A guide to surviving and thriving with endometriosis
It does what it says on the cover: How to Endo serves as an accessible guide to surviving and thriving with endometriosis. Perhaps what is most valuable about this book is how it provides localised insight to the Australian medical and complementary support systems. It also includes recommendations on the questions to ask, and the treatments to consider. Navigating these systems, advocating for your own experiences, and seeking a diagnosis in order to understand how best to live with a chronic condition is rarely easy or straightforward. In a conversational and light-hearted style, Bridget Hustwait provides advice garnered from professionals and from her own lived experience.
Bridget shares facts and dispels myths in a digestible manner and also shares her own personal story and journey in learning how to live with her endometriosis. There are sections on dealing with it, managing it, understanding comorbid conditions, and even goes so far as to provide suggestions for those who share their lives with endometriosis warriors. There is also a heartening dash of humour and sass throughout.
A valuable message woven into this guide is how endometriosis is a whole-of-body experience and has the potential to infiltrate every aspect of a person’s life. This book validates and witnesses the significant pain and suffering which so often accompanies endometriosis. It also acknowledges the difficulties in seeking diagnosis and facing the gendered biases entrenched in the medical field. Endometriosis Australia reveals that it takes an average of six and a half years for endometriosis to be diagnosed. In that time, it can have debilitating additional effects, including gastrointestinal distress and the undermining of one’s sense of self and mental health.
In my own experience, it took well over 15 years and a cancer diagnosis and urgent surgery before my endometriosis and adenomyosis were definitively diagnosed. Even then, it has been frequently largely dismissed as a minor issue amongst my other health concerns.
Another aspect I appreciate about this book is the acknowledgement, albeit brief, of the intersectional challenges of race and gender identity, including suggestions for more inclusive and respectful language when discussing this field of sometimes nightmarish pain. The book concludes with the hope that it has provided information and empowerment. Radio presenter-cum-debut-author Bridget achieves that while avoiding obtuse and depersonalising lingo and jargon.