Let’s talk about female gynecological and reproductive health.
My surgeon called today – we have an appointment for June 27th to set a date for the surgery. I’m on pretty strict activity limitation, pretty much only walking and chilling until the big day. At this point, I’m just ready to move on. The fibroid tumors have gotten so inflamed and out of control that I’m just tired of the pain and discomfort. No more fear, nerves or anything except grit. I am so thankful that I am clear of any cancerous cells, nutritional issues and am going into this super strong. I feel pretty good that I did not do anything to actually cause this, it’s just so much scar tissue and inflammation from my body rejecting the overgrowth from a traumatic c-section, and huge fibroids.
Younger female friends of mine – check your nutritional levels, monitor your period flows, pay attention to your stomach issues and digestive tract health. If you suppress symptoms early enough, it might not get this far along at 45. Get health insurance. Find a good doctor. Love yourself and invest in your body.
Living with Fibroids. Symptoms You Should Know About.
Pay attention to any signs that things might not be normal. Here are the warning signs that I had, and completely ignored…thinking that maybe it was my slowly decreasing metabolism, gluten, Monsanto, shoot…I was thinking I was just destined to battle a bloated muffin top for the rest of my life. Not until I saw a female doctor, did she suggest that I get checked out for fibroids. I didn’t even KNOW what fibroids were. Ironically, one of my workout partners specializes in female gynecology in the medical field, and she had once told me ‘you know, you should get checked out for fibroids…it looks like you might have them’ to which I told her she was full of it.
Here are what the medical journals state as high risk:
Women are at greater risk for developing fibroids if they have one or more of the following risk factors:
- a family history of fibroids
- being over the age of 30 (me)
- being of African-American descent
- having a high body weight (me)
Your symptoms will depend on the location and size of the tumor(s) and how many tumors you have. If your tumor is very small, or if you are going through menopause, you may not have any symptoms. Fibroids may shrink during and after menopause.
Symptoms of fibroids may include:
- heavy bleeding between or during your periods that includes blood clots
- pain in the pelvis and/or lower back
- increased menstrual cramping
- increased urination
- pain during intercourse
- menstruation that lasts longer than usual
- pressure or fullness in your lower abdomen
- swelling or enlargement of the abdomen (me)
This is all fine and good and all, and I am not saying that those aren’t legitimate symptoms. But, basically, only 3 of those symptoms are mine. Let me tell you what is happening with me, and maybe you can relate. Hopefully you cannot. Here are my symptoms, and why no medical doctor that I went to ever thought to look for fibroids.
- Heavy menstrual bleeding. Like HEAVY. Like, a super plus tampon AND an overnight pad every hour. But this started happening right around 16, so I grew up my whole life thinking this was normal.
- Anemia – which makes total sense. If you bleed that much, you will be anemic. Medical advice from my physician – take iron pills. I started taking serious iron supplements to control the anemia.
- Constipation – and I mean CHRONIC constipation. Again, this has pretty much been my whole life, so I have been a fiber taking, psyllium husk, prune juice, green juice, hot baths, gallon of water drinking kombucha swearing goddess most of my adult life.
- 12 Hour per day sleeping during my menses. Again, you bleed out, you just don’t have energy.
- STOMACH BLOAT – well, a picture is worth a thousand words. And to be fair, for years, this only happened when I would eat gluten. Some of you may remember the spring in 2012 that I spent in the South of France, and lost an entire pant size, and I returned home and never ate gluten again. And it worked…until it stopped working. Last December, I started experiencing serious bloat every time I ate food. Organic food, green juice, anything. I would immediately get so bloated and swollen that I would have to rub coconut oil on my skin to allow it to stretch and gain some sort of comfort.
The final straw that landed me to go see my doctor was a period that started coming every 2 weeks, then every 3 weeks, and then didn’t stop. It had been almost 3 months of on again, off again bleeding. Mind you, I did not have very many of the textbook symptoms – no painful periods, no family history etc. etc.
The trip to the doctor rendered me to the blood bank to get an extensive hormone level checked, and all came back normal. Not only normal, but I even had excellent nutritional balance in my blood. (BTW, I use VEGAONE as my breakfast smoothie every morning, so I credit them for the awesome nutritional level that I am fortunate to have right now going into this). With the results of all of my blood work being pretty awesome (thanks again VegaOne!)
I was scheduled for a uterine ultrasound. I will basically give you the results from that – as it’s a long, winding situation and really, it makes me exhausted to discuss it. But I think it’s important to share, so here I go. I will actually bullet point it to keep it simple.
- I have a collection of ‘humongous fibroids’
- 1 of the largest fibroids is outside the uterus, covering the ovary.
- 1 of the larger fibroids has grown a ‘stalk’ which is jamming into my bowels.
- My uterus is inflamed and stretched out to the size of a 6 or 7 month pregnancy
- My surgeons’ words “Your uterus is a complete mess, it has to come out’
So there you have it. A complete mess. I did undergo a uterine ablation to stop the blood flow and keep the fibroids from growing, you can read about that here. That ended up causing more of a complete mess, so at this point, I don’t know much, except this: TAKE CARE OF YOUR FEMALE HEALTH on an ongoing basis. If your doctor suggests going on birth control pills because you have excessive estrogen, do it. Get your annual check ups. Report your symptoms, even if you don’t think that they are what the internet says it is.
TALK to the females in your family, your tribe, your extended family. Talk. Discuss. Educate. Don’t think that the hip and trendy power-vag practices is all you need. Don’t put things in your vagina that don’t belong there, and I’m using this as a metaphor for ignorance or social media hashtags (lol I am laughing as I type this, but for real yo, don’t put things in your vagina that don’t belong there, thats serious stuff) and GET TO KNOW YOUR DOCTOR REAL WELL. If you don’t feel like you can freely discuss your female genital health with your current doctor, call your insurance and find a different one. I have a great one, but I did have to go through 3 different previous doctors who I felt were not interested in my challenges.
Again. If you don’t have insurance, you can get affordable insurance now, thanks to President Obama through the Affordable Care Act. I did, and it probably saved my life.
Today, I am experiencing constant bloating and swelling due to the necrotic state of the fibroids as a result from the uterine ablation procedure that I underwent 6 weeks ago. The pain is constant, the swelling is constant, the discomfort is high and I battle constantly to stay in a positive mindset. I cry in the mornings, and at night…and I go ahead and allow myself to do that. I will post again when I have more information, but probably my next few posts will be about something glamorous or more typical of what I like to spend my energy on. Hopefully my story can help someone else make the necessary decisions early enough to not have to endure this.