The “Big Endo” Problem


Image Credit: Emma Plunkett 



Something evil is happening to my stomach. That’s the only word for it. It has turned in upon itself like an animal beaten for so many years. Sheets soaked, cramps all the way up to my neck. The pain is bright and hot and numbing, fomenting in the centre of my womb. The blood flows out of me like waves of loose ribbons.

GiselleSkinny by Ibi Kaslik

This passage was the first time I had ever laid eyes on anything about endometriosis. I was fourteen and purchased the paperback from a bookshop in Adelaide on my holiday. The novel, as the name suggests, tells the story of 22 year old medical student Giselle who is afflicted by an eating disorder. As the story progresses Giselle is diagnosed with endometriosis after her period returns for the first time as she gains weight back. A period that is marked by horrendous pain, haemorrhage level bleeding, and weakness for Giselle.  If that wasn’t some strangely autobiographical foreshadowing of how my adolescence would turn out, I don’t know what is. At fourteen I had cramps, but they were borderline normal – they only lasted a few days and rarely incapacitated me, and I forgot about them as soon as the week was over, but they were there, and they hurt. I had no need for control, no feelings of anxiety, no dark place I went to when these feelings eventuated, not yet. It was just a story, a compelling and exceedingly well written piece of prose, I had no idea that Giselle and I would turn out to share so many personality traits. We picked different poisons, but the intentions were the same.

It was over a year later until the subject would cross my mind again, sitting on the library floor, leaning against a window for warmth while my two best friends played a card game beside me. It was the last day of second term and our biology teacher had let us loose in the library because we had finished the term’s work and didn’t have the texts to start next term’s work yet. I was having a not so delightful episode of cramps, episodes which were becoming more frequent, but at this point I hadn’t quite grasped their seriousness. My ever watchful teacher came to see what was wrong, seemingly disappointed that I was suffering again.

“You know, you might have endometriosis,” he said. “My flat mate has it, that’s why I think you might. She often looks a lot like you do now. You know, the pain face and the sitting on floors.”

Giselle and her catastrophic periods flashed in my mind. I thought of the chapters where she lies in her bed, incapacitated by her pain, the voice of her disease taunting her, the passage where her sister Holly uncovers the flood of blood in her bed and she is rushed to hospital, the description of the disease ravaging her organs – it was everywhere. I shook my head, that wasn’t me, this wasn’t that bad. I told him not to be silly, and that I was fine, despite his obvious skepticism. Despite the fact that in the back of my mind was a slow growing feeling that this whole business was not okay.

The depictions of our experiences in media matter, especially when we’re young. Giselle and her unfortunate tale, with all the makings of a Shakespearean tragedian, was my first glimpse of endometriosis – one that would allow me to recognise the name when a gynaecologist suggested it four years after the fact. Giselle’s endo is what I have heard Dr Susan Evans refer to as “big endo” – the stuff that on laparoscopy looks like a catastrophic mess, dark lesions, adhesions, organs stuck together. This is also often the story when celebrities share their endometriosis stories. Endo awareness is absolutely essential and celebrities, along with everyday women, sharing stories of their experiences helps to move the topic of endometriosis into public thought. However I too share the notion alluded to by Susan Evans, that by focusing on these stories of “big endo” we may be forgetting that essential fact – that amount of disease is not correlated with pain. That one doesn’t have to have “big endo” to have their pain be acknowledged.

Perhaps mainstream media outlets, like women’s magazines, are drawn to these depictions of big endo. They lend themselves to those lovely, sensationalist headlines that draw your gaze while scrolling, they seem shocking enough to evoke consideration from even the most apathetic of us. But for every story of someone with endometriosis so severe that organs are fused together and the reproductive and peritoneal anatomy is stained with the lesions of the disease, there is a story about a woman with mild to moderate endometriosis – the kind that often takes expert eyes to see – who is also in pain. The phrases mild and moderate don’t seem nearly as dramatic though, and so perhaps they often go unnoticed. I have heard women with mild or moderate disease, and I myself too, say “I’m lucky to only have mild disease, it could be a lot worse”. It’s said as though we need to apologise for not having insides that have slowly imploded over the years, apologise for our clean ovaries, our invisible scars. Why is this the case when most of us with endo, and a good specialist, know that pain and amount of disease aren’t as simple as more is more?

I have seen Susan Evans show a presentation with vision of a laparoscopy a number of times, where she shows us a normal reproductive tract, then a severe case of endo, and a more moderate case. She points out the the lovely ovaries – “beautiful even, mine certainly don’t look like that” she always quips – the recognisable anatomical landmarks, then she shows us what we may not have even seen; the tiny bubbles dotting themselves over the landscape of the peritoneal cavity. She goes on to explain that these tiny, clear bubbles may even be more painful than the dark lesions that we can see, as the dark ones have been there for longer. These fresh, seemingly insignificant lesions are often extremely painful. Susan always asks the audience she’s presenting to if we can pick who has more pain. The answer is that we can’t know. The woman with extensive endo could be in agony, or she may not have even realised her disease until she had problems falling pregnant. The woman with mild endometriosis might be doubled over in pain frequently, taking extensive time off of work or school, or she may feel very little. She often comments that the more extensive endo is a better predictor of trouble with fertility, but again, not always. Laparoscopy is not the whole story when it comes to pain.

While the message of these shared stories, the cautionary tale – do not become this, press for change, press for an answer and a referral to a knowledgeable specialist- is well taken, and so important for awareness; it is the increasingly homogenous figure of “woman with endometriosis” in mainstream media that is not. Within our endometriosis community, we hear a great variety of stories, with disease of various severity and vastly different co-morbidities, because it is a space where we have firmly established our right to exist as women with endo. Within mainstream media and society as a whole, we are still trying to break through strongly engrained notions that govern discussing “women’s business”, and it’s as though it takes something spectacular to be given permission to enter the conversation. Mild endo? Well that doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Not compared to “stage IV”, “extensive and severe disease”, or “organs adhered together”. While it seems fairly harmless to focus on these depictions of big endo in mainstream media, because at least mainstream media has sat up and listened, it matters to those women with milder disease who also experience a great deal of pain. Even more importantly, it matters to those girls and women who have not yet been diagnosed, who will look to these depictions to shape their story of what is happening to them. Like the anguished heroine in my novel at fourteen, from whom I shaped my ideas of endo because there was nothing else on offer, stories of celebrities with severe endometriosis, of hysterectomies and rounds of IVF, will be the Giselles of the next generation. It is our duty in raising awareness to present the many faces of endometriosis, because there are indeed many.

