MATEO Nancarrow dozes in his mother’s arms, blissfully oblivious to journey she has taken to overcome debilitating endometriosis and bring him into the world.
As a nurse and midwife, Shira Nancarrow told Community News on Tuesday she believed endometriosis was not well understood in Australia.
The Shoalwater resident was at times considered to be a drug-seeker or psychologically unstable after she developed a debilitating, mysterious pain in 2010 while living in Port Hedland.
Medical investigations revealed nothing and she was taking strong painkillers like Panadeine Forte and Tramadol and hid heat packs under her scrubs to get through her shifts at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and later Rockingham General Hospital.
It took two years to be diagnosed with Stage 4 endometriosis that was outside her uterus, stuck her left ovary to her bladder, and had ‘obliterated’ the Pouch of Douglas behind the uterus.
King Edward Memorial Hospital inserted a Mirena IUD to help control hormones which somewhat helped, and she joined a Facebook support group called Endometriosis Perth Sisterhood Support with more than 800 members.
Another global support group she joined included world-renowned doctors who answered questions for free as women sought solutions to their pain.
Mrs Nancarrow said many with severe endometriosis in the Perth group reported having five or six operations before being labelled ‘inoperable’ and she did not want to end up like that.
“I didn’t want to be inoperable, especially before I’d had children,” she said.
Doctors in WA suggested she try get pregnant to cure the condition, but she felt she could not keep up with a child if she remained in such pain plus she was newly married and felt unprepared so she sought to resolve the endometriosis first.
She and husband Daniel raised several thousand dollars and took out a loan for the remaining $50,000 required to travel to Singapore to be treated by US incision specialist Charles Koh in 2015.
“I went with another lady too, deemed inoperable and who was told she would need a colostomy bag if she had surgery here,” she said.
What was expected to be a two-hour surgery took six hours and two blood transfusions but she was virtually pain free afterwards.
“I knew he got it straight away,” Mrs Nancarrow said.
“The longest process was just to get someone to listen to me here and I’m a medical professional,” she said.
Her high pain threshold from years of agony resulted in her being 9cm dilated at home before she was rushed by ambulance to Rockingham Hospital with her son Mateo well on his way.
“I don’t think I would have been able to have a baby without the incision surgery or be the mum I want to be,” she said.