptoms like body heaviness, constant dizziness, vertigo, leg pain, breathing difficulty, heart palpitations, and numbness (do I even have legs?), among numerous others. I found much relief through acupuncture along with Chinese herbs, and a few craniosacral therapy treatments, going off pain medications like Naproxen, Vioxx, and tons of Advil (gotta have my m&ms and there is still just little relief).
Acupuncture also helped in that I felt I had an organic method to lighten my endometriosis symptoms. I did not have to live off pills or go through numerous laparoscopies. My perspective is that with the pain relief provided through acupuncture, maybe we can avoid multiple procedures. I did have an outpatient procedure six years ago to remove an ovarian polyp. Plop plop, fiss fiss, oh what a relief it is. The exhaustion never leaves you, though.
For many of us, Covid has been a trying time. I was unable to see my acupuncturist for six months in 2020 and ended up having minor and major bleeding for two months straight. The number of pads you go through starts numbing your mind and senses. So exhausted, I felt like I had been whacked with that stupid metal bar over and over again. It took me over a year to get somewhat back on track, with another month of terrifying bleeding in between. You exist as an eternally leaking faucet. After fourteen years off birth control, I am now on progestin.
All these years, I felt I wasn’t an Empress yet, one who is abundant, healthy, beautiful and elated. I always envisioned myself having a ‘clean second chakra,’ being a total Goddess or Queen. You come to accept that even though you feel like a Queen on some level and look good wearing your Indian outfits, matching jewelry, and decent make up, you still see blood everywhere: underneath your dress and in the perimeters around you, at gatherings, meetings, all around the house. You feel beautiful, but it’s a marred beauty. Something is never whole.
I guess you can’t keep complaining if you’ve struggled through these expectations for healing, expecting for things to be ‘better,’ ‘cleaner,’ ‘prettier,’ and ‘healed,’ even though those aren’t the results in front of you. Because the results that stand in front of you, regardless of how you perceive them, are the process of healing. This was a realization for me. These heavy rocks in my womb are part of my path. They’re my pattern, my power and powerlessness, my death and rebirth filled with cataclysmic changes, ultimate lows yet moments of elation in between.
The summer before my surgery in law school, I completed a legal internship at an NGO in Delhi, India. When I came back, I went for an advanced Bharatanatyam (Indian classical dance) training in Virginia. I noticed some intense pain there when I got my period, and further pain one month later led me to my gynecologist. Bharatanatyam is one of a few classical dances from India and it's a dance form I fell in love with at age seven. The Lord of Dance in Indian dance is Nataraja, or Shiva, God of Destruction and Rebirth. His consort, or 'other half,' is Parvati, the embodiment of Power and Shakti, or Strength. Shiva and Parvati are depicted in one body as Nataraja in a dance pose, portraying the masculine and feminine forces of our greater Universe. I feel such a strong connection and love for Shiva/Parvati, processing my life experience and energy through dance and inner manifestation of Shakti and the Divine Feminine. This artistic process has also been about conquering inner and outer demons, destroying much of my ignorance and coming to my personal power. Art, I believe, is about coming to harmony and agreement. Dance has helped me understand how to make the masculine and feminine parts of me agree with each other and come to periodic states of harmony after much turbulence and chaos.
My shocking experience in law school thrust me into a different and unexpected path in life, one that I’m still coming to terms with years later. Instead of becoming a 9 to 5 lawyer with a controlled uterus who does her dance stuff on weekends, I became a conflict resolution professional, astrologer, and test prep tutor. I plunged into spirituality and psychosomatic healing and trauma work, all while juggling a wild schedule and with one too many naps. I took my years of dance training and arranged dance events with fellow artists in artsy-fartsy Pittsburgh. Basically, I wake up after my naps feeling a deep panic over my slim winnings, but I had to move home to build this dream. It’s been a wild ride that I chose because it expressed my authenticity.
I’ve learned compassion and caring for myself and others because I know what it’s like to be completely submerged under heavy furniture and threatened by the various metal rods that surround us. Transforming suffering is not easy whatsoever. I hope that I come into further acceptance and joy along with others with endometriosis and that whatever it is that wants to be created through my ovary eventually manifests. In between all the wretchedly painful moments, I hope you also find healing and warmth in between. Peace.
Anjali is an evolutionary astrologer, certified mediator and dance artist and has formed online conflict resolution curriculums for youth at conflictresolutioned.
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*Patient stories submitted to EndoFound.org are the views of the patient and not necessarily those of the foundation. All testimonials are from real patients, and may not reflect the typical patient’s experience, and are not intended to represent or guarantee that anyone will achieve the same or similar results.