EndoActive’s DVD on Endometriosis is now available from endoactive.org.au SO ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY!
I so wish I had a resource like this available to me when I was in the throes of despair – not knowing who to turn to for advice after I’d had a million doctor and specialist appointments with no clear answers as to why I was still in pain after 2 surgeries and what I could do to help myself…
Hellooo people of the internet & fellow EndoActivists! Someway, somehow I am a finalist for The Cosmo Women of the Year Awards. I’m up against 4 other women in the ‘Game Changer of the Year’ category – A huge surprise and incredible honour. I can’t actually believe it. To think that around this time a year ago I was lying on the couch in pain with my little cat Pepi snuggled up next to me, unable to do very much is… I don’t even know how to describe it. It was an exhilarating time because of the excitement from our petition to Bayer going viral but right before that happened, life for me was miserable, unexciting and I was unhappy. Endo was causing havoc in my life.
Oh god I’m wearing the same thing as I wore in my last post. How lame. But cbf taking another photo because endo. SOZ! Yesterday was the first time I’ve been in pain from Endo since March. It caught me completely off guard. I woke up feeling fine.. then at about 12pm while I was walking to the shops for brunch I started to get those first few twinges. Ooh.. that felt strange… Then a dragging sort of feeling in my lower abdomen kind of like period pain. But it couldn’t be surely… Then all of a sudden, really sharp achey pains in my hips. I used to massage around my hips constantly because that pain was always always there. But I haven’t needed to in so long… Then that crushing weight on my lower back where you suddenly can’t stand up.. the kind that instantly makes you want to collapse into bed with a hottie under a blanket. (hot water bottle hottie… not human hottie.)
Even though every one of those sensations felt so familiar, I found myself saying in my head things like: “Maybe I’m just really hungry. It must be a stomach ache. Maybe I haven’t been stretching enough while I’ve been hunched over my laptop. Maybe I’m dehydrated…” Ridiculous reasons the lot of them. There’s nothing else that feels like endo pain. Even when it’s mild – you know exactly what it is because you’ve felt it a thousand times before. It has an order that it comes in and despite your brain trying to convince you it could be a simple hunger pain or muscle cramp, you know very well it’s not. But you appreciate your brain coming up with some silly ideas to try and distract you.
All in all it wasn’t so bad. I’m glad I left the house for supplies when I did because the rest of the day I couldn’t move from the couch – wheattie on the back, hottie on the front. The pain wasn’t the major problem but more so the fatigue. I snoozed till 6:30 then quickly got in the car to get to babysitting. If it wasn’t for my 3 little cousins being so cute and cuddly I probably would’ve felt rubbish all night but they’re so funny and sweet that by the time I put them to bed I realised I was feeling way better.
Today I’m left with a giant pain hangover which I’m sure many of you are familiar with. The day after I’ve been in pain I feel so tired I can hardly see, my head is like a bowling ball and my breathing is so shallow, sometimes I wonder if I might actually be almost dead… If I were dead though I probably wouldn’t still have all this uni work to do… dammit! I’m now in that battle with yourself where you can’t decide if you should push through with the things you were meant to do today or give yourself a break and just rest. But you know if you rest today, the mountain of things to do will be bigger and scarier tomorrow and you’ll have way less time to climb it! But sleep would feel so good… I just want to sleeeeeeep !
My Sundays for the past 5 weeks have been ridiculously productive. Sine I started my new degree I use Sundays to exercise, grocery shop, plan my week and do homework all on the same day. Today I feel incapable of any of that. I’m surprised I’m actually typing write now. Even my fingers and wrists are tired. They’re lying down flush with the keyboard while I type cause they’re just too heavy to flutter over the keys like they normally do.
It sucks that I had a flare up yesterday. I’m not entirely sure why it happened. I do know that this week has been one of the most stressful weeks I’ve had in a long time. Lack of sleep. A breakup. Uni work which has been pouring down on me relentlessly. I haven’t been confronted purely by the amount but also the level of difficulty. Have you ever read a sentence where 100% of the words were ones you couldn’t understand? Try 30 pages of sentences like that. Then times that by 5. Then times that by 3. It’s pure hell. It couldn’t be diet or exercise cause I’ve been good with those… Visanne has been fine for the last 2 months (just started month 3). No other changes I can think of. So maybe it was stress… I have cried a lot this week.
Whatever it was, I hope it doesn’t come back but looking at the positives – I’ve had an amazing run of good health this year. A couple of sinus infections and the flu but virtually no endo pain. And for that I feel really lucky. I wouldn’t say that this flare up has been a good ‘reminder’ of what endo feels like because I can never forget that. Being well and active has not made me forget. But it has reminded me of when I felt so awful every day that I was barely able to lift a finger. I couldn’t concentrate, I couldn’t think. Even reading an email seemed so overwhelming to me then that I’d burst into tears just thinking it. After a while, when the pain and fog became chronic my brain would play tricks on me. I sometimes wondered if I was actually in pain and couldn’t move in that moment or if I was just lazy. I couldn’t even feel pain in the way that I used to but rather would just feel the weight of exhaustion. My experience of pain became different and what used to feel acute suddenly felt numb. I started to not be able to tell the difference between pain at a 7 to pain at a 10 to pain at a 4. It all felt the same and I couldn’t tell if I was in agony just ok. I became very hard on myself and very unforgiving.
