I began compulsively documenting my experience of chronic illness with a focus on endometriosis in 2019 as a direct response to being diagnosed with via laparoscopy and undergoing misinformed treatment with a gnrh antagonist that interacted with co-morbid autoimmune conditions and left me unable to care for myself. This experience of being left to educate myself about my own health conditions while undergoing immense physical illness pushed me into seeking to understand what was happening to me, as well as to advocate for my own comprehensive medical treatment.
Where the Red Flowers Bloom invites the viewer into my space within my parents' house, where I moved to after requiring additional medical care and losing the ability to care for myself independently. These images are a documentation of my diagnosis of endometriosis, expert excision surgery, and the additional diagnosis of endometrial hyperplasia which lead to the loss of my uterus in 2020 at the age of 23 (See project Vessel).
Endometriosis is a systemic inflammatory disease where tissue similar to the endometrium (lining of the uterus) grows outside of the uterus. It is commonly found within the pelvic cavity, however extrapelvic endometriosis also occurs. The disease is incredibly painful with symptoms such as heavy bleeding, cramping, abdominal swelling, and infertility. These symptoms can follow the menstrual cycle or occur at any time as endometriosis tissue has hormone receptors that act independently of the uterus.
Almost 200 million people worldwide experience endometriosis, yet the disease is poorly researched and misinformation is rampant across the medical field about treatment, pathology of the disease, and how it affects patients. Most individuals with endometriosis suffer with the disease for an average of 7 years before a diagnosis, leaving the disease time to destroy reproductive organs, affect pelvic structures, and interfere with the bowel, bladder, and other organ systems. Expert excision surgery remains as the gold standard of treatment as hormone driven therapies do not reduce, remove, or treat endometriosis lesions, yet high costs and few qualified surgeons leave patients unable to acquire adequate treatment for their disease.