It is our duty to ensure that girls and women understand the fundamentals of this business we call menstruation, because understanding what is normal is the first step in figuring out that something is abnormal. Furthermore, we must present the stories of women with endometriosis of all severities, of different symptoms, and different outcomes. When I was fifteen I thought that endometriosis meant pain so severe that you could barely do anything, that to have it you had to miss weeks of school, or not want to get out of bed – I didn’t do any of that, so I clearly didn’t have it, right? One of the most important and powerful questions my gynaecologist asked me during my first visit wasn’t “did you miss a lot of school?”, because I of course said no. It was when he asked me, “did you want to?” that something in me switched. I thought of all the times where I had forced myself to go to school, scared of falling behind or being seen as weak, the uni classes I had sat through, praying that I wouldn’t pass out. “Yes” I had whispered. I hadn’t realised that I could still be in pain and functioning.

Awareness to me is more than mere knowledge that endometriosis is out there, in some distant, removed void from where you live your life. I want people to realise that every day they live and breathe this disease without knowing it, that is how common it is. On a crowded train as you travel to work each morning, statistically you are likely to be surrounded by more than one woman who has endometriosis. Friends, friends of friends, family, cousins, sisters, aunts, and daughters close to you have endometriosis and may not even know it. I want people to realise that there is no way to depict what endometriosis looks like, because it looks so different on all of us. Laparoscopy is not the whole story, it is not a competition over whose internal organs are the most invaded, or how many body parts we need to resect – endometriosis is a problem no matter what form it comes in. Better detection, diagnosis and treatment is for the benefit of all women with endometriosis, and in the best interests of all of us – some are not more deserving that others. All of us matter. Pain is one of the most personal and subjective experiences we can ever have, and the marks it leaves are not always easy to see; therefore it is important that we respect these experiences and an individual’s right to speak about them if and when they choose, in whichever way they choose.

It is heartening to see the conversation about endometriosis grow, for myths to disappear and more evidence-based, consistent information take its place in the public sphere. But my goals and dreams are big (thank QENDO), and I want awareness to be more than this, to be inclusive and understanding, to listen to all voices and explore all stories. So that girls and women may recognise themselves in these stories, and seek help earlier, reducing complications and improving outcomes.

Now getting doctors to do better, that’s a whole other blog.




Code of Silence


There’s a code of silence that we don’t dare speak
There’s a wall between and the river’s deep
We keep pretending that there’s nothing wrong
But there’s a code of silence and it can’t go on

Is the truth so elusive, so elusive you see
That it ain’t enough baby
To bridge the distance between you and me
There’s a list of grievances 100 miles long
There’s a code of silence and it can’t go on

– Bruce Springsteen, “Code of Silence” 

Nursing demands of one a different set of social rules, a set which can only be learned through, sometimes regrettably awkward, experience. As nurses we cross lines, break down walls, and defy boundaries in the name of health and healing. We must shun revulsion, embrace the happy face, and put aside our own problems in service to our patients. There is a talent to being able to make small talk while putting in a catheter or making someone feel comforted, and not weirded out, while showering them. There is just as much talent in smiling at an elderly patient when they turn the shower head on you, soaking you from head to toe, instead of crying “Mildred, we talked about this, if you can’t handle to hose, hand it back”. When I don my uniform I wear many faces, use many different voices, and pretend that body fluids do not smell. I am nurse, sister, hey you, whatever I need to be; I shake away my identity and take on a new one where for eight hours my problems don’t exist. I have such a talent for these skills because I have had years of practice, thanks to endometriosis.

It was a Monday morning in my second term of year eleven, the season had finally changed and the air had lost its suffocating humidity; I loved this time of year. I was fifteen years old. I have delivered newspapers to the office building, picked up a draft of my English paper from the humanities staff room, and checked the time to see how long I have before form class. It was during this mundane moment I was overcome by a pain that I had never felt before. It was like my uterus was turning itself inside out, slowly but surely, while simultaneously someone was stabbing me with a superheated knife throughout my abdomen. It was jarring, and it knocked the breath from me. I’d been having cramps for a few days, and they weren’t exactly subtle, but this was a new feeling and it took me by surprise. Walking suddenly felt impossible, but I couldn’t just plonk myself in the corridor where anyone would see. I looked at my watch again, form class was in twenty minutes or so, I could sit outside the classroom and not be bothered.  I took a dose of ibuprofen out of my bag and swallowed it hastily, praying it would bring some kind of relief. I made it to the classroom, the pain overwhelming, and I sat with my knees tucked under my chin. At this point I was used to pain, I had started getting cramps around fourteen and they hurt, but I didn’t think much of them. I reasoned that everyone had period pain and so I didn’t worry. But in all of my self scrutiny, I suddenly began to look at everyone else and wonder if other girls in my class even got their period. They didn’t look like they had pain, or if they did it wasn’t bad, all of them seemed so perfectly fine all of the time. Surely not everyone was pretending? I started to wonder, on occasion, what my problem was. It was telling that the first thing that came to mind was that my problem was not being able to handle the pain, not the aetiology of it. I decided that it had to be me, and I had to hide it. The message that subliminally floated around was that, as women, we weren’t really supposed to talk about these things outside of hushed circles, and that was where I surely had to keep this.  

The ibuprofen was having zero effect, in fact I was sure the pain was getting worse. I wasn’t sure what else I could do, I had taken painkillers and sat down, yet the feeling remained. I tried not to panic, taking deep breaths. My form teacher, also my biology teacher, was now making his way up the stairs to the classroom, early, unanticipated. When he saw me he was understandably concerned, because I imagine I looked awful, and I was mortified. This was the worse case scenario here, a teacher, a male teacher, asking questions that would quickly take them in the direction of my period. He was unfazed though. I asked him how long ibuprofen took to work, and cursed under my breath when his answer wasn’t what I was hoping for. His concern only heightened, and even though a small part of me wanted to break down and beg for answers, ask why this was happening to me, because he was nice and I was confident he’d say something reassuring; even in spite of this I felt myself straighten, erase the pained expression from my face and reassure him that I was fine. I did not escape the concerned gaze of my teacher for time, and with good reason, and as a result I began to wear a mask of sorts, one that hid what I was really feeling. I stopped talking about it to anyone, I never mentioned my pain. At times this was made easy by the remission of symptoms between each month, in this time I would forget how bad the pain was and assure myself that there was nothing wrong. When it came back the next month, I would scream on the inside and smile on the outside. My teacher knew all about endometriosis, before I did, and he encouraged me for many months to tell someone. He had proven to me already his genuine kindness and care, offering reassurances the few times he found me in so much pain I didn’t dare move,  He never lost his patience when, curled on the floor of the stairwell, I protested that I was fine and he needn’t call anyone to help, and I told him there was nothing wrong with me. He became my friend once high school was over, and he was the first person I called when I saw a specialist for the first time. 

