0121: Invisible Illness

"Invisible Illness," Samantha Urban

In March, we wear yellow for endometriosis awareness. 

Living with a chronic disease is not only physically exhausting but mentally and emotionally as well. I, like 1 in 10 women in this country, suffer from endometriosis. This disease causes the lining of my uterus to grow where it isn’t supposed to be. It causes scarring and cysts in its wake. 

Endometriosis lowers my immune system and causes me to get sick easier. It also causes flare ups, even when I am not on my period, endometriosis still likes to remind me that it’s not going anywhere.

I was diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 16. Shortly after I was prescribed birth control to keep the symptoms at bay. Unfortunately, that didn’t work for me. So, at the age of 18 I was put into a medically induced menopause. I had all the symptoms that those women going through natural menopause naturally had. Mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats. I felt bad for those around me as I was like Jekyll and Hyde during this time. When that didn’t work, I had surgery at the age of 20 to find out the extent of the disease.

It turns out it was worse than my doctor initially thought.

The endometrial cells were on my bowels, my bladder, inside my Fallopian tubes, and around my ovaries. There was a lot of scar tissue that had to be removed. Shortly after surgery at the young age of 20, I was told that motherhood was more than likely not possible. Granted, I have always been on the fence about wanting a baby, but I digress. 

Luckily, I have a very supportive partner throughout all of this. He knows what I go through on a regular basis and is okay with the fact that I may not be able to bear a child. He is also very supportive with knowing all the pain that I go through, he is always willing to help me. 

Now, at the age of 27 and being in a long term committed relationship I get asked the same questions very frequently, “When are, you getting pregnant?” “When are you having a baby?” “Do you want children?” Though these people aren’t aware of what is going on inside my body, they are still frustrating questions. I must be put on the spot and think of an answer to this question as to not go into detail about what is happening with me.

I usually say, “I am not ready yet.” “I have so many things I still want to do.” 

It’s crazy to think that 1 in 10 women suffer from this disease and there isn’t much education out there for people. With March being Endometriosis Awareness month, I wanted to get my story out there and let people know, who are suffering from this illness that they are not alone. It’s going to be okay. I also wanted to get my story out there to say, that even though something can’t be seen or isn’t actually tangible doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist and people aren’t suffering. 

About the art:

Samantha's story is pretty straightforward, and lays out a pretty clear image of the unfortunate nature of living with endometriosis. Her words bring to the surface a common illness that is rarely discussed. So I wanted to take the inspiration of her words and use a quote that I found when doing a simple search for endometriosis awareness. And the yellows were the obvious color choices. I wanted this piece to be bright and clean, and vibrant. I think this piece encompasses Samantha's story very well and I hope her words inspire more folks to share their experiences.

- Craig.