Jessie Bunk is on the road to recovery.
A talented artist and professional model from Frederick, Jessie underwent laparoscopic surgery February 12 to remove endometrial implants – clumps of tissue that had grown outside of her uterus, causing severe pain since she began menstruating. Jessie has incurred pain from a variety of complications involving her reproductive system for over a decade, with endometriosis and adenomyosis packing a persistent one-two punch to the ovarian and uterine wall.
“[Adenomyosis] caused my uterus to be enlarged by two-to-three times the normal size, pressing on all the nearby organs and creating a lot of pain,” she said. “It’s been this way since I was 13, when I got my first period. For the last 13 years of my life, I would have it for two weeks every month. The doctors just told me it was normal.”
Endometriosis is a common, yet poorly understood, disease that is estimated to impact 10-20 percent of American women of childbearing age. The disease can affect nearly every aspect of a woman’s life: her ability to work, her ability to reproduce, her relationships, as well as physical and mental health.
“On average, it takes 7-10 years for a woman to be diagnosed,” Jessie said, noting her diagnosis took 13 years. “It’s a really serious disease and a lot of people don’t understand how debilitating it can be.”
The inner strength required to fight such a lengthy battle has left the 26-year-old wise beyond her years – arming herself with a wellness lifestyle and coping mechanisms to push through the tough times and continue to grow.
“Cannabis is my medicine,” said Jessie, who has served Maryland communities in a variety of capacities that include CBD wellness educator, dispensary agent and Cannabis caregiver.
She was hired in January as the sales manager for Fingerboard Farm Market – an e-commerce CBD boutique shop based out of Ijamsville, Maryland. She raves about the compassion and empathy of the farm’s owner, Dawn Gordon, who has made accommodations as Jessie recovers from surgery.
Jessie uses Cannabis “in almost every way, shape or form,” and is quite fond of CBD, taking a daily 1:1 tablet and applying topicals to reduce eczema. She enjoys smoking flower to stem the intense discomfort that comes with an elongated monthly cycle.
“My pain, I live with it,” she said. “It can put a lot of strain on my mental health. I deal with depression and anxiety, but I just do my best every day to be comfortable and be happy.”
While Mary Jane is the friend that holds her hand through dark times, healthy habits like proper dieting, exercise and positive affirmations provide a strong foundation to stand on.
“I used to tell people this at the dispensary,” she said. “If you don’t use Cannabis properly, get daily exercise and drink enough water, you’re not gonna get the full medicinal effect you’re looking for.”
Yoga has been a fantastic coping outlet for Jessie, whose reproductive complications also include premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) – severe irritability and depression triggered weeks prior to her monthly cycle arriving. The movement has been “great for mood enhancement,” and a commitment to weekly practice has led to an increase in flexibility, strength and confidence.
“When you’re dealing with chronic illness, you just kind of suck it up and keep going,” said Jessie, who also takes courses at Frederick Community College. “I’m dedicated to being the best sick person I can be. But also, I’m determined the next 13 [years] are going to be much better than my last.”
While her chase for a degree is temporarily on hold, her lessons in movement continue off the mat. Jessie is a self-taught artist whose skills have recently broadened, gaining exposure on social media for her ambidextrous talents. The Frederick native creates videos of her freehand drawing and coloring entire pieces – with both hands in rapid time.
“This past October, I was sitting at the beach and I was a little stoned,” she smiled. “I remembered being young and writing with both my hands, but in elementary school they tell you not to. That day, I picked up two hands, discovered a hidden talent and I haven’t stopped since.”
Jessie currently has her artwork on display at a variety of local establishments.
“I’m glad people like it,” she said. “It helps me release a lot of the pain that I have. It’s one of the ways I can cope. It just flows out of me. I put out all these colors through flowers and butterflies.”
“There’s too much pain in my world and I’m trying to fill it with some color,” Jessie added. “The world can be a pretty dark place and I’m doing a little piece to make it a little brighter for myself, and hopefully for others.”