Wednesday, 27 March 2013
My story: Aubree.
I was officially diagnosed with endometriosis in April of 2011, but it’s been in my life from the start, as my periods have always been VERY painful. At a very early age my mother taught me the power of the heating pad.
I complained about my painful periods to my family doctor and he wrote me a prescription for Ibuprofen, the pain written off as “normal”. After further complaining to my doctors, when I was 17, I started taking birth control. This really helped my period pain, but brought with it less obvious side effects.
As a teenager and young adult I suffered with digestive issues - bloating and at times embarrassing gas. I struggled with headaches that I got just about every day and was prone to migraines. To resolve, I’d pop an Excedrin, Ibuprofen or Tylenol.
I treated my body poorly during this time. I ate lots of fast food, sugar, soda, and alcohol and did my share of drugs. My self-esteem was low and I experienced strong bouts of depression.
Early in my twenties I had “abnormal” pap smears and went under a number of procedures and biopsies of cells in my cervix to rule out cancer. This was a rough time emotionally and physically. In the years following my last procedure I continued to have sharp pains in my pelvic area. I experienced abnormal bleeding prior to my period and after sex.
I approached my gynaecologist about it and it was brushed off as part of the healing process. I didn’t like this answer. I knew something else was wrong. The pain continued and when I switched gynaecologists she took it a step further and ordered an ultra sound.
For subsequent months these ultrasounds revealed cysts on my ovaries. They showed up often during my follicular stage, causing very sharp, gruesome pains prior to ovulation. These cysts were also written off as “normal”, and since they went away each month, not to be concerned about.
Late in my twenties, I started to question the impact the added hormones were having on my body, and made the decision to get off of birth control. This decision awoke a whole new level of pain. My periods were excruciating again!
I missed days of work when my period came around. I was unable to do anything but spend long hours rolled in a ball with my heating pad in SO much pain. The pain convulsed from my centre and shook every part of me as though my nerves were on fire! My uterus contracted in a way that I imagine competed with labour pains. The pain was relentless and lasted all day long.
Time passed and I continued to refrain from birth control. Each month my pain worsened until the pain extended to a near daily occurrence. The pain spread to my lower back, to my bladder, bowels, all the way down my legs. I had increasing pain up until ovulation and this continued, intensifying until the onset of my period. My periods got much worse and were accompanied by awful diarrhoea and nausea.
I was exhausted - all the time.
After watching me suffer for some time, my co-worker suggested endometriosis to me. I had never heard of it. I did research online and spent sometime perusing endo forums. I related very much to the issues the women were bringing up. I had all the symptoms...
I suggested endometriosis to my gynaecologist and she agreed that it could be a possibility, but the only way to know for sure was to have surgery. She suggested getting back on the pill or taking Lupron - a drug that would send my body into a state of menopause.
I didn’t want to get back on the pill and after reading about Lupron in multiple endo forums and its negative consequences, I chose not to go down this route. And surgery? I couldn’t afford that.
As the days passed, my pain intensified. I was miserable and exhausted. The pain brought tension between my husband and I as it affected my whole insides. Sex was painful and left me feeling horrible for a couple of days afterwards. The practise brought with it a fear of pain (from both parties).
I continued to do research about endometriosis online and found more and more of a connection between diet and inflammation/pain. I came across Carolyn’s story on Endometriosis Resolved and spent a lot of time reviewing her endo diet and the other information on her site. I decided that it couldn’t hurt to try and change my diet.
In January 2011, I cut gluten, dairy, soy and coffee out of my body. This was hard, and frustrating as I realised that this made up a lot of the food that I was eating on a daily basis. After a couple of weeks I did start to question my motives. Was the diet change worth it? Did I really have endometriosis? I really wanted a slice of pizza!
When people asked me why I’d changed my diet so much I didn’t have a solid answer. Many assumed I was a coeliac. I resorted to saying it was due to “digestive issues”, which indeed it was. I didn’t feel comfortable bringing up endometriosis because I wasn’t positive that I had it.
These doubts nagged in my mind and eventually lead me to schedule a laparoscopy in April 2011. It was then that I was officially diagnosed with endometriosis. I felt better having the diagnosis, but not so great about the consequences of this now named disease - no cure... Only going to get worse... Infertility.
My bouts of depression increased and I spent a lot of time in tears... And pain. My period pain worsened following my lap to a point that I considered getting back on birth control.
Luckily I came across Melissa’s blog, Cure Endometriosis. I related to her so much. She offered a lot of natural alternatives to healing endometriosis and helped me to connect endometriosis with a weakened immune system. I learned that the majority of the body’s immune system is located in the gut; so I started to focus on improving my digestion.
I heard about Vitalzym from another endo sister and after reading about all its benefits I decided to give it a shot. Vitalzym is a blend of digestive enzymes that help the body break down food. One such enzyme is serrapeptase - which helps aid inflammation in the body, reduces cysts and eats at scar tissue in the body.
To further aid my digestion, I also started taking a daily pro-biotic.
By focusing on improving my digestion, while keeping with my elimination diet, I did start to feel better and this gave me hope.
Once the pain started to decrease, I grew even more interested in natural healing methods. I continued to research and tried out different suggestions. Along the way I became more in tune to my body and the way different things affected my pain levels.
I believe that the biggest factor in my pain is stress. To help keep my stress levels in check I do yoga on a regular basis. My favourites are Hatha and Kundalini. Yoga helps me keep a clear head and has taught me the power of the breathing, especially in times of stress or pain. I believe this practise has been huge in me getting better.
I have also taken up meditation and have gained knowledge on the power of mindful thinking and awareness to keep my mind and attitude positive. I believe that controlling the mind is a huge factor with healing endometriosis and that true healing needs to come from a deep place within.
I am happy to report that I am down to only one day of pain now with the onset of my period and most of the time this pain is manageable. It is not as intense as it once was. My digestive issues have been pretty well eliminated! My daily headaches are no more. I feel more energetic and better than I have in a really long time.
Endometriosis has taught me a lot about myself and has introduced me to a new way of life that I otherwise may not have chosen. It awakened urgency for re-gained health and an important re-focus on ME - what’s best for my body, and soul.
I believe that we can beat endometriosis and that diet and stress reduction play a huge role. I believe that we can get our bodies back in balance by giving it what it needs.
I would not be where I am without endo sisters spreading the message and hope of following a natural journey to heal endometriosis. To join forces I started my own chronicle of my natural journey at Peace with Endo. If you’re interested, please check it out!
Thank you for sharing your story Aubree. Although, obviously, you've had your struggles with this disease, your story sounds so positive - just what us Endo Sisters need to hear! It's also great to hear that fellow Endo Sisters blogs have helped someone to find infomation that helps them reduce their symptoms so much. I really hope you continue to have positive impacts from your dietary changes.
If you would like to contact Aubree, you can follow her on Twitter @peacewithendo or on Facebook.
Can anyone relate to Aubree's story? Have you tried changing your diet to aid your endometriosis symptoms? Has it helped? Have you found that having a disease like endometriosis has made you learn more about your body?
Remember, everyone of us has a different story, and the more shared, the more we can learn. If you are interested in sharing your story, please email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org along with a photo and I'll pop it on to here for others to read.