A gynaecologist laughed at me when I suggested endometriosis had spread to my lungs. I was misdiagnosed and had many scans and hospital admissions before finally being taken seriously.
Nadine shares her story of being diagnosed with thoracic endometriosis.
I am 35 years old and it took me 7 years to get diagnosed with thoracic endometriosis. Thoracic endometriosis syndrome is the presence of endometrial tissue in or around the lung.
The journey to diagnosis started with a right pneumothorax whilst having a period and despite being told I would be referred to a specialist respiratory department, this did not happen.
I was diagnosed with thoracic endometriosis after being admitted for planned surgery i.e. right VATS for Pleurectomy, Bullectomy, and insertion of diaphragmatic mesh. My symptoms included shortness of breath, a heaviness in the chest and abdomen, a gurgling sensation around the diaphragm, and sharp pain in the shoulder and neck.
(Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Endometriosis can affect women of any age, including teenagers. It's a long-term condition that can have a significant impact on your life, but there are treatments that can help)
Nadine further shares - I have been under the care of the Department for Thoracic Surgery and had access to them as an outpatient after diagnosis. My endometriosis centre and GP are also aware of my condition, and I am currently on Zoladex injections to help manage the symptoms as well as inhalers. In my experience, the thoracic consultants have been very knowledgeable about my thoracic endometriosis and the treatment options available.
Due to my thoracic endometriosis, I am not as active as I would like to be. Every time that I have a period, my breathing gets worse, and it takes at least two weeks to build up my strength again. I am very breathless if I carry heavy items, try to run, walk fast, or climb stairs. I am prone to getting coughs and chest infections and I cannot travel without my inhalers. Often, I feel older than my years because of the impact thoracic endometriosis has and this has taken a toll on my mental health. But I am fortunate to have a supportive partner, family and friends as well as an online community of endometriosis sufferers.
It can be incredibly frustrating to wait for a diagnosis especially when the symptoms are having a big impact on your life. I would encourage you to try and get your GP to refer you to an endometriosis specialist with knowledge of thoracic endometriosis or ask your gynaecologist to refer you to a respiratory department. In the past, when I have been in so much pain that I am unable to move or breath properly, I call for an ambulance and the consultant at the hospital will ensure scans are done and try to refer me to the thoracic / respiratory team within that hospital or refer me to another NHS Trust. You might feel like you are battling an invisible illness, but your symptoms are real.
An estimated 12 million Americans a year are misdiagnosed with a condition they don’t have. In approximately half of those cases, the misdiagnosis has the potential to result in severe harm.
Misdiagnoses can have serious consequences on a person’s health. They can delay recovery and sometimes call for treatment that is harmful. For approximately 40,500 people who enter an intensive care unit in one year, a misdiagnosis will cost them their lives.
2 out of 3 endometriosis cases are initially misdiagnosed.
So the bottomline is
"DO NOT IGNORE ANY SYMPTOM AND ANY PAIN, SPECIALLY ABDOMINAL PAIN"
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Source courtesy https://www.healthline.com/health/misdiagnosis-stories