I want to take a few minutes of your time to share my story, I've written a three novel series Chin Up Tits Out and it changed my life. I am working on getting you a new three book series; Love My Lady bits.
With this series, I've interviewed 100 women from around the world and chatted with them all about their lady bits, and the challenges that come with being a women in today's day and age.
Here is my story, I hope you enjoy the ride.
I'd like to call myself a healthy individual, some years are more 'tight and toned' than other years, but certainly, I thrive when I am healthy, active and eat well. I was a caregiver to my ex-husband who was a cancer patient, and a new immigrant when I was 22 years old. I lost a lot of myself during those couple of years, then to boot - he randomly walked out of my life as soon as he was on the mend and virtually vanished into thin air. All this trauma and drama drove me into a tailspin downwards. With lots of therapy, support from my family, friends and coworkers I was able to find balance within a few years. That balance I worked hard to obtain and worked even harder to keep.
When I was 28 years old, I was feeling the best I had ever felt, I had published two books that sold worldwide, my career was moving up in the direction I wanted it to, I was looking toned, tight and felt great - until this one day while grocery shopping my ovaries felt like they got hit by a bolt of lightning. My body flung itself into the isle involuntarily, I was completely mortified, I dropped my half-full cart and walked out of the store and drove myself home. That was the beginning of my journey with Endo.
After that day in the grocery store, unexplained pain, weird bloating and consistent unannounced nausea plagued my life more frequently. I went to my GP and she explained to me that it was my womb doing what it was meant to do - that I should get pregnant - as my body was telling me - it needed to become pregnant. I was single and loving life at this point - so getting pregnant alone wasn't a thought in my mind. I knew at some point in my life I wanted to be a mom, but certainly not now, and not this way.
I immediately found a new GP to discuss my symptoms with. This new GP referred me to a Gyno, and then 3 of us started working down the laundry list of a possible diagnosis of my unexplained symptoms. I luckily had a couple of friends that had endometriosis, so I went to them to discuss things over. I was the one who brought up endo to my doctors simply because of the discussions and awareness I received from my friends. My docs explained to me that it was a total possibility, but we had to rule out a bunch of other things before cutting me open for a lap surgery to get a definite diagnosis.
That is when I created my 26 line-item tracking sheet on Excel. I would track everything from bleeding amount, pain during sex, mood, medication intake etc. If there was a symptom, I would add it and start to track it. I would take this data to each and every doc appt - I would take the data and turn it into digestible graphs with summary lines. It quickly gave the doctors the picture that I knew my body well and that I was here to do business. Business of finding out the root cause of my issues. With this data, no one ever questioned me or my pain. It made me feel empowered but still lost because I had no idea why I was in all this pain.
It didn't take long after the first pain that I started to need to work from home and in bed on a weekly basis. I am a TMI (all the time) kind of person, so when explaining my new issue to my supervisor and coworkers I was met with nothing but support and empathy. As long as I continued to perform and do my work, my team didn't need me to be in the office.
My energy levels and ability to be active diminished pretty quickly too, I had run a marathon one month and the next month was bedridden for days on end every week. Not having the ability to go out and be active anymore also took a toll on my mental well-being, it was tough, luckily my friends and family again came to my rescue and pitched in as much as they all could to keep me balanced in my new way of life. Sometimes that meant that they would pick me up off the floor and drive me to my parents to stay there for a few days. Or drive me through a snowstorm in the middle of a flare to meet my parents halfway to the hospital, all while I was vomiting and farting simultaneously - you know those moments, there is so much internal pressure from retching the force has to come out of both ends.
My medical team and I tried everything possible, we tried changing my birth control pills, we tried an IUD, we tried a bunch of different types of meds, Heck, I even went back to my therapist thinking perhaps the pain was all in my head. The IUD landed me in the hospital 7 times in 9 days, by then I knew all the nurses and doctors on the ER staff on first name basis. My gyno and I decided that the IUD was not helping and on the contrary making it much worse for me, he pulled it out, he was remorseful and empathetic. We both sat in his office and cried for a moment, my health had gotten so bad so quickly he felt absolutely terrible. This was the point of breaking for me, I knew I needed the surgery for the diagnosis and removal of endo, but was he going to give it to me?
