Recent Hurdle

(Note: This could be distressing, caution advised)

That morning started like any other morning.

Up at 7am, dressed and out the door by 8:15am. I felt good. So good, I had heels on.

As I made the commute to work, I sang my heart out. Singing along to my Disney playlist, I was happy.

About 10 minutes away from the office, I felt a strange twinge in my side. With my insides being as angry as they are, god knows this wasn’t anything new. However, the severity of the pain and the rapid onset was. How I made it to the office, I’ll never know, I can’t remember the rest of the drive. Something was very wrong.

I abandoned my car just outside the building, fearing I wouldn’t be able to walk the distance from the car park. I could barely walk. It took all my strength to stay standing. The pain was so intense I had to hunch over, taking slow steps, like an old lady.

I could hardly breathe.

I stumbled into the building, the first to arrive, I clutched the walls as I staggered to the bathroom. How is it possible to feel like I was going to be sick, pass out and scream all at once? What was happening?

This agonising pain increased from 1-10 in just twenty minutes. I didn’t have time to reach for my rescue meds, to apply a heat pad, to do anything. I was alone & scared. Shaking, I dialled my husband’s number. Knowing he would be busy at work, I held my breath, squeezing my eyes shut against the pain.

Between sobs, I cried for the receptionist to pass the phone to my husband.

In all the time I have been struggling with Endometriosis and pain flares, this was the only time where I’ve made a conscious decision to call an ambulance.

Nick reassured me, told me to call 999. I did.

As I was on the phone to the emergency services, my manager walked in. She took one look at me and took over. She will never know how grateful I am that she was there, with me, that day. I laid my head on the desk, crumpled in pain, trying to breathe, trying to stay conscious.

I felt like I was dying. The pain was so bad. Something was very, very wrong.

Three calls later, we were told help was on the way. It felt like it would never come. Just when I thought I couldn’t hold on, Jade said, “Oh! They’re here now.”

The sigh of relief I released was immense. In that second, I thanked everything that they made it.

Like angels, the paramedics swooped in and immediately took over. They took one look at me and hooked me up to Gas & Air. I then had lots of stickies on, that told them how my heart was doing. It felt like it was aching.

‘Why is this happening? Again?’

I had to shuffle to the ambulance, a paramedic by my sides, sucking on the gas.

It was all hazy as I drifted in and out of pain. I remember Jade wishing me well, giving me my bag and then we were on the way to the hospital.

I laid on the gurney, unable to straighten my legs out. It was like my body instinctively knew to curl into itself, to guard against pain.

I winced against the jerky movements of the ambulance as it stopped and reversed at the hospital. And again I was awash with relief as the ambulance driver opened the doors and I heard, “Is this your husband?”

I lifted my head and our eyes locked. And I cried. I knew that I could collapse because I knew I could lean on Nick, that he would watch out for me and pick me up again.

I was wheeled into A&E and I braced myself for the onslaught of questions…

“What’s your name? Date of birth? What’s happened Aimee? How is your pain now?”

It was the same routine, just a new hospital and new faces. These doctors didn’t know me.

I think every woman with Endometriosis struggles with new doctors, reliving all the traumas, the medical history and desperately trying to make the professionals see how bad the pain is, what it’s like and that it’s not all in your head.

The notion that I might not be taken seriously and discharged is always a very real fear, in any hospital visit.

Luckily, something was shining down on me. I was blessed with a very understanding doctor who could read the pain written all over my face. She overruled other doctors and some less-empathising members of the nursing staff, she held my hand as I cried and rolled around the bed in pain.

She heard my “Please. Please help me.” and answered…

with morphine.

There’s always a question that I dread, not because the doctors have to ask it, but because I have to answer. “Aimee, could you be pregnant?”

Something squeezes around my heart each time, I answer in the negative.

Despite my constant rambling about previous surgeries and cysts and MRI results and ovulation pain stories and pain killer lists, there still seemed to be a lot of confusion about what was actually happening to me.

Some theories were:

  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Appendicitis
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  • Some sort of infection

All theories that I’ve heard before, bouncing around my head. Theories that have all been proven wrong. This was my Endometriosis.

The doctors, thorough as they were, insisted on an Ultrasound scan and an X-Ray.

By this point, I had been given paracetamol, a diclofenac suppository and a whole lotta morphine, along with the two tramadol I had taken myself whilst still at work. I know I sound like a drug addict. But that’s just how bad the pain was. I can’t even describe it now, like I’ve blocked it out.

I could barely stand still for the chest X-Ray. I held onto the machine, my legs shaking, biting my lip to keep from crying out. It was all too familiar, all too much. I lowered myself back onto the gurney. The Radiologist hurrying to make a call to the Ultrasound department. She managed to squeeze me in, luckily. That meant that I wouldn’t have to wait for 7 hours for a scan.

