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Teacher thought she had appendicitis but found her organs were fused together

todayMarch 26, 2022 4

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A teacher who was told her crippling aches were just period pains discovered her internal organs were fused together. Amanda Cobb, 52, had suffered with cripplingly painful periods since she was a teenager – but never suspected it was part of a bigger problem.

The teaching assistant even spent weeks in hospital while pregnant with her fifth child because she hemorrhaged and nobody could stop the bleeding – but doctors were left baffled by it. That was until the mum-of-five woke was rushed to hospital with suspected appendicitis years later – and medics learned several of her internal organs were fused together.

She was then diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places. Amanda had to have her ovaries, womb, fallopian tubes and cervix removed in a bid to save her other organs.

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Now recovered, Amanda wants to warn other women of the symptoms of endometriosis during the awareness month of March – and warn them not to dismiss the signs before it’s too late. Amanda, from Ipswich, said: “From a teenager, I was told ‘that’s just how your periods are’.



Amanda Cobb
Amanda Cobb

“It was so bad I couldn’t leave the house or move for days at a time – but I thought it was normal. It wasn’t until 2018 that it all kicked off, I remember laying in bed thinking I had appendicitis or kidney stones.

“I had a surgery when the doctors thought I had cysts on my ovaries – but I woke up and was told they’d had to take out some of my organs. I learned the organs were all stuck together because I had endometriosis – they managed to save my kidney but everything else was so damaged that it was too late to save them.

“Before then, endometriosis hadn’t even been mentioned but it turned out I had been suffering since I was a teenager. So many people suffer but don’t realise because it’s not spoken about – it’s not ok, or ‘normal’ to be in pain every month.”

Amanda, a special needs school teaching assistant, told how she would have to take days at a time off school whenever she got her period as a teen. Despite barely being able to move due to agonising pain, doctors reassured her that’s just the way her periods are – so she accepted her fate.

She said: “It would be so bad, I was in so much pain, that I couldn’t leave the house. I’d need days off school every time I had my period.” She suffered with the intense, heavy periods all throughout her teenage years and into adulthood.

Amanda went onto have five children with three different partners between 1989 and 2010 – Amber, 32, Leigh, 30, Chloe, 24, Mikey, 15 and finally Max, 11. But when her youngest was born in 2010 she was hospitalised at 18 weeks gestation with major placenta previa – where the placenta blocks the opening of the cervix.

She spent three months in hospital because it caused her body to haemorrhage – and she ended up having an emergency caesarean section at 29 weeks after heavy blood loss. Little did Amanda know as she finally got to meet baby Max, that the life-threatening experience was due to her undiagnosed endometriosis – which remained that way for several years more.

She said: “At the time, there was no real explanation for the blood loss. I don’t know how much blood I lost, but it was a lot – I couldn’t see baby Max for a week because the pain was too bad afterwards.

“I remember the midwife speculating that it could be because I’d had a lot of children. I always knew that was wrong, because I know women with way more children than me that have been absolutely fine.”

Amanda’s heavy periods continued as she got on with her life as a working mum, assuming that everything was as good as it would get. She said: “I would plan everything around my periods – I wouldn’t go on holiday if my period was due because I would be in too much pain to enjoy it.

“But I believed that just how it was going to be.” But eight years later, in July 2018, she woke up one day with crippling abdominal pain – which was so severe she suspected she had appendicitis.

An ambulance rushed her to Ipswich Hospital where doctors suggested it could be due to kidney stones. She went into surgery in August 2018 to investigate her pain – but it was cut short when she had an anaphylactic reaction to the penicillin and muscle relaxants used during surgery.

She woke up in intensive care, and had to wait six months for doctors to establish the cause of the reaction – all the while, her heavy periods and excessive bleeding went unexplained. In April 2019, she keyhole surgery which finally revealed the source of her problem after several decades of suffering – endometriosis.

Amanda said: “I was so shocked when I heard the diagnosis – endometriosis had never even been mentioned before.” The condition, affecting around 1.5 million people in the UK, is when cells similar to the ones in the lining of the uterus are found in over areas of the body.

But they are not able to leave the body like with a period, so rather than the lining breaking down, it becomes inflamed and painful and scar tissue is formed – which can cause organs to fuse together. Doctors realised many of Amanda’s internal organs were stuck together in this way – including her kidneys, bowel, uterus and appendix – which was the source of her years of agony.

She was referred to a specialist endometriosis clinic in Colchester, but still ended up waiting due to waiting lists with the added pressure from Covid-19. Amanda said: “My condition was getting worse and worse, but there was nothing I could do but wait.”

Eventually, in May 2020, she had a six-hour surgery and woke up to learn both of her ovaries, her fallopian tubes, her cervix and her womb had all been removed permanently. During the surgery, known as a total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, the surgeons managed to save her kidney, but found everything else too damaged by the years of build-up of scar tissue.

Doctors also explained that her lifetime of heavy periods – and her life-threatening major placenta previa during her fifth pregnancy – were both a result of endometriosis. Following surgery, she was left with a shocking five-inch scar held together by countless stitches, running down from her stomach to below her beltline.

Now, two years on, the surgery finally put an end to her pain – but Amanda wants to warn others to prevent them going through the same agonising three-decade wait for a diagnosis that she did. During Endometriosis Awareness Month, Amanda hopes to use her experience to educate other people on the condition – which can easily be dismissed as ‘period pain’ as she found.

She said: “It’s difficult to explain – or to make people understand – exactly how painful endometriosis is. It is so debilitating but there is no cure, and it’s often not taken seriously.

“I waited decades for a diagnosis – because I was told ‘that’s just how your periods are’. So many people suffer but don’t realise, because it’s not spoken about.

“It’s not ok, or ‘normal’ to be in crippling pain every month – I don’t want anyone to think it is.”

Written by: thehitnetwork

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