‘I am 24 but I feel 100’ - Plea to help endometriosis sufferers live ‘normal life’
PUBLISHED: 12:26 29 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:26 29 February 2020
A young woman who feels a “prisoner in her own body” due to a chronic condition is calling on the government to reduce operation waiting times.
Laura Stratton, who lives in Dereham, has written to Matt Hancock, the secretary of state for health and social care, to highlight her concerns around the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of endometriosis sufferers.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Miss Stratton was diagnosed in December and is now awaiting a date for her operation, but says the wait could be up to a year.
The operation Miss Stratton is waiting to have would cut out all of the endometrotic tissue in her pelvic area.
The recommended waiting time for an operation is meant to be 18-weeks. She said she could go private for the operation but would have to pay up to £15,000.
She has called on the minister to give sufferers answers and take action to help people like her "live a normal life".
Miss Stratton, said: "I am 24 years old and I feel like I am 100 years old. My body feels like it is packing up on me.
"The more active I am, the more pain I have. I cannot go on holiday.
"This condition is as common as diabetes, yet it is not talked about nowhere near enough.
"This condition is not just a painful period. Yes, some women may have endometriosis and it may play them up every now and again, but they are able to live relatively normal lives.
"For other women, the condition is their life. They live waiting for the call to go to surgery."
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In her letter, she wrote that she hoped there was a day the condition would be taken seriously and that sufferers would not be "prisoners in our own bodies."
Miss Stratton said: "I cannot arrange anything in advance because inevitably I will cancel on the day due to pain/fatigue. I cannot lead the normal life of a 24-year-old.
"I hardly leave the house. When I do pluck up the strength to go out, within a short while I need to lie down and recover. Chronic fatigue they call it. I call it my body giving up on me."
Due to her condition she is in a temporary-induced menopause to stop her getting a period as the pain can hospitalise her for days.
She is set to have her operation at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), which is an endometriosis centre of excellence, but due to its prestige the demand is high.
The hospital is one of three in the region providing a specialist service for patients with endometriosis and is a leading centre in this area of gynaecological care.
An NNUH spokesman said: "When demand for surgery is high, we need to prioritise those whose clinical need is most urgent and our staff are working hard to treat patients as quickly as possible.
"Unfortunately, some patients are waiting longer than we wish for routine procedures and we are sorry for the distress this is causing patients and their families."
Last year hospitals across England admitted more than 22,000 patients with the condition, and 13pc of them as an emergency.
Leading charity Endometriosis UK said the figures the condition is not one that can be 'brushed under the carpet' and needed to be taken seriously.
On February 10, it was announced a government inquiry would be launched to investigate the many challenges facing those with endometriosis, and what steps the Government needs to take to turn this around.
On average it takes seven-and-a-half years for a person to be diagnosed with the chronic condition.
Faye Farthing, campaigns & communications manager for Endometriosis UK, said: "The potentially devastating impact endometriosis can have on a person's mental and physical health cannot be overstated - and it's time for the Government to wake up and take urgent action to ensure women are getting the care that they need."