All Things Periods

Bridget Hustwaite’s Endometriosis Journey

Bridget Hustwaite is a notable Australian voice in more ways than one. This Triple J veteran has graced our ears on drives home, road trips and allllll of the mid-period late-night ice cream stints.  She’s someone a lot of us feel connected to and can relate to. She’s ray-of-sunshine esque and ever-entertaining. What you might not know is that this radio royal has the often misunderstood health condition known as Endometriosis.

With an iconic set of pipes and a lived experience with endo, Bridget is doing something we can all admire: turning the not so great stuff into something that has the ability to help others going through it.

Here, she chats with us about her endometriosis journey, how it led her to forging a safe space to chat about the condition (@endogram, hello!) and what you can expect from her debut book: ‘How to Endo’. Whether you just love a bit of Bridget, have recently been diagnosed with endo, or know someone that’s going through the motions, read right on.

 

Tell us about your endometriosis story.

My endometriosis journey has been like many before in that it was long and frustrating, but it has also been a story of persistence and strength. I first experienced painful periods around the age of fifteen, but there was zero mention of endometriosis when I presented myself to the doctor. Instead, I was encouraged to go on the pill. My symptoms extended to pain during sex, painful bladder and bowel movements and even sharp abdominal cramping. I saw numerous medical professionals throughout the space of 12 years – one believed me and provided a gynaecological referral but due to the low paying nature of my job at the time, I couldn’t afford to proceed with the consultation. One doctor even dismissed me to my face and said, “You don’t have endometriosis, others have it worse than you”. Yep, that really happened.

In 2018, I moved to Sydney for work and my period pain was worsening so I decided to have another crack and speak to somebody. I found an amazing women’s health GP who sent me to a gynaecologist, and we booked in for a laparoscopy which detected severe endometriosis spread across my bladder, pelvic side walls, distal rectum and Pouch of Douglas. My surgeon said if it was left any longer, they would have had to look at removing part of my bowel, which was terrifying to hear at the age of 27. I had the endometriosis excised and an IUD inserted to suppress my period symptoms but found that it caused more infrequent flare ups so in 2020, I had my second excision surgery where disease left over from the first procedure was detected. It was successfully removed as was my IUD.

Currently, I am endo-free, but it doesn’t mean I’m cured as endometriosis has whole body effects. I’ve seen a pelvic physiotherapist who has helped improve the functioning of my pelvic floor and I’ve also been legally prescribed medicinal cannabis which I only take when I’m in severe pain. I’m also about to start seeing a psychologist who can help me manage the mental health aspect of life with chronic illness.

 

Everyone has their own favourite remedies to help ease their endometriosis symptoms. What have you found most effective on your hard days?

I can’t go past a nice, hot bath! It’s just so relieving to be able to fully immerse my body in heat and it’s so important that when I look for new places to live, I can’t move into a house without a bath. It’s simply a non-negotiable!

 

What has been the most interesting or rewarding part of running your @endogram Instagram account?

The most rewarding part has definitely been connecting with other people who have endured the same thing as I. I’ve formed some incredible friendships through endogram, and these are people that I now talk to on nearly a daily basis. I’ve not only found invaluable support through this platform, but I have learnt so much more about endo than what any medical professional has ever told me. That’s a pretty frightening reality but it just proves the importance of doing your own research and being your own advocate.

 

Tell us what your new book, ‘How to Endo’, is about & what led you to write it?

‘How to Endo’ is essentially the book I so desperately needed when I started searching for answers, and it’s now the book I can hand to loved ones so they can form a greater understanding of what endometriosis really entails.

It’s a relatable and inclusive guide as I help the reader learn the in’s and out’s of endo and how to still live an awesome life, but also acknowledge those days when you just cannot deal. It’s a mix of my own personal experience and practical tips generously provided by some amazing experts and other endo warriors, so I truly believe it will be the book that so many need!

 

Do you think awareness surrounding endometriosis has increased over the last few years & what do you think still needs to change?

Definitely! There’s been such incredible momentum building and I can’t help but think that is due to social media. People are taking control and utilising platforms to create conversation and be heard. There are some amazing accounts and resources out there that weren’t available in my time and are now just a simple click away.

The big thing that I think needs to change is the fact that there is a huge inconsistency in the treatment that people with endometriosis receive. Not everyone has access to the gold standard that is excision surgery, because not all gynaecologists are specialised in this technique of physically cutting out the disease from its root. I would love to see more funding invested in excision surgical training so there could be more endometriosis specialists available to help those in both metropolitan and regional/rural areas, and those who seek treatment through either the public or private health system. Your treatment and quality of life should not depend on where you live or what you can/cannot afford.

 

 

What would you say to someone who has just received an endometriosis diagnosis?

Firstly, I would say congratulations on getting answers! It’s a very bittersweet feeling to receive a diagnosis because on one hand, it is so validating to hear that the pain wasn’t just in your head. On the other hand, endometriosis is a condition with no known cause or cure, so it can have lifelong effects. However, it does not define you so I would encourage those recently diagnosed to take charge and utilise the wonderful resources available to them from organisations such as QENDO, EndoActive and Endometriosis Australia. Their websites are easy to navigate and QENDO also moderate a bunch of different online support groups, which can be a great way of connecting with other endo warriors.

 

Lastly, what’s your current book, podcast or show obsession you would recommend?

I’ve only recently come across UK writer and broadcaster Dolly Alderton and I LOVE her! Her debut fiction novel Ghosts was such an engaging read, I was so invested in the storyline and resonated with a lot of what the protagonist was experiencing in terms of friendships and dating. I’ve just started on Dolly’s memoir and again, can really relate to her insights and observations. Dolly is 2 years older than me so I can’t help but see her in the same kind of light as an older sister who is passing on her wisdom on navigating life and love. Highly recommend!

 

We’re raising our just-finished cup of tea to Bridget for being the generous and gracious gal she is. It can be hard to talk about the personal stuff, but if there’s one thing to take away from this chat with Bridget: the best thing we can do for one another is create a space in which we can speak freely and feel listened to when we’re going through it. Whatever ‘it’ may be.  You can find a whole trove of info, experiences and facts about Endometriosis on our website.

 

Love, Libra x

 

Anything else? Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.

 

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