Let’s Talk Endometriosis..

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March is Endometriosis Awareness Month.. So let’s talk about it. What Exactly is it?

Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis.  Mayo Clinic- Endometriosis

Now that we know what it is, let’s talk about it. I was diagnosed with it at 15/16. I was told I would probably never have kids. I remember sitting in the doctors office, the doctor telling me at 16, I’d probably never have children. I remember feeling so heartbroken, angry and confused. Why? Why was this being told to me. I didn’t understand at the time. No one really explained any of this to me. Soon i’d find out just what it all meant.

I had been rushed into emergency surgery in 2003, I was 17 years old. I had an ovarian cyst that had ruptured. While in surgery they removed my appendix, since most doctors were dismissing my pain as appendicitis. This surgery started what would become the “norm” for me. Another surgery revealed I was at Stage 4 at 18 yrs old. Unfortunately this wasn’t documented well by the doctor then. All we knew was that it was “everywhere”. We tried Lupron Depot, birth control. Various treatments to manage my symptoms and pain. Which just seemed to worsen each month. Lupron depot made it so I no longer had a menstrual cycle. This way they could manage the pain a bit better, unfortunately this led to other side effects from this medication, which is actually classified as a Chemotherapy medication. Here I was 18-20 and in menopause, on “chemo”. My life consisted of painful periods and doctors appointments.

My mom and I began to research. We found an amazing team of doctors in Atlanta at the Center for Endometriosis. I submitted a lot of medical records, and received word I would be taken as a patient. So off we went. Another appointment. Another doctor. This time though, we had hope. I was going to the best of the best. Little did we know just how things would go.

The consultation was overwhelming. I was basically informed i’d need another surgery. We prepared, we made plans. Traveling back and forth from South Florida to Atlanta wasn’t easy, but my mom made it happen. I was 20 years old, supposed to be in college and my periods were so bad I couldn’t function during that time. I remember my mom and I having the discussion. Me saying, “don’t let them take everything. I want a chance to have a baby later in life.” We expressed this to my doctors, Dr. Sinervo and Dr. Albee. They were aware of my fears, my anxieties, my desire to be a mom. They assured me they would do all they could. That day… that day is forever etched in my mind. Waking up in my hospital room. My mom sitting there, waiting for me to come out of the anesthesia. I looked at her, saw that she’d been crying. I asked her, “I lost them didn’t I? You took them out?”. I screamed, yelled and cried. Not only out of pain but heartbreak. She held me as I cried, as I mourned the loss. It may sound silly to some, but to me it was heartbreaking. She told me my entire right side was covered in endometriosis. The worst case they’d seen in someone my age. I had it on my right ovary, fallopian tube, intestines, pelvic wall. It was in a sense everywhere in my pelvic area. My mom had to make the decision for me, she had to make the decision to remove organs. Make the decision for her 20 year old daughter about her future. She agreed with my surgeons, remove the right side. So at 20 years old I had a unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. This means, my right ovary and fallopian tube were removed. They did this to remove the endometriosis, to buy me time.

I then had to have a LEEP procedure due to pre-cancer cells found on my cervix.. Then.. then a miracle happens.. I end up pregnant in 2008. It was a shock, lots of crying. For 9 months there was no endo pain. No hellish periods.. It was glorious!

My son is now 10, he’ll be 11 in April. I’m 33 and I still battle endometriosis. I’ve battled it for 18 years, I’ve had 6 surgeries in total for it. My last one was in May 2018. They found two endometriomas in my left ovary. Once again my doctor did all he could to give me a chance to have another child. I’m once again at Stage 3. We’re considering reaching back out to the Center for Endometriosis Care. I need another surgery, however after 8 abdominal surgeries, they’re waiting until it’s absolute necessity.  I’ve had severe scar tissue. Scar tissue and adhesions on various organs, in various places. Scar tissue that made placing my feeding tubes, very difficult. It turns out the severity of my endometriosis has created quite the problems in my pelvic area. Intestines are fused together, bowel issues, bladder issues. Things you wouldn’t think about endometriosis affecting, but it has far reaching consequences. Even with my J tube, there’s damage from my endometriosis. They’re saying “frozen pelvis”. It’s horrific to realize just how damaging endometriosis is, and how little it’s explained.

