I have been debating about whether or not I should share this part of my life on my blog for several months now. A lot of social media shows the glamorous and exciting parts of our lives, and I always appreciate it when the people that I follow give honest posts about how their life is really going. I decided to write this to share with you the parts of my life that aren’t so glamorous.
So this is me trying to be more honest and open about my life and my personal health journey.
My interest in nutrition started when I took at class in my last semester at BYU-Idaho. (Yes, I am LDS). The class was about cardiovascular diseases and how to avoid them. I began to be really interested in how food affects our overall health and how certain diets can help reduce our symptoms or even prevent certain diseases. At the time, I was experiencing a lot of abdominal pain. When I left BYU-Idaho after graduating with my Associates of Science I went home to Oregon to undergo lots of medical testing. I found out about my small dairy intolerance at this time (I already knew I was allergic to eggs), and cutting out dairy did make me feel a little bit better but I was still in lots of pain.
A month or so later, I had my first ultrasound and they found an ovarian cyst. I started taking a birth control pill and I felt a lot better. This doctor thought that I might have Endometriosis. I did not know anything about Endometriosis at the time but my mom and my grandma made it sound completely horrible. Soon after that, I left to serve a full-time mission in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I loved the people that I met there, but I was so unbelievably sick the whole time. There were some days when my whole body looked like it was swollen and sometimes it was difficult for me to walk. I only have a couple of photos of what I looked like at that time because I was the biggest I have ever been. I chose to come home and be with my family again after a couple months.
I saw a new OBGYN who said that my symptoms made it sound like I had Endometriosis. For those of you who don’t know what Endometriosis is, it is a condition where there’s abnormal tissue growing outside of the uterus and it causes very painful menstrual cycles. She said that I had two options, I could start a new birth control or they could do exploratory surgery to see if I really had Endometriosis. I started crying when she talked about surgery because I was emotionally exhausted from all my other medical testing and procedures from earlier that year. I chose to start a new birth control and I started to feel a little bit better.
Shortly after that, I moved to Utah to start a new chapter in my life. I started attending BYU and working part-time. I was feeling really sick but I didn’t tell anyone about it because I knew that my family and my friends were worrying about me and I was trying to be tough and suck it up. I started to fall apart about half-way through the semester and I had to withdraw from a class I was failing. (I had never even come close to failing a class before). My friends with Endometriosis told me that eating gluten-free helped reduce their symptoms so I jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon. This was a hard adjustment for me to eat gluten, dairy, and egg free but eating gluten-free helped me avoid processed foods which gave me a little more energy.
My health was somewhat under control for a couple of months. I was in pain all the time but I learned how I could better deal with it and still have a fun college experience. The following school year, I started to fall apart again. I found this new OBGYN in Utah who has helped me a ton. We realized that by body was rejecting my birth control so we tried a couple of options. They switched my birth control four times in five months. It was just as bad as it sounds! I was crying and cranky and I am sure I was not a fun person to be around. Luckily, I have a lot of people that love me and I still have friends. Winter semester, we found an ovarian cyst that was the size of a golf ball. I remember all the doctors that were in the room with me while we were doing the ultrasound were in shock by how huge it was. Thankfully, it shrunk and I started to feel better again.
Then, the week before finals of winter semester I blacked-out four times in one week. It was so scary. I was terrified to go anywhere by myself and I had no idea how I was supposed to make it through finals. I went to my follow-up doctor’s appointment and they did another ultrasound. My doctor told me that it looked like I had Polycystic-ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and that maybe I didn’t have Endometriosis at all. Polycystic-ovarian syndrome is just what it sounds like, lots of ovarian cysts and huge ovaries. By this time, I was somewhat of a pro at reading medical journals online (yes, I am a nerd). I started researching PCOS and prayed a lot and I made it through five finals in three days. The next month, I did not bounce back like I normally do. I was still blacking out and I had a really hard time making it through each day. I went back to my doctor and we started talking about doing exploratory surgery to see if I had both Endometriosis and PCOS. Once again, I was not responding normally to my birth control (I was spotting for 5 months and it was the most miserable 5 months) and at this point, I really wanted to have surgery so I could have some answers after all these years. I saw another specialist who told me to eat more salty foods or drink caffeine to help prevent me from fainting all the time which has helped me a lot.
I had the laparoscopic surgery at the end of June and as it turns out, I really do have both Endometriosis and PCOS. They were able to laser a lot of the Endometriosis and I have been doing so much better! I still am in pain every day, but it’s hardly anything compared to what I was dealing with before. I have started to incorporate some gluten back into my diet because let’s be real, it’s a whole lot yummier and it doesn’t make me sick.
One of the most important lessons that I have learned through all of this is that it is possible to be happy no matter what is happening in your life. It all depends on your attitude! I love it when people compliment me on how happy I am. It’s the best kind of compliment! I am so grateful for all the people in my life who have made me smile and laugh and who have encouraged me to keep going and do my best, especially when I have felt like an absolute failure. My relationship with God has grown a lot stronger because of it because I know that He hears and answers my fervent prayers. I am getting closer and closer to graduation and I can’t wait to see what this upcoming school year has in store for me.