body image with endometriosis
One of the dreaded symptoms of endometriosis is, “endo belly.” It is when your reproductive organs and scar tissue create inflammation. This leaves the stomach to look..well..bloated, pregnant, uncomfortable.
Nothing about having endometriosis is sexy. Common symptoms include gastrointestinal issues, chronic pelvic pain, and pain with intercourse. It affects the way you live your life. To add a cherry on top, your stomach swells up and it is a guessing game to decide what the trigger was this time. It is especially a smack in the face that you look pregnant and infertility is an effect of endometriosis as well.
When I started my restaurant job I was at the start of the disease progressing. I would drive from Connecticut to Boston with my pants unbuttoned because I was too bloated. I had to buy baggy or larger shirts to cover my stomach. Sometimes I was in so much pain, when I looked in the mirror and it would show, I just cried. I would just cry looking at my reflection and would feel so defeated by my own body.
I mentioned endo belly in a previous post about being your own advocate and I shared that people with endometriosis tend to shy away from taking photos of their endo belly because it can make you feel worse. It sure can, but for me it was validating to have a photo of what my pain does to me when every doctor told me there was nothing wrong.
No, my stomach has never been perfect. I have struggled in the past with how I see myself. There are things I would have changed about my body if I could. When endometriosis started to take away pieces of myself, I learned to have more empathy for my body. I just appreciated the days when I did not have to wear compression socks under my fall boots, where I did not have to wear a back brace in between shifts at work. Where my stomach did not feel like little baby sharks were eating away at my insides. (Sorry for that mental image.) When I did not have to sit down in the shower-
The list goes on.
Here is a before and after photo. **Not a weight loss photo. Endo belly vs no endo belly.
I am ever so grateful for the healing that has taken place since my surgery. I still have my bad days with this disease, and I always will, but the surgery gave me more days that I can enjoy!
Even though I have my scars- I see my belly, my body, in a different light now. It has gone through so much, and reminds me of the fight I have kept.