My Hysterectomy at age 35

My Hysterectomy at age 35

 

 

I had a hysterectomy. It’s still a little surreal, to be honest. I’m going to share a bit about my experience in getting to the point of a hysterectomy, as well as my experience with the surgery itself, and my recovery thus far. Please note that this is not medical advice, and should not be considered such. I am not a doctor, and am not diagnosing or treating here. I am simply sharing my experience and what has worked for me.

My journey toward a hysterectomy began after my youngest was born. She turned 2 a few months ago. When she was still an infant, I felt like my uterus just never went back to what it was supposed to after she was born. It didn’t feel like it was in the right spot and didn’t feel like it was the right size. I also dealt with discomfort, and sometimes, pain. I also had some spotting on a few occasions. Of course, as is the case for most people and with most doctors (and this isn’t even a dig, as I really do like my doctor, and in her defense, she’s not an OBGYN and did order a transvaginal ultrasound for me to look at my cervix), I was told that’s not actually possible. Since I had the wand ultrasound and everything with my cervix came back fine, I pretty much dropped it. I mean, I had wanted information about my uterus, not my cervix, but I saw the futility in trying to pursue that.

 

The pain continued to worsen, but not horrifically. Enough that I was worried that it could be something scary, though. I found a new OBGYN (I wasn’t a fan of my old one, which is why I didn’t go to her with my uterus woes. I hemorrhaged a month or two after having my daughter, and her office didn’t care. Wouldn’t see me. Told me to set up an appointment for six weeks out. I already wasn’t a fan, but that sealed it for me), and she is incredible. She immediately scheduled an ultrasound, one that looked at my uterus. Sure enough, my uterus was notably enlarged. She told me that it was probably adenomyosis (basically endometriosis, but rather than embedding outside of the uterus, the endometrial tissue embeds into the uterine wall), but that the only way to diagnose with certainty is to do surgery to take a sample. Since my pain, at that point, wasn’t horrific, I opted to not do that. She told me that typically hormone birth control pills are prescribed for adenomyosis. I declined. I think, in general, hormonal birth control is horrible. Messing with hormones is likely why so many women have so many health issues, but also, when I was on birth control pills, I bled nonstop. Nonstop. It was awful. And I tried several different kinds. I had horrible side effects with the paragard, as well. I’ve also spent MANY years working to balance my hormones and have my body work as effectively and normally as possible. So, there wasn’t a chance in the world that I’d risk all of that to “try” birth control pills.

We basically left it as wait and see. After a few months my pain worsened and became more frequent. Then I started getting wrap around pain. I did a ton of research, and found that my best, and pretty much only, bet was to have that bad boy removed. The thing is, most women who suffer with this and endometriosis have a huge fight on their hands to try to get a hysterectomy. Many doctors just won’t do it (so much for body autonomy, eh?), and even if they will, often insurance will stop it dead in its tracks (so great how insurance companies, not doctors, make medical decisions). She seemed pretty unphased by my asking. She scheduled an exploratory laparoscopy to look and see what was in there. Once it was scheduled a nurse called and went over things with me. She mentioned that the doctor would be burning any endometriosis she found in there while she was exploring. That got me thinking that I’d rather have my hysterectomy and endometriosis (if she found any) burned at the same time, not have two separate surgeries with two separate recoveries. So, I scheduled another appointment to ask for a hysterectomy straight up. I took my husband with me for support and to stand up for me if there was pushback (I’d had a LOT of pushback from my old OB about my VBAC and various other things, and for some reason when my husband was there and stood up for me, she didn’t push back), even though I’d had nothing but great experiences with this doctor. So many women are told no that I wanted to be prepared. To my delight, there was no pushback at all (have I mentioned she’s AWESOME?). And she had her office start the scheduling of the surgery!
Recovering with my littlest one
Now, when you know you’re going to have surgery, and you have to wait weeks to find out your date, and there’s just a lot of time, you start to second guess your decision. But my body decided to make it crystal clear for me by rapidly increasing the pain level and duration. I was having constant pain. It never stopped. It ebbed and flowed in intensity, but it was always there. I also started having trouble with my bladder and bowels, and thought it was either my monstrous uterus pressing against them, or endometriosis. So any time I’d start to second guess myself, my constant pain and inability to use the bathroom were great little reminders that I was doing the right thing, even though recovery with a two year old in tow would be a bit of a challenge.

