A letter to my younger Self

 

Dear 13 year old me,

You’re one of the quiet ones, you prefer books to real life people. You spend a lot of time in your room. This isn’t a bad thing. You still have the friends you grew up with, to them you’re Nerdy Spice. They all shave their legs, have done for a while. They all have boyfriends and stay up till after midnight. Mum won’t even let you near the tweezers and you have an 8 o’clock bedtime.

You’re embarrassed that you have a bed time. When your friends call and Dad tells them you’re in bed, you have to explain it away with a stomach bug the next morning, on the walk to school. But those 8 hours of sleep are a god-send. It gives your body the time to re-boot, time for your hormones to untangle.

Although, now at 25 years old, I crave early nights and those blessed 8 hours are essential. Without them I’m a cranky pants.

Remember when you used to call your friends during that 13th summer, let’s go swimming! No. Why? Because all of your friends had ‘that time of the month’. You were so upset because you didn’t have boobs, or hairy armpits, or a period.

In desperation, you cried to mum, “I’m never going to get my period, I’m going to be the last girl ever to get them!” You felt so left out and mum calmed you down, and said in a quiet voice, “When your periods start, you’ll wish you never got them.”

Listen to mum. She’s like Gandhi. Do not scoff at her rules, jokes, or words of wisdom. Mum knows what she’s talking about & she’s right.

You will hate your periods, boobs get in the way and shaving becomes a full time job but without a pay day.

You will put a lot of pressure on yourself on your journey through secondary school. You will never meet your expectations, but you have to realise that you have already made Mum and Dad so proud. They are proud that your Parents’ Evenings go well, your grades are good and they are grateful they don’t have to worry about you causing trouble on the streets at night. They can trust you to make good choices and to do your best in everything.

Be thankful that Mum and Dad are strict parents and that they love you enough to use rules to mould you into a better person. In another 10 years when you’re living on your own in Northampton, you’ll be glad that Dad taught you about Online Banking and made sure you are street-wise. You’ll be grateful that you spent time babysitting your little brother and sister because it taught you responsibility. Be grateful that Dad taught you about money and that you have to work hard and save for things that you want. Thank Mum for teaching you compassion, for being a shining example of a good-heart.

Over the next few years, you will meet amazing people. Some you will keep with you forever and some you will lose as they go their own way. Life takes everyone in different directions. Learn everything you can from these people, how they influence you and the impact they have on your life. You can learn so much from people.

You will push yourself and set expectation that you are never able to achieve. Learn to love who you are. There are some tough times coming up and you need to be strong.

You will meet bullies, exams, heartbreak, fall-outs with friends and fall-outs with parents. You will move 90miles away from everything you know & everyone you love. Be outgoing, meet people, try new things.

Don’t try to micro-manage everything. It’s OK not to have a plan. Don’t rush into adulthood and force yourself into a life you’re not ready for. Everything doesn’t have to happen right now. Be patient

(No, I haven’t cracked Patience yet, but I’m trying)

Alas, you will have to kiss a few toads before you marry your prince. Open your heart to love. When you find it, it’ll take your breath away. This love will not be an easy one, and you will face some tough situations, but he’s so worth it. He’s exactly right for you, the man you pictured when you read all mum’s Danielle Steel novels. You have found your best friend. He is the other half of your soul and he loves you irrevocably and completely.

When you take a tumble, be it due to illness or lack of judgement, remember that anything worth having is never easy. Have the conviction to stand back up.

You will experience hurt and pain and defeat and there is no avoiding this, but know that you are a strong. No matter how alone you may feel in those dark days, know that people love you. They will shoulder this hurt with you and it is OK to let them for it is too heavy for you to carry alone. Acknowledge this early, before it breaks you.

Do not let sadness bind your personality and drain you but hold fast to who you are. Do not let pain change you, try and stay soft. Stand strong against the regret and bitterness that will taint your caring nature. Keep striving to be a good person.

Your sensitivity is a gift and it allows you to connect with people on an emotional level. You have empathy and understanding, which people will lean on. Do not be afraid to cry, crying is not a sign of weakness. It shows that you care enough about something and you’re willing to break trying to get it.

Be confident enough to laugh at yourself. It’s OK to be weird.

Never apologise for being who you are. Stay cool.

