This Tuesday, I had my first Zoladex injection to treat for Endometriosis. This is scary, but far less scary than what went on the week (and years) before. I will pause to say there is a content warning here for bleeding, miscarriage, infertility and related trauma.
These injections were initially suggested a few months ago, but as they work by putting you into a temporary menopause, and we have been trying to conceive for so long, I turned down the suggestion with the support of my GP. Last week wiped all other cards off the table however, and put conception far from my mind. I’ll start by talking a little bit about me specifically, and then by discussing Zoladex.
I have always had horrific periods. Right from the get go – which was in primary school, as I remember having to use the teacher’s toilets, as the girl’s ones didn’t have sanitary bins – they were horrendous. Heavy, excruciating pain, irregular, and demobilizing, they would leave me anemic and sick, and impact so much more of my body than just my womb. Over the years this has only become worse, with the pain becoming constant, and there being a deep fear of when they would turn up.
Last week was exactly like this, but in flare. I started bleeding normally the previous Tuesday. The pain became increasingly awful, until by the Sunday night I could hardly move. I had done a pregnancy test to check I wasn’t miscarrying again, and it has been negative. I had an incident that evening where I lost so much blood and such a large blood clot, I considered ringing an ambulance. I’m hindsight I probably should have. Monday morning I spoke to my usual GP, who suggested we now consider Zoladex, and prescribed something to dry up the bleedimg. By Monday afternoon it was worse, and I saw a different GP, who specializes in women’s health. I have seen her before on several occasions, and I’m glad she was the doctor available on this day. We discussed how the word “endometriosis” hovers over all my notes without with confirmed either way, and how all the evidence points towards it being the case. This was done to the degree we were both using the term endometriosis to describe what was going on, the conclusion being it was an endometriosis flare. We also touched briefly on the situation back in May, and how that has been very similar.
My GP called me on the Wednesday morning to see how I was doing, and asked if I had thought some more about Zoladex. I had thought long and hard, asked friends for their opinions, and spoken to my husband, and come to the conclusion that trying Zoladex was the right decision. This wasn’t an easy decision. We have been dealing with infertility for several years now, have had two miscarriages, and allowing my hormones to be shut down, completely knowing for sure there was no chance of conception, was something that I cried about. But as I sat there, in pain, holding a hot water bottle to my abdomen, dosed up on oramorph because the pain was so bad, the real truth of it was that there was no chance of conception with pain so horrific, and with this not being an isolated incident, it was a difficult truth to face, but a truth nonetheless. The reality is that I currently live my life in accordance of my menstrual cycles, with things being so awful, and that’s no way to live. It seems inconceivable to me that anyone could have their period and not be completely crippled by it.
By making the decision to go onto Zoladex, I was hoping to have some attempt at the myth of normal. To not have my every week controlled by pain, and cramps, and worry, and blood. Because whilst no period is ever the blissful joy any sanitary towel advert would like imagine us to think it is, blue liquid included, it would be rather pleasant to not have my every waking moment demanding attention by my reproductive system. I was warned that it would not be unusual for no difference to be felt in the first month, but that in month two, hopefully there should be some improvement.
And so the appointment was made for the following Tuesday (fuck sorry that sounded almost Victorian, I do apologise), with the specialist nurse who does these treatments. It was referred to as an “injection”, but in reality, was an implant. The safety syringe worked almost like a push tip pen; there was a tiny implant at the tip of a rather large needle. The nurse took a large pinch of flesh in my abdomen with me laying on the medical bed (I swear I have never been rather so glad to be curvaceous….) and pushed the tip down with the needle at a specific angle. Releasing the press down top caused the needle to retract swiftly, with a sharp feeling. All of this said, I didn’t even bleed. It was done very quickly, and whilst it was not painless, the week before had been so agonizing, it was well worth the hope of things being different.
I was informed that this implant will be injected into alternating sides every time it is done, and that to expect some localized sensitivity for a few days. It was noted down as “minor procedure”, and ultimately that was that.
Zoladex is a treatment commonly used in treating both prostate and breast cancer, as it suppresses the hormones from growing, and so works to help with these condtions. It works with endometriosis by stopping the estrogen levels rising, and so stopping the patches of endometriosis bleeding. It is at least a non-surgurical approach to tackling endo pain. There are certainly issues with the approach, the main being the hormone suppression and the side effects that causes. That said, the approach is also logical, and makes perfect sense, as long as I can tolerate the impact of the treatment itself.
I’m slightly apprehensive about screwing with my hormones, as previously this has impacted on my mental health, but the flip side of this hesitation is that I have worked tirelessly on my mental health since this last issue, so to judge my previous stability without consideration towards this would be foolish.
So for now, my approach to both my Zoladex as an entity, and the side effects it may give me, for I am very aware that living in a temporary menopause is not a delightful state of affairs. But in the name of all things yarnie, I cannot keep going in this never ending menstrual monster cycle.
So keep your ovaries crossed, peeps. And your balls if you don’t have them!