Having a chronic illness, Molly thought, was like being invaded. Her grandmother back in Michigan used to tell about the day one of their cows got loose and wandered into the parlor, and the awful time they had getting her out. That was exactly what Molly's arthritis was like: as if some big old cow had got into her house and wouldn't go away. It just sat there, taking up space in her life and making everything more difficult, mooing loudly from time to time and making cow pies, and all she could do really was edge around it and put up with it. When other people first became aware of the cow, they expressed concern and anxiety. They suggested strategies for getting the animal out of Molly's parlor: remedies and doctors and procedures, some mainstream and some New Age. They related anecdotes of friends who had removed their own cows in one way or another. But after a while they had exhausted their suggestions. Then they usually began to pretend that the cow wasn't there, and they preferred for Molly to go along with the pretense.
Few things a doctor does are more important than relieving pain. . . pain is soul destroying. No patient should have to endure intense pain unnecessarily. The quality of mercy is essential to the practice of medicine; here, of all places, it should not be strained.
The trouble with chronic pain is that it is so easy to become accustomed to it, both mentally and physically. At first it's absolutely agonizing; it's the only thing you think about, like a rock in your shoe that rubs your foot raw with every step. Then the constant rubbing, the pain and the limp all become part of the status quo, the occasional stabbing pain just a reminder. You are so set to endure, hunched against it - and when it starts to ease, you don't really notice, until the absence washes over you like a balm.
When all you know is pain you don’t know that that is not normal. It is not a woman’s lot to suffer, even if we’ve been raised that way. It is not OK to miss a part of your life because of pain and excessive bleeding. It is not OK to be bed-ridden for two-to-three days a month. It is not OK to pain during sex. It is not OK to have major bloating or nausea." (Address, 2011 Endometriosis Foundation of America Blossom Ball )
If your body is screaming in pain, whether the pain is muscular contractions, anxiety, depression, asthma or arthritis, a first step in releasing the pain may be making the connection between your body pain and the cause. Beliefs are physical. A thought held long enough and repeated enough becomes a belief. The belief then becomes biology.
It's not easy to diagnose because depending where the endometrial deposits are, the symptoms can be quite different. It's an unrecognized problem among teenage girls, and it's something that every young woman who has painful menstruation should be aware of ... it's a condition that is curable if it's caught early. If not, if it's allowed to run on, it can cause infertility, and it can really mess up your life. [Author Hilary Mantel on being asked about being a writer with endometriosis, Nov 2012 NPR interview]
But I had to think to myself that this was normal, because that was the attitude. I was 19 when I went to see my doctor and I was told it was all in the mind. [Author Hilary Mantel on being told her endometriosis was imagined pain, From Oct 2009 Daily Mail interview]