FOR years, strangers have assumed Claudia Wright is pregnant due to her severe bloating.
But every time someone makes a comment the 28-year-old feels like it's a cruel joke - for the reality is, she may never have kids of her own.
Heart-wrenching jokes about "when her baby is due" have left Claudia "devastated".
She suffers from endometriosis, which causes womb tissue to grow outside the uterus.
And for Claudia, the agonising condition may mean she is left infertile and unable to carry her own baby.
The 28-year-old is now sharing photographs of her bloated tummy to illustrate her endometriosis in a bid to raise awareness of the debilitating condition.
Claudia first found out she had stage four endometriosis after 16 years of being misdiagnosed.
She had previously been diagnosed with Crohn's disease at 11 years-old as she suffered with excruciating lower abdomen pains, fatigue and rectal bleeding and migraines which has progressively got worse.
She spent 15 years being treated for the disease, until 2017 when doctors discharged her and explained a "misdiagnosis" – she then began to research and discovered endometriosis.
She said: "I woke up sick one day and have never got better.
"I have been going back and forth from the doctors and specialists for years, when they discharged me I took it upon myself to figure out what is wrong and get some answers.
"I was getting worse by the day and after seeing a gynaecologist and diagnosed with severe endometriosis, I thought my quality of life may improve but it was just the start of my nightmares."
Claudia's condition is so painful she has even been forced to quit her job and relies on a walking stick.
She added: "I had to leave my job in PR and marketing as I have been house bound for the past 18 months, I spend a lot of the time in my house and in severe pain.
"I have recently purchased a walking stick that can provide me with freedom as my pain, fatigue, and level of physical impairment make me unable to stand most days."
Claudia even had specialist surgery in a bid to ease the condition, but she still suffers from bloating during her menstrual cycle.
I had to leave my job in PR and marketing as I have been house bound for the past 18 months, I spend a lot of the time in my house and in severe painClaudia Wright
She said: "Surgery isn’t a cure for my condition as it is a chronic illness.
"I had part of my endometriosis excised in October 2018 by Center for Endometriosis Care in America.
"The surgery involved separating my fused organs, a hysteroscopy, checking my Fallopian tubes were clear and work and removing the endometriosis from my bowel and reproductive organs.
"The excision I the gold standard of care and best treatment option to remove the disease but it doesn’t mean I no longer have it."
Claudia has since been plagued with comments about her swollen belly - which sparks comments suggesting she's pregnant from strangers.
She said: "It is a devastating blow every time somebody asks me if I am pregnant and when my due date is because I may never be able to have a baby of my own.
"It is a cruel joke that I can look pregnant, but I may never be pregnant.
"Tthe doctor has advised for my partner Michael Crugnale, 28, and I to start trying sooner rather than later as my chances are quickly decreasing.
“I tend to hide under baggy clothing or stay indoors when I have a flare up because of the pain to avoid being questioned by strangers.
“My left ovary is currently showing signs of shutting down and it’s completely immobile, so I can’t try for a family until that’s sorted as I need to have it cut from the scar tissue.
"It’s traumatic to be told you may not be able to have a baby, but hey, try anyway and try now, regardless of your personal circumstances."
Claudia is now sharing her story in a bid to raise awareness about endometriosis and just what a huge impact it can have on sufferers.
And she uses her Instagram as a tool to find support with other individuals with the condition.
Symptoms of endometriosis
Endometriosis is where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb (uterus) are found elsewhere in the body.
Each month, these cells react in the same way to those in the womb - building up and then breaking down and bleeding. Unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape.
That can lead to infertility, fatigue, bowel and bladder problems, as well as really heavy, painful periods.
It affects one in ten women in the UK.
- Painful, heavy, or irregular periods
- Pain during or after sex
- Chronic pain
- Painful bowel movements
The cause of endometriosis is unknown and there is no definite cure.
According to Endometriosis UK, it takes over seven years on average for women to finally receive a diagnosis.
It's estimated that up to 50 per cent of infertile women has the condition.
Source: Endometriosis UK
More on endometriosis
She said: "Endometriosis is overlooked because it isn’t terminal but the despair from living a life in severe pain that isn’t believed, or going through repeated surgeries with no successful outcomes can be.
"I stay positive because I am surrounded by an amazing support system and I use Instagram to turn my pain into power by using my story and knowledge of the disease to help others.
"I'm all about researching, advocating, educating and sharing with the endometriosis community and the greater public."
To see more of Claudia's journey follow @me_myself_and_endometriosis on Instagram.
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