See those sweatpants over there? They saved me one fine evening. And see that pic of me with the yellow lei? I dont wear that everyday, I promise. That was me this year at the Vancouver Endometriosis march for awareness. Yes I have endometriosis and my story Im sure is very similar to yours. And again, much like you, Ive become unphased by poop talk and periods. If you’re ok with it, continue reading.
When I was 14 years old I got my first period. I was neither thrilled nor upset, but it was quite annoying having to wear this huge pad during gym class to keep me protected. As time went on I graduated from middle school to highschool, and one particular crampy day I visited the bathroom (on average) every hour to change my pad that was soaked through. Unfortunately that last trip to the bathroom resulted in me passing out at school and taken home, later then to the hospital. Back then there wasnt much anyone could do about heavy periods. Ultimately I was put on birth control but what was interesting is what they found while I was at the hospital. I was on the stretcher complaining of shoulder pain. We know what that means today, but back then it was an indicator of gallstones. See, the right shoulder is the deferred pain spot for both the gallbladder and the uterus. Great! An ultrasound revealed that I had small gallstones – as do so many other women – and these came to be the scapegoat for so much of my pain for years to come. As the years went along, my periods got worse and so too did this unusual ‘gallbladder pain’. The pain in that area became so unbearable but the size of the gallstones didnt match up with my pain level. Here is comes ladies….”maybe she just has a low pain tolerance. If she wants it out, we will take it out”. Yeah I wanted it out. But mostly I wanted the pain to stop. So at the age of 24 I had my gallbladder removed.
Ok so back to the endometriosis for now. Yes this too got worse and worse and worse. While I was on the pill I gained so much weight. As a teenager this was utterly stressful for me. I didnt feel like the person I was supposed to be. I was cute and skinny and I was turning into a chubby depressed person. Sadly when I went off the pill, as an attempt to regain the figure I once had, my periods got worse. Sometimes more painful then others but I remember often having my period for 11 days straight and then 3 days off, and then back at it again. This unusual pattern led me to the hospital a few times and the word ‘endometriosis’ was thrown around a bit, however there was no way to diagnose me. It was exhausting but not something I could really talk about. Partly because it was gross but also because I thought it was normal. The end result was me going back on the pill a few years later.
Until… I was married and ready to have a baby. One year goes by. 6 more months go by. I should have bought shares in pregnancy tests. Nothing. Always negative. It was time to get referred to a fertility clinic. Ugh! What a year. One test after another revealed that I had a very low egg count, a blocked Fallopian tube, and suspected endometriosis. We booked a Laparoscopy to confirm and low and behold, the doctor told me it was everywhere. Everywhere!
I recovered from surgery, divorced my husband for reasons unrelated, went back on birth control and just focused on me for a little bit. After years of just struggling through it, I found myself taking a job that would change my life – moving from Ottawa, Canada to sunny Los Angeles California. And here is where it all came together.
step 1. move to a place where there is so much dust that you get recurring bronchitis.
step 2. see a doctor who asks you a million questions and then states that he believes the gallbladder pain was endometrial pain. doh!
step 3. meet the love of your life who makes you want to be the best “you” you can be.
step 4. let the new you experiment with some alterations in your eating habits to see what happens.
One afternoon an interesting ad showed up on my facebook feed that said ‘myths about foods’ so I took a gander. It drew me in. All these horrific facts about bread and sugar and other common foods. I took one look at the can of diet coke I was gulping and said ‘heck no, no more!’ (or a more crass version of that statement). The first change I made was to cut out all artificial sweeteners. But, down the rabbit hole I went, to discover that refined sugars are just as bad. Out they went too. That left me with honey, maple syrup and agave to put into my coffee (by the way I think Stevia will bite us one day so I stay away from it). The results were fantastic. I felt more alert, more coherent, and a little lighter too I think.
Then came the juicing. There will be plenty of time for me to go through the pros and cons of juicing, but for the purposes of my experimentation it worked wonders on providing my insides with a clean slate. This was the cleanse I needed to begin really altering my daily diet.
Next came the flour, or rather, wheat. I think taking out wheat was based on the whole-food diet, and for fun. Yeah, fun. And I gotta say up until that transition I had not fully appreciated how much I depended on pasta. Two weeks of full blown headaches later (which is common when you remove wheat from your diet) I was starting to lose my skinny-fat-ness and toning up my body. Naturally this made me want to continue down the healthy path and start working out more. It was becoming a challenge to see how good I could feel now that I wasnt eating wheat. But the best part of all was when I was supposed to have my next period, the pain was immensely decreased. I mean, immensely. My bowel movements were beautiful, and I dont take bowel movements lightly. That in itself was enough to convince me that what I was doing was moving me in the right direction, wherever that was.
So here I am, now in Vancouver, and the rest of the journey is about educating myself with what works and what doesnt. This blog is for me to keep track of it all and to help you gain the courage to try what works for you. I realize that the endometriosis diet is a big hype, and the whole-food diet has a lot of merit to it, but at the end of the day I do what feels right for my body.
Please message me if you have any questions.