Pain can be suffocating, both physically and emotionally, and at fifteen I was nowhere near equipped to deal with it, and yet I did because I thought there was no other choice. I pretended that there was nothing wrong for five years before I was diagnosed, and talked to only a few people about my pain, maintaining its benignity beyond a reasonable doubt. I recall at twenty years old the anaesthetist asked me about what medications I took before surgery, and he was visibly confounded when I said none. He asked me after the procedure how I had managed it considering the outcome. I shrugged. I hadn’t realised I had a choice. 


The above collection of photos are examples of a number of times where I have been in significant amounts of pain, but said nothing about it to anyone. I wager that when one looks at these, they wouldn’t pick that later that day I would be lying in bed clutching my stomach, or sitting in a bathroom crying where no one could see me, or on one occasion passed out on the floor of my high school physics lab. Endometriosis cuts into moments of your life that you want to enjoy, it is with you in the best and worst moments of your life whether you like it or not. I graduated from university the first time two weeks after surgery, filled up to my eyes with painkillers, worried I’d fall flat on my face as I walked across stage. My first day of my perioperative placement, I made it to four o’clock before I had to sit on the floor of the locker room because I was in so much pain I felt dizzy. After my best friend’s 21st birthday party I lay on a mattress on her floor, my other friends asleep beside me, trying not to scream and trying to strike a bargain with God, thinking of all the things I’d give up just to be able to sleep pain free. Naturally, many of you may ask why I didn’t say anything about my pain, if it was so bad. It’s a fair question.

There is a code of silence, and there has been one for some time, among those of us with endometriosis and severe period pain. We frequently stay quiet about our pain, for any number of reasons. Perhaps because we’ve been raised in a world that tells us periods are something we don’t talk about outside of closed rooms in quiet tones. Perhaps because there was a time where we shared our pain – with a friend, a parent, or a doctor – and one or more of them told us it was normal, or worse, that it was all in our heads. It may be that we have been in pain for so long, that it becomes normal to us, that pain is just a background noise in the song of everyday life. We become afraid to share, sure that we are alone, despite the fact that 1 in 10 women suffers with endometriosis.

Even once we receive our diagnosis, women with endometriosis often face barriers in a number of areas. Just because we have a diagnosis does not guarantee that others will understand it, including medical professionals. Many women face ongoing battles with their general practitioners, with emergency room or hospital staff, and even with specialists. As we bring endometriosis into the spotlight through global awareness campaigns, women with this disease become better equipped to understand the range of treatments available to them and what they can do to manage pain, preserve fertility, and improve mental health. I recently attended ‘An Hour of Endo With QENDO’ with my colleagues from Endometriosis Queensland, and it was enlightening to see the number of women who left better equipped than when they arrived. We are resilient and strong, and we are tired of pretending that there is nothing wrong, pretending that we are fine, pretending that it’s okay that people think our disease is unimportant.

As endometriosis is thrust into public consciousness through tireless and brave campaigning by people affected by the disease, mythology is shattered and more people begin to understand the reality of living with pain for years on end. As more knowledge makes its way into the mainstream, critical thinking and discussion can occur to ensure that women are equipped with facts, and that we do not slip into the stasis of accepting rhetoric that is untrue because “that’s the way it’s always been”. There has been silence on this front for too long, silence from those of us that suffer, silence from politicians with a platform to encourage funding and public knowledge.

The tide has begun to turn, with the Australian government just last week announcing $2.5 million dollars towards researching better diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis, the result of work by the Australian Coalition for Endometriosis -a group made up of associations like QENDO, EndoActive, and Endometriosis Australia among others. Women are finding their voice and becoming their own advocates in light of education and support from these groups, both of which empower them to value and own their stories and convince medical professionals, family, and friends to take their condition seriously. There is still much work to do to break the code of silence that exists, which highlights the importance of Endometriosis Awareness Month happening now. Women across the globe are sharing their stories through hashtags like #theendophotochallenge2018 and #1in10, and we have a duty to sit up and listen to what they have to say. The wall between sufferers and non-sufferers must be broken down and knowledge of endometriosis must become as ubiquitous as our knowledge of diseases like breast cancer, diabetes and asthma – because they effect people on the same scale. Women’s health is more important than it’s given credit for. Endometriosis does not only effect the person, but the society around them. Pain influences partners, friends, and family; pain is responsible for loss of productivity in workplaces and has an economic impact on the wider state and country. Understanding the systemic effects of this disease is important moving forward.

It’s not just bad period pain, but so much more. We must walk with eyes open, our lips must not remain sealed, and we must above all commit to listening – to women, to their partners, and to medical professionals who have committed their practice to providing evidence based, patient centred care to endometriosis sufferers.

As I walk through the wards each day, caring for my patients, my nurse face on, I smile and my problems melt away. But when I go home, I must learn to admit when my pain is too much, to demand better for myself. I must learn to show my true face and speak up, not only for myself, but for the millions of other women around the globe who share the same fear of ostracism, of pain, of being told they are crazy. We don’t have to be afraid. If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.

There is a code of silence, and it can’t go on.

A Letter To My Nanna On the Anniversary of Her Passing


We’ll be riding the train without you tonight
The train that keeps on moving
Its black smoke scorching the evening sky
Millions of stars shining above us like every soul living and dead
It’s been gathered together by God
Sing a hymn over your bones

– -Bruce Springsteen, The Last Carnival 

Dear Nanna,

This time last year we said goodbye and I bid you a safe journey to the other side, hoping that your loving husband would be waiting for you. I often think about such a moment, imagining a dapper young Grandad in a sepia toned suit and you, young again, in your prettiest dress – replicas of the figures in old photographs. Somehow you are both her, young and elegant, and the fiery, funny older woman who is burned in the memory of all that knew her. You gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever heard, and minutes later would say some of the most inappropriate things I’ve ever heard – and all I could do was laugh anyway. You created a world where I couldn’t imagine you not in it, you fit too well and were written into the pages of too many people’s stories. This year was the first where I had to live in such a world, and I wanted to take a minute to tell you about it.