After our emotional moment together, as I was about to put my proverbial boxing gloves on to fight for surgery, he grabbed my hand and looked me in my eyes and said, we're doing a lap, you will not suffer like this anymore. I immediately burst into happy tears knowing that everything that I had worked for, I was about to get a proper diagnosis and give my brain the peace of mind it needed for so long.
After my surgery, it marked 18 months from that first pain in the grocery store. My gyno outlined that I had endo on the back of my uterus, which he removed, and he also confirmed that I have adenomyosis. I insisted he take photos of my insides and review them with me, and that he did. He went through dozens of photos and discussed what each of them was, the good the bad and the ugly, the before and the after. There was such a sense of relief knowing that I knew what was up from the get-go, that I knew my body better than anyone else did in this world, that made me feel empowered and sane!
The follow up with my gyno was positive and uplifting, he told me that my insides were healthy enough to start a family in my own time, but that I must not just get pregnant to get pregnant, that I need to make sure I find a partner that is caring, understanding, compassionate and is willing to take care of my needs and the needs of our future baby together. Still single at this point I appreciated his kind wise words, so much so that I started with a list of things I required in a partner; qualities, attributes and characteristics. It was difficult to start the list, as there is SO much you can add, but I wanted to make sure what I added held value and merit, and they were things I held myself accountable to as well. Before you know it I had a list of 40 things, it was something that I was proud of. It changed my entire approach to dating. I would review it all the time, and take note after spending time with men I was dating, asking myself if the boxes were being checked off or not.
After a year of following, moulding and reviewing this list I found my current partner, I wanted to share my list with him off the bat and he told me to keep it to myself, keep reviewing it, and let him be who he is without the influence of my list. It wasn't the average response, as I liked to be open and share what I wanted out of a partner, but he insisted that we should authentically be ourselves with no outside influence, and if he still checked off the boxes, then he was the real one for me. It wasn't long after we started dating that I realized he checked off all 40 boxes. I was flabbergasted and awe-struck, and of course, I shared that with him. We often spoke about having kids, and what it would look like, when the pandemic hit for the first time (the initial global lockdown in March 2020) with the stress, chaos, and uncertainty of the future my stress levels started to rise, then there was the close of all the holistic and alternative healing and therapies I used to keep my symptoms at bay (I went to massage, chiropractor, acupuncture, hot yoga, and homeopathy) my symptoms started to flare again.
That is when we decided to talk more seriously about starting a family. We sat down with 30 tough questions about what a family looks like to us, role and responsibilities as parents, plan a, b, c... etc. for pregnancy, and after a very lengthy conversation we were completely uplifted, happy, excited and totally in agreement that we wanted to start a family together. We come from two different worlds, me being brought up in a full loud family in Canada and him brought up by a single mom in Nigeria with a small quiet family. We knew we would have different approaches to raising children, and we talked it all out before making our decision and our choice.
We kept our pregnancy in-house - meaning we only let our parents know what our plan was, and when we actually got pregnant, we only let our immediate family and closest friends know. We wanted outside stress to not influence or impact our journey. We wanted calm, peaceful, private and positive all throughout the pregnancy. I sold my downtown condo, he moved out of his apartment, and we moved into a beautiful house in the suburbs down the street from my parents. We strived for peaceful and positive and we got exactly that, even though there were a lot of moving parts.
9 months later we successfully delivered a perfect little girl.
Since that day in the grocery store, my life has never been the same, it has never stood still, and I have not lived the same day twice. It has taken me years to find my balance again, and guess what, something else will happen and I will be forced to re-find balance time and time again. That is totally okay!
Life is ever-changing and evolving, and my goal is to consistently learn and grow alongside it. I don't know what the future has in store regarding my endo and my adeno, but I know in my heart that we as a family can figure it out together, and knowing that I have that support system makes me feel even stronger than I already do. Being a role model for my daughter now makes me want to continue to fight for education and awareness for these conditions.