Alicia Garrigos suffered from sciatica pain, limited mobility, debilitating cramps and heavy bleeding for eight years before a doctor finally took a closer look at her “mysterious” symptoms.
When she was 16, the Melbourne swimming instructor began suffering from fatigue, acid reflux and inexplicable pain, seemingly out of nowhere.
Speaking to FEMAIL, Alicia, now 20, said she went to countless health experts who insisted that if she wanted to get her heavy periods under control, she simply needed to exercise more and change her diet.
Now she knows her distressing symptoms are due to endometriosis – a disease in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus and causes severe pain.
“It was really horrible going through it all alone,” she said. “I had a lot of anxiety and depression.” “I felt like I was crazy and it was all in my head – I kept trying to convince myself I was fine, but there were days when I wasn’t was able to walk once.”
Alicia’s pain was often downplayed by her classmates because they thought it was “exaggerated” and “dramatic” – but the truth came to light when a surgeon discovered lesions on her ovaries and abdominal wall.
Alicia Garrigos suffered from sciatica pain, limited mobility, debilitating cramps and heavy bleeding for eight years before a doctor finally took a closer look at the cause of her “mysterious” symptoms
Alicia’s symptoms began when she got her first period at age 12.
“I always had a lot of pain and cramps, but I thought it was because I was getting used to periods.”
“My family doctor put me on contraception when I was 16. I took the Implanon stick, took three different pills, the Mirena IUD and Depo – a contraceptive shot.”
“The doctors seemed to have a strange obsession with my periods being heavier because I wasn’t thin,” she said.
“They kept suggesting that I change my diet and exercise more.” They said I wasn’t eating properly because I was a vegetarian and wanted me to go back to eating meat to increase my iron levels. But the only reason it was low was because I was losing so much blood.
“Now that I’m on two contraceptives and don’t get my period anymore, my iron is completely fine.”
When she was 16, the Melbourne swimming instructor began suffering from fatigue, acid reflux and inexplicable pain, seemingly out of nowhere
Alicia went to a gynecologist for the first time when she was 18 and was shocked when the man tried to talk her out of everything.
“He said I didn’t have anything, definitely not endometriosis, and that I was too young to have any problems. “He said it was just a period and I could deal with it with contraceptives.
“He hardly asked me any questions, it felt like he just wanted to get me out the door and wasn’t interested in my pain.” It was hurtful considering I paid so much to see him .
“But I knew he had to be wrong. My period was so heavy that I bled through everything. “My sciatic nerve pain spread to my legs and I could barely move, let alone walk.”
Alicia’s pain has subsided since the surgery, but there is no future where she won’t need hormonal contraceptives, strong painkillers and anti-inflammatories
Alicia’s mother, a nurse, eventually found a family doctor who specialized in women’s health – the first doctor to consider endometriosis.
“I was referred to a surgeon and she found lesions along my abdominal wall, pouch of Douglas, ligaments and on my ovaries,” she said.
Alicia’s pain has subsided since the surgery, but there is no future where she won’t need hormonal contraceptives, strong painkillers and anti-inflammatories.
“I still have nerve pain, stomach upset, severe reflux and all the other symptoms I had before.”
“The doctors had no way of dealing with them, so I’ll have to find my own way to deal with them with the help of a nutritionist and over-the-counter medication.” “I’ll probably need another operation if it gets worse again.”