ENDOMETRIOSIS – How it changed my life (Part 2)

Now, my story will take a turn for the better. That bright glimmer of hope will again dance in my eyes, and I will begin to be grateful for the good that has come of this disease.

Read Part 1 first, if you haven’t already!

Part 2

Chris and I waited in the hospital room together for them to take me back for surgery. Greenwich is an amazingly beautiful area, and the hospital was as incredible as you can imagine for one of the most affluent areas probably in the entire U.S. It was hard saying goodbye to Chris when the nurse began to roll my bed out of the room – we had so much more invested in to this second surgery, both financially and emotionally. We were desperate for relief. We were fearful from the first surgery results. We were standing at the culmination of losses. And all we could see was darkness.

Before I went in to the OR, the surgeon came out to my bed in the hallway and held my hand. I had tears in my eyes. He asked if I was scared. And I nodded yes. He looked at me and said, “I am praying for you. I know this will go well. You have nothing to fear.”

The next thing I remember, I was waking up post-surgery. Chris said the procedure took 1.5 hours. All went well, and the surgeon was able to separate my uterus from my colon.

I went the entire first month after the surgery with no pain. I cannot explain to you what a relief it was. It was pure bliss for both Chris and I. I look back and know that that was the best money I ever spent.

My case was severe enough, that the odds were that the Endometriosis would continue; but now I was finally able to have a reset. I knew that I could now focus on my wellness journey and the changes I needed to make to help me manage the disease.

I also saw several different alternative health care professionals, including an Integrative Medical Doctor who has been very helpful. I learned that in addition to the Endometriosis, I also have low thyroid function, adrenal fatigue (which has improved greatly), methylation issues, some indicators for Sjogren Syndrome, typically one ovarian cyst and some other factors I am working on.

Post-surgery, I continued to throw myself in to research. I learned all about how to take care of myself through

better diet choices…
  • I cut dairy, gluten and sugar from my diet
  • I did an elimination diet
  • I did Christa Orechhio’s protocol for yeast overgrowth in 2015
  • I now mainly follow an anti-inflammatory diet
better exercise…
  • I do believe that the extreme exercise during high school & college for various sports wreaked havoc on my hormones & endocrine system.
  • Now, I do light muscle strengthening exercises and as much cardio as I can handle but in gentler forms such as walking or hiking.
Wellness techniques (such as but not limited to)…
  • Castor packs
  • Detox techniques (foot soaks, oil pulling, dry brushing, etc.)
  • Grounding (we have sheets for this)
Supplements (I take a bunch, but here are my go-tos for Endometriosis)…
  • Turmeric
  • Serrapeptase (and other enzymes)
  • B vitamins (including methylation support)
Essential Oils (I use them for almost everything, but there is one I will mention here)…
  • Dragontime (I used to have pain so severe during my period that I would have cycles of vomiting – this was and still is my secret help so I don’t go into those cycles)
Emotional & Spiritual Support…
  • my morning routine
  • stress management

Making these changes was tough at first. Completely changing your daily life takes a lot of courage. It is hard to face the same situations and the same people but have to respond differently. Explaining my diet choices to others was one of the most difficult changes. I realized quickly that most people did not understand my commitment to wellness, and I had to get comfortable feeling a little on the “outside” in certain situations, like when friends wanted to meet out for dinner or our hospitality lunches at church. It is amazing how much of our lives revolves around food, and how difficult it is when you are the one making different decisions than most other people.

While it was very difficult at first, it gradually became easier and easier. As I began to see improvement, that was a big motivation to continue. I did not make all of these changes at once, it took several years of trying different natural therapies and supplements to get where I am today, and it is still changing as I learn and grow. I do still have Endometriosis, and sometimes it is unbearable. But, most of my days are now pain-free! And that is a huge victory for me.

But, here is the really cool thing – having the illness forced us to completely reevaluate how we were living our lives. We realized that each day is a gift, and we were not living as intentionally as we wanted to. We decided to clarify how we wanted to live, and we came up with the following goals…

  1. We started to be grateful for the challenge of being “uncomfortable” that our new lifestyle gave us, and we wanted to learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
  2. We no longer wanted to live according to our to do list – we wanted, and knew we were created, for so much more!
  3. We wanted to share our lives with others. We wanted to minimize our things so we could maximize our relationships. All a part of living abundantly & lightly, just like our tagline. For us, that meant ditching the big house, 10 acres and pool.

With those goals in mind, we sold our home and quit our jobs. As my wellness simultaneously began to improve, we ended up falling backwards in to fulltime RVing. We felt that with my improved condition, it was time for us to see and experience all of those things we had hoped to and RVing was the most affordable way to do it. The endometriosis brought an urgency to our lives to be much more intentional.

Read about How We Became Fulltime RVers!

And now, here I sit. Over two years have passed since our very first night in our RV.  As I recall, those first few nights, we did not sleep much – with the nighttime sounds of a campground next to a highway, the half excitement and half fear of what lay ahead for us and the sheer oddness of being in such a small bedroom! But, now, I can look back and smile at our fears those first few nights, knowing the adventures, the memories to make, the beautiful places and the wonderful new friends that laid just around the corner for us.

I can look back on my story and know that it is one of redemption. My heartache and pain with Endometriosis are the same triggers that led to a life beyond my biggest dreams. The courage that we found during my darker days of illness and making changes became a courage that would broaden and strengthen us as we moved forward. We had never spent a single night in an RV, nor did we really have any desire to. But, our new found urgency led us to give up what we knew, to explore what we did not yet know. We set out hoping to last three months in an RV so that we could travel and see this world anew. And somewhere along the way, the RVing kind of stuck on us and we have not given it up yet.

