People | Health | Bodies

Proof of Mountain

On a long-sought diagnosis, chronic pain, and a trek to Everest Base Camp.

I’m trudging through the Himalayas. It’s day nine of a twelve-day Everest Base Camp trek. The ground is frozen mud. My thighs ache. Ahead is a horizon-stretching field of boulders, and beyond that is base camp.

Photograph courtesy of the author

If you weren’t capable of doing something like this before endometriosis, how can you possibly be now?


Photograph courtesy of the author

Articles often cite that it takes a median of eight years to diagnose endometriosis. I’ve always wanted to ask: Eight years from when? (Who do I even ask this of?)


Photograph courtesy of the author

Endometriosis is an incurable chronic illness. One 2017 study found that over 60 percent of people with endometriosis require additional surgeries as treatment, at a median time of less than two years from the initial surgery. Another study found that endometriosis recurs in up to 67 percent of patients. An organic time bomb, waiting inside you, for its next life.

Yet the ending I sought, after an uphill battle of increasingly invasive diagnostic tests and invasive treatment—and after nine days of Himalayan trekking—was only the beginning after all.

He nods and walks ahead.

Photograph courtesy of the author