I was taken back to A&E before being taken to the ward. I would be admitted. I was shown to a bed, and waited as my husband went to the car to collect my overnight bag (as practised as we are at this, he knew I would need it).

While I drifted in and out of restless sleep, the drugs starting to overpower my senses, the doctor came. I struggled through an internal exam, I gritted my teeth against the dismissal of my accounts. The gynaecologist told me everything would be fine, told me it wasn’t a problem with my cysts, or my Endometriosis. I couldn’t understand what else it could be. Dazed, I returned to my bed, texted my husband, who quickly returned and wanted to speak with the doctor.

She retracted her original comments, telling Nick she suspected the Endometriosis was the culprit, along with an internal infection. I was filled with antibiotics; a large dose via IV and 2 lots of oral antibiotics. What had caused the infection? 

I will never know.

I was discharged the next day, after being told I should have plenty of medication and pain relief at home and should therefore be able to manage the pain. I was ensured that things should start to improve now I was on the antibiotics.

I doubt that there was ever any infection.

When I had failed to ovulate after stopping the zoladex injections, my doctor prescribed me Clomid. This drug works by stimulating the ovaries, to encourage ovulation. I believe that the Clomid irritated my ovary (and in turn, the attached cyst), increased its size, which then aggravated my Endometriosis and caused the flare up. The fluid in my pelvis, could have been just another consequence of this.

And following a tense few weeks, waiting for a hospital appointment, my Gynaecology specialist confirmed this… Right before he offered me a ‘final’ solution.

I think that’s enough offloading for now, don’t you? Just know that I am incredibly appreciative of all the support and light I have received, and I will be alright in the end – after all this will only be a small part of my journey.

xo

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Abdominal Sacral Massage

abdo massage

Since I was diagnosed with Endometriosis, I have tried to be open minded. Most of my treatment options have involved medical intervention; medications, surgery, hormone treatment, injections, the list goes on…

But every now and then I stumble upon a treatment or a theory or something that seems so ‘out-there’, it might actually work!

I was told about Abdominal Sacral Massage by a dear friend, one who is also trying to conceive. We were discussing what else we could do to improve our chances; we are already day-counting, vitamin taking, diet-watching & sexing it up at every chance we get. After a furious google search, we finally found Abdominal Sacral Massage.

This massage technique is used for digestion, helping to ease constipation and bloating (great), to support emotional health and fertility with its’ gentle healing (double great!) and can improve your menstrual health by regulating periods and helping ease PMT (GREAT, GREAT, GREAT!).

So, on paper, this ticks all the boxes, it seemed like a fantastic idea and we couldn’t believe we’d never heard of it. Especially, since I’ve been struggling to manage my Endo symptoms for over 4 years. And as no stranger to holistic therapies, I was eager to give it a go, with complete faith that it would be a positive experience.

A week or so later, we had the appointment. As we travelled over to the, salon…spa… I was quite excited, unrealistically optimistic that this would solve all my problems and hopeful that I’d be pregnant sooner than I thought. It is set in lush countryside and it was a bright sunny day. Our therapist is a down-to-earth, put me right at ease, sort of lady. I felt relaxed already. We filled out some paperwork, letting her know what we needed help with most. Where do I start? Then got down to business, choosing essential oils. We had to choose a high, middle and low note. All 3 would target problems and work differently. I chose ylang-ylang, cedarwood & clary sage. It was a heady concoction. Now that it was time to get naked (I kid, I still had underwear on!) I started to feel nervous. What would it be like? The therapist herself said it wasn’t a treatment that she does regularly, mainly because people don’t know about it but she did gush about its many benefits.

My friend went in first and I sat for an hour, glad I had brought a book. When I read I tend to get absorbed into it and the time passed quickly. My friend soon emerged, looking relaxed, happy and tired.

My turn.

The massage bed had a heated mat and there were plenty of towels to protect my modesty. The lights were dimmed low and there was a steamy aromatherapy machine pumping out geranium flavoured mist; which happens to be my favourite essential oil and fragrance. I felt great.

The abdominal sacral massage focusses on the area between the ribs at the front to lower abdomen, between pelvis. It’s quite a deep tissue massage, I knew this but was willing to give it a go.

My stomach has been somewhat of an issue for me. Not out of vanity or how it looks or feels, the issue stems from self-preservation, fear and anxiety. I was not prepared for the emotional impact of having a stranger touch me in a place that has caused a lot of pain, trouble and anxiety. So, when she laid her hands on my abdomen, I had to fight the urge to push her away. I immediately guarded myself. This physically reaction prompted an emotional one. I started to mentally examine where this response was coming from, all the while extremely uncomfortable and willing myself to relax. Thinking about it, I clearly recognised that this automatic reaction to tense up when someone touches, or looks like they will touch, my stomach has been ingrained only in the last few years. Since my endo flares became so bad they required hospital admission or surgery. Even when my husband touches my stomach, I initially tense before relaxing. It only lasts a split second but my body is used to hurting there.