Since those dark times, Chris and I have visited around 35 states. We have hiked in Zion, Yosemite, Glacier, Yellowstone, Saguaro and so many other national parks. We have watched a lone coyote in the Sonoran desert, walked through the replica gates at the Civil War Prisoner of War Camp in Andersonville, observed the night sky from Fort Davis’ darkest skies in the country, touched the trail ruts from the Oregon Trail, visited Mt. St. Helens, kayaked with sea otters and so very much more. We have felt the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Ocean, Rio Grande and Mighty Mississippi.

Additionally, I have gone from cutting my part-time work hours down to the bare minimum and being embarrassed to call my boss again and explain that my period was too painful for me to go to work; to owning my own business. I am able to run this blog, a YouTube channel, sell my organic products, design and sell The Original RV Planner and have my own Young Living business. I have found my calling. I love each aspect of my business, but I feel especially blessed to be helping people with their own wellness journey. I could not do that now, if I had not walked that walk myself already. I think I have a gift for encouragement, and being able to encourage people with self care Sunday, RV living, essential oils and everything else we do at To Wander Freely is so much better than any dream I ever had for myself.

Things that I have dreamt of and things that were far too great for me to even dream have come to pass. And it all started when my dreams of being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother were dashed and my health was ravaged. At my lowest point, when I could not feel hope; things were being worked for my future.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

 

 

Well, that was a lot to read! Thank you for staying with me for this whole story. We all face different hardships in life, but I hope that this story can show you a real example of how our worst hardships can be transformed and lead to great opportunities. Although my condition is much improved, I still have Endometriosis, and I still suffer pain. I will always be on a wellness journey. And while I don’t know what the future holds for me, I do have hope.

Takeaways…

Painful periods are NOT normal. Don’t believe a lie that it is normal or ok. It is not.

It takes time with a wellness journey. It took me 30 years to get to my low point, I could not have changed that in a month or even a year’s time.

There is nothing special about me. If I could do it, so can you.

Courage builds. Have the courage to take a small step, you will be shocked at how it helps you to move forward and have more courage for bigger steps ahead.

Even though our instinct may make us shy away from the idea at first, travel has been tremendously helpful for me in embracing a healthier lifestyle.

If you do suffer with endometriosis (or other similar condition) and would like more specific information, please do not hesitate to contact me at towanderfreely@gmail.com

This is completely my own personal opinion, but with all of the research I have done and the ever increasing autoimmune issues and allergies that seem to be forming like a plague; I think that infertility rates are going to see a huge increase too as these next generations come of age. I think it is so important for women to understand the preciousness of their fertility and explain it to their daughters, sisters and other women in their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 comments on “ENDOMETRIOSIS – How it changed my life (Part 2)

  1. Jen, thank you for sharing your story. I am so glad you got to the bottom of your health issues. Y’all are so brave and I love that you share your faith. What would we do without the Lord? Having a supportive husband is so important and such a blessing. I have struggled with a different health issue, but changing my diet has been helpful and I still have more changes to make. My husband is fantastic. Your story is very encouraging. Thank you! Becky
    P.S. Love your veidos!

  2. Could you explain this last part of your post?

    This is completely my own personal opinion, but with all of the research I have done and the ever increasing autoimmune issues and allergies that seem to be forming like a plague; I think that infertility rates are going to see a huge increase too as these next generations come of age. I think it is so important for women to understand the preciousness of their fertility and explain it to their daughters, sisters and other women in their lives.

    The part that struck me was when you write “the preciousness of their fertility” – what do you think could be done to safe guard that for our daughters? Thank you!

    • Hi, Sara! Great question! I am not a doctor, but I am happy to give you my opinion. As soon as any irregularity relating to the period (whether that is pain, irregular timing, PMS, etc.) occurs, I would start making changes. Even before there is a problem, these steps would be helpful in maintaining balance and avoiding issues. If you can prevent it or catch it early and rebalance hormones as needed, you can probably avoid worsening problems later that may lead to infertility. My plan would be to focus on the building blocks of wellness. I would spend time on diet changes (removing sugar, dairy, and possibly gluten). Making sure healthy fats (avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, soaked nuts, supplementing with a quality fish oil) and protein are a big part of the diet to balance hormones, as well as cruciferous vegetables. No low-fat dieting – it is terrible for our hormones (also the reason some women who become vegans or strict vegetarians lose their periods, which is not a healthy approach, yet it seems to be somewhat trendy with young women trying to lose weight). Ensure regular exercise and plenty of water. Also, I would eliminate as many toxins as possible – cleaning agents, makeup, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, laundry detergent – change everything out for non-toxic versions. Many of those items can wreak havoc on our hormones, and it is typically young women who use them the most. Women’s hormones are much more sensitive than men’s when it comes to environmental and chemical toxicity (just like we have more thyroid and endocrine problems) – are bodies are more sensitive and the symptoms show up sooner. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, I would have hormone testing done – not by a family physician, but by someone who is more specialized in hormones – a really good OBGYN or integrative medical doctor. From there, a plan could be made to start rebalancing hormones naturally with different natural supplements such as DIM, maca or whatever would be best for the situation. I don’t think birth control pills should be the answer for period/hormonal problems, and yet they seem to have become the only recommendation for many doctors for anything from PMS to acne. Doing a good job with diet and removing the toxic chemicals would be my first two steps for maintaining healthy hormone balance. Hope this was helpful (and I didn’t ramble too much)! -Jen

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