It’s been 4 weeks since my last bog entry and 46 days since egg freezing. Sorry it’s been so long between drinks! Half that time I spent still recovering and the other half I had to bury my head in the books and finish my last uni assignment without distraction. Today I’m feeling 1000 times better than the last time I wrote, which is why it’s so important to diarise the bad days in life so you can see how far you’ve come. I’m not completely back to my old self but by tracking my progress I know that I’m getting stronger and fitter every day. I’m going to give you a long list of everything I’ve felt over the past 46 days since my egg retrieval so you can get a real idea of my experience – which of course will likely not be the same as your experience because we’re all so wonderfully different. It’s been a long a difficult recovery so it’s a pretty extensive list but I’m sharing it because it’s something I would’ve liked to read coming from another girl with endo before I embarked on this wild voyage. Reading another person’s experience would not have made my decision for me but it would have prepared me for the things you aren’t warned about. First of all, I hope I didn’t scare anybody off egg freezing with the last description of how I was feeling…
In hindsight and after talking to my ‘life coach’ as I call her, those strange symptoms I was experiencing in my last post were likely caused by the stress or anxiety I was feeling on that particular day, which manifested itself physically. I’m pleased to report I’ve never had that before or since then. I was feeling so upset at how ‘slowly’ I was recovering (which is of course ridiculous when you think of what my body had just endured and coped beautifully with) that my mind began plodding down some dimly lit paths that achieved nothing other than exacerbating how bad I felt and beating myself up for not doing all the things I ‘should have’ been doing and all the things I ‘shouldn’t be’ feeling. Things like…
I shouldn’t be breathless from getting up to go to the bathroom. I shouldn’t be sleeping all day. I should be up and about. I should feel fit and training just as hard and regularly as I was before my injections. I should be able to slowly walk around the block without feeling dizzy. I should be doing my final uni assignment. I should be helping Mum with EndoActive work.
This immediate-future stress quickly spiralled into long-term, way-out-of-my-control stress:
I should be getting a real job. I should be earning money to go traveling and move out. Will I ever be able to get a good job? Will I ever be completely, totally independent? Will I ever travel and adventure again? Will I ever move out of home and live with my mates and meet new people? Will I ever meet someone amazing? If I actually do ever get pregnant and have kids, will I be able to afford their music lessons and take them on holidays and give them Christmas presents? What if I can’t give them Christmas presents! Will I ever amount to anything? WHO AM I?
Seriously, thinking like that will stress anybody out. It’s completely fruitless because as we all know, worrying gets you nowhere. However, I felt so frustrated with myself that day that all I could do was lie down and torture myself with pointless dribble going round and around and around my poor head. Days like this happen when I feel robbed of the life I saw myself living at 23 years old. That’s really dramatic and I actually have a really blessed, wonderful life but when I’m simply not kicking the goals I saw myself kicking it grinds my gears and sometimes gets the better of me.
My egg retrieval was on the October 25th. Over the past 46 days since then I’ve noticed:
– NO ENDO FLARE UPS AND NO PELVIC / ENDO PAIN!!! Actually I’ve noticed this since I came off the pill nearly 3 months ago, which is odd because I’ve been consistently told for a long time now to take the pill continuously in order to treat my endo. There could be another reason why I’ve been pain free since then and I don’t want to blame the intense pain I was experiencing on the pill, which is why today I’m doing a little experiment and putting myself back on it to see what happens. But to have nearly 3 months of ZERO endo pain and several pain-free, natural periods when I wasn’t even getting my period before has felt wonderful. Things were so bad before this that I was assuming my third surgery was just around the corner. Not anymore!
– NAUSEA. This is something that I’m still struggling with every day at different levels of intensity. It ranges from mild to extreme but always seems to be there.
– FATIGUE. This went from very extreme for the first few weeks after egg retrieval to now finally improving. My egg retrieval was excruciatingly painful. However, within a few days I was back at uni handing in assignments, running around like mad doing things for the EndoActive cocktail party/launch and in stilettos giving my speech on the day. I must’ve been running on pure adrenaline because after that I literally just slept and slept non-stop for a week or so. The next 2 weeks I was having naps every afternoon and couldn’t exert much energy without feeling shattered. I generally felt like I was asleep with my eyes open, present but not present and found it rally hard to think I was so tired. The past 3 weeks I’ve felt much more energetic and that energy and strength has been building up gradually each day. I haven’t been having naps, I’ve been waking up earlier, training regularly, got my final uni assignment done, I’ve been babysitting, sorting my life out, running round doing errands and even went away for a hens weekend without crashing and burning afterwards. Feels great to have energy doesn’t it! It’s also something that people without a chronic disease take for granted for sure. I’m so in tune with my body and so hyper-vigilant with how I’m feeling within myself that energy feels like a drug to me now. I feel its effects so much more than I did a few years ago.
