Feel Good Fridays

Bloomin' Uterus

I’ve never struggled to find a quote on a Friday morning before.  But today, after an hour of searching for one that clings to me, I give up.

Instead, I will simply tell you thank you.  Not only for reading what I write, but for being there for me when I need you.  And for being such a huge part of my journey and my healing.

Together, we learn, we grow, we endure.  Your stories not only bring me tears, but joy.  Our struggles (because they are OURS) bring us closer and let us know that we do not fight alone.

The knowledge that there are thousands of women who fight this illness alongside me pushes me forward every day.

The disease has not defined me.  It has given me purpose.  And has given me Family.  And it has done the same to you, dear Warriors.

May you have a wonderful weekend.  And if you need to rest, rest.  If you need to cry, cry.  If you need to shout to the heavens, do so.  And laugh when the joy bubbles up.

I love you. ~Lisa

Blogs I Updated This Week:

Endometriosis & The Appendix: added a 2018 study of a 42-year-old woman with appendiceal endometriosis.

July 2018 Surgery Recovery

Lisa Howard - Resilience
Dr. Mel Kurtulus and I before heading in. Photo courtesy of Brandy Sebastian https://www.brandysebastian.com/

As you may know, I like to take extensive notes during my recovery from my Endo surgeries. This helps me better be prepared in case I have another one – just to get a sense of what was normal and what I can expect next time. And who knows – it may help you…or someone you know.

A good friend of mine, Brandie, typed up my chicken-scratch notes. (Thank you BRANDIE!) They can be read here. BUT, the “cliff notes” version is below:

DAY ONE (July 18, 2018, took 1 Percocet, 1 Zofran, 2 Gas-X): We got home from the hospital around 7:00 p.m. I don’t remember any of the ride home, which is probably good because it was freeway rush hour and probably wasn’t very pleasant. The first thing I did inside was pop a throat lozenge. My poor throat was sooore and tender. Then had a bowl of bone broth. My lower stomach pain was a 3 out of 10, and my belly button incision pain was a 5 out of 10.

At around 8pm, I tried to sit down for the first time. That tell-tale shoulder pain began to creep up with a vengeance (7 out of 10) and I only sat for 3 minutes. Well, that was a waste. I needed help getting up and down. I knew I’d have to sit again or lay down…but not yet. I popped a Percocet, a Zofran, and a Gas-X.

By 8:30, I had my first pee since I got home. It hurt soooooo much (9/10), but I figured that pain was likely because my bits were still tender from the catheter. By 9pm, I tried sitting on the couch again: no luck. Shoulder pain was a 9/10 and gave up and walked for the next 20 minutes. Then tried to lay down (propped up on pillows), but the shoulder pain flew back up to a 9 out of 10. Did a lot of walking and breathing. By this time, my incision pain was a 2/10 and my lower back pain was a 1/10. I just wanted to sleep, though…

By 9:35, we tried laying down again propped up by even more pillows. The discomfort was minimal. By 10:15pm, I was awake and had to walk around for an hour. I had to pee before going back to bed (again, urination pain 9/10), then I was overcome by nausea. Mom helped me on my hands and knees and I vomited (pain 2/10). I believe my Percocet pill from 2 hours earlier was still floating around in my stomach because my puke was a beautiful shade of blue. At 11:45pm, mom helped me back into bed, but I couldn’t fall asleep until 12:20-ish.

DAY TWO (Fiber; took 2 Gas-X):

Incision pain 2 – 6/10 (10/10 when struggled to get out of bed)

Shoulder/CO2 Gas pain 3 – 10/10

Lower abdominal pain 2 – 9/10

Lower rib pain 1 – 4/10

Lower back 1 – 4/10

Lower ab pain near right hip 2 – 8/10

Pain while urinating 1 – 6/10

Woke up nearly every hour still…poor Jim and Mom. And needed help getting on and off the toilet.

Was still passing some clots throughout the day.

Nothing to eat except bone broth and crackers.

