liana lozada endometriosis surgery day

I Have Endometriosis: A Personal Note on International Women’s Day

In Lifestyle, Meanderings by Liana Lozada

Okay, friends, family and colleagues, I have been lying to most of you for the past several months. Sorry, but I’m not sorry.

For those of you have been wondering, “Where the hell has Liana been?”

On Wednesday, March 2, I underwent laparoscopic surgery which confirmed something I long knew was there—endometriosis. If this sounds familiar, it is the same condition that has recently made headlines via Lena Dunham, and Padma Lakshmi before her. My chronic condition had an intense flare up last fall, leading me down an exhaustingly painful but necessary journey. My body has made it very clear what it needs, and that is rest. I need so much rest that I am already sick of my bed. I am actually pretty amazed that I got anything done over the last few months.

So why didn’t I tell everyone sooner? Well, I did not want to. I was not ready. I asked my loved ones to respect that decision, and thankfully they obliged. I did not have the answers that such a prognosis would require. The decision to undergo surgery was very personal, one that I chose to share intimately with just my immediate family, my wonderful boyfriend, and my closest friends. Some people even found out the day before I went in. I also did not want it to affect my work, which may or may not have been a selfish move. To those who may have sensed something, I thank you for your patience and understanding.

And why now? Two reasons. For one, I’m tired of having to keep this a secret. I’m tired of feeling like I need to come up with an excuse when I say ‘no’ to things. I need to hold myself accountable to my body’s needs and that is so much easier when it is just out there. I’m tired of being so damn tired.

Secondly, my condition has been with me since my teens. I have been misdiagnosed at least four times. I was told I was “too young” to deal with my issues at 25. Then at 29, my body went so haywire that not acting on it could have eliminated my ability to have to children. IT DID NOT HAVE TO GET THIS FAR. And while I still don’t know if little ones will be in my future, I wanted that choice. I also wanted 15 years of physical torment to cease. One thing is certain, though: My endometriosis will return. This condition is chronic and I will only get a real-ish reprieve on the day I chose to have a hysterectomy (unless my cells have grown in other odd places). In the meantime, I will be combining eastern philosophies with modern medicine to build a long-term wellness plan. I will be starting a new medication this week, so if anyone has been down this road, I would love to hear feedback about the pills they had to take.

Women need to know that this problem is very real, and their partners need to know what they are up against. Women put so much—too much—on their shoulders. We must listen to our bodies first and foremost. Today, I got a first glimpse of what my doctor saw when he cut me open. Seeing photos of these growths and the chaos that they created was such an emotionally validating experience. They were right there in front of me—I could not deny them anymore.

Ladies, we don’t have to keep feeling so guilty about not being able to do things. Boundaries are a necessity. Our bodies are not taboo. We are the carriers of life and we should always feel empowered when making decisions that might affect that choice.

To the women who have been my guide through this, thank you. I adore you. You know who you are. I thank you for easing my fears, for sharing your experiences with me and for urging me to make this happen. I am incredibly thankful to have such a wonderful circle of love and support around me and I realize that some people can’t say the same.

I will be chronicling my here; given that it was International Women’s Day, I thought a little heads up was appropriate. My story has been purchased by SELF Magazine. I urge anyone who suspects that they – or their daughter(s), sister(s), friend (s)—might have this condition to reach out—research, ask questions, change doctors (this was CRUCIAL for me). Don’t be afraid to demand more.

Women are magic. Happy International Women’s Day!