I was shocked that I was able to realise this change in me, triggered by this massage. I was glad to have this experience, if only because I got to learn a little bit more about my body.

The first part of the massage included a lot of ‘kneading-like’ action from ribs to hip bone. I was just thankful that I was a little bit more dough-y and heavier now than I normally am when I’m symptomatic. I can’t say it was relaxing, it was quite a deep massage which created some discomfort for me.

The second part of the massage focussed on my back; bra line to coccyx area. This was much nicer and I was finally able to relax. The essential oils had begun to permeate my skin and the air around me, I could take deep, soothing breaths, this part I liked.

The final part was a face, neck & head massage combined with some Reiki healing. The light pressure on my head and neck really helped ease some of my tension, some which I didn’t know I’d been holding! Reiki doesn’t suit everyone; it’s a treatment that you have to be open to in order to get the most from it. I could feel it work for me. Only a few minutes after she moved onto my face, my whole body started to tingle; from head to foot. I then went all goose-bumpy. I could feel little shocks, almost like I’d been electrified.

Over the next few days following the massage, I felt some discomfort. My stomach felt sore and tender to touch, as though it’d been through an ordeal. Nothing else much happened. I half expected my period to start, I was hoping it would trigger its reappearance following the end of my latest zoladex treatment, in January. But, there’s been nothing.

I don’t know whether I would have another treatment, maybe it is like acupuncture, it gets better after each session. Truthfully, I’m reluctant to try it again. It wasn’t painful and I may not have seen any benefits yet, but just because of my emotional discomfort throughout, I don’t think it is for me. Maybe in a few months, I will give it another chance.

After all, when it comes to searching for a way to improve my life with Endometriosis- I’ll try anything.

Zoladex vs Endometriosis

On 20th November 2015 I had the first of my Zoladex injections to help relieve the symptoms of Endometriosis. I look at this as the final straw. The last option to my growing list of failed attempts to control pain, manage my symptoms.

“Zoladex (goserelin) is a man-made form of a hormone that regulates many processes in the body. Goserelin overstimulates the body’s own production of certain hormones, which causes that production to shut down temporarily.”

Less than a week later I go through a bad flare-up, extreme cramping, agonising pain and bloating. Having to take all my strongest pain medication and struggling to stand. I literally didn’t know what to do with myself, I was having to take heavy pain killers along with sticking heat pads all over my abdomen and back. However, I was told later that this was “normal” and is called a ‘post-zoladex bleed’. This can sometimes exaggerate the symptoms of endometriosis. I was also told that this settled down after a while…

And it did. The first month came and went, I was just heading into the second month, second injection, when the hot flushes started. As the injection works, it imitates menopause. The zoladex injection is like a chemical menopause, shutting my ovaries down so the endometriosis cannot grow or fluctuate in any way – hence, no pain. Or that is the idea.
For a couple of years now I have been listening to my mum (who is mid-menopausal FYI) whine about hot sweats and lack of sleep and mood swings, each time earning an eye-roll from me. I will NEVER roll my eyes at my mother again. EVER.
These hot sweats come and go all day, and they are ferocious and spontaneous. I wake up in the middle of the night feeling as though my blood is boiling beneath my skin. That awful feeling when you get stuck in a jumper that’s too tight? (I felt it briefly last year when I found myself, regretfully, stuck in a dress) I feel that for a split second, when waking with a hot sweat, feels a though I’m suffocating as I’m much too hot.

This is still happening to me. But it’s the lesser of two evils I suppose. Volatile body temperature or constant pain?

So I’m 2 thirds of the way into my course of 3 Zoladex injections. My last one was 18th December; each one isn’t as bad as the last. Although I’m left bleeding, sore and bruised after every injection, it doesn’t hurt as much. I figure I’m used to being a human pin cushion. I haven’t had a period in nearly 3 months now, I’ve had very little bloating and a minimal amount of pain. The only complaint I have are the side effects of the injection.

This tells me that the ultimate treatment, the only thing that can really help me (in the long room) is a hysterectomy. A hysterectomy will push me into early menopause, effectively doing exactly what the zoladex injection does and is a more long-term plan. I’ve finally found something that seems to work. But before I commit to menopause permanently…

 

…2016 is my ‘HAVE-A-BABY Year’

 

Happy New Year!!

 

A xo

 

*I’d love to hear about the treatment you’ve used for Endometriosis… comment below

*Any ideas to naturally boost fertility?