I discovered that Kellie was not nearly as enthused about surgery as you were when I told her all of my tales from the operating theatres. She tolerated my stories as far as “the floor was covered in blood” before she halted any further descriptions of the six hour femoral nail I scrubbed for during my elective nursing placement. Wimp. You not only would have loved my stories, you would have begged for more details before screwing up your face in morbid glee, perhaps remarking “Oh that’s disgusting Danni…keep going”. As each patient lay before me on the table I felt the weight of responsibility on my shoulders and wanted to do well, not only for them, but for you. You always wanted to be a scrub nurse and I wanted you to be able to watch me do it, to experience my wonder and intoxication every time I walked into an operating theatre. It killed me not to be able to sit down with you and tell you every detail and watch your laughter – no doubt while force feeding me bargain cake from Coles, because who else was going to eat ALL this food?

When my nursing duties weighed heavily on me and it seemed like I would never make it to the end of placement in one piece I thought of what you would say to me, of how proud you were of my profession. You were the angel on my shoulder making sure I didn’t chart any fake respiratory rates or forget to check the suction at beginning of shift. I saw you in the eyes of the patients I cared for at the end of their life alongside the nurses that taught me, knowing the pain that their families were experiencing. I took care of them in the hopes that their family would feel the same relief that I did knowing how well you your cared for in your final days. You taught me to walk through life with kindness and courage, even when you were afraid or tired – you just keep going. You are my indisputable proof that women are strong and capable of incredible things. There are times where I pray you are watching, and times where I hope you aren’t – when things get hard and I feel nothing like the image you always had of me. Knowing how proud you were keeps me going. I get up and last another eight hours on the ward, apply for one more job, dream one last impossible dream. You remind me that life is a gift and we don’t often have it for as long as we might think, and it’s more fragile than we care to treat it.

The love you gave to your friends and family unsparingly pushes me each day to be a loyal and caring friend. You were friend to so many, but those who were your closest friends still speak of you with laughter. The insane stories were endless, and you spoke to them with the same gentle savagery that often permeates my own friendship group. I’m certain you partied harder than my friends, drank more gin, and stayed up later – age was no barrier when one had the right companions. I look at my own group of beautiful friends and think, I want us to never change and still laugh exactly the same way as we do now when we’re sixty, or eighty.

Not a day goes by where I do not think of you, or Grandad, or Gran. But, as the esteemed Albus Dumbledore teaches us, the ones we love never really leave us. I hope you’re happy where you are now, dancing with Grandad, gossiping with old friends, watching this world go by. Your children and grandchildren, your legacy, spend their days making you proud and missing you dearly. There are so many things to tell you, jokes to make, politicians to laugh at, food to try, and love to give. As I eagerly await news of jobs and my graduation, I am only sad that you aren’t there in person to see it. Keep watching Nanna, things are about to get interesting.

Until We Meet Again,


P.S. Kellie has a dog, it’s cute and has its own instagram page – no, I’m not kidding, of course a dog of Kellie’s is destined for fame – there is no other way.

(Love you Kellie)


The Crackpots and These Women

An Ode to Women with Endometriosis in Their Quest for the Holy Grail of Specialists.  

crackpots&women cover

I am eighteen years old when I step into the small waiting room of my specialist for the first time at the private hospital on the hill near the river. I admire the comfortable tub chair that I am seated in, much more inviting than the too-soft couch at my GP’s office that often threatens to make me look like an invalid falls risk as I stand to see the doctor. Eighteen year old me is much difference to me now. Her major is still English Literature, not nursing. Her firm belief is that her Masters degree will be in teaching. She is still worried about the physiology class she is missing to be at the appointment. Most differently, she doesn’t think that her pain is anything to worry about and her greatest fear is wasting the time of this doctor and that he will tell her to go home and try yoga or ibuprofen. Little does she know that by the time thirty minutes is up she will have a name for what she has been experiencing since fifteen and a surgical consent form to go and find it. 

I can still remember everything about my first specialist appointment, what time of day it was, what I was wearing, and the class I had skipped to be there. In the grand scheme of things missing one lecture on cardiac muscle turned out to be harmless, especially after going to nursing school and knowing everything I could possibly want to know on the subject. The green blouse I was wearing has since been worn to death, like every item I clothing that I believe makes me look thinner. But I have since memorised every detail of that waiting room because I have been back there so many times. The man himself is a kindly, older gynaecologist with a speciality in endometriosis who is well known for being “one of the best”. I came to him by accident. My GP gave me the referral after she wasn’t satisfied that I had control over my cramps, an issue I’d raised in passing, more of a curiosity than a complaint, at the age of sixteen. I barely bothered her about the pain because I was convinced, with no evidence mind you, of its benign nature and that, like so many other women, it was mine to bear. However when she realised that I’d told her about it first when I was in year twelve and was now in second year university, she was firm in her recommendation that I have a specialist referral. “I know a guy”. Doctors always sound to me like Al Capone when they say this – like their referral list is actually a little black book of “professionals” who will “take care of things”. Whatever, I accepted her guy. I didn’t even realise how lucky I was to have been referred to an endometriosis specialist, a rare bird, who knew his stuff and would have the surgical expertise to diagnose and treat endometriosis when he found it. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. But I was comforted at eighteen by this considerate doctor, who listened to my story and helped me make sense of it, made me realise that behind the reassurances of my mind was a mild yet ever present panic that it wasn’t okay to sometimes wonder if your period would require a trip to emergency (even if every time I came close I talked myself out of it – “it’s fine” she says, even though moving or breathing too hard is really out of the question). This same guy took my hand through surgery, and delivered me my diagnosis on the other side. He reassured me when my pain persisted and sent me for scans so that I could see the proof. When he thought I needed more help with pain he gave me a referral. Her guy did good.

I am twenty years old when I sit in another waiting room at the private hospital on a completely different hill. I have the day off classes because in nursing school you can’t just skip them anymore – all are compulsory. I spend an hour with a knowledgable woman who explains the science of pain to me and gives me medication to help. This is on top of the three new medications I have received from my specialist – I’ve started writing them down to make sure each doctor I see knows the score. I have my diagnosis, I have my treatment – but I’ve never been in more pain. I just want to know why. But going back and asking all the time is an expensive undertaking. I am exhausted, and I wish it wasn’t so hard. I am comforted by my new colleagues who are understanding when I tell them that I have endometriosis, because inevitably it couldn’t be hidden forever. Twenty year old me doesn’t know it yet, but she’ll get through this and her pain will be the best controlled it’s ever been – but it happens by accident, a combination of forgetfulness, reading the nurses’ drug guide, and becoming her own advocate. 

