Lena Dunham Shows Off Her Massive New Neck Tattoo 'Labeling' Herself As The Thing That Scares Her Most
Lena Dunham just got a new tattoo, and she's showing it to the world to help spread a message: It's okay to be "sick."
Dunham had suffered from the chronic pain and heavy bleeding associated with endometriosis for years. She finally elected to undergo a total hysterectomy to relieve the symptoms after less invasive corrective measures were unsuccessful.
She has made no secret of her condition, and continues to be a vocal advocate for endometriosis awareness.
Her tattoo is a symbol of that journey and a defiance of the stigma that comes with being sick, both from society at large and the internalized feelings that come with being chronically ill.
"Sometimes the thing you're most scared of being called is the best thing you can call yourself, and to my sisters in this dizzying but starry slog- i am lasso'd to you!"
Lena is no stranger to using her body as a canvas to increase awareness. Here is a time she used her torso to send a message.
And another instance where she literally wears her heart on her sleeve.
The Mayo Clinic defines endometriosis as:
"An often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis."
Dunham has been frank and open about her treatment journey, and how the condition affected her life. In an essay for Vogue, she gave intimate details of living with endometriosis and the decision process that led to her total hysterectomy at 31 years old.
She revealed heartbreaking little details that many don't talk about, like dealing with the question that is a standard in medical care: "Is there any chance you could be pregnant?"
"I'm getting used to this—the repetition of a mandatory question about my fertility and my half-rehearsed answer, something playful so she won't feel too awkward about having reminded a very young woman of what she will never have."
The decision to have a hysterectomy wasn't made lightly; Lena had a less invasive corrective surgery in 2018 and doctors thought she was endometriosis-free.
During the 2018 MET Gala in New York City, she was rushed to the hospital for complications from the surgery. Doctors then discovered more endometriosis. It was then that Dunham and her medical team decided that a total hysterectomy was the best option.
On the 9 month anniversary of her surgery, Dunham shared a photo to celebrate the freedom that it gave her, but also remember the cost:
"My body is mostly healed and every day I find a new bruise on my heart, but today I offer myself gratitude: from the most pained place, I somehow knew to choose myself.
"The purest glint of who we are and know we can be is always available to us, calm and true at our center."
It is surprising that there is so little discussion about endometriosis in general; the condition is estimated to affect 1 in 10 women!
Misdiagnosis of endometriosis is also common, and a huge issue. A study of women in Norway found that there was a delay of between 3 and 11 years between the onset of endometriosis symptoms and when a diagnosis was finally made.
Countries where effective diagnosis is reached earlier can be explained by early clinical intervention, but also by the patients' knowledge of the conditions and its symptoms. The authors write "Knowledge of women about the disease and its most prevalent symptoms seems to be important."
Don't just leave it up to the medical professionals; arm yourself with knowledge.
For a condition that affects so many, it is relatively unknown. Efforts from public figures like Dunham toward public awareness are sorely needed.
You can learn more about the condition here. Chances are high that someone very important to you will be glad of your understanding.
Woman Suffered For Years After Her Concerns Were Dismissed By Doctors—But She Turned Out To Be Right
Lina Kharnak had developed intense cramps and back pain in the weeks leading up to her periods. Doctors were stumped. After doing a little research, she went to some specialists and asked whether she might have endometriosis, but they openly dismissed the possibility and instead focused most of their attention on treating her symptoms.
Years later, once her kidneys had shut down and she required intensive surgery to save her life, Kharnak learned she had been right the whole time.
When Kharnak suggested endometriosis as a possible cause of her symptoms, her doctor chided her:
Stop practicing Google medicine.
@UppityCancerP No better way to shame a person in pain than to discredit their “googling disease symptoms” so they… https://t.co/nO2udBZt54— Dagmar (@Dagmar)1537077885.0
Endometriosis, a condition suffered by 6.5 million American women, is the result of endometrium (the material that lines the inside of the uterus) growing outside of it, often on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and other organs.
According to the Tampa Bay Times:
Sometimes the overgrowth spreads to more distant sites in the body. Abdominal pain, heavy periods and infertility are common.
good morning here's an infuriatingly familiar story: https://t.co/ATJe6I0HgJ— Abby Norman (@Abby Norman)1537099182.0
As Kharnak visited doctors to find the cause of her chronic pain, which was worsening with no end in sight, they repeatedly blamed her weight.
