3.25.2017

Pancake Post

greek yogurt pancakes


sour cream pancakes

peanut butter pancakes

3.22.2017

Endo-versary


Today is one year since my second surgery for endometriosis. 

I was diagnosed in 2014 after having pain for about ten years. Endometriosis isn't all that uncommon- it affects between six and ten percent of women- but it is relatively unknown. It's a disease that affects a woman's reproductive organs, which is a huge part of why nobody talks about it, but it isn't limited to just those organs. I have endometriosis on my bowel, bladder, appendix (which was removed) and pelvic wall in addition my my uterus, ovaries and Fallopian tubes. Some women have to undergo bowel resections and/or hysterectomies because of the damage endometriosis does.

One of the most common questions people ask me is "how did you know you had endometriosis?"

The truth is, I didn't. I assumed I had heavy periods, but realized the term was subjective as most women I knew also described their periods this way. Everything we hear about periods seems to define them as a dirty, uncomfortable nuisance that should be managed as discretely as possible. Of course I had many instances where I wanted to skip class/work because of cramps but dreaded the judgement from others about having "womanly problems" and the implication of not being able to handle something silly and feminine. Eventually I learned to deal with it, or lie and claim my "stomach" hurt, which isn't necessarily a lie depending on how literal your definition of "stomach" is.

The symptoms that made me wonder WTF is going on were:
  • Pelvic Pain. At first it was pressure and tugging inside of my pelvis. That turned into searing pain that moved to my lower back and eventually radiated down both hips and legs. I was told I had sciatica but the cause was unknown at that time.
  • Bladder pain/infections. So many bladder infections. It felt like I was on antibiotics all the time and my doctor said she was worried about my kidneys. My infections were so extreme there was blood in my pee. Sometimes there were bloody chunks. It was hell.
  • Hormones. They were crazy. My emotions were all over the place. I was very depressed, which was definitely related to being in nearly constant pain at that point. 
  • Exhaustion/pain. There's a misconception that endo pain is only menstrual cramps but this is false. I had (and still have) pain every week of the month. The pain is throughout the whole body and is not limited to the reproductive organs.

Fair warning: there will be some graphic medical photos, so if that bugs you, scroll no further.

My first surgery in 2014 confirmed my doctor's suspicion of endo, stage two. She removed a seven centimeter cyst from my left ovary and took pictures of the endo, which was everywhere. The endo stayed there, though. No surgeons in my state are trained to perform excision of endometriosis. So they sewed me back up and I felt better for a couple months. 

 
This was the cyst on my left ovary- it's the giant white egg thing. The cyst is actually inside the ovary, so you can't see it, but the ovary itself is enormous because of the cyst it contains. For comparison, my other normal-sized ovary on the right side is barely visible.

After my first surgery


Since the first surgery left all my endo untouched (with the exception of one cyst), my symptoms got worse over the next two years. After lots of internet research and most nights/days spent in pain that left me doubled over, unable to stand up straight and sometimes unable to walk, I finally submitted my medical history to the Center for Endometriosis Care (CEC) in Atlanta. The surgeon there, Dr. Sinervo, agreed to take my case. I flew from Minneapolis to Atlanta last year to have laparoscopic excision of endometriosis, which is considered the gold standard in care. He removed all of the endometrial adhesions from my body, which meant removing my appendix because it was completely destroyed by endo. During that surgery, they discovered my bladder and uterus had been fused together by endo, so they un-fused those two organs. Unfortunately, I developed Interstitial Cystitis (also known as painful bladder disease) most likely from the trauma of being fused to another organ. 

endometrial adhesions

super bloated post-op belly pic, second surgery

post-surgery selfie because why not??

hospitals in the south give you grits for breakfast :) 

recovering with a gift from my mom

So now one year later I'm fully recovered from surgery. I've been seeing a pelvic floor therapist regularly for after-care and pelvic floor dysfunction. I now have specialists in urology and gynecology. There's no cure for endo, so I will always have it. Some days the pain is worse than others. I deal with recurring bladder infections due to endo/interstitial cystitis and also was diagnosed with adenomyosis. It can feel like a full-time job managing all these different conditions. I had to reduce my work hours to part-time, but I'm still able to enjoy my job. I couldn't have gone through any of this without my husband, who has been with me every step of the way including Atlanta. My family and friends are amazing. I'm very lucky in so many ways, which makes the painful days easier to manage.

My whole purpose in writing this is awareness. I need to talk about what I went through so other women aren't embarrassed to talk about their pelvic pain and symptoms. I don't want other women to have to wait ten years like I did before they get the right diagnosis. It is largely in the hands of the medical community to educate providers about endo. But I'm doing my small part today by sharing my story. Endo totally sucks but fighting and staying strong is possible. Don't ignore your pelvic pain. Pain is not normal. Please comment or pm me if you have questions/concerns about endo. I will answer as much as I can or refer you to someone more knowledgeable than me.


3.19.2017

Green Again

matcha green tea cheesecake: recipe

smoothie bowl with kale, cucumber, peanut butter, sesame seeds, walnut, coconut & banana


I <3 Pho



Happy first week of spring!

3.13.2017

2.12.2017

Scales Pointe




boots: steve madden, d jeans, coat: (old) old navy, shirt: cable and gauge


2.04.2017

February




coat: french connection, d. jeans, boots: similar, bag: steve madden