Ain’t I a Woman?
On December 26th 2013, parents everywhere were lounging at home, breathing a sigh of relief at having purchased, put together and presented another year’s holiday toys, perhaps even complaining about the expense and exertion of it all. I, on the other hand, was laying in a hospital recovery room, trying to wrap my mind around the news. Stage 4 endometriosis, Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus (endometrial implant). Although not fatal, may cost me the lives of my future children.
The symptoms slipped by me like Chicago black ice. Ever since I was a teen I’ve suffered severe cramps during “that time of the month” so I thought it was normal.
I attributed the pain that sometimes accompanied “being with” a man, as just part of a woman’s work. Not so. Uncomfortable talks with our daughters can prevent their physical discomfort later. I have chosen to be transparent so that other women can hopefully see more clearly and close the window of opportunity of this happening to them or their girls. Years after receiving my childhood vaccinations I am now an adult (trying not to cry like a baby) enduring Lupron shots every four weeks to prayerfully reverse my diagnosis.
The word hysterectomy has been tossed around by my doctors like a beach ball if, after six months of shot treatments, my ultrasound still reveals that “It’s Endo!” But I’m not so sure about this proposed solution. Although at age 45 I had begun to resolve myself to a permanent unmarried with no children status-- it’s one thing to make that decision for yourself; it’s a whole other ball game to have someone else make that decision for you. It’s like I’m ok dog paddling around in shallow waters, but I’ll be doggone if I venture into deep, shark-infested territory. I am drowning in doubt. Not to mention, these hot flash side effects have me in a constant Caribbean state. Yeah Mon.
What if, right after the surgery, I finally meet “The One.” Will my husband-to-be-- be ok with this decision? Sojourner Truth fought for the rights of her children and begged the question, “Ain’t I a woman?” Now here I am asking the same.
Am I less of a woman if I never have children? And how can I still live a life that’s full and free of discomfort in spite of a condition that is fast becoming the fate of nearly 176 million females? While contemplating when, and what will happen if I get an engagement ring, I was fortunate enough to meet a woman who has stepped inside the ring and decided to face endometriosis head on.
Michelle N. Johnson is the president and lead therapist of Essential~E Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, Inc. She is also a survivor and awareness advocate who, along with the Endometriosis Association, seeks to “Educate, Enlighten, and Empower” others through her annual awareness campaign, Fighting Fiercely. With medical experts that include, but are not limited to gynecologists, physical therapists, and nutritionists, her Fighting Fiercely events reveal exactly what the opponent (Endo) is, so that women can make the moves (educated decisions) necessary to defend themselves. But what struck me most was her willingness to take her boxing gloves off, let her guard down, and share her own personal experience.
Ms. Johnson offers a wealth of information, but she is equally rich with compassion. “You are not alone” has echoed from my encounter with her and gotten me through these first few months. Because of Michelle’s efforts I am encouraged to get up off of the mat of depression and despair; train my mind, body and spirit; and demand a rematch.
One of the many definitions of a mother is an originator, creator and founder of something. In this case, it says to us that our sister Michelle Johnson is all things maternal. As for endometriosis…Momma said knock you out…and with Michelle’s help, we will!
Michelle N. Johnson’s free support group, Fighting Fiercely for You, starts Monday, April 28th 6-8pm at Overflow Café/Day Star Center.
For more information on the definition, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and most of all support for endometriosis visit or email:
Log onto www.pigsdontwearpearls.com for details.Follow Celeste on Twitter @PigsDWPearls
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Tags: Celeste T. Parker, endometriosis, Essential-E Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, health, health awareness, Michelle N. Johnson, motherhood, mothers, Pigs Don't Wear Pearls Bedtime Stories That Awaken Your Child to the Gem That Lies Within