I’m in pelvic floor physical therapy to help with various symptoms from my endo. I have trouble going to the bathroom, both #1 and #2. This is being attributed in part to my endo. Horrific menstrual cycle pain. Every month i’m out of commission for a few days. I’ve tried birth control, sadly they just make my cycle last for weeks, which I can’t cope with. Pain with intercourse, pain with bowel movement, pain with movement in general at times.. These are things rarely discussed or acknowledged by some doctors. Things that are often dismissed. I’m hopeful that Pelvic Floor PT can help, if anything, may be it can help with going to the bathroom. Or help with the pain. Even in some small way would be appreciated.

Knowing i’m running out of time, knowing that each month my pain and periods are absolutely horrendous, knowing I need more surgeries for my endometriosis, it gets to me. Sometimes I debate if it’s time for a hysterectomy. I begin to accept that fate, then it becomes too overwhelming for me. Too much, too soon. I know that’s my eventuality. I know that is what I will end up needing, but how do you mentally prepare for that? How do you mentally prepare for no longer being able to conceive? It’s not easy. In 2019 it was discovered I have a hydrosalpinx. Meaning my only remaining tube is blocked. I have to see a fertility specialist to see just how blocked. I haven’t prepared myself for that yet. I can’t determine which would be easier, just doing the hysterectomy and giving up, or trying with the fertility doctor, and having hope. How do you make that decision? It’s incredibly difficult to make.

The emotional damage from my salpingo-oophorectomy was immense.  I felt like less of a woman. I felt broken, damaged. I wanted to be a mother, and here i’m facing that I would probably never be a mom by natural ways. Depression, anxiety it was there. I had to work through the pain, not just physically, but emotionally as well. That’s what no one tells you about endometriosis. Yes physically the pain is unbearable, but emotionally, it’s unbearable at times. No one talks about the mental and emotional aspect of living with endometriosis. I’m not sure why, is it taboo? It needs to NOT be. It needs to be discussed. Women struggle with both aspects of pain. Let’s be there for them. Endometriosis is hell. It’s physically and emotionally painful. It robs women of their joy, their lives, even motherhood.. their hopes of motherhood are dashed at times due to their pain, or severity.  It can affect relationships. It can damage them. We feel inadequate. We wonder why our partner stays, we wonder how a new partner will feel when they find out you may not be able to conceive. Don’t push your partner away. Communicate your feelings, your fears with them. Lean on them. Let them help you face this.

The feeling of being unworthy due to being infertile, or due to the struggle and pain with your endo. The feeling can be so overwhelming, so soul crushing you can’t breathe. You scream; “Why”, you beg and plead. You try to grasp this, try to grasp how this happened. You feel alone, broken, scared, angry. I assure you, you’re not alone. You’re not broken. You’re not less than, you’re not inadequate. You’re not unworthy. It’s ok to be angry, it’s ok to be scared. You’re worthy of love. So damn worthy. Just know you have a community of women behind you lifting you up in your time of pain. We are here, we will help you shoulder this. We are a sisterhood. We are a community. We are fighters with hope for a cure.

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End of the Year… Reflection

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I’ve spent the last week or so reflecting on my year. My 2018 started out promising..it seemed to have spiraled a bit!

January was interesting. It was probably when I first started having doubt about getting married. By March, I was thinking of my ex boyfriend, dreaming of him more often, and really started second guessing the wedding. Though I pushed forward. My health was up and down. Dealing with Emergency laparoscopy in May, then a HUGE HIPPA violation at the hospital post-op. Which left me reeling, and extremely upset. May brought me un June, and my proteins levels in my urine were climbing, thus an emergency renal biopsy was done! This led to the discovery of my  having Thin Basement Membrane Disease. My nephrologist put me back on iv fluids, lactated ringers to be precise, 3 times a week.