The conversation I have most with other women with endometriosis is about the doctors and professionals we see, because everyone’s got a recommendation and a warning after so long fighting. My list is short and not filled with any horror stories, I love my guy and am just glad I haven’t had cause to bother him for more than twelve months. But others have war stories. Tales of GPs who never listen, of doctors who use “like giving birth” as context for a pain scale (um, rude), and specialists who are brilliant surgeons but don’t know much about what to do with you afterwards. There are also successes. The discovery of a specialist who just “gets you”. Finding a multidisciplinary practitioner like a physiotherapist who has a vast knowledge and experience with endo and wants to work with you to help with long term pain relief. But more often than not these wins are littered with stories of women who had to push on when they wanted to give up, of treatment that makes you cringe at best, cry at worst. Getting a primary health physician to take one seriously is half the battle, but often it doesn’t stop there. Patterns of referral suggest that most women who present to general practitioners with endometriosis symptoms, even multiple time, are not referred to gynaecologists. Management of endometriosis cannot be left to just any gynaecologist, otherwise they are liable to miss things or lack the requisite knowledge to provide women with the best outcomes. But even endometriosis specialists aren’t perfect. There is a great challenge in being a specialist physician, as evidence and recommendations are constantly changing and evolving and responding to this can feel like sandbagging a beach while the tidal wave bears down on you. Some doctors become set in a certain way of doing things, even though evidence may suggest this way is no longer optimal practice. The attitude that endometriosis can be cured via hysterectomy or pregnancy is one that prevails even among specialist doctors, and even more so among those without specialist training. The goal of surgeons is often focused, cut it out and stop the bleeding. Excision, as opposed to ablation, is certainly now the gold standard for helping reduce disease and prevent it growing back and it’s the first step – but it’s not the last. Overall a more holistic approach is required, because endometriosis effects multiple systems within a body.

Has anyone really found the perfect specialist? Do they exist? There is evidence with most chronic disease, endometriosis included, that a multidisciplinary approach is more likely to convey long term success, because no one can know everything there is to know. As a member of a multidisciplinary health team I tend to value this assessment – I can’t do my job in isolation, my patient wouldn’t get the best treatment otherwise. My experience after surgery also helped me realise this. There was a point where my specialist knew he needed to provide me with other resources, and that doctor further provided me with referrals to other allied health professionals based on what was effected. I also learnt a lot on my own, because I came to realise that I had to become my own advocate, armed with facts when I fronted to an appointment. The experience of of having symptoms dismissed or normalised both prior to and after diagnosis gives rise to what is known in literature as the expert patient. This is a story I’ve heard from many women, those who researched and stood up to specialists who dismissed them or told them not to worry. Those who presented doctors with their own research and actually had that doctor listen and respond to them. I had the benefit of learning this skill and gaining confidence as I went through nursing school, because I learnt how to communicate the needs of my patients to doctors and how to advocate for a patient. This was the advice to me of women who had been through so many doctors, learn to be your own advocate and do your own research. It is an unfortunate fact that endometriosis is not well known in the public sphere, despite improvement thanks to a number of organisations dedicated to the cause, and that knowledge about the disease is not consistent among doctors. Research papers are scattered with the stories of women who have felt betrayed by the medical profession, and the feeling of happiness and relief when someone finally understands.

But all of this is hard work, and having to research, pull together your own team of professionals, attend appointments, manage symptoms and still somehow manage to have a professional and social life can be draining. Dr Kate Seear calls this “the third shift” and accounts for another facet of unpaid work by women in addition to domestic duties. We shouldn’t have to work this hard, should we? Evidence points to a need for greater education of doctors to increase both their acknowledgement of symptoms and empathy for patients’ distress, it also highlights a need to respect the patients’ knowledge and recognise them as an expert in their care. This notion is in line with the concept of patient-centred care. Patient-centred care is drilled into nurses from day one of their degree, it’s an approach to health care that is grounded in mutually beneficial partnerships between health care providers and patients – where the patient’s goals and wishes are just as important as the practitioners. This approach recognises patients as capable of being experts in their own care. In the UK, an emerging role is that of the clinical nurse specialist in endometriosis – their role is set out by the Royal College of Nursing and includes postoperative followup, utilising “women-centred outcome measures”, organising referrals to the multidisciplinary team and being available to answer questions and provide psychosocial support to women with endometriosis. The role is not currently widespread and few health services take advantage of this nurse-led model, despite a wealth of evidence that nurse-led programs for various chronic diseases are associated with better outcomes. Perhaps what women need is not the Holy Grail of specialists, but an organiser, a mediator, an understanding ear. Surely we could outsource the third shift to an expert? Having a specialist nurse help one keep track of multiple professionals and act as an advocate when one is feeling lost or dissatisfied with the care they have received. Scope exists for this role currently, most likely in private practice (as with most things they tend to start here to prove their worth before the public system invests). Fertility nurses currently provide a similar role for those undergoing treatment for infertility – the fertility nurse is your go to, they provide you with information, perform tests, organise follow up and ensure you’re seeing the right professionals. They work alongside a specialist doctor, but one gets the benefit of continuity of care, as well as an organiser – a professional patient advocate!

As knowledge of endometriosis grows among the women who have it, it is undoubtable that they will begin to demand more of a system that has historically sidelined them, fobbed them off, and left them wondering if they’re actually insane. The unpaid work and emotional burden of a chronic disease with far less attention and research funding than others is significant and cannot be ignored. These women gather and share battles and victories, about the best, the crackpots, the men and women who changed their lives in the quest for answers. These women are strong and brave because they have to be, and having been both patient and practitioner I know the medical profession can do better. Patient centred care is not a marketing campaign or a company line, it’s in the everyday interactions we have with our patients that prove to them that we put them first above all else, and that when they talk we listen. At eighteen I didn’t know how to make myself heard, or that I even needed to be heard – but I had a doctor that knew my story was important and fought for me. Every patient deserves such a person, and it is my hope that through the hard work of organisations like EndoActive, QENDO, Endometriosis Australia, and Endometriosis UK (to name a mere few) that more people will realise the need for such courage, that the men and women of medicine will fight for their patients to receive their diagnosis and treatment.

More often than not the answer to basic questions in medicine are right in front of you, you just have to know how to listen.

I am twenty-two years old today. In November it will be two years since I had surgery to diagnose my endometriosis. In that time I have learnt so much about this disease and talked to so many women who have walked the same streets and felt how I have felt, they are inspiring and a blessing. I have become a support worker with an endometriosis organisation so that someone else has a sounding board and can become empowered to be their own advocate. Twenty-two year old me doesn’t know what will happen in the future, whether her endometriosis will grow back, whether she’ll have children, whether she can handle if either of those things happen. But she is hopeful, because she has a network of inspiring endo sisters that reach the farthest corners of the world and some who regularly meet just kilometres away, as well as a trusted specialist – the guy, I bet on the right one. 