But feeling the pain yesterday and the fatigue today for the first time in so long has reminded me how real those feelings are. They’re so real and so strong that you are not always able to ignore them and keep going because your body simply can’t. I want to do my workout. I want to get all the grocery shopping done. I NEED to do uni work. But today I feel different. I don’t feel myself and I know I’m not up to the things I’m normally able to do. So I will try to prioritise, try not to get frustrated that I haven’t exercised since thursday, try not to throw in the towel and crawl into bed just yet, try really hard to get some work done and THEN flop on the couch so I can reward myself.
Hopefully a one-off and things go back to normal tomorrow. Man just thinking about doing uni work right now is making me want to give up and go back to bed… gahhhhhh!! zzzzzzzzz
I AM GROWING MY HAIR OUT PEOPLE! Look how long it’s getting! I can actually tuck my hair behind my ears again. All seven strands of hair. And it’s wild. However I have of course captured myself at the best possible angle in this photo and 99% of the time my head actually looks so stupid. Underneath those thin strands of hair is a whole lot of mousey fuzz. I knew this time would come, however the awkwardness of growing out an undercut was not something I contemplated until the day after my birthday last year once I’d sobered up and realised that I had indeed shaved off most of my hair. Good times.
So I have now been taking Visanne for 40 days. This is month 2. I have to say that overall the transition has been really smooth! Looking back on my previous post where I diarised where my health was at on Day 1, the two issues I was having were predominantly SLEEP & ALLERGIES.
Side note: I wrote this post on July 3rd but it mysteriously got deleted. I started again. Now it finally makes it’s way back onto my blog. However I am back-dating it so it is clear which date I started taking Visanne.
So today is Day 1 on Visanne. I’ve had my box of Visanne sitting in my bathroom draw since it was released on March the 3rd this year. Since our wildly successful campaign on change.org to have it released here in Australia, so many people have asked me how I’m going on it – assuming that I’d be taking it as soon as was made available. However, the campaign to have Visanne released in Australia & NZ (unfortunately it was not released in NZ sorry Kiwis!) was not just about me, nor was it ever designed to only benefit me. It was based on the principle of equal opportunity and that if there was a treatment option for Endo available overseas, we all deserve the opportunity to try it if we want. All of us. And that is what we achieved.
Taken from those wild wild storms a few months ago – yes that is FOAM not sand.
Side note: I’m eating porridge (gluten free obvs) with coconut milk, cinnamon spiced apple and smooshed banana. IT IS SO DAMN GOOD!
So the last time I wrote on here I’d just had a pre cervical cancer scare – a week after the EndoActive conference. Crikey what a come down! I really was in a glass cage of emotion. Since then I have been back to see my surgeon for a follow-up appointment on June 19 to discuss my results. As I said in my last post, my colposcopy showed pre-cancerous cells on my cervix. It was really scary at the time and I was worried. It just came as such a shock because I always expect investigative medical procedures (including both my surgeries for endo) to come back negative and for all the fuss to be for nothing. Yet they always seem to wind up quite serious! The good news about this one was that by the time my results came back, I’d already had the procedure to laser off the abnormal cells and there was nothing left to do. Despite the initial shock I can honestly say that after my follow-up appointment I’m feeling surprisingly at ease and really not at all concerned.
Don’t really have a cool picture to go with ‘Colposcopy Results’. Ideally I’d be reporting about our amazing EndoActive Conference which took place last Saturday, May 16 but I’ve spent most of the week recovering and writing thank you emails and all of a sudden this has come first. If you’re reading this, please read to the end! Very, very important.
Just to recap – a few weeks ago my GP referred me back to my surgeon (who has performed both my laparoscopies for Endo and done a wonderful job) after my 3rd abnormal Pap test. Apparently it’s quite common to have abnormal readings of Pap test which is why doctors wait until you’ve had 3 in a row until they take the next step. All my results showed LOW Grade abnormality (even with the ThinPrep test which I paid a bit extra for to get a more accurate reading). Nevertheless, my surgeon decided to perform the Colposcopy in theatre so that if there was anything to be removed he could do it on the spot.
As it turned out, there were was. He lasered off some abnormal cells and sent a biopsy to pathology. To my relief, I woke up in very little pain and had a nice and easy recovery without the need for pain killers. First time that has ever happened!! I put that down to correct pain relief before going under anesthetic as I had warned the anesthetist that I usually have extreme pain after any procedure. The only thing I experienced during the week was fatigue, bloating and constipation. Movicol really helps! (2 sachets at a time mixed with water and up to 8 a day if things are really bad)
So today my results were in. Quite alarmingly, my surgeon told me that all my Pap test readings were incorrect and that the changes on my cervix were HIGH grade and not low grade as the previous tests had shown… slightly concerning that this wasn’t picked up over the past 12 months but there you go. Those high grade changes and the biopsy results indicated that the cells were also pre-cancerous.
