Supriya Khound is part of a group of fitness enthusiasts called United Fitness Squad from Guwahati. She registered for 100 days of running to use this platform to spread awareness about women health issues, something which she suffered with personally, and to hear stories of other women.
WHY I SIGNED UP FOR A 100-DAYS OF RUNNING
I have always enjoyed exercising. Initially I wasn’t too comfortable joining a gym as working out while staring at a wall was something I could not fathom. Running was one thing which I enjoyed and would love to do whenever I got an opportunity. I am not very good at running alone, especially in the streets of India. My first proper run started in the streets of Vietnam in 2012, where I started to feel free and safe and enjoyed myself thoroughly and continued to exercise henceforth.
In November 2015, my periods lasted for over a month. It was unusual and I didn’t understand why it happened. When I got my period in Class 4, I remember the excruciating pain I endured which has persisted to this day. Every month it was the same story, as a child I had to sometimes be sent home, due to the pain. As a working woman, I need to excuse myself from meetings or sit through extreme discomfort. That month in November was however very unusual. I had never faced this before. That month changed my life forever.
I was diagnosed with endometriosis. I had never heard of this term and didn’t realize how complex it was. Endometriosis is an abnormal growth of endometrial-like tissue, which is usually found in the interior lining of the uterus, located outside the uterus. Simply put, there is stuff growing in your reproductive organs which shouldn’t be there. Whenever we get our periods, this endometrial tissue is shed every month. As a result, every month when I am on my period, the pain cannot be described in words, as I am not just shedding the uterus lining but the lesions/ cysts are also growing every month because of the period cycle. As Wikipedia beautifully states, ‘pain can range from mild to severe cramping or stabbing pain that occurs on both sides of the pelvis, in the lower back and rectal area’. The pain can be different for everyone in a varying range. However, for most women these lesions can be found in the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, surface of the uterus, bowel and on the membrane of the pelvic cavity. In my case I have two chocolate cysts (so deliciously named!) in the right ovary and one cyst in the left ovary.
So how is my fitness related to my endometriosis? Ever since November 2015, I have struggled very hard both physically and emotionally to deal with this excruciating pain (which comes unannounced), hormonal imbalances, weight issues, fitness, diet, and most importantly the incredibly strong medication.
As a young girl, I barely learnt anything of the complexities of the female reproductive systems. The various issues women face in their lives and the myriad of health complications women can have in their bodies. The lack of awareness on these issues and research for solutions is something I realized at the onset itself. I went from doctor to doctor and all they said was have a baby. Since that didn’t work out too well, I was put on heavy medications which stopped my periods for months, made me gain weight and dis-balanced my health completely. The treatments for endometriosis seemed like they were based on the principle of hit or miss. Endometriosis and a lot of other disorders like Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), are not lifestyle diseases and they have huge impact on a woman’s mental, physical and social well-being.
For me working out became a huge task and the one thing I enjoyed thoroughly, which was running, was not possible anymore. Every time I ran, after about 500m, my pelvic area would have a stabbing pain and I felt like I was on the verge of passing out. It was not until August 2017, when I joined a group of amazing fitness enthusiasts called United Fitness Squad, in Guwahati did I resume running again. I have done two half-marathons now, thanks to the support of this group but I still have days when I cannot even run 100m.
In the past few months, I have started to understand my body better and am trying to understand this disorder better as well. I have started including more raw food in my diet with lots of nuts and fruits and home-made smoothies and juices, and sticking to local organic produce.
In March 2017, when I was sitting by myself in a waiting room in Chennai for another round of check-ups, I realized how little most of us know about the complexities and challenges most women face with their health and yet we are not creating enough spaces to hear their voices and stories. When I saw the 100 days of running page, I immediately signed up and resolved to use these 100 days to hear stories of other women who have suffered, endured, or don’t even know some issues exist. It’s incredible how most research on endometriosis or other such disorders has been led by national level support groups for endometriosis in America since the 1980s.
I want to use these 100 days to run, enjoy myself and most importantly create a space to share this journey, hear your voices and stories and raise awareness on women health issues.
Mail me your stories at: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow the journey on supriya_khound on Instagram and Facebook 😊