Wellness

The cascade of endometriosis pain

I feel compelled to share a version of my endometriosis story with you, but before you read, you should know it’s got some personal details that you may or may not want to know. But it’s my story, and the pain and healing are mine. I’m finally in a space where I feel sharing is an act of shedding shame and spreading hope. If you want to talk more, I am always open to conversations, prayers and of course, yoga. Thank you for giving me grace in my sharing!

Terrible cramps were just “normal” when I was a teenager. I did not know any differently. And because I was more than likely (but not diagnosed) ADD, my mind was out of sync with my body. I did not know how to describe what I felt and did not always feel permission to attach emotions to physical sensations. Often, I threw food at the pain, among other disjointed solutions like trying to out-exercise it. My mind and body have spent most of my life being terribly out of sync.

I was 28 when I had my first child, who was conceived with help at a fertility specialist, though I was not diagnosed with endometriosis at the time. (We had a diagnosed infertility completely unrelated to endometriosis.) I had a second child less than two years later, and when my period returned three months after his birth, it came with a vengeance. Even birthing two children, I had never experienced any pain like it.

At the time, it went undiagnosed. I was too embarrassed to talk to my doctor about the ridiculously painful intercourse or the fact that it felt like a knife was being twisted in my rectum when I had bowel movements. I am sorry but not sorry for the description, because for so long I lived in such a dark place where it wasn’t OK to talk about it. It’s the same kind of shame that so many are living with now, so I choose to be authentic.

Years wore on when I would not discuss my private suffering — not with my husband or my gynecologist. I tried various forms of birth control during these years, as well as different anti-depressants as the physical pain did a number on my soul. Ultimately, the side effects were much like making a deal with the devil. I traded one evil for another. I was short-tempered with my loved ones, lashing out in my pain language. I was emotionally numb, keeping the depths of my pain to myself in some twisted effort to save the physically intimacy in my marriage even as my husband’s touch became a triggering reminder of the excruciating pain of intercourse. Often I “checked out” emotionally when I couldn’t relieve the physical pain any other way.

I finally switched to a female gynecologist, who was much more sympathetic. Every year, I would cry about my pain. She would give me the endometriosis 101 lecture complete with illustrations on a napkin and tell me I should have surgery. Always I resisted because I read the discussion boards and testimonies and knew this was a short-term solution.

One year, my husband had a vasectomy scheduled in February. My annual exam was in January. My doctor and I had the same ‘ole conversation with more tears than normal. I was so exhausted by my physical and emotional misery.

It’s not that I hate modern medicine, but I had never personally experienced complete healing with anything my entire life. I was skeptical to say the least.

My solution was to tell my husband to cancel the vasectomy since our plan was laparoscopic surgery followed by hormone treatment that would mimic menopause. If I tolerated it well enough, a full hysterectomy would follow. There seemed to be no sense in a vasectomy if I could end up with a hysterectomy by year’s end. I felt dejected and hopeless.

I did what I always did and ignored it. Finally, in the spring, I went on a gluten-free “adventure” with my one of my children to see if it would help with ADHD symptoms. It did but said child was not in a place to make that kind of lasting lifestyle change. So, after six weeks, we had a sandwich for lunch followed by pasta for dinner.

Twenty-four hours later, I thought I was having a heart attack. For years, I had severe heartburn and many trips to the emergency room and gastrointestinal tests with specialists. Medication eased my symptoms, but again, I could not tolerate the intense side effects. I had been managing it by avoid fried and fatty foods (which I thought were the culprit) and drinking diluted apple cider vinegar. For the record, I always thought and still think my digestive issues are linked to endometriosis and there’s strong evidence that the two are often connected.

I began a gluten-free lifestyle immediately that set me free of many digestive issues but not hormonal problems. My husband finally convinced me to give up coffee due to its studied connection aggravating endometriosis. That was a hard break-up, but I did it. The results weren’t phenomenal there either, but I pressed in.

Finally, in desperation I decided to try this nutrition system my friend was bragging about using, hoping it would get me to a place where I could avoid the surgery and the pain. Two months into the lifestyle, I felt like a brand-new person. In fact, I didn’t even feel like me. I did not know what it felt like to live a pain-free existence or to live a life not spent 25 percent or more in my bed.

I was finally able to do the kind of exercising I loved and even signed up and ran a 10-mile race, having never run beyond three miles in my life. My symptoms were down by 90-95 percent, and then suddenly I got pregnant at 40.

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My sweet baby and her friend. I do a babysitting swap, work outside the house one day a week, teach Holy Yoga twice a week and keep nearly all of my commitments and appointments. For several years, I hated appointments as my body was so unreliable and the pain completely unbearable. I rejoice, for these little victories really are BIG ones!

My daughter is now almost 2 1/2 , and while I have some days where my symptoms are uncomfortable, they are nowhere near what they used to be. They never stop me from daily living anymore! For that I am so grateful! I am living my best version of me. It feels so good.

Additionally, I had a back injury in early 2017 and ended up getting certified in Holy Yoga. Exploring my own personal practice has led to an additional level of healing in my body and allowed me to connect more deeply my body, mind and spirit to feel whole. I use my yoga practice to prayerfully release trauma that is deeply stored in my body from years of untreated physical and emotional pain. Yoga has been an incredible tool for reconnecting my emotions with my body and learning how to truly love myself again and restore the healing power of touch in my life.

I’m not saying what I’ve done works for everyone, but I am passionate about connecting people to the tools I use if they are looking for holistic, alternative solutions. I will be sharing more about the specific tools I use in my next post. I have a new tool that’s really rocking my world. I can’t wait to share them all with you!

Read part two of this post detailing solutions that have helped me HERE.

 

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