It’s scary even writing those words and I did have a big cry after I absorbed that information but I’m trying to jump straight to the part which everyone else is saying which is “it isn’t cancer and it’s just good news because they’ve got it early”. That’s very true. It is scary to know that it could’ve gone another way but now that it’s been brought to everyone’s attention, I have no doubt it’ll all be kept under control.
It would be really easy to gloss over this and say yes yes yes I’m extremely lucky and very privileged and thank god for modern medicine and my extra-cautious surgeon and it’s all taken care of so just move on and move forward. But honestly I am still scared. I’m human for fuck’s sake and I don’t care who you are, NOBODY wants to hear the word Cancer. Pre-cancer, almost cancer, not quite cancer – whatever. It’s scary and yes, I know I’m in good hands and it’s NOT cancer. But warranted or not, I’m worried. Lately it’s been in the back of my mind that people with Endo are at higher risk of developing certain types of cancer. That’s a fact I only found out myself a few months ago. It’s probably not that common but the risk is there. So yeah, it’s scary and I’m scared.
PHEW! Good to get that out of the way. I’ll find out more information in a follow-up appointment in a few weeks and will have a repeat colposcopy in 3 months to keep an eye on things. If there’s anything you can take away from this, KEEP UP WITH YOUR PAP TESTS!!!!! And if your readings are even slightly abnormal, keep a close eye on them, go back for check-ups and don’t ignore notifications from your doctor.
Back in high school I was one of the students who benefited from the recently introduced Cervical Cancer shot which was subsidised by the government. This was and is a great initiative, however one thing we weren’t told is that that inoculation only protects you from 3 out of roughly 80 or 90 different strands of HPV!!! This was news to me – all these years I thought I was only getting Pap tests to make sure I didn’t have chlamydia or herpes or AIDS or some other type of STD.
I had no idea I was still at risk of developing cervical cancer because after all why would I? I had the magic shot! WRONG! I found this information out for the first time from my surgeon on the day of my colposcopy. What a shock that was. As he said, I am probably one among thousands of other girls who are walking around with a false sense of security – thinking that we’re completely protected when in fact we are not. This was probably the most important thing that I learned from this experience and I’m quite shocked at how naive and ill-informed I’ve been this whole time. To think that there’s a whole generation of women and girls who think they don’t need Pap tests is truly terrifying.
I MUST TELL EVERYONE!! TOGETHER WE MUST TELL EVERYONE!!
Take something from my experience and please take care of yourself people.
Tomorrow I’ll be making a quickie trip to hospital to have a Colposcopy because I am a Hospo Head. I actually hate hospitals. A lot. But then so do most people. I’m having this procedure done because I’ve had 3 low-grade abnormal pap smears in the last 12 months so my doctors think it’d be best to have a look around, take some biopsies and make sure everything is sweeto burrito. Normally a colposcopy takes 5 or 10 minutes and is done in the doctor’s rooms but given my track record of “quick, easy, pain-free” procedures turning traumatic, my surgeon has booked me into theater.
I’ll be put under a ‘twilight’ aneasthetic. Doesn’t that sound fun? I love that term so much. I’m visualising a swirly path of twinkly stars with rhinestone studded geese and Harry Potter’s house-elves and Falcor the Lucky Dragon who looks like a giant white dog from the Neverending Story all there to guide me to the Congress of Mythical Creatures. I’m almost looking forward to it now! Anyway the ‘twilight’ means I won’t feel a thing and if my surgeon finds any abnormalities that need lasering or removing then he can do it on the spot. Not gonna lie I did get a bit scared and upset when I first found out. It was a slight shock and the thought of hospital gives me anxiety but I’m feeling ok about it now and I’m sure everything will be cool as a cucumber. Keep y’all posted on my Hospital Quicke! x
This time a year ago I was lying in a hospital bed up to my ears in painkillers recovering from my second laparoscopy while all my friends were sinking beers and playing two up. I was looking forward to reaching this ANZAC weekend and my 1 year post-op anniversary fighting fit – the way I’ve felt for months. But unfortunately I’ve had a relapse and lately my health has not been great. Getting the flu coincided with an Endo flare up, both of which have stuck with me off and on for the past 4 weeks. (To me this is a real indicator of the link between Endo and the Immune System.)
15 days of antibiotics has trashed my gut and my liver. 5 weeks without training has had a major impact on my energy. My muscles feel like they’ve been stitched together with a rope of crunchy glass. My body has been knocked around and its protective layer which I’ve spent months building up has been chipped away at. But unlike the last time I had an Endo relapse, this time I have backup. I have tools in my belt to help my rebuild. Everything I’ve been taught, everything I’ve learned, read, diarised and practiced over the past 8 months is going to help me gradually get back to where I was before. But getting to that point wasn’t easy. It meant growing up, being real and breaking some bad habits.