What I Do In There


OR nurseYou’d be forgiven for not knowing at all what a perioperative nurse does if you spend a lot of time watching Grey’s AnatomyHouse MD, or Pulse. In the world of television medicine, doctors do their own jobs as well as a good deal of the role delegated to nurses but balk at hygiene cares  with a terse “that’s a nurse’s job” as though our years of training equip us for nothing more than these (albeit extremely important) tasks. When you move from the ward to the operating room, we become even more scarce. Grey’s Anatomy generally features one scrub nurse and she’s rarely acknowledged (despite the actor being a scrub nurse in real life – a way cooler story!) and scout or circulating nurses are rarely even present let alone allowed speaking roles. House borders on comical in it’s surgical depictions – with House’s staff frequently performing surgery despite clearly being of the internal medicine variety – immunologist, neurologist, nephrologist/infectious disease – and often with no theatre staff. Now that’s a violation of ACORN standards if I ever did see one….

As a graduating student nurse I have spent a great deal of time correcting my own views of what my profession does, delighting as I discover more skills that can be mine and my responsibility. I’ve also spent my training confronting what other people think of my profession and the question “do you even know what I do in there?” . Nurses and students alike are often asked the question of why they want to be nurses, and why didn’t they become doctors – as though not wanting to become a doctor is an intellectual failing instead of a considered choice. Now I adore doctors, how can one not? I work with passionate, hard working physicians who save lives and who, on the whole, listen to the advice of nurses (even me, the humble student) about patients. This is especially true in the middle of the night when we page medical or surgical ward call and beg for a review of a patient that we’re worried about. I also love my doctors, as an endometriosis patient I have to, and I place a great deal of faith and trust in the specialist who delivered me my diagnosis. This appreciation I have for my wonderful colleagues doesn’t change the fact, however, that nurses deserve recognition for the extensive work that they do and that their role isn’t merely doctor’s handmaid. We should be recognise as the autonomous practitioners that we are, and the amount of care we initiate to keep a patient safe and stable before they even sees a doctor But….even nurses aren’t perfect in their recognition of what their colleagues do.

greys nurses

At the beginning of my final year of university I did a twelve week placement in perioperative services – also known as theatre or “the OR” for you Americans out there. Theatre was this magical place in my hospital, tucked away in a locked department that only certain nurses were allowed access to. If you had a surgical patient on the ward you were allowed as far as the anaesthetic holding bay to deliver, and as far as post anaesthetic care (PACU) to collect – but there was no crossing the line into the place that kept those brightly lit theatres filled with surgery. As a first year student I knew I wanted to be where the scrubs were, just because I wanted to see what it was like behind that red line. I loved the wards I had been on, the things that the nurses there taught me, talking to my patients and helping them recover…but I wanted to see what happened to those patients when I took them to theatre. It was while on placement there that I discovered how much I loved the perioperative nurse role, both in theatre as a scrub/scout or anaesthetics nurse and looking after patients postoperatively in PACU, it was the kind of nurse I wanted to be. I loved going to placement every day, and wished I could have spent more time there. Other student nurses didn’t get the appeal, neither did some of the other nurses I knew. Some people asked me if it’s boring – don’t I just hand things to the surgeon? One person even told me that they wouldn’t feel like a “real nurse”. Just as the general public doesn’t always understand what nurses do and how important it is, other nurses sometimes don’t even know what perioperative nurses do beyond the trope of “handing stuff to surgeons”. This happens a lot. Sometimes one gets tunnel vision when you pick a particular path – perioperative nurses have perceptions about what ward nurses do, ward nurses have perceptions about what mental health nurses do, mental health nurses have perceptions about what practice nurses do…and we aren’t always right about these perceptions – in fact sometimes we’re just plain wrong.

As a scrub or instrument nurse you have to demonstrate skill and knowledge about the surgical procedures you are scrubbing for, your eyes always on the field anticipating the needs of the team, handing instruments is only one part of that. You are also an advocate for the patient, who is unable to speak up for themselves, anaesthetised, and you are in a position where you can prevent a medical error. My preceptor in theatre taught me first and foremost that we were there to serve the patient, not the surgeon, and that I had to be prepared to speak up if I, or someone else, broke scrub or contaminated the sterile field, or if I thought an error was about to be made. As a scout or circulating nurse you keep the procedure flowing smoothly and are responsible, along with the scrub, for ensuring the count is done…the count ensures that all items are accounted for and that nothing has been left inside the patient unintentionally. This is one the most important jobs in surgery, and the responsibility lies with the registered nurse. While scrub nurses seem like they’re having the most fun in the OR sometimes, I’ve learnt that often it’s the more experienced nurse that should scout. The scout can help an inexperienced scrub nurse, but the scrub nurse is effectively trapped in the sterile field – an experienced scout can anticipate what comes next and go and run for equipment in an emergency or if something is suddenly needed if the procedure becomes more complex. Knowing what to get and where to find it can cut the waiting time in half and keep the procedure flowing smoothly, leaving less chance of patient deterioration. These nurses intraoperatively are the least visible, the patient doesn’t even know they’re there mostly, but their role is a tremendously important and often complex one – a far cry from “not real nursing” or “just handing the surgeon things”.

The anaesthetic and post-anaesthetic nurse play an irreplaceable role in the perioperative journey too. The anaesthetics nurse ensures the patient’s safety before they even make it to the operating room. They check for valid consent, ensure the patient understands what is about to happen to them, and screens for any potential complications that could effect the anaesthetic or the overall procedure – they work alongside the anaesthetist ensuring the patient is delivered safely through the procedure. I learnt the most about pharmacology and the many complex drugs involved in keeping a patient paralysed and sedated from these nurses, as well as about positioning a patient. You may not realise it, but the way someone is positioned during a procedure, for hours at a time, can have a massive impact on their recovery. Staying in one place for too long can cause pressure injuries, nerve damage, and musculoskeletal issues- but if you position correctly and use the right techniques, it makes a significant difference. The anaesthetics nurse is often the last person a patient sees before they fall asleep – they are often the calming presence that helps that person feel safe and comforted. Then when you awaken, it’s the PACU nurse that has your back. Some of the most unstable patients prone to rapid deterioration are those emerging from general anaesthesia, and PACU nurses have the skills to manage this deterioration. I started my placement in this area and was stunned by the sheer amount of knowledge these nurses had about so many different subjects. Their expertise ranged from pain management and management of postoperative nausea and vomiting to comfort cares and reassurance, to complex airway management of an unstable patient. They also worked like a well-oiled machine, they knew what each other needed and no one was ever left alone to a patient if it could be helped – there was usually always someone that appeared before you with a SCUDs machine or IV pump, or a warm blanket for your patient. PACU nurses bring you back into the safety of consciousness, reassuring you that you’re safe now and that you’ve made it through the black hole of anaesthesia. They then provide comprehensive handover to the ward nurses to make sure that nurse knows how to properly care for the patient postoperatively. Continuity of care is essential in nursing, and is an another example of a skill not always noticed by patients or the public; but a good handover can save lives. Being in PACU made my handover better on the ward, it made it more organise, more concise, but rich in the essential information that my colleagues would need to carry on the correct cares.

