Barbara Ellington, Public Affairs Editor
Several women gathered at King's House last Thursday at the invitation of Lady Allen, wife of Governor General Sir Patrick Allen. The invitation was simply to come for "Tea and Talk" - an activity often indulged in by women. Little did they know that talk was far from frivolous. It was about a disease known as endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb are found in other parts of the body such as the pelvic area, skin, eyes, spine lungs, and even the brain. They then react to hormones, break down and bleed, but the blood and tissue shed have no way of leaving the body. This causes internal bleeding, leads to inflammation causing pain, infertility, scar tissue formation, adhesions, and bowel problems.
An unlikely tea-time topic but co-founder of the Better Awareness and Support for Endometriosis (BASE) foundation, Shauna Fuller-Clarke, who has it, began the discussion with an ice-breaker that led to a very fruitful and informative session. That activity and tea were made more palatable following Lady Allen's gracious welcome to the residence.
With the use of a video presentation of testimonies from women who have the condition, guests learnt about the devastating effects of endometriosis. The disease often leads to broken marriages, loss of productive hours at work, silent suffering, and even depression. Sadly, the disease is often misdiagnosed - as was Fuller-Clarke's case, leading to more suffering and hefty medical bills.
By way of solutions to the problem in Jamaica, guests selected questions from a pool, discussed them in groups, then presented solutions for Fuller-Clarke, her doctors and fellow 'endo sisters' in attendance who also shared her plight.
Among the solutions offered, particularly to get better health care and prevent mis-diagnosis/delayed diagnosis, were:
1. Know yourself and know what to tell your doctor.
2. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
3. Help employers to know more about it so that they can be more sensitive and compassionate.
4. Educate yourself in every way about it.
5. Speak honestly to young girls about it.
To support sufferers of endometriosis, join the Worldwide Million Woman March for endometriosis on March 14, 2014. (Please see http://www.millionwomenmarch2014.org/) or get more information locally at: email@example.com