Memorable Moments:

At 1:20am, I woke back up stiff and needing to walk. Dragged my husband out of bed to help me get out of bed and proceeded to walk around the house for an hour. Jim went back to bed. And Mom was in and out of sleep as I cruised around the living room using the walker. When I went to go back to bed, the shoulder pain came back a 10/10. Mom and Jim had to help me (panicked) out of bed and I had to calm down before we tried to reposition and go back to sleep. At 2:40am, we did just that. I slept off and on until 7:15am.

At 3:55pm, my first FART!

At 4:37pm, I can lift my leg higher than the bah tub rim!! I couldn’t do that earlier!

DAY THREE (Purelax; took 1 Gas-X; 1 Naproxen Sodium):

Incision pain 2 – 3/10

Lower abdominal pain 3 – 9/10

Lower back 1 – 8/10

Pain while urinating 1/10

Pain while farting 1/10

Was able to sleep for a few hours in a row before waking up throughout the night.

Ate soup and crackers. Snacked on a pickle. Small bowl of ice cream (I mean…like 2 small spoonfuls)

No shoulder/gas pain today!

Memorable moments:

7:20am, my first poop!!!!!

8:50am, although I still need help getting on and off the toilet, I was able to (carefully) pull up my panties by myself today!

12:58pm, was able to get off of the toilet by myself! But I still needed help getting down onto it.

1:01pm…oh dear god…the Enema Story. TEAM POOP! Rosie and Erin helped me. And let’s just say by sheer force of necessity, I was able to get myself onto and off of the toilet by myself…Needed the enema due to severe and constant lower ab cramping and figured it was poop. Yep…there was LOTS of poop. Throughout the day, continued to get on and off the toilet by myself! PROGRESS!

4:50pm, was able to slowly and gently walk down the stairs to check the mail with Rosie and Erin! One step at a time.

DAY FOUR (Purelax; 1 Naproxen Sodium):

Incision pain 1 – 6/10

Lower abdominal pain 2 – 6/10

Lower ab pain near left hip 7 – 9/10

Pain while urinating 1 – 2/10

Pain while farting 3/10

Still needed help getting in and out of bed.

Ate soup with crackers. Snacked on cracker. Nachos for dinner!

Memorable Moments:

10:10am, got into the shower by myself!!! FREEDOM!

4:00pm, getting better with the steps outside! Still one at a time, though.

10:00pm, FINALLY laid down flat to sleep. YES!! No pain. Although I did get myself out of bed alone…don’t do that again. Not yet.

DAY FIVE (Purelax):

Incision pain 2 – 6/10

Lower abdominal pain 2 – 5/10

Lower ab pain near right hip 2/10

Ate tomato soup with crackers. Snacked on watermelon, blueberries, dolma, and pickle. Chicken balti pie for dinner.

Memorable moments:

12:55am, got up out of bed alone to go pee! Kind of waddle around like a turtle on its back, but it works.

10:10am, got dressed in REAL clothes! Skirt, tank top, and brushed my hair!

6:50pm, Jim and I went for a walk around our mobile home park for a few blocks. It was marvelous to get out of the house. Slow going. Didn’t get far.

8:50pm, pooped again! No enema needed! And no pain!

DAY SIX (Started my period! Fiber; 2 Ibuprofen):

Incision pain 2 – 3/10

Lower abdominal pain 2 – 7/10

Lower back pain 3 – 5/10

Ate miso broth. Snacked on watermelon, popcorn, apple with peanut butter, pickles, tortillas. Dinner was a pork and (very little) cheese. Yep, my appetite is BACK!

Memorable Moments:

5:26am, woke up thinking I peed the bed. Nope, just started my Ninja Period.

6:20am, BIG poop with no pain! Yep, I’m back, baby!

9:00pm, another short walk around the park with my husband.