The perioperative nurse role is diverse and challenging, and requires a great deal of training and the acquisition of knowledge – it’s like no other kind of nursing. Every nursing role serves an important purpose, and it’s time that more people knew it. While the ward nurse is a common symbol of the profession, the role itself is often misunderstood by the public and other health professions and as such misrepresented in fictional depictions. However the role of the perioperative nurse, as well as other specialist nursing areas or non-acute areas (such as mental health or practice nurses) is one that is often also misunderstood by our own colleagues. All nurses have the potential to make a difference to those patients they serve, and deserve acknowledgement. To facilitate better understanding of the profession by those outside it, those of us within it should aim to better understand their own colleagues and their value. This week is Perioperative Nurses Week, and  I hope that this post may give a glimpse, through the eyes of an inspired student, into that hidden world of the operating theatres so that more people can understand a nursing role that often goes unnoticed. Bohkee from Grey’s Anatomy, I see you. Shirley from ER, I see you. Every real life perioperative nurse I’ve had the honour of working with, I see you too – thank you for inspiring and teaching me, for making me want to be one of you.

I’ll see you where the scrubs are.


The 1 in 10 Sisterhood


March is Endometriosis Awareness month. 1 in 10 Australian women have endometriosis, a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus is found outside the uterus – for example on the reproductive organs, abdominal organs, throughout the peritoneal cavity and even on the diaphragm and thoracic cavity. The disease can effect girls and women throughout the lifespan and causes a myriad of symptoms which may include severe pelvic pain, infertility, pain with going to the toilet, pain with sex, fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms, and heavy menstruation. The disease effects every individual differently and the average delay from symptom onset to diagnosis is around 7 years (range is anywhere from 5-11 years on average depending on which study one consults). 

I’ve known since I was diagnosed with endometriosis that the disease affects 1 in 10 women, but I don’t think I fully comprehended how many women that was until recently. Looking at support pages and seeing how many women shared their stories in these spaces, I came to realise that my story was similar to many others and so different to even more – and that is why every story is important. Being a student nurse, the pool of women I talk to has expanded in the past year and in this time I have become more and more aware of just how many women suffer with endometriosis. Four of my preceptors have had endometriosis – possibly this number is higher, I only found out when I was having a bad enough day with my pain that I had to tell my supervising RN, and they understood perfectly because they had experienced the same pain. In my most recent placement I was chatting with one of the grad nurses over lunch and found out that we not only shared the same disease but the same specialist. We spent a good deal of time gushing over how lucky we were to be under this doctor’s care, understandably – he’s amazing. But what struck me was how she told me, she used the phrase “Me too sister, I have endo too”. Now we call each other “sister” a lot in nursing, it’s the old-fashioned way to address a nurse and in many environments we still use it either as an inside joke (we call the male nurses sister too, and grin mischievously as we do so) or as way of expressing our gratitude. But it’s a term rarely heard among the grad nurses outside the floor. This was a different sister…it was the acknowledgement that having endometriosis gives you a vast universe of endo sisters across the world to share stories with, share experiences, and feel a little less alone.

In just 12 months endometriosis awareness has come a long way. Celebrities such as Daisy Ridley and Lena Dunham have shared their stories and encouraged young women to be assertive and push for care when they feel they are being ignored or not taken seriously. Mainstream media outlets such as The Guardian and Mamamia have featured a variety of endometriosis stories from women’s endo stories to specialists answering non-sufferers questions about the disease to encourage greater support and understanding. I’m starting to feel that more people understand the burden of having this condition and that when I tell people I have endometriosis they do actually know what it is or at the very least have heard of it. Women like Sylvia Freedman, co-founder of EndoActive, have led the way in promoting education about endo. Endometriosis Australia and QENDO (QLD Association) have similar roles, especially in regards to keeping those of us with endo up to date with research about our condition and the treatments available. QENDO held a fantastic event at the beginning of March with the legendary Dr Susan Evans (among others). Susan is a passionate physician who’s book on pelvic pain and endometriosis was one of the first to take a patient-centred and woman-centred approach that empowered women to be their own advocate. This approach is becoming more recognised as patient care in general becomes more “patient-centred”, but women seeking care for suspected endometriosis frequently face barriers to effective care.

Earlier this year I completed a literature review as part of a research course and I focused my question around the “patient-centredness” of endo care. A groundbreaking European study was conducted where researchers developed a tool to quantitatively measure this, using input from specialists, researchers, and a focus group of patients. The study was the first of it’s kind and extremely exciting as both a patient and a health professional. The other studies I included were less optimistic. In fact they were an indictment upon the medical profession. While the studies provided a glimmer of hope that over time GPs have gotten better at treating women with pelvic pain, they also showed that many women had been treated appallingly. At best some women had been misdiagnosed and told that going on the Pill would solve all their problems, at worse they were accused of drug seeking or told that their problems were psychological. In between there were the usual “suck it up” or “every woman experiences period pain” comments and even the suggestion that pregnancy would solve their issues. These studies were conducted in the last ten years, and it is unacceptable that women still face this kind of treatment and discrimination. It was a very different assignment to the one I did in my undergraduate degree, before I was diagnosed, which centred around how women became empowered by online support communities. Here my research was hopeful, inspiring, and spoke to the sisterhood that’s there to support you once diagnosed.

My hope is for a a profession that is well educated and supportive of women presenting with endometriosis and/or chronic pelvic pain. I hope that as a nurse I can be part of that. It is sometimes uncomfortable as a health care professional to read such an indictment of one’s profession, but it’s one we have to look at and then ask ourselves what we can do to better serve our patients. Every day on the wards or in operating theatres or in community nursing I remember that I myself have been the patient and I was lucky enough to receive the best care I could imagine. It is my duty to provide the same care to all of my patients. Women with endometriosis deserve this care, the same as all patients. It is important that we continue share our stories in an effort to educate as many people as we can. The sisterhood has done so well and we need to keep this effort up. EndoMarch 2018 should see even more progress!