From your 25 year old Self   xo

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Ovo-Pescatarian

I love a Sunday Dinner. My favourite is roast chicken and stuffing. I love a full English breakfast or anything with bacon. And so it is with much resentment that I fill you in on the past week…

I have tried several options of treatment and I have struggled to cope with either side effects or the fact that they just don’t work. And so after reading up on Endometriosis in Dian Shepperson Mills’ book , I’ve research some lifestyle changes that could help reduce flare ups.

In Endometriosis: A Key to Healing And Fertility Through Nutrition, the author describes how food and nutrition can help illness and improve fertility. 

I have also researched the Endo Diet. This diet suggests cutting out foods which trigger or cause inflammation. I struggle enough with inflammation of their internal organs/reproductive system so if there’s anything I can do to improve things- I’m up for it!

What are inflammatory foods?

Meat (especially red and processed meats)

Processed and packaged foods
Sugar
Gluten, white bread, and wheat
Dairy products
Alcohol
Fried foods

It does just say red meats and it does say that organic meat is better, but I’ve decided to cut meat out of my diet completely. If I’m doing this, I’m doing it right!

Now this was hard. My husband is an enthusiastic carnivore and sticks to the view that “a meal’s not a meal without meat“. Well, we haven’t divorced yet. I’ve just substituted the meat products with extra veg/salad or a vegetarian product. Linda McCartney’s vegetarian range is de-lish BTW! 

Anyway…as I was worried about changing my diet so drastically, I’ve opted to eat eggs and fish. I try to get the organic/free-range/line caught variety just as an added conscience boost.

After a week, I’m not starving. I still eat 2-3 meals a day (I’m terrible for missing breakfast!) So far I feel a less lethargic and not as nauseous after every meal. Below are some of the meals I’ve had this week…

 

 

 

This book also states that too much dairy, heat and refined sugar can cause flare ups – but as a confessed Sweet Tooth, I refuse to give up my desserts just yet. Baby steps…

 

A xo

 

It’s OK to ask for a 2nd opinion

I have been struggling with extraordinary abdominal pain, fatigue and heavy bloodloss which eventually led to being diagnosed with Endometriosis.

I had my Laparoscopy on my birthday in January 2015. Since then I have still had constant pain. Everyday. It has been an exhausting journey. I have been told to try for babies sooner rather than later, I have been told my illness is chronic and I will have to live with it for the rest of my life.

Now, in my personal circumstances, we always knew it wouldn’t be straight forward for me to conceive, my husband and I had planned to save up and go for a clinic where he would undergo surgery. This would be in a private clinic as it isn’t available on the NHS. My diagnosis then put a time-sensitive pressure on us to conceive, which has not helped my recovery or state of mind at all! How am I going to save £3000? I have left full-time work as I can’t manage my pain during a 40hr work schedule! It’s impossible. Hence, my mood deteriorated.

I have been in constant pain, having to take very strong pain killers; called analgesics. The side effects include: drowsiness, nausea, headaches, itching, insomnia, changes in mood and they are just a few. When on these sorts of tablets, I would lose hours, days at a time, not being able to function, falling asleep, being emotional, it was a nightmare. And what’s more, I got tired of visiting my Dr and being met with a blank expression and the ‘trial & error’ merry-go-round; “try this?”

I ultimately reached rock bottom. I was crying all the time, I was scared I would lose my job, my family were all worried about me getting addicted to these tablets.

THEN… 

A good friend & relative of mine did some investigating and told me to register with a different Doctor’s surgery. At this new surgery, I was to ask for Dr D (confidentiality!!) and that he specialised in symptoms like mine, women’s health etc. What? Why hasn’t my Dr mentioned this before? So I went and registered, filled the forms out, spoke with a lovely receptionist who listened intently to my story and signed me up with Dr D as my named GP. Yes.

In 10 minutes, Dr D was able to give me more reassurance and information that in the 18 months previously. He told me that my endometriosis was not under control. He told me that the next stage would be a chemical menopause like Lupron injections (ermm…No Spank you!) and then it would be surgery; hysterectomy. He said that if I was suffering like this at 25, it wouldn’t be much better at 35, and we would be looking at surgery definitely. He gave me other options about our fertility problem and when I researched this at home, it seemed more practical and much more achievable! He understood my need for pain medication, reassured me that I was using them correctly, and when I asked for slow-release Tramadol (thanks to my Twitter sister @BattleWithEndo!) he didn’t hesitate to sign the prescription.

Dr D has given me a plan, a path to walk and a destination. After so many months of working around lost in my own pain and hating myself and the health system, it feels so good to have some clarification.