DAY SEVEN (Fiber):

Incision pain 2 – 6/10

Lower abdominal pain 3 – 6/10

Lower ab pain near right hip 3 – 6/10

Pain while urinating 1/10

Pain while farting

Pain while pooping 5/10

Ate broth and soup. Snacked on popcorn. Dinner was fettuccine alfredo with shrimp.

Memorable moments:

I can bend over!!!

Lower left window band-aid came off! Steri-strips still in place. Looks good!

7:00pm, rode in car to go to dinner. Speed bumps and potholes hurt my lower stomach and incisions (4/10). Had to walk around the restaurant while waiting for dinner since sitting too long hurt.

DAY EIGHT (Fiber; 2 Ibuprofen): – it’s been one week since surgery!

Incision pain 2 – 8/10

Lower abdominal pain 2 – 7/10

Lower ab pain near right hip 5 – 7/10

Ate miso broth and leftover pasta. Snacked on popcorn, dried apricots, tortillas.

Memorable Moments:

6:50am, Baku walked on my stomach. Damn cat. All incision pain 7/10.

2:15pm, I can get in and out of bed easier by myself.

11:30pm, right incision pain was an 8 out of 10 and kept me awake until 1:00 a.m.

DAY NINE (Fiber; 2 Ibuprofen):

Incision pain 2 – 3/10

Lower ab pain near right hip 2 – 3/10

Pain under left rib 2/10

Ate soup & crackers, baked beans. Snacked on Hershey Kisses. Orange chicken for dinner.

Memorable Moments:

6:12pm, can still only sit upright for 10 minutes before incision pain is a 6 – 8 out of 10.

8:10pm, went for a 20 minute walk around the park with Jim. No pain!

DAY 10 (Fiber; 2 Ibuprofen):

Incision pain 2 – 7/10

Lower abdominal pain 1 – 4/10

Pain while urinating 1 – 2/10

Pain while farting 2/10

Pain while pooping 2/10

Ate scrambled eggs with cheese, soup, leftover orange chicken. Snacked on kettle corn.

Memorable Moments:

8:15am, Able to wash my calves for the first time in the shower! And I was able to blow-dry my hair! Lost left incision band-aid in the shower. Steri-strips are in place. And my belly is much less bloated!

9:00am, still can only sit upright for 10 minutes without pain.

7:00pm, walked around the grocery store for an hour with Jim. He did all the heavy lifting, but I’m exhausted.

DAY 11 (Fiber; 4 Ibuprofen):

Incision pain 2 – 6/10

Lower abdominal pain 2 – 6/10

Pain by right lower ab near hip 2 – 5/10

Pain while urinating 2/10

Pain while pooping 2/10

Ate eggs, corn beef hash, toast. Snacked on a plout and cherries. Snacked on kettle corn.

DAY 12:

Incision pain 2 – 6/10

Lower abdominal pain 2 – 5/10

Pain while urinating 8/10

Pain by right lower ab near hip 2/10

Ate rolled tacos.

Memorable moments:

Went thrift store shopping with Jim. Exhausted and napped for 2.5 hours afterward.

DAY 13 (2 Ibuprofen):

Lower abdominal pain 1 – 5/10

Pain by right lower ab near hip 5 – 9/10

Pain while pooping 1/10

Ate fried egg sandwich. Snacked on cherries, a pluot, watermelon, and cherry tomatoes. Dinner was cauliflower, beans, corn & cheese burrito with salsa.

Memorable Moments:

Spent 2.5 hours at the library. Too much sitting on hard chairs caused a lot of pain! And the Lyft ride was brutally bumpy.

DAY 14 (Fiber):

Incision pain 2/10

Pain by right lower ab near hip 1 – 3/10

Ate nachos (with very little cheese). Snacked on an apple with peanut butter. Dinner was yellow curry with chicken and rice, golden shrimp, and crab rangoons.

Memorable Moments:

Only woke up once during the night to go pee!

DAY 15:

Incision pain 2 – 7/10

Lower abdominal pain 3/10

Pain by right lower ab near hip 1 – 3/10

Lower back pain 1/10

Ate sushi.