I had my surgery. It was a much shorter surgery than she expected, as there wound up being no endometriosis. It was a laparoscopic robot assist vaginal hysterectomy, also removing my cervix and fallopian tubes, but leaving my ovaries. My uterus was more than double the size it should have been, and was “boggy,” or squishy. My uterus was sent in for testing, and thankfully no cancer or anything else scary was found. After surgery I went to a recovery room. Laparoscopic hysterectomies are outpatient surgery, so I sat in a chair with the most glorious hospital gown that hooks to a tube and heats the entire gown, while I waited for my husband to arrive. To my happy surprise (surprise mostly because I was drugged and forgot that my dad was coming), my dad walked in with my husband. I can’t even tell you how happy I was to see them!

I was nauseous, but I had a neat little patch behind my ear for nausea, so I didn’t wind up vomiting, which was great. I did have a hard time eating, though. After a while, the nurse informed me that if I couldn’t get my pain level lower, use the bathroom, eat and keep it down, and get hydrated, I’d have to be admitted and spend the night. I was devastated. My doctor came in to visit and let us know she was advocating for me to be released. The nurse increased my IV drip to try to hydrate me. I slowly worked at eating a fruit cup. Finally, the fruit cup was gone, my IV bag was empty, and I successfully used the bathroom! I was free!

Recovery has been a bit of a trip. My doctor did a great job of getting the gas out, and I walked a decent amount the first couple of days after surgery, so I wound up not really having any gas pain. When I had my appendectomy five months ago, the gas pain was unbearable in my shoulders, and lasted a solid two weeks. I am so grateful that I didn’t deal with that this time around. That said, I’d convinced myself the recovery would be about the same. It’s not. It’s not the same at all.

 

I knew I’d be swollen and bloated, but I didn’t expect to feel so fragile and like my insides could just fall out at any moment. I absolutely hate having anything touch my abdomen, so a compression belt wasn’t even on my radar. Except…the feeling didn’t go away. After 3 days of feeling like that, I ordered a compression belt. It was a game changer. I can’t even believe what a difference it makes. My swelling went down dramatically using it for just one day. And it helps SO much with pain/soreness. I thought it might help a little with the swelling and help me feel more secure, I wasn’t expecting the dramatic results with the swelling, and definitely wasn’t expecting it to alleviate pain the way it does. I wear it all night every night, but only wear it for a few hours at a time during the day. When I get sore, I put it on and it helps immediately. (photo is 1 week post op)

Aside from the bloating and soreness (the pain really hasn’t been bad at all), recovery is kind of a bear. I’m incredibly wiped incredibly quickly. I need to lay down to recover from showering. I’m only up for a few hours at a time, at most, and just sitting around exhausts me and I have to lay down. I can’t lift anything. I can’t drive. I’m sore. If I dare do anything even remotely physical, I wind up completely wiped and extra sore. It’s frustrating and I feel like a giant burden all of the time. I’m incredibly lucky to have my parents and my aunt helping with my two year old. They watch her during the day while my husband is at work. They also pick up my older daughter from school every day. It is very frustrating and almost embarrassing to not be able to do anything, but I am so, so thankful that I have the support and help that I do. I don’t know how anyone could have this surgery with a toddler without having help like this.
My two year old has been frustrated with my not being able to pick her up, and my 10 year old worries about me constantly. My husband is doing EVERYTHING, and I don’t even know how he does it all. He’s amazing. And is the most supportive and encouraging partner, ever. I know he’s exhausted and frustrated, but he always treats me with love and kindness, and is always accommodating my needs right now. I feel like an infant, really.

As is typically the case, this is quite long winded. But the moral of the story here is that adenomyosis is pretty brutal. My hysterectomy went very well. My recovery is very, very slow, but going well. And GET A COMPRESSION BELT IF YOU’RE HAVING A HYSTERECTOMY. Yes, I just yelled that. But the compression belt is magical and you need it and your life will be so much better with it, trust me. Now, I try to patiently wait while I recover. It will be nice to get some energy back, hopefully sometimes very soon. For now, I’ll respect my body’s limitations and spend my days resting and healing.

Updates on LDN (Low Dose Naltrexone)

Updates on LDN (Low Dose Naltrexone)

Just a relatively quick update on my experience so far with LDN (Low Dose Naltrexnone). Summing up what my experiences have been so far, what my goals are, what my hopes are, and some things coming up for me. Please don’t hesitate to comment here, or send me an email if you have any questions about LDN. I’m not a doctor and do not give out medical advice, but I can answer questions about my experiences.