The summer was busy with wedding stuff and keeping my son entertained. Dealing with my health and exhaustion. Spending time with my son. August prepared us for Back to School. August was the start of the spiral. I ended up canceling my wedding. Ending my engagement. So much has happened since then.  In, September I reconnected with someone from my past, someone whom I’ve loved for 7 years. October, November led to may seeing him for the first time in 5 years. What an emotional moment that was. It had to happen though, we both needed to see each other, say what we both needed to say to the other that we never got the chance to.  December led to health concerns, reconnecting with love, but most importantly time for reflections. It also led to my starting therapy. Therapy has been a godsend for me. It’s allowed me to really work through my emotions, and process it all. It’s a safe place for me to just unload my concerns, emotions and everything.

December also led to my son being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, High Functioning. We suspected it, having some answers has been amazing, but learning and navigating things with him is hard. I’m determined to learn all can, and find ways to help him be the best him he can be!!! We attended a football and hockey game! He’s starting soccer, he’s excited, but he’s also well aware of how overwhelmed he can get. We’re trying to find techniques for him, to make things a bit easier. It’s a learning process, we’ll get through it.

I’ve spent the last few months reflecting so much. Reflecting why I made the decision I did all those years ago. I’ve thought that maybe I should leave again, maybe he deserves someone worthy, someone not sick.  I don’t want to be a burden. I’ve struggled with depression the last few months, especially the last month. Christmas was hard, for emotional and financial reasons. There’s days I feel like a failure as a mom. There’s days I cry at all I have to deal with. Days I feel like a failure as a girlfriend. My biggest biggest thing, is my self esteem. it’s such a struggle some days. There’s times I feel absolutely stunning, and others I’m like “WTF, what does he see in me?”… He tells me every day i’m beautiful, but he said this: “It doesn’t matter how much I say it, until YOU believe it for yourself”. How right he is, no matter how much he tells me i’m beautiful, it won’t matter unless I start to see it and believe it! My depression is sinking, it’s swirling around me. I sit here and cry wondering how I left 5 years ago, how I walked away from someone that loved me so unconditionally. I’ve become stuck in that loop. Instead of seeing he’s here, he’s still loving me, i’m stuck in the why, i’m stuck on the feeling like an annoyance, feeling like a burden. I know i’m not, but sometimes, in that moment it’s hard to see past it. It’s a struggle lately, a struggle sometimes I can’t overcome.  I refuse to walk away again, no matter how string the fear is, no matter how scared I am. I can’t walk away from him again. If I do, i’ll lose him forever, i’ll lose my heart.

This year was full of struggles, full of hard decisions I had to make. Full of trials and tribulations, tears of pain, tears of laughter, tears of love. Ending my engagement, but finding my way back to someone I loved so fiercely, it’s scary.  I’m working to let it all go. I can’t control everything, I can’t control the future. What I can control, is myself, my feelings, my reactions. I control me. I am choosing to let go of my insecurities, to let go of my fears. I’m ending 2018, i’m ready to let it all go. Let all the hell of this past year go. Let the self esteem struggles go. I’m choosing to wake up tomorrow, Jan. 1, refreshed, and on a new page for the next chapter of my life. I’m choosing to live, to be happy, to be loved! I’m choosing to let go of negativity, to let go of those that don’t bother in my life. I’m choosing to surround myself with supportive, loving, understanding people. I’m writing my story, i’m sharing my soul. For I have so much I wish to do, I refuse to be held back any longer by my fears or my insecurities.