DAY 16:

Incision pain 2/10

Pain by right lower ab near hip 1 – 3/10

Ate 2 eggs, french toast, and bacon. Lunch was a baked potato with sour cream and chives.

Memorable Moments:

Lost a few Steri-Strips today! Looks good.
Ran errands with brother in law: Trader Joe’s and Sprouts and Smart&Final. Minimal discomfort but exhausted. I didn’t do any heavy lifting.

Drank 3 glasses of pomegranate champagne. My first alcohol since 2 weeks before surgery!

Jim and I enjoyed a little bit of foreplay and “just the tip.” Didn’t penetrate too much and it was a lot of fun. No pain!!

DAY 17 (2 Ibuprofen):

Incision pain 1 – 4/10

Lower abdominal pain 3/10

Pain by right lower ab near hip 2 – 4/10

Pain while pooping 3/10

Lower back pain 1/10

Lower right rib pain 4/10

Ate leftover yellow curry. Snacked on a pluot. Dinner was a chicken breast sandwich.

Memorable Moments:

Vacuumed, did laundry, and changed the cat litter. It was exhausting, but I took it slow and easy and didn’t overdo anything. But…by looking at the cumulative pain scores above, I can tell I overdid it. Crap.

DAY 18 (2 Ibuprofen):

Incision pain 2/10

Lower abdominal pain 2/10

Ate two waffles with fake butter and real maple syrup.

Ate Indian food for dinner.

Memorable moments:

Enjoyed 3 glasses of white wine. And it looks like my body recovered well from yesterday’s chores.

DAY 19 (Took 2 Ibuprofen):

Incision pain 3/10

Lower abdominal pain 3 – 8/10

Pain by right lower ab near hip

Pain while pooping

Lower back pain 3/10

Ate 2 waffles, drank three glasses (small) sangria, 1 glass wine, lots of water. Bean guacamole chips, chicken sandwich, pickles, chocolate chip cookie, lentil salad.

Memorable Moments:

Today was our Endo Support Appreciation BBQ! It was WONDERFUL to see everyone, to meet their support, and enjoy their company. I’m tired, though!

Lost another Steri-Strip!

And on DAY 20: August 6, 2018, I returned to work. It was my first time driving since surgery. And it was tough. I also had my post-op appointment that day. Dr. Kurtulus removed all of my Steri-strips and everything continues to heal well.

Today is August 27, 2018, and it still hurts to sit at the computer for too long. I have to get up and stretch/walk several times during the work day.

My advice if you’ve got a surgery recovery to look forward to? Take one day at a time. ASK FOR HELP! And listen to your body.

Documentary: Stronger Than Endo

My good friend Exxes Hauffen owns Compass Media Productions. One day he asked me, “What’s all this uterus business about?” – regarding all of my Facebook posts. So, I told him about Endometriosis and his next question was, “How can I help?”

Thus the beginnings of “Stronger Than Endo.”

A few local San Diegan Endo Sisters volunteered to share their stories and struggles. Exxes focused more on the emotional and quality-of-life aspects of the illness, rather than the physical symptoms that we are already so aware of.

We also interviewed my gynecologist and Endometriosis excision surgeon, Dr. Mel Kurtulus, of San Diego Women’s Health.

What you watch today is the end result of months of hard work. I am honored by the voice Exxes has granted us.

Exxes, thank you for your endless hours of dedication, for the passion that burned so brightly within you during the interviews, your hunger for knowledge, and your undying desire to bring awareness to this disease.

To Dr. Kurtulus, thank you for dedicating an afternoon of your time to this project, for your endless compassion and drive to give each EndoSister a greater chance at normalcy, and for giving me my life back. Your passion is evident every time I see you. And your “approachableness” is one of my favorite qualities you possess. You’re incredible; not just as a physician, but as a human being.

To Heidi, Merritt, and Zeiddy, I will never be able to thank you Brave Warriors enough. Not only for opening up your hearts to the world but for your ongoing support and love you have for other EndoSisters, even while you endure your own Battles.