I Make Everything into Nuggets/Patties…

I Make Everything into Nuggets/Patties…

I make everything into nuggets/patties. Okay, not truly everything, but more than your average person. Why do I do this? Because nuggets/patties can be finger food, are easy to eat, are easy to put a lot of good stuff into, and are easier to convince toddlers to eat. They’re also delicious. As well as easy to make and usually pretty quick. They reheat well, too, which is great for quick lunches. They’re pretty foolproof, too. You can really make them out of whatever you want or have on hand. They’re fantastic for using up leftovers. Sometimes I use leftover stuffing, and egg, maybe some tuna, and some veggies, other times I’ll food process a slew of vegetables.

This is an example of some I made with carrots and kale. I use egg as a binder in every patty/nugget I make, and some sort of dry binder to soak up liquid. For these, I used almond flour. I also have found that using gluten free oats ground into flour works very well. I simply mix it all together with whatever seasonings strike me, form into patties or nuggets, and cook in a cast iron pan in coconut oil over medium heat.

Yes, it’s really that easy. Here are some with some more photos of the ingredients and steps. Though, like I said, there’s no actual recipe, it’s really more of a make it up as you go thing. I used golden beets, broccoli (this is a perfect place to use the broccoli stalks. Just peel them, as the outside is tough and stringy), bell peppers, and carrots. I threw them into the food processor and ground it pretty finely. I poured it into a flour sack towel and squeezed out as much liquid as I could.

I pureed the egg with a healthy helping of kale in the magic bullet (if you don’t have liquid in it, it won’t grind it up, and since I didn’t want to add excess liquid, as I was already trying to remove the liquid from the vegetables I’d processed, I decided to use the egg. It worked very well. I prefer doing this with kale and spinach rather than adding them to the vegetables in the food processor because I don’t love the texture of pieces of kale or spinach in nuggets/patties, but if you do, then by all means throw it all into the food processor!). I also ground gluten free oats into flour.
I combined everything in a bowl, and just kept adding the oat flour until it was the consistency that would work for forming nuggets/patties. Then I pan fried them in cast iron in coconut oil over medium heat. They were truly delicious. I made a nice big batch and wound up eating most of them myself over the next few days for evening snacks.
These are an example of an entirely different way to do it. I used leftover rice and leftover vegetables that were in the fridge. I just mashed it all with a fork, so not especially well, added an egg and a drained can of tuna, formed the nuggets and, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, pan fried them in coconut oil in a cast iron pan on medium heat. They’re delicious. And took little effort and time.
I just wanted to share because this is such a winner for me at my house. I love them, I can usually convince my two year old to eat them, they’re fast, easy, delicious, full of nutrients if you so choose, and very quick to make. Their flavor obviously depends on the ingredients you choose to use, but also on what seasonings, spices, and herbs you choose to add. I added salt, pepper, garlic powder and adobo seasoning to the massive amounts of vegetable ones. For some I just add salt and pepper, some I also add garlic powder and onion powder, etc. It’s really just whatever sounds good at the time. I hope you try making some of your own and love them as much as I do.
Focusing on Living NOT on Weight

Focusing on Living NOT on Weight

Time for me to put my money where my mouth is! Weight, schmeight. Life is so much more than what size you wear and what number your scale shows. I am finally feeling like a human being again, thanks to the low dose naltrexone, and I absolutely refuse to spend my newfound energy hating my body.

Updates!

Here is a kind of long winded update on what I’ve been up to, why I’ve been absent from the blog, and some health updates.

ER, Abdominal Pain, and Questions, Oh, My!

ER, Abdominal Pain, and Questions, Oh, My!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link.

Trip to the ER

If you follow my facebook page, you’re probably aware that a couple of weeks ago I wound up in the ER. I was having severe abdominal pain, and immense belly distention. I made an appointment with my doctor, and then received a call back a little while later telling me that she was canceling the appointment, and advising me to go to the ER, as the pain sounded like appendix pain, and she didn’t want me to waste time I may not have, coming into the office. Begrudgingly, my husband and I made the trip. I should note that it was begrudgingly by me, not him.

While they weren’t able to get a good reading from the MRI (who would have ever thought I don’t have enough intra abdominal fat for a good reading?! Goes to show you, appearances can be deceiving.), they didn’t find anything of concern. Everything looked good. My doctor followed up with the hospital, and they did find that I have a stone in my appendix, but I was assured that was not the cause, and that it may have been there for many years.

