Living with Endometriosis: What you need to know
Editor’s Note: The Endometriosis Foundation of Houston has invited guest bloggers to share their work, expert opinions and thoughts with our endo community. This article is part of our book club series. If you have something to share and you're interested in submitting a blog post, please reach out to EFHou by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Living with Endometriosis: The Complete Guide to Risk Factors,
Symptoms, and Treatment Options
Q&A with author Samantha Bowick
EFHou: Why did you write Living with Endometriosis? How did you get to the point of writing it?
Samantha Bowick (SB): I started writing Living with Endometriosis in 2013 when I started pelvic floor physical therapy. I had never heard of pelvic floor physical therapy until a doctor at the Mayo Clinic recommended it to me and thought maybe there were other people suffering with endometriosis who had never heard of it either. I wanted to help others know their treatment options and to not feel alone as endometriosis can often feel overwhelming and isolating. I decided I would backtrack and start writing about the treatments I had already been through and start documenting what I was going through with pelvic floor physical therapy. From there, my writing evolved as I tried more treatments for endometriosis until 2016-2017. It was hard to come to a stopping place with my writing for endometriosis because I didn’t know if I was going to continue having problems with this disease and wanted to include as much as possible.
EFHou: Living with Endometriosis is a quick and easy read, but it also covers a lot of ground. Are there any other topics you wish you had more time to talk about in the book?
SB: There are a few treatment options that I wish I would have tried to give more of a patient’s perspective in Living with Endometriosis like acupuncture and CBD products because some people do find these treatment options for chronic pain helpful with endometriosis and other chronic illnesses.
EFHou: Did you learn anything that surprised you while writing?
SB: Even though I had been to so many different doctors that weren’t aware of what endometriosis really is, the proper way to diagnose and treat the disease etc., it still surprised me that everyone in the endometriosis community (ex. gynecologists) is not on the same page with the definition of endometriosis, the only way to truly diagnose the disease, how to properly treat it, etc. It still surprises me how little information doctors learn about endometriosis in medical school even though at least 200 million people worldwide suffer with this disease every day.
EFHou:What message do you want people to take away from reading Living with Endometriosis?
SB: I want people to know they are not alone in their fight with endometriosis. There are doctors out there (endometriosis specialists) who know about endometriosis, see it every day, treat it with excision surgery (which has the highest success rate/lowest rate of recurrence for endometriosis treatment and surgical options), and that it’s not all in their head. I want readers to know that just because a treatment didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for them, and vice versa. Everybody is different. I want readers to have all of the information that I didn’t have when making a decision about which treatment option for endometriosis is right for them. I want people to know that other illnesses can accompany endometriosis, which adds to the pain, debilitation, fatigue, etc.
EFHou: People who suffer from endometriosis often have to fight to be taken seriously. There are also a lot of myths, which you dispel. Given these problems, what was the editing and publication process like? Did you face similar roadblocks in being heard?
SB: I started writing Living with Endometriosis in 2013 and started looking for a publisher in 2016. It was difficult for me to find a publisher that would publish my book and I think it’s because of the content. I sent out many query letters and emails to different publishers before I found Hatherleigh Press. I’m very thankful they wanted to move forward in the publishing process. I wanted Living with Endometriosis to be a book about factual information about the disease as well as tell my journey in hopes that it would help other people with endometriosis. With the editing process, it was (and still is) important for me to stay up to date with medical information about endometriosis. From the time I stopped writing about treatments I was going through with endometriosis in 2016-2017 until it was published in 2018, I was editing and changing information as I needed to in order to make sure all of the information was as accurate as possible. I hope to be able to make edits to Living with Endometriosis as information is updated and changed.
EFHou: Where are you now in your health journey compared to where you were while writing Living with Endometriosis?
SB: While writing Living with Endometriosis, I was struggling with endometriosis pain and symptoms. I was looking for anything that would decrease my pain as much as possible. I was also going to doctor appointments multiple times a week/month to try to find answers about osteoporosis and my joint pain. I felt like I spent more time at doctor appointments than I did anywhere else. Mentally, I was extremely upset/depressed because of my feelings about having a hysterectomy. I know that having a hysterectomy was the best decision for me given my symptoms and treatment options I knew about at the time, but it’s still hard to deal with. There is a reason that I was meant to walk this journey and I know that is to help other people in some way.
SB: Since writing Living with Endometriosis, I haven’t had any issues that I know of since my excision surgery in 2015 directly related to endometriosis. I don’t say I’m cured of endometriosis; I say it’s in remission as there is no cure for the disease. I did have a surgery in 2016 to remove my gallbladder and scar tissue. Along with endometriosis, I have also been diagnosed with vitamin d deficiency, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoporosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, and interstitial cystitis. At the beginning of 2019, I had a kidney stone removed by lithotripsy and in September 2019, I had an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) because my sphincter of Oddi was spasming causing pain and elevated liver enzymes. This can occur even after the gallbladder is removed because the sphincter isn’t removed. During the ERCP, the sphincter is cut so that it can’t completely close, which should cut down on the spasming, pain, and elevated liver enzymes. So far, I’m doing well after this surgery.
EFHou: Is there anyone specific in the endo community who has inspired you in your journey?
SB: There are so many awesome advocates and people in the endometriosis community that inspire me every day. They work tirelessly to ensure that everyone who is suffering or may be suffering with endometriosis has the most up to date factual information to help them make the best decision for their bodies regarding endometriosis treatment and care. They include:
Dr. Sinervo, Heather Guidone, and everyone at the Center for Endometriosis Care
Dr. Sallie Sarrel and everyone with The Endometriosis Summit
The Endometriosis Research Center
The Endometriosis Network of Canada
All endometriosis specialists
All advocate endo warriors
We do this for every endo warrior who suffers with endometriosis because we don’t want people to continue going through what we have been/are going through.
EFHou: Your book is a great lead-in to our second book, Beating Endo. What else do you think is a must-read for EFHou’s book club?
SB: Beating Endo is a great choice for EFHou’s book club! I’m planning to read it next month. Other books that I think would be a great fit are:
Stop Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain: What Every Woman and Her Doctor Need to Know by Dr. Andrew Cook
The Endo Patient’s Survival Guide: A Patient’s Guide to Endometriosis & Chronic Pelvic Pain by Dr. Andrew Cook
Femtruth-Endometriosis Edition: A Collection of Stories from Courageous Women by Silvia S. Young
Fighting Fiercely: Unveiling the Unknown about Endometriosis by Michelle N. Johnson
My Femtruth: Scandalous Survival Stories by: Silvia S. Young
From Pain to Peace with Endo by Aubree Deimler
Heal Endometriosis Naturally by Wendy K. Laidlaw
Thank you so much for choosing Living with Endometriosis: The Complete Guide to Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Treatment Options as your first book for the Endometriosis Foundation of Houston’s Book Club. My hope is that each reader has found something in the book to help with their endometriosis journey. Sending you all hugs and love.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Samantha is an author, podcast host, writer, and blogger. She hopes to use her experiences to help others who are suffering with endometriosis and other chronic illnesses.
Facebook: Samantha Bowick
*The Living with Endometriosis Workbook and Daily Journal is now published! It contains space for people to keep track of doctor appointments, questions for their doctors, medical tests they have had done, treatments they have tried, surgeries and procedures they have had done, daily symptoms, and more. This is a tool I wish I would have had at the beginning of my journey.*