Home and Away star's rush to hospital during first date: 'It's bad'

·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·6-min read

Home and Away actress Sophie Dillman has just dropped a huge bombshell about her first date with costar Patrick O’Connor.

The pair, who play Ziggy Astoni and Dean Thompson on the show, ended up having to cut their date short and rush to the hospital.

L: Home and Away star Sophie Dillman as Ziggy Astoni on the soap. R: Selfie of Sophie Dillman and Patrick O'Connor
Home and Away stars Sophie Dillman and Patrick O'Connor are in a relationship onscreen and off. Photo: Seven & Instagram/sophiedillman

Sophie suffers from the chronic illness endometriosis, where tissue similar to the lining of her uterus grows elsewhere in her body. It can cause excruciating pain, debilitating circumstances and takes a toll on mental health.

The disease is surprisingly common, with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimating one in nine women born in 1973-78 have been diagnosed with endometriosis.

While the star can laugh about it now, her first date with Patrick ended in an extreme pain flare-up on the side of the road.

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After having a burger at Mary’s in Newtown, Sophie suddenly needed to sit when they exited the restaurant.

“I said, ‘I have to sit down, right now.’ And [Patrick] was like, ‘Sophie, we’re on King Street, you can’t sit down!’,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

“So I was sitting like in a laneway, and I rang my mum and I was like, ‘Mum, I’ve gotta go to hospital, it’s so bad, I don’t have enough painkillers.’ My sister was giving me all this advice as well, and he’d never seen anything like that before, the poor guy!”

The star tells us that Patrick ‘went white’, but he stuck by her side and supported her through the night.

“He was like, ‘I don’t know how to help you, but I’m gonna try’. And he was just so wonderful,” she gushes.

Selfie of Patrick O'Connor and Sophie Dillman with cups of beer at a sports match
The stars live together and have a puppy. Photo: Instagram/sophiedillman

‘Bless his cotton socks’

They’re the golden couple both on and offscreen, and Sophie has many endearing stories about the love of her life.

“Bless his cotton socks, when my endometriosis started getting really bad again, he did heaps of research, and he has a hot water bottle in his car for me!” she shares.

When they were newly dating and living in separate houses, Patrick even put together a ‘pain packet’ at his place, so that Sophie would always feel as comfortable as possible.

The actress can’t emphasise how important it has been for her to have a support network. She’s had multiple surgeries already for endometriosis, and has come to terms with the fact that she has to manage the disease for the rest of her life.

“Those support people in your life, whether they’re your partner or your parents, or your friends or family — are just golden gems. And yeah, we couldn’t do it without you,” she says.

Sophie Dillman is hugged by Georgie Parker onset
Sophie has been open about how supportive her Home and Away family have been. Photo: Instagram/georgieparker

Endometriosis and fertility

Sophie gets candid with us about her future baby plans, and why she’s not putting too much pressure on herself.

City Fertility nurse manager Jam Rodriguez tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the disease can “decrease a person’s chance of spontaneous conception.”

The clinic welcomes many patients with endometriosis seeking advice about fertility, and reveals that technology to detect the disease has advanced.

While a laparoscopy or keyhole surgery was traditionally needed for a diagnosis, patients can now have pelvic ultrasounds instead.

“It’s hard to say whether there is an increase in endometriosis patients over the last few years [at City Fertility]. There certainly is more awareness nowadays of what endometriosis is, leading to more people being diagnosed with it,” Jam says.

“Patients are more medically savvy and not afraid to seek help and get answers regarding their symptoms.’

Sophie Dillman as Ziggy Astoni on Home and Away, holding a pregnancy test
Sophie's character Ziggy has just found out she's pregnant on the show. Photo: Seven

Sophie's baby plans

While some stars shy away from personal and tough topics, Sophie welcomes them — anything to get the conversation started about chronic illness and endometriosis.

“My decision on thinking about children and my fertility is that I’m not going to worry about it until I’m ready, or [am] properly thinking about having a child — which isn’t yet,” she says.

Elaborating on this, she adds that she doesn’t want to ‘stress’ about whether or not she can have a child, if she isn’t at that stage of her life yet.

“[I don’t want to] spend all those years stressing about [getting pregnant], and then maybe I can’t even have a baby,” she admits.

The actress tells us that she’s been open with all her previous partners, and Patrick, about her potential fertility struggles. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but she wants to help make it easier for others.

“It can be really scary for some people to have those conversations, but there’s so many options for fertility now, and fertility treatments, IVF, adoption, and it’s not as scary when you talk about it more, you know,” Sophie adds.

While she knows that it’s something she will have to broach in the future, there’s no reason for her to go through fertility tests just yet.

Patrick O'Connor as Dean Thompson and Sophie Dillman as Ziggy Astoni look at each other while holding surf boards
Home and Away often changes a scene to hide Sophie's swollen stomach when her endometriosis flares up. Photo: Seven

‘Don’t give up’

Sophie is a huge advocate for anyone suffering with pain, and she shares some key advice for anyone going through something similar.

“Don’t give up. If you know there is something going on in you that doesn’t feel right, or is causing you pain. Pain is an indicator in your body that there is something wrong, and you need to answer it because it won’t stop.

“Pain is designed to throw your whole existence into knowing that there is something wrong in that spot,” she says, speaking from experience.

The star has had a bumpy road herself with endometriosis, after being told that her extreme period pains were normal, and she just tried to ‘suck it up’.

“I always used to wake up, especially on my first day of my period, and I’d faint and vomit and I couldn’t stand up straight. They were really heavy and really uncomfortable,” she remembers.

She knows it can be hard to get doctors to take patients seriously. Both Sophie and her sister, who also has the disease, had to do their own research and really self-advocate to get a diagnosis.

“We have more and more awareness around these sorts of chronic illnesses thanks to social media, but it’s still an ongoing process.

So keep going, because there will be someone that listens,” she advises.

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