– FITNESS MAJORLY REGRESSED. I started training using Kayla Itsines training guide from the beginning again 2 weeks ago. (I haven’t done any ‘progress shots’ cause I’ve been eating a fair amount of chocolate so I don’t feel like I’ve properly started yet… but it’s the silly season so I’m giving myself a break alright?) Before I started doing my injections I was up to Week 5 of her program and feeling seriously fantastic. I felt fit, strong and had loads of energy. To my dismay, I really did need to stop and rest during egg freezing injections and of course during my recovery – I just wasn’t up to it. Looking at my iCal and even 3 or 4 weeks ago I was unable to walk slowly up the road without feeling dizzy, hot, faint and totally out of breath. I’ve had to start the program again because I was just not capable of picking up where I left off. However, for the past 2 weeks I’ve trained 4 times a week and am gradually feeling stronger. The first day, I could only do 15 minutes and couldn’t walk for the next 3 days. Now, I’m doing the full program and my muscles are recovering super quickly. It’s great to measure this and diarise your progress because it’s easy to underestimate just how much improvement you’re making within a week. Yeah it’s annoying to go back to square one but I was basically lying still, barely doing anything for at least 4 weeks so it’s to be expected. Training regularly with a program is the best way to get back on track in my opinion cause you start slow and gradually build.
– BREATHLESSNESS. Wow that isn’t coming up with a red squiggly line underneath like I thought it would! I can remember during my injections my breathing became much shallower and quicker. It wasn’t scary at all it just felt like I really needed to chill out and be still. The nurses at Genea said this was a normal thing to happen during injections because of you’re hormones going ballistic. It’s nowhere near as bad now but I definitely notice my breathing and heart rate is much quicker at rest and I get breathless very easily when I’m working out, even when I have plenty of gas left in the tank. I’m barely drinking any coffee or caffeine and hoping this will die down once my fitness improves more.
– DIZZY/ LIGHT HEADED/ FUNNY VISION. This was much worse in those first few weeks. Now I only notice it sometimes and not every day. I’ve always had a healthily low blood pressure so it may be a little lower or I’m not sure what else. I’m pretty sure I don’t need glasses and I’ve always prided myself on reading puny things from long distances but then again, glasses are well on trend so upping my hipster status and looking more intelligent would not be the world’s end. I’m still pretty sure I don’t need glasses though…
– WEIGHT GAIN. I don’t weigh myself ever but I can 100% tell judging by how I feel and how my clothes are fitting that there is some extra cushioning happening. I’m trying not to let that bother me because logically, the after effects from being jacked up on oestrogen and all those other hormones so my ovaries could house 50 follicles and potential babies could very well result in a few extra kilos. IT’S OK. But I’m only human so yeah that has been doing my head in more than I care to admit. I’m trying to remind myself that it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of life and that if it’s from the surge in hormones then it’s sure to subside if I continue to live healthily. Crash dieting is no longer a part of my vocabulary and hasn’t been since I was diagnosed with endo so there’ll be none of that. I would say one of the best things that came out of my diagnosis was my change in attitude toward my body in general. That shift in perception is still a work in progress and I have superficial little relapses, which are ridiculous but they are fewer and farther between.
Honestly, I’m embarrassed at how I used to treat my body a couple of years ago. A diet of salads, caffeine, cigarettes and anxiety in the name of being thin seems so fucking brainless to me now but I’m glad a got a wake-up call. I definitely have endo to thank for snapping me out of bad habits and pushing me to grow up a hell of a lot in a short space of time. My attitude now is, why would I want to sabotage the only body I’ve got? Being told that you might never be able to get pregnant makes you realise what’s important. Ovulating is important. Being strong, happy and healthy is important. Dieting is not important. To continue to undernourish my and poison it with synthetic, processed crap while it’s already fighting disease would be a hate crime. Eating real food designed to nourish and heal my body feels great and I’m learning a lot. Hormones make the body do all sorts of crazy things and yeah weight gain is one of them, but I also have 7 perfect eggs in the freezer so I’d say it’s all worth it.
– ZITS. I’m not making this sound appealing at all am I? haha I’m just including this for full disclosure but it’s really not bad at all. A few teeny tiny ones scattered here and there that nobody else can notice except for me (or so I’m told) but then again I’m used to having none. I have been blessed with good skin so I’m not complaining. Again, this is all likely to do with changes in hormones and a pretty normal response that is so mild it’s almost not worth writing about.
So I think that’s everything.
If you’re reading this feeling put off then please don’t. Let’s just remember that the reason I did this was because I have endo – a chronic disease, which effects the immune system. I have a history of having tougher, longer recoveries from procedures or even just the common cold than others would. It’s all relative. Having a chronic disease means that what’s true for someone completely healthy and disease free will likely not be true for me. Girls with endo and other chronic diseases have a compromised immune and endocrine system so little assaults can take a massive toll. I went into this knowing that I wouldn’t bounce back like other women might and that’s ok because I did this to help out future Syl in case she needs it. Also did I mention that my eggs are perfect? If nothing else, going through all this has put my mind at ease in that regard. I know that I’m super fertile with wonderfully healthy eggs and that has encouraged me to continue to take good care of myself so those eggs stay fre$h and jui$y.
Most importantly, let me remind you that my greatest fear of doing egg freezing was that the hormone injections and stopping the pill would cause my disease to run riot and essentially fuck me up royally. That hasn’t happened. Aside from the pain when I woke up from my egg retrieval and for the next 3 days (it was other-worldly that pain) I haven’t experienced any pain whatsoever from endo, no period pain, nothing. I can’t picture myself having another laparoscopy now, whereas a few months ago I thought it was a sure thing – and I’d like to keep it that way because I always wind up feeling worse. I’m so glad I did egg freezing. So so glad. Even if I never use them.
I will keep you posted on how I feel going back on the pill. If my pain and breakthrough bleeding returns, I’ll know why. Should be an interesting experiment!