Selfie reveals woman’s tummy ‘nightmare’
FOR years, strangers have assumed Claudia Wright is pregnant due to her severe bloating.
But every time someone makes a comment, the 28-year-old feels like it's a cruel joke - for the reality is, she may never have kids of her own.
The Perth local suffers from endometriosis, which causes womb tissue to grow outside the uterus.
The agonising condition means she could be left infertile and unable to carry her own baby. Which makes comments about "when her baby is due" leaving Claudia feeling "devastated".
Now Claudia is sharing photographs of her bloated tummy to illustrate her endometriosis in a bid to raise awareness of the debilitating condition.
Claudia first found out she had stage four endometriosis after 16 years of being misdiagnosed.
She had previously been diagnosed with Crohn's disease at 11 years of age after suffering with excruciating lower abdomen pains, fatigue, rectal bleeding and migraines that progressively got worse.
She spent 15 years being treated for the disease, until 2017 when doctors revealed their "misdiagnosis" - which led to her researching endometriosis.
She said: "I woke up sick one day and have never got better.
"I have been going back and forth from the doctors and specialists for years. When they discharged me I took it upon myself to figure out what is wrong and get some answers.
"I was getting worse by the day and after seeing a gynaecologist and diagnosed with severe endometriosis, I thought my quality of life may improve, but it was just the start of my nightmares."
Claudia's condition is so painful she has even been forced to quit her job, and she relies on a walking stick to help her move around as it is often too painful to stand.
"I spend a lot of the time in my house and in severe pain," she said.
"I have recently purchased a walking stick that can provide me with freedom as my pain, fatigue, and level of physical impairment make me unable to stand most days."
Claudia even had specialist surgery in a bid to ease the condition, but she still suffers from bloating during her menstrual cycle.
"Surgery isn't a cure for my condition as it is a chronic illness," she said.
"I had part of my endometriosis cut out in October 2018 by the Centre for Endometriosis Care in America.
"The surgery involved separating my fused organs, a hysteroscopy, checking my fallopian tubes were clear and removing the endometriosis from my bowel and reproductive organs.
"The procedure was the gold standard of care and best treatment option to remove the disease but it doesn't mean I no longer have it."
Claudia has since been plagued with comments about her swollen belly, which has even led strangers to ask if she's pregnant.
She said it was a devastating blow every time somebody asked her when she was due, as she may never be able to have a baby of her own.
"It is a cruel joke that I can look pregnant, but I may never be pregnant," Claudia said.
"The doctor has advised for my partner Michael and I to start trying sooner rather than later as my chances are quickly decreasing.
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TRIGGER WARNING . A year ago today I started this page. . It was Father’s Day & we had a full day of plans. . I was 5 months post-op, declining rapidly, 6 weeks away from the CEC, expecting my period & absolutely desperate. Like I need expert excision or I am going to die desperate. Like if this disease doesn’t do it, I will do it myself desperate. . I so badly wanted to have a pain, nausea & anxiety free day. So badly I accidentally overdosed. . The feeling of taking too much came on slowly, but I was very much aware of it. I googled all the meds & when to seek help. I was calm & logical & probably out of my own body. . As I kept reading, the calm turned to terror & I told Michael to call an ambulance. . By the time we got to hospital I couldn’t speak. I was drenched in sweat, heart rate crazy & having uncontrollable tremors. Like, flailing everywhere. . It was definitely not the peaceful experience I imagined when I thought about using my meds the wrong way. I was terrified. . I made this account almost immediately after getting home. I didn’t even think about the name for more than 10 mins- I just knew I wanted to scream about HOW FUCKING SERIOUS ENDOMETRIOSIS IS! . The entire point of this dark post is actually a celebration. Weird, I know. . But guys, I am still here. A whole year later. Yes, I have bad mental health days like everyone, but expert excision & the hope it brought to my life changed a lot. I had doctors who wanted to listen & wanted to help - properly. . Endo is overlooked because it isn’t terminal. But the despair from living a life in severe pain that isn’t believed, or going through repeated surgeries with no successful outcomes can be. . Every time I hear of an overdose story in our community it breaks me & reminds me of the day I started this page. Like my beautiful friend Andrea said: “It feels like home because it is home”. . You are all my home, my safe space. Your stories empower me to keep going in advocating for & supporting those with this disease. . Chronic illness may have taken a lot from me, but in turn it’s given me a voice loud enough I want to use it for 176 million others. . Ps. THANK YOU for 5K. I really love you all. . 💛
"I tend to hide under baggy clothing or stay indoors when I have a flare-up because of the pain to avoid being questioned by strangers."
Claudia's left ovary is showing signs of shutting down and it is completely immobile.
"So I can't try for a family until that's sorted as I need to have it cut from the scar tissue," she explained.
"It's traumatic to be told you may not be able to have a baby, but hey, try anyway and try now, regardless of your personal circumstances."
Claudia uses her Instagram as a tool to find support with other individuals with the condition.
"Endometriosis is overlooked because it isn't terminal, but the despair from living a life in severe pain that isn't believed or going through repeated surgeries with no successful outcomes can be.
"I stay positive because I am surrounded by an amazing support system, and I use Instagram to turn my pain into power by using my story and knowledge of the disease to help others.
"I'm all about researching, advocating, educating and sharing with the endometriosis community and the greater public."
To see more of Claudia's journey follow @me_myself_and_endometriosis on Instagram.