Painful 'five-year wait' for a diagnosis
IT TOOK five years for doctors to diagnose Kim Maller with endometriosis, a condition that 10 per cent of Australian women have.
The mother of three , who now lives in Mackay, told the Daily Mercury she spent from 2001 to 2006 in almost constant discomfort after being wrongly diagnosed with irritable bowl syndrome by her doctor in southern Queensland.
Eventually, after being referred to a gynaecologist, Ms Maller was told "almost instantly" she had endometriosis.
Commenting on the topic, Mackay gynaecologist Dr Naguesh Naik Gaunekar said yesterday it was difficult for doctors to identify endometriosis because of how common abdominal pain was.
Dr Naik Gaunekar said cases like Ms Maller's were common as women tended to downplay endometriosis because the pain and discomfort "can be very similar to what women consider to be natural".
He also said it was a "struggle to justify" giving women the invasive surgery needed to test for the condition.
"We are not happy to just put everyone under surgery, there is a balance we try to strike..." he said.
"On the other hand there is missing the diagnosis."
Dr Naik Gaunekar said this alternative was "not the end of the world" because endometriosis was not cancerous nor did it impact other body functions.
"Pain is very subjective," he said. "It does depend on the patient and how vocal they are."
Ms Maller said her misdiagnosis had made her feel like she was being "brushed off".
Queensland Government Member for Burdekin Dale Last yesterday spoke out about the debilitating condition after recent reports showed women in southeast Queensland had reported year-long waits to be diagnosed.
Mr Last said "the tyranny of distance" could result in rural woman like Ms Maller waiting even longer.
"If you can wait a year when there are specialists close by you have to wonder how long you will need to wait when the specialist is hundreds of kilometres away," he said.
"It's no secret that women in regional Queensland struggle to access maternity services, which makes me think the same would apply with endometriosis," he said.