A woman branded “hysterical” by doctors after her extreme pain was dismissed as constipation actually had a second womb.
Madeleine Janes had four years’ worth of period blood built up in the second womb which was on the verge of exploding.
The 21-year-old started to experience excruciating stomach pains which kept her up all night in August 2015.
Understandably concerned, she went to her GP to investigate.
Madeleine, from Rugby, was told she was constipated and was prescribed Buscopan – a medication used to relieve stomach cramps – and sent on her way.
But the symptoms persisted and started to affect her daily life and pain relief medication had no affect.
One nurse labelled her “hysterical” and told Madeleine’s parents: “You know how worked up young girls get.”
The constant dismissal of her symptoms left Madeleine feeling like she was losing her mind but she knew something was wrong.
With medical professionals providing little support, she decided to take matters into her own hands by removing gluten from her diet in case she was coeliac which didn’t work.
After weeks of pain, Madeleine went on holiday to Devon with her family for her mum Jane’s 50th birthday at the end of August.
After the first day, the pain was too much to bear and Madeleine went to the local hospital where to her surprise, she was finally taken seriously.
Madeleine was immediately hooked up to an IV for pain relief, had blood tests, and was moved to intensive care to be monitored closely.
Madeleine was even given gas and air for her pain and the nurses and doctors all commented that she looked like a woman in labour.
X-rays and ultrasound scans revealed that she had two uteruses, two cervixes, one ovary, and was missing a kidney.
An MRI revealed the source of her pain – her smaller second womb was blocked and filled with blood which had collected over four years of having periods.
Madeleine was rushed into emergency surgery and spent seven days in hospital recovering.
She said: “For a while it made me feel crazy, as if I was making it all up like they were insinuating.
“I’d never really come into contact with doctors much prior to this so I just assumed what they said was fact as they’re the ones with the qualification behind them – I don’t see it like this now.
“When I was finally taken seriously in Devon, it was the biggest sense of relief I think I’ve ever felt. It sounds strange to say but the whole situation made me feel like giving myself a pat on the back.
“It increased my faith in myself as I’d known all along something wasn’t right, even if I’d been told multiple times by different people that nothing was wrong. Getting taken seriously was the confirmation I’d known I had deserved for weeks.
“After the diagnosis sunk in, there was a lot of ‘I’ve lived sixteen years of my life not knowing what was going on inside me.’
“It’s hard to explain but that’s a really weird thing to get your head around. In the space of ten minutes, I’d gained an organ and lost another organ – plus two uteruses, minus one kidney.
“Without surgery, my second uterus would have continued to fill up every month I had a period and I assume the pain would have persisted.”
“This September marked five years since I found out about my condition and since then, there are still so many women being dismissed and struggling to get a diagnosis and receive proper treatment and relief from their suffering – something that is so prevalent in the chronic illness community,” she said.
“The research and statistics show that women experience the healthcare system differently to men, and there is a long history of dismissing women’s pain and in 2020 this is still happening.
“You know your body better than anyone else – any nurse, doctor or specialist. Listen to your gut and what your body is telling you and keep persisting even if you keep getting turned away.
“Eventually the right person will hear you and you’ll get the help you need. It just might take a bit of time to get there but never let anyone tell you it’s all in your head.”