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2019 is going to be my year. My year for laughter, for friendships, for love, for inspiring others, for travel. 2019 is going to be the year I decide to move past the fear, and fully embrace who I am, fully embrace the past that I can’t change, fully embrace the future that is yet to happen. I am choosing to end 2018 by letting it all go. I choose to follow my path, be positive, happy and loved! I am choosing to let go and let God. If I don’t let go of the fear, I won’t live. I won’t accomplish anything I wish to, for the fear is holding me back.

I’m loved, i’m blessed, and without a doubt, you all are loved as well. You’re never alone. If you ever feel that way, reach out to me, I will listen. I will be here. Together we can build each other up.

Be you! Be Fierce, but most importantly, be true to yourself. Never give up your hopes and dreams. Lets all start 2019 off full of hope, full of dreams.  My story is just starting…stay tuned…

 

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From a child’s eyes…

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Hope you all are well!! I’ve been busy with summer break and had a few health issues. Hopefully we’re heading into right direction now!

This post I wanted to do something different. My son is super excited to be a part of this!  He has such a heart of gold. He’s so compassionate, understanding and just amazing. He is a big help. When we go out to eat, he asks the waiter about peanut oil, and such due to my severe peanut allergy. He makes sure it’s safe. He’s my little big helper. I see he gets upset sometimes when I can’t do things other moms can. I can’t walk through Disney, or go play soccer with him. I can’t go sit at the beach all day due to my heat intolerance.

As much as I know he’s a happy child, I really wanted to know his view on all this. How he sees it. So I sat him down and did an interview with him. He’s super excited to be apart of this. He’s also wanting to record a video, which we will be doing today or tomorrow and uploading. Without further ado, here’s his answers.. Here’s what it’s like from a child’s eyes..

From a child’s view..

1) When I first got sick, and had to adjust to doing things, how did you feel about that? I got sad, because you couldn’t do fun stuff with me anymore.

2) Have you often felt overwhelmed? If so, how do you deal with it? Sometimes. 

3) Do you ever feel angry? If so, why? Yes, Because you’re always tired, we can’t ride bikes or play soccer.

4) What is the hardest thing you’ve had to face in having a mom that is chronically ill? That you’re always tired. That we can’t go to Disney or the beach. That you can’t walk around fun places. Even if you use a wheelchair, I don’t care, I just want to go to fun places with you.

5) Do you prefer when I shield you from the bad days? Or do you want the truth of how things areSometimes I would prefer you to lie about the bad days, sometimes be honest. If you could give parents and kids new to this any advice, what would it be? For kids, Journal your feelings. Be honest about how you feel. Adjust to doing things at home. We play board games on bad days, we read together, watch. movies. We do what we can together.

For Parents: Your child will get angry, but understand their feelings, and talk them through it. Find things to do at home together that’s low energy. Make memories together. You don’t have to go somewhere to make good memeories.

6) If you could tell me anything about how you’ve seen me struggle with my body, what would it be?? You’re a good mom, you do everything you can for me. You make sure i’m happy. And You need to use your walker more, dad says so too.

7) Do you know how much I love you? Yes, I do.

 

Well, that was enlightening. He’s wise beyond his years. He’s honest, and understanding. We trying to hide things from our kids, to protect them, but maybe that’s leading to more anger, more resentment. We should open a dialogue with them about it. Explain what we can and can’t do. Most importantly, make memories together. He’s right, you don’t have to go places to make memories with them. We do movie days/nights. We play silly games on the iPad. We play board games. We find ways to create those memories that we will both cherish.

I know our health can take a lot from us, but it’s not just us that it’s affecting. Often times we push our bodies to exhaustion, pain and till we simply fall. We need to stop doing that. That does more harm than good. We need to listen to our bodies, we need to adjust what we do to be within our limitations. We need to adjust and adapt to what we do to have spoons to make these precious memories with our kids. I know it’s not easy, I know there will be trial and tribulations. There will also be laughter and joy. Our kids don’t need expensive things, or expensive trips. They need us, they need our attention, and time. Simple things can make great memories.

 

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