It’s been four months since my surgery and I wanted to post an update on my healing journey today. The reason I’m sharing my story is to help create awareness about endometriosis and provide support to other women who are battling this condition. Endometriosis can be a very painful and lonely disease. I hope that by speaking out about my experience, I can help others feel less alone. You can read about my battle with endometriosis here and the first part of my laparoscopy surgery update here.
On January 18th, I underwent a laparoscopic surgery to diagnose and treat endometriosis. My surgeon discovered a large complex ovarian cyst on my left ovary and was able to remove it successfully. A dye test was preformed to assess my fertility and check for any blockages in my fallopian tubes. The rest of my pelvic organs were thoroughly assessed and no other signs of endometriosis were found.
It’s rare to find an endometrioma without accompanying adhesions in the pelvic cavity. Usually these types of cysts are discovered in moderate to severe cases of endometriosis, such as stages III and IV. In these stages, you generally see multiple adhesions (often sticking organs together), deep implants and cysts on one or both ovaries. Given these facts, my surgeon was pretty optimistic that it was not endometriosis.
I spent the next few weeks recovering from surgery and was excited to put it all behind me. My days of debilitating pain, abnormal periods and regular hospital visits were finally over. When the biopsy results came in, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and tell everyone the amazing news.
When my gynecologist gave me the final diagnosis, I was shocked and heartbroken. The pathology revealed that the cyst was in fact an endometrioma and that ultimately, endometriosis was the cause. It felt like I my world came crashing down all over again. We briefly discussed hormonal treatment options and what this meant for my fertility, and I was left to make some tough decisions.
Post Surgery Recovery
It took a few weeks for me to get off the couch and face reality. It was a huge emotional setback and on top of that, I still had a lot of physical recovering to do.
While I went back to work 2 weeks after surgery, I have only recently been able to get back to my regular routine. I still avoid heavy lifting as much as possible and feel best when keeping exercise to a minimum. Walking, a light jog and the occasional yoga class is the most I can tolerate right now.
My abdomen is still slightly tender and swollen, and I find that the more I over do it, the more I pay for it. Even being on my feet for too long is enough to trigger “swelly belly”. It can be frustrating at times but I know this is just my body’s way of telling me to slow down. I have to remind myself that healing takes time and allow my body to set the pace.
Many of my endometriosis symptoms have subsided over the last few months, but I am still experiencing bowel irregularities. I’ve been working with a gastroenterologist to rule out the possibility of another autoimmune disease such as crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. There is also the possibility of endometriosis adhesions on the bowel wall that were undetected during surgery. If you’re interested in learning more about bowel endometriosis, there are some great resources here and here.
I have decided not to go through with any hormonal treatments and am focusing on healing through natural remedies such as herbs, acupuncture, diet and lifestyle. There is no right or wrong way and this does not mean that I won’t be open to these treatments in the future. It’s just the approach that I think is best for me at this time.
The Autoimmune Protocol
I have consulted with my naturopath and colleagues in the holistic nutrition field and am getting back on the road to recovery. I recently adopted the Autoimmune Protocol, to help support my healing over the long-term. It’s a modified version of the paleo diet that works by addressing contributing factors to autoimmune disease. The focus of this protocol is on nutrient-dense, health promoting foods and positive lifestyle changes. I’m already experiencing amazing results and can’t wait to share my progress with you.
I would like to dedicate an entire post to this topic, so I will save the rest for later. In the mean time, I want to say a quick hello and welcome any new readers to the blog! With my content taking a slightly different direction, I have found that my readership is changing as well. I hope that you find some inspiration in these pages and feel supported on your own healing journey. If you have any questions about the Autoimmune Protocol or want to join the online support groups, feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.