Back to the Doctor We Go

We went in for a followup with my doctor. She suggested FODMAP. FODMAP diet, is simply eating foods that are low in Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols, which are short chain carbohydrates. They are often not well absorbed in the small intestine, which can cause bloating, diarrhea, and other symptoms. Sounds cool, right? Well, yes. Except that includes my beloved beets, garlic, and onions. While beets are a seasonal thing for us, now is when they’re harvested, and that’s heartbreaking for me. Maybe not heartbreaking, but a real bummer. Garlic and onions, on the other hand, are what I use in basically every meal I ever cook. Also honey. Honey is high FODMAP, and something I traditionally use in almost every meat dish I make. So it’s been interesting to figure out how to create tasty dishes without my trinity of onions, garlic, and honey. I’ve done quite well, I must say, so at least there’s that!

The Culprit

I digress, as I often do. Let’s loop back to the cause of the ER visit. It’s been a mystery. My beloved Jamie (one of my favorite people in the entire world) suggested before I even went to the ER that perhaps the cause of my belly woes was the vegan cheese I ate the night before. I didn’t think so, because I’d had it without incident the week before. Cut to last night, I wanted a grilled cheese so badly it was all I could think about, and I was at the store picking up almond milk, so I grabbed another package of the vegan cheddar, since the stuff in my fridge was now too old to use. I made a grilled cheese (gluten free, dairy free…my life is so wild), and by 2am I was in pretty intense pain. Jamie was right all along! It was the vegan cheese!

Mind you, I’d checked the ingredients the first time I had it, and didn’t see anything strange. And last night I checked it against the FODMAP allowances, and it still checked out. So, I’m just allergic to something in it. We don’t know what,  but my husband, who is just the best, by the way, suggested I email the doctor and just let her know what we’ve figured out, send her the ingredients, and see if she has any thoughts on it. I’d like to do some food allergy testing, but I’ve been shot down every time I’ve asked. I think it’s a pain for doctors to justify with insurance, so insurance usually just rejects it. But maybe since I’ve now twice poisoned myself because I don’t know what I’m supposed to be avoiding (while already avoiding gluten, dairy, and high FODMAP foods) I can get it justified.

What I’m Doing

However, in the meantime…I’m in pain. I tried everything last time. Copious amounts of digestive enzymes, peppermint tea, peppermint EO topically, gas-X, etc. Nothing touched it. This time because I believe it’s an allergy, I’m approaching it differently, and hoping beyond hopes that I’m able to curb some of the reaction and not be in pain and distended for four days, like I was last time. Here’s what I’m doing:

I’m drinking a tea consisting of turmeric, freshly ground black pepper, and coconut oil. Turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory, but is best absorbed by the body when black pepper is added. Coconut oil also aids in absorption because of the fat content. I added some organic cane sugar for palatability, but if you’re not low FODMAP, honey would be great, as well.

Because I realize that I’m having some sort of allergic reaction, I decided to take some activated charcoal. Activated charcoal is adsorbent, which means it binds to the proteins in the body, and flushes them out. I did a bit of google research, after I took it, of course, because I am practically imperfect in every way, after all, and was glad to see that my assumption that it can be used successfully to counteract an allergic reaction to food allergies was correct. Activated charcoal is kind of magical in it’s ability to rid the body of the offensive proteins that have been ingested. I’m always a bit hesitant to use it because of its potential to cause constipation, but I’d rather deal with that for a day than pain and belly distention for four days.

Consensus

I don’t have results yet, since I’m sitting here having just taken the activated charcoal. However, since I’ve taken the charcoal, it hasn’t gotten worse, and prior to that I was rapidly blowing up like a balloon. I’m hopeful! I just wanted to share because it would have been helpful for me to see this from someone else. I never would have thought the vegan cheese was the issue. I never would have thought it was an allergy to one of the ingredients. And I didn’t initially think to treat the inflammation. I hope this can help someone!

 

UPDATE: I am almost back to normal one day later. The activated charcoal and turmeric tea really seemed to help. I was still quite sore and a bit distended last night, but nothing compared to the previous time (which was the purpose of the ER visit). This morning I’m just a little sore, nothing bad, and my distention is almost gone. That’s INCREDIBLE. This was the number of days in that I wound up going to the ER last time, and looked a solid 18 weeks pregnant. To have that much of a difference tells me that the activated charcoal, and likely the turmeric tea, really nipped the reaction in the bud. I am beyond pleased with the results! While I hope to never have to do this again, I’m making sure to keep activated charcoal and turmeric on hand at all times, now! I really hope anyone reading this, going through something similar, finds relief with this, as well.

I’d also like to note that this is NOT for anaphylactic allergies. Those require an epi pen and an ER visist. PLEASE do not try to combat an anaphylactic reaction with activated charcoal or turmeric.

***I am not a medical doctor and nothing in this blog is medical advice or to be used in lieu of medical treatment or advice from a doctor.

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