My name is Maria Giovanna Melarosa. I was born 41 years ago in Catania Sicily, Italy.
Since a young age, I was always sick and in pain. I would struggle with nausea, dizziness, and no doctor could tell my parents what was wrong with me. Actually, they would say it’s nothing and it’s probably because I was beginning to menstruate and for some young women that happens.
I started my period when I was 14. I was the latest of all the girls I knew. Everyone else had already started around 10 and 12, but I didn’t think too much of it. I told my mom, I guess I am different than most girls my age…and wasn’t I right?
I remember many times I had to miss school for excruciating pain during my period; I would cry so much that my eyes would swell up.
My parents thought maybe I was just weak and couldn’t handle a little bit of cramps and my sister used to make fun of me and no one understood what kind of pain and distress I was in.
I never knew my periods and the pain I felt were not normal.
Fast forward to the age of 22 when I had my first child, and I had an abnormal pap smear, followed by a colposcopy and biopsy.
That’s where I found out the presence of abnormal cells… and it was suggested I go to see this specialist, who right away told me “I think you have endometriosis, but I can’t diagnose it until I do a laparoscopy and determine from there.”
So, I went through my first laparoscopy and I was diagnosed with stage 4 endometriosis. It was then that all of the pain I endured for so many years had a name and made sense to me and my family.
At 38, I had to go for an hysterectomy. My periods were so bad I would hemorrhage and when I went in to be checked they found I also had Adenomyosis.
I lost my uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and now 3 years later I am about to go back in for another laparoscopy.
Sex is painful, I have bowel movements if I don’t find a toilet right away, and the pain leave me in tears. I feel like someone is stabbing me and I deal with chronic fatigue and body aches every single day.
I am a mom of 5 and I am blessed that I had this many kids, knowing that endometriosis can cause infertility, but I do feel like this disease has not allowed me to be myself.
I can’t be the mom, friend, sister, daughter, or girlfriend that I would like to be.
My oldest daughter (almost 17), doesn’t understand why I am always in bed. She tells me at times, “Come on mom, you are 41 but you act like if you were 80.” But no matter how much I try to explain to my kids, they don’t get it and I don’t expect them to, because it’s my pain and they never felt it, so they don’t know what it means to live with such awful disease.
My hope is that we will find a cure or that endometriosis will be recognized as a disability because endometriosis is a debilitating illness. I haven’t been able to have a job for about 5 years, I have had to live in a homeless shelter twice, and now I live in a housing program with minimum to live off.
We need more help to understand endometriosis, find a cure, and help women who suffer.
-Maria Giovanna Melarosa