Something to talk about …
A message from your editor
Dear readers and friends,
As I write these words to you today, it is easy to feel stunned and speechless, as the world has now seen the end of an era of stability in Europe with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It is a situation that we are following closely here at The Norwegian American, even though our print publishing deadlines make it impossible for us to provide the most up-to-date coverage of the events as they unfold.
Together with the people of Norway and the United States, we stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. I urge you to carefully read the words of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who responded to the attack on Feb. 24. We have reprinted his speech on page 6 and will work to keep you updated in our online communications.
But with this issue, we also have a focus on something very beautiful: glass. It is something many of us associate with Norway and the Nordic countries—and with good reason, for they create some to the most beautiful glass pieces in the world, both practical objects that we use in our everyday lives and works of art. Many of you have them in your homes, things you have received as gifts from Norway or picked up on your travels. Of course, Nordic glass is so prized that it is exported around the world to become part of our everyday lives here.
What many of you may not know is that in recent decades, the art of glassblowing has made its way to our shores in new ways here and has been established as an important art form in North America. We are excited to focus on one Norwegian artist in particular, Terje Lundaas, who has raised the art to new levels in his adopted home in Miami. We will also focus on other Scandinavian American artists, who have taken inspiration from their roots and soaked up the Nordic glass influences around them. We are sure you will be in awe of the beauty of what they create and take inspiration from it.
A serious subject
So much is going on in the world today, both abroad in Norway and here at home, and every couple of weeks or so, we have the challenge of deciding what will appear on the opinion page opposite our editorial content. We are fortunate that so many interesting, qualified writers submit their opinions to us to offer perspectives that you may not have access to other sources. And this month’s op-ed by Lars Inge Leirflåt about endometriosis treatment is no exception.
Endometriosis, you may ask: Why that? What is it?
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, so it seemed like a natural choice for a topic—and a very important one. It is a disease that is estimated to affect 10% of women in North America and the Nordic countries, and the numbers are growing. It is not a new disease either—it was first discovered in the mid-19th-century—but awareness remains low and suffering among women—especially young women—remains high.
In short, endometriosis is a disease of the female reproductive system, in which cells similar to those in the endometrium, the layer of tissue that covers the inside of the uterus, grow outside the uterus. The result can be acute and chronic pelvic pain. Severe endometriosis can even result in infertility. In the past, many unnecessary hysterectomies have also been performed as a form of “treatment.” This has been devastating for many women, their partners, and families.
The disease tends to affect women in their 30s and 40s, but it can also start as early as the onset of menstruation. Most young women suffering from it live in pain for many years before being diagnosed. For this reason, mental health issues among the women suffering from the disease is very high. They have been among the “hysterical” women of the past, and these days, they are still often told, “it’s all in your head.”
Endometriosis seems to be a disease that we just don’t like to talk about, and I agree with Lars Inge Leirflåt it is something that we need to do. I have my own personal story, because I suffered from endometriosis from an early age and found it very difficult to get help. With a lack of awareness and knowledge, friends and family were not always sympathetic. Talking about menstruation or the problem associated with is not comfortable for many. Menstrual blood is something “dirty” for many, a taboo subject, but it is part of daily life for over half the population. These problems need to be taken seriously.
I can remember waking up on the operating table after my first laparoscopy and being told of my diagnosis. At age 27, it had already been a long journey from my first visit to an emergency room at age 18. After all the years of searching for help, visits to doctor after doctor, I finally found the right one. It had also been an “international” experience for me, as I was living aboard with my work for part of this time and visited clinics in Austria, Sweden, and England—no one had been able to help. There were all the people who did not believe that I was sick, the struggle of getting through each day, being exhausted while trying to lead a normal, productive life. It is a story that I have heard over and over from others, too.
My journey with the disease did not end there. Fortunately, hormonal drug treatment was available. It was extremely expensive at the time: had I not had insurance, I would have needed to spend two-thirds of my income on the drugs. There were the side effects, some permanent—in my case my voice was permanently lowered—but things did improve. I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones who was able to get help. I went under the knife four subsequent times for follow-up diagnoses and treatment with laser surgery. Endometriosis is a very persistent disease, and there is still no known cure. The cause also remains unknown.
Why is it so difficult to talk about endometriosis? As I write this, I still feel a bit of discomfort. There is always the worry about stigmatization and lack of understanding. But one thing I know for sure, it is worth talking about. If I or Lars Inge could prevent one woman from going through the suffering associated with the disease, it is worth it to speak up. It could be your sister, your wife, your daughter, or a good friend. We should want everyone to lead fully productive, happy lives. It’s definitely something to think about—and to talk about.
Talking about our newspaper
In recent months, many our readers have asked us how things are going at The Norwegian American during the pandemic. The answer is that they are going quite well. Our subscriber base is growing, but we still have far to go to reach a level to sustain and grow our operations.
There are many ways you can help. If you enjoy The Norwegian American, please encourage your friends and family to subscribe, or even think about getting them “hooked” with a gift subscription. We bet they’ll enjoy it and appreciate your thoughtfulness and generosity—and, of course, we will, too.
We also encourage you to use our online subscription management options. It is now very easy to purchase and renew subscriptions online, and if you set your account to auto-renew, it saves us both time and money, as a steady stream of revenue is guaranteed for our operations. That allows us to focus on what is most important for you: bringing you a paper that you will enjoy.
As always, we thank for your continued support, and with this new issue, we wish you many hours of interesting and very happy reading!
Lori Ann Reinhall
The Norwegian American
This article originally appeared in the March 4, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.