One doctor was particularly blunt:
She was about 25 pounds overweight and getting older and therefore more prone to health problems, Kharnak remembers him saying. The doctor prescribed a diuretic to lower her blood pressure.
It's time to hold doctors accountable & responsible for their dismissive & harmful behavior. This story has become… https://t.co/hdOqJUitO3— Jennifer Vanderputten (@Jennifer Vanderputten)1537033859.0
Kharnak described her emotional state as she went from doctor to doctor, each of them blaming her weight:
At first I was very angry at the entire paternalistic 'Go home, little fat woman, and exercise, and you will feel better' culture. I was mad at myself. And then I felt relieved that I had a diagnosis and a plan.
Meanwhile, Kharnak "consulted a chiropractor, underwent physical therapy and started taking Pilates classes." None of this helped her pain. In fact, things were getting worse: Her back pain was growing progressively worse until she was mid-cycle, then vanish completely. Though she felt fine after she ovulated, the two weeks prior would be filled with severe constipation and painful urination. Sex was painful and her normally low blood pressure rose to 140/90.
@UppityCancerP How horrible for her! Years of pain because no one would spare a few minutes of time or a simple sec… https://t.co/Jdw9kFDyUv— Ana (@Ana)1537143226.0
Doctors still did not suspect endometriosis, even when Kharnak's scans revealed "small fibroids, benign tumors that grow in the uterus and are common among women before menopause." At this point, however, her gynecologist was baffled and suggested Kharnak consult a specialist.
@endostats My mother passed from endo on her liver and kidneys. The doctor didnt believe her either.— Tricia Connelly (@Tricia Connelly)1537207016.0
And then 14 months later, after hoping the pain would go away with exercise, Kharnak saw two more doctors, both of whom told her endo was a non-starter; the symptoms simply didn't match up. Though the doctors couldn't think of what could be causing her pain, they did agree that weight loss and birth control might help.
Kharnak was at the end of her rope:
I felt so belittled. At that point, I was really, really done.
@UntoNuggan Took me 25 years before I found an obgyn who would go beyond "you need to take birth control for the en… https://t.co/EHohG4w1FO— drum major for the drunken parade of life (@drum major for the drunken parade of life)1537112873.0
Another two years of painkillers later, when Kharnak returned to her gynecologist, her left ovary couldn't be located. To her doctor's horror, something was blocking it. A CT scan revealed Kharnak's left kidney had shut down due to hydronephrosis, a blockage that stopped it from draining properly. The cause of the blockage was unknown.
Knowing there was something seriously wrong with her body, Kharnak followed up on the lead her doctors were so certain wasn't the culprit:
I Googled 'endo specialist in New York City,' Dr. Seckin's name came up first, so I went to see him.
Yeah sex is good but have you ever found yourself a doctor who takes you seriously, appreciates that you’ve researc… https://t.co/a22nSwSkrj— Josie Young (@Josie Young)1537340763.0
Tamer Seckin, an OB/GYN surgeon, immediately realized these symptoms might be caused by his area of expertise, even though "[Kharnak] did not have classic endo pain." Uncertain why her other doctors had refused to even consider endometriosis, Dr. Seckin noted he had "a couple of other patients" whose endometrial tissue had caused kidney blockage.
Dr. Seckin told Kharnak "it's worse than you think," before giving her a grim diagnosis:
In addition to her kidney, the disease, later classified by pathologists as deeply infiltrating, had spread to other organs, including her uterus, which had swollen to the size of a 14-week pregnancy. Her bladder and bowel were also affected, and she had a frozen pelvis, a surgically treacherous condition in which extensive scarlike tissue makes it difficult to visualize important structures.
@TB_Times Unfortunately, this happens all the time to women. We are told lose weight, exercise, etc when we KNOW something isn’t right.— Jennifer W (@Jennifer W)1537183737.0
Kharnak underwent a nine-hour surgery involving several specialists. Now, after several months of R&R, she's able to return to work pain-free for the first time in seven years.
@UntoNuggan Nine hours of surgery. Nine.— RheumofHerOwn (@RheumofHerOwn)1537112358.0
She told the Tampa Bay Times:
I think this surgery was a medical miracle. I wish someone had told me to find an endo specialist right away and to stop wasting time on regular OB/GYNs, even prominent ones.