Once again, in celebration of EndoMarch 2017, I encourage you to educate yourself. If you’re already familiar with the condition, up your knowledge…talk to someone with the disease and find out how you can support them. Make a resolution to never use the phrase “Have you tried x?”. We hate that…unless you’re a doctor. And even then, specialist preferred. Keep the conversation going!


“Halfway to Heaven, and Just a Mile Outta Hell”: Bruce Springsteen in Brisbane


Technology has ruined us Bruce Buds. The ability to watch live shows on your own screens from across the world due to the miracles of Periscope and videos on fan pages has given us a glimpse into the intimate relationship between Bruce and his chosen crowd. We see it as it unfurls and, honestly, we get a bit jealous. One might think that makes us less excited for our own live events….UNTRUE.  The excitement was palpable at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, even in the heights of B reserve where I sat the air was alive. This only reached its climax when many spotted the elegantly dressed strings behind the stage – surely meaning an opening of New York City Serenade.

We weren’t disappointed, Bruce opened with a beautiful NYCS – the stage lit up to reveal The Professor himself with those distinctive opening notes. I’ve seen the song played before, but I feel I will never tire of its enchanting beauty. It was slower, more intense this time around. Though we predicted NYCS, no one could have predicted the stunning transition into Lucky Town – a live rarity. It was the first sign that this setlist would be anything but ordinary (no Springsteen show ever is). The rendition was powerful and energetic in such a way that I and everyone that knew the words screamed them with Bruce. Next up was Bruce’s Valentine’s Day Special. Descending into the pit to pluck signs while we waited with bated breath to see which one he would choose. I saw Meet Me in the City and Back in Your Arms among the plucked, but he held up Janey Don’t You Lose Heart from Tracks. This was followed by a rocking Rendezvous and wonderfully energetic Be True, also from Tracks. For the more casual Springsteen fan (we love y’all!) they would have been an unfamiliar experience, but no doubt an educational one. Bruce was clearly having a great time, dancing, making goofy faces and shaking it with Jake during the Be True sax solo. To make it even more perfect he played a beautiful Back In Your Arms, complete with five whole minutes of “Bruce Talk” (see my twitter feed for the video). It was raw passion and emotion combined with classic Bruce humour – including advice for when “you done fucked up” with your woman. It swung between hilarious and deeply emotional where one could clearly see Bruce was missing his own woman, with Ms Patti absent for the present tour. To make sure all hope was not lost for those of us who had been broken-hearted, Bruce played us Better Days.



At this point I felt like the set list was made for me, for my day. I had just learned that I gained an elective placement in my chosen area and was on a high, I used the phrase “Bruce concert days are lucky days”. So when Lucky Town started, I felt a little blessed. Time then ceased to exist as Bruce launched into three River Classics: The Ties That Bind, Out in the Street, and Hungry Heart. On Hungry Heart…any true Bruce devotee knows that you have one job during Hungry Heart: show Bruce how epically you can sing that first verse. If you do well, he bestows upon you the honour of singing the first verse again. Brisbane scored top marks. While these songs can be considered the bread and butter of a Springsteen show, last night Bruce approached them with the same energy and finesse of any of his epic anthems. The same can be said of his rendition of Wrecking Ball – fierce, loud, and full of righteous anger. The surprises kept coming with Leap of Faith, of the Lucky Town album which never would have even been on my Bruce wish list and yet upon hearing I realised I had no idea what I was missing. The pit turned blue for an impassioned “The River” performance with Bruce on harmonica.


The next seven songs were an unbelievable high of energy and wonder. The house was well and truely brought down by Youngstown and the incomparable Nils Lofgren and his guitar solo. Also, can we take a moment to talk about the mighty Max Weinberg smashing it with fervour and stamina all damn night? Youngstown, Rendezvous and Wrecking Ball are just f few of his efforts worth mentioning. Then he introduced Candy’s Room with that crisp, clean roll and all my dreams came true. It was hard to stay seated as Bruce and the crowd roared “baby if you wanna be wild, you got a lot to learn”. Another wish from my Bruce list. From here the band went into a thrilling She’s The One, and beautiful Because the Night. I challenge you not to fist pump and damn near cry during Because the Night. The Rising, Badlands, and Rosalita were met with passionate crowd responses. My little cousin attended her first show last night, and when asked she excitedly told me that she “did the whoah-whoahs” in Badlands, a Springsteen rite of passage. I have done it four times now, and it never fails to make me insanely happy. I never tire of the way it manages to connect every person in the building in inescapable joy.

The encore started with the lights low and Bruce telling us he had a special treat for Brisbane. Charlie played the opening notes of Secret Garden and I couldn’t believe my luck. I never imagined I’d get Candy’s Room and Secret Garden in the same show. While I had hoped maybe for some Jungleland or Backstreets, I could not have been more thrilled with the quiet magic of Secret Garden. I could feel myself shedding a tear, because it was everything I ever dreamed it could be. The rest of the night was the traditional Springsteen encore with an amazing Born to Run, Dancing in the Dark, and Tenth Avenue Freeze Out. Asses were out of seats for fun in Shout with the band intros and Bruce’s new command to every departing guest to go home, wake the neighbours “in their pyjamies” and tell them, that we just saw the heart stoppin, pants droppin, Earth shockin, hard rockin, booty shakin, earthquakin, love-makin, Viagra-takin, history makin, LEGENDARY: E STREET BAND.

By the end of Bobby Jean, everyone was exhausted in the best possible way. My father was speechless, and my little cousin had the glow of a newly inducted Springsteen die hard. I tweeted, a hard task considering how concise one has to be, to the other #BruceBuds: “I am speechless. I have seen Bruce Springsteen channel God himself in an epic, energetic show with surprise after surprise”. It was without a doubt one of the best set lists I ever had the joy of experiencing. After seeing a show, you’ll never doubt that experiences are more soul-enriching than “things”, because Bruce Springsteen takes you to another place and that place stays with you forever. The come down from such a high can be hard…Hannah from “Burgers and Bruce” has been describing it from across the world since she left the Australian tour and even this morning I’m beginning to get that feeling.

But lucky for me, Bruce will rock again Thursday night…and I’ve got two tickets. Happy Valentine’s Day Bruce lovers, we have been loved.