Endometriosis Awareness Month | A Personal Connection

Happy Endometriosis Awareness Month!

This year the occasion has become dear to me as there has been a big personal health journey update on my end- and I’m excited to finally be sharing it with you.

Many of you know that my health journey started with symptoms of PCOS, and IBS and how that lead me to wanting to share all the data I could about my symptoms and lifestyle with my doctors. What I could not have imagined was that that core motivation around building flöka- communicating faster, deeper and better with my providers to get to the root cause faster- would lead me to a huge discovery in my own health… and give me a new lease on life.

That is that power of what you do, and data together. Now let me tell you why.

When the first version of flöka finally got built- bingo! I was now finally able to share all of my cycles, sleep nutrition, symptoms, sleep etc with providers I’d hired to help me. Woo! It took long enough! Annoying expiring screenshots (and my terrible handwriting)-free! Although I’d made progress in my health journey, I was still really struggling. And the struggle was getting worse. I thought- let’s finally try this out to see what finally sharing all of my data will bring me. I didn’t know for sure if it was going to work, but I had a feeling that- the better inputs I could get an educated, intelligent practitioner- the better outputs and therefore outcomes. It was also my last hope. I chose an incredible flöka-enthusaistic provider and… she (spoiler alert!) changed my life.

Within the first 1:1 session of the program that she hosts on flöka - she said “looking at your symptoms you’re an endo-babe”. Now I’d learn that endometriosis is such a beautiful case for an integrative approach. If you have it, you want to surgically remove the tissue that grows outside your uterus from your body to get a blank slate - and then you want to do all things lifestyle and functional medicine to prevent it from coming back. So that’s what I endeavored to do. But first, I’d have to convince a series of docs to refer me to an OBGYN surgeon and then convince whoever that person is to operate.

Had I gone into it without the data, and the encouragement of an allied women’s health expert I trust- I know that even I would not have been able to advocate for myself as I did. For a decade I still had no diagnosis. But armed with the data and her encouragement, I persisted from one referral to the next and advocated for myself. “No”, I would say assertively repeatedly “birth control isn’t going to fix the root cause of my issue”.

Did I have doubts? Did I ever. The day of the excision surgery there were a lot of unknowns. You don’t know until after the surgery if you have endometriosis. I looked at the 3 doctors and 4 nurses in the surgery room from the operating table. Was I wasting everyone’s time? I didn’t want to have the disease, but that is where a lot of minds go.

When I woke up for the surgery, apparently I asked the nurses 7 times if I had the disease. Fun anasthesia. But it was everywhere. My surgeon phoned my mum and she cried. Symptoms that had plagued me for years in very specific areas finally made sense. I wasn’t crazy. I was just told for years of my life that feeling this way was normal. And it was now, finally, out of my body.

So that, my dear friend, is the power of data matched with the power of you. Women need the data + you, a trained health professional that empowers them to advocate for their root-cause solution. Our bodies are always talking to us. They are leaving traces. Maybe they are symptoms, sleep patterns- you name it. But where disease is the traces always follow. And if you can see them all represented via data in one place- it can a) speed up time to insight (decreasing time in pain), b) become an allied resource for advocating for the care a patient needs, and c) become an incredible accountability tool for long term lifestyle change- that’s what we’ll always be working to build. To be the best, most proactive and most useful it can possibly be.

The surgery has changed my whole life, and health- it’s amazing what removing inflammation out of your body can do for you! I feel like my twenties were marked by being chronically ill. And my thirties, I am determined, they will be about thriving.

“I knew it” I find myself saying to myself.

“I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel”.

I know that you are that light to so many. The excitement that comes from being a part of changing even one life is what drives us. Of this I know for sure: in the words of Maya “you have no idea what your legacy will be”.

On behalf of patients everywhere- thank you for being the type of person who cares. And the type of provider who goes deeper.

Until next time- I wish you true wellbeing,

- Vanessa