By no means am I pain-free but it’s manageable. I am only part way through my journey, but at least now I’ve got a map and things have started to show improvement. My bleeding seems to be settling, I have a little more energy (thanks to vitamins!) and I don’t have as many as the nasty side effects. I’m only taking FOUR tablets a day now.

I feel like me. At last.

There is hope. Don’t feel bad for going to a different Dr. Your health is important and you are entitled to expect and ask for what’s best for you.

A xo

No diagnosis? Misdiagnosis!

Can someone just sling a spanner in the works? Please?!

Below I have drawn a pretty (or not!) picture of what having endometriosis entails and how each things affects the next. It literally effects every aspect of my life. As you can see, it’s a viscious cycle.

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I’m unsure what can trigger the pain as I can have it through the night, when I open my eyes in the morning, at work, after the gym, anytime. I have read up online and through reference books, I have spoken to hundreds of women in online forums and support groups and don’t seem to be any wiser on how I can help myself!

Before all my symptoms became too much to bear, I had a positive outlook on my life, positive opinions of the healthcare systems and believed I was in good health.

How naive was I? For the past 15 months I have been greeted by blank faces, questioning looks, even expressions of doubt, when seeking help from the healthcare service. I am very much treated on a ‘try this’ trial and error basis, I seem to come out of the Dr’s room feeling more confused than when I went in and have yet another prescription in my hand. I have seen on the news that Doctors are sometimes over-prescribing and overdiagnosing their patients, which is bad. But I must be on the other end of the scale as I have been underdiagnosed. I have recently had a hospital admission where the on-call gynae actually looked surprised at seeing my surgical scars even after I had told her my sad tale. As if I’d lied about it?!

I have reached an all time low in my life and have been crying in Dr’s rooms for months asking for help. I have expressed my desire to have an hysterectomy at 24. I just want it to go away at this point. I have told them I find no joy in my life anymore. Their response? Anti-depressants. More meds.

I don’t like using pain killers so how am I supposed to react to this? It scares me. I am constantly being reminded that ‘these drugs are addictive’ and ‘be careful how many you take’ and so I try to avoid taking them if I can. I can’t always manage it. If I don’t take the pain medication when I need it, I’m literally in the foetal position for hours. I am now at the point post-diagnosis where I have accepted that this is how I am, which is depressing in itself much less without the pain.

Anti-depressants were the last straw. I cannot start that medication. I have decided to try and take control of my life. Hoping to.

I have been to the gym this morning, taking it slowly, I have gotten home and my stomach has inflated to the size of a beach ball, my back hurts, my pelvis feels too wide for my body and I am so tired. All of the time. Tired of my body fighting itself. Pretending to be ok, everyday, is exhausting. I just want to be as normal as I can.

I’m just about done with this shit.

A xo

Reaching the limit

I can do this?

Over the past few months a lot has happened that has impacted my life in a huge way. I am learning to live with the restrictions my body puts on me, learning what my limits are all over again. Training myself to work through pains and emotions that would have broken me 8 months ago. Slowly, I am realising that my mind must acclimate to these changes as well and acknowledge them if I want to be sane.

You see, my mind is all for hitting the gym for an hour, more than willing to stuff myself at meal times, happy to stay up all night watching Netflix. But the fact is, my body is no longer capable of doing any of those things. (have you read the Spoon Theory? This might help you understand my predicament)

8 months ago I was able to do 13 hour shifts and overtime in a high-stress role. Sadly, I just can’t do that anymore. I’ve missed it and been sad, resenting my body for fighting itself every month, tearing itself to bits, hating it. But my husband just said; “you can’t and it’s that way it is, being sad about it isn’t going to change it and you just have to adapt” – to be the best I can be.. now.

Getting back up..

When your body and/or emotions take a hammering, you’ll find ways of coping. Little tricks that help me to deal with the shitty situation I sometimes find myself in. This past week, I spent another few days in hospital, my little home away from home, with divine cuisine and luxury facilities. Between waking from my pain-killer induced dozes and trying to manage a pain storm, I read. If I ever find a few moments when I can concentrate enough to see the words, I can disappear, be absorbed into the pages and live through the characters in the story – just for a while. It’s my great escape. I have read a lot in since we said goodbye to 2014. Life can be difficult, but it’s the little things that can make it a little easier; a good book, a long bath, pudding… everybody loves pudding.

A xo

Books I have read recently & can recommend:

Please see my book reviews as some are included!