This is truly a labor of love. Exxes filmed, edited, and produced this documentary free of charge. Dr. Kurtulus was not compensated for his time. And neither were myself or the interviewed EndoSisters. We hope that you enjoy, embrace, and share this video.

Without further ado, I give you “Stronger Than Endo”:

The full interviews with each EndoSister and Dr. Kurtulus will be made available shortly and shared separately.

And Exxes isn’t done yet. He’d like to continue interviewing EndoSisters and sharing our Journeys.
A note:

The views and opinions expressed in this video are purely that: opinions. We understand that there are several theories as to the cause of Endometriosis, as well as the treatments. No one theory is correct. And we honor all opinions.

Feel Good Fridays

buildings-cars-city-169677

Good morning and Happy Friday!  We made it through another week…and August is almost over! ALREADY?!?

Today’s quote is for all of my readers who are feeling that time is slipping too quickly, especially if they are bound to the bed, the heating pad, the pain pills, the struggles of having to pick and choose what they can accomplish in a moment.  The daily battle to be able to just…do. Do anything.  Do everything.

Burning that precious energy to take a shower, or to feed your children before school, or to buy groceries.  Or to just sip on some tea while curled around a heating pad.  Or maybe the day encompasses a hike, yet you have to take a lot of breaks due to pain.

It’s finding the strength to do what you can, when you can, and still finding balance.  Not mourning the things you were unable to do yesterday or today…but embracing the things you DID accomplish.

…even if it was something as simple as brushing your hair, kissing your loved ones, or resting.  Please…do not beat yourself up if you are unable to “do all the things”…you must respect and honor your limitations.  Embrace you for you, just as you are.

“It was a very ordinary day, the day I realised that my becoming is my life and my home and that I don’t have to do anything but trust the process, trust my story and enjoy the journey. It doesn’t really matter who I’ve become by the finish line, the important things are the changes from this morning to when I fall asleep again, and how they happened, and who they happened with. An hour watching the stars, a coffee in the morning with someone beautiful, intelligent conversations at 5am while sharing the last cigarette. Taking trains to nowhere, walking hand in hand through foreign cities with someone you love. Oceans and poetry.

It was all very ordinary until my identity appeared, until my body and mind became one being. The day I saw the flowers and learned how to turn my daily struggles into the most extraordinary moments. Moments worth writing about. For so long I let my life slip through my fingers, like water.
I’m holding on to it now,
and I’m not letting go.”
― Charlotte ErikssonEmpty Roads & Broken Bottles; in search for The Great Perhaps

Have a beautiful weekend.  May it be full of what you need.

Love, Lisa

Blogs I updated this week!

C-Sections & Endometriosis – added a July 2018 study of a woman with nodule in her c-section scar

Endometriosis & the Bowel – added a Jan. 2018 study of a woman who suffered from left abdominal pain and bloody stool during her periods.

My Two Cents: Sexual Abuse & Endometriosis – added a July 2018 study trying to find a relationship between early childhood abuse (physical and sexual) and a higher risk of developing Endometriosis

 

Ways to Better Prepare for Anesthesia

Untitled-1 copy

My mum recently asked me to look into ways we EndoWarriors may better prepare our bodies to accept, and recover, from anesthesia of our surgeries.

For my July surgery, I cut out alcohol the second I knew I had my confirmed surgery date and waited another two weeks before having my first sip.  So, I went a month without any booze.  Why?  Just because I thought it would be nice to pamper my liver in the hopes that my body would handle things a bit easier…or smoothly…or whatever.  But did I do any research? Nope.  So, now here comes the research.

Medications, Vitamins, Herbs, Recreational Drugs

This is VERY important so I will begin with this statement.  Some medications (including birth control), drugs, vitamins,  and supplements may interfere with the efficacy and processes of anesthesia.  Please be sure to give a thorough list to your doctor of everything you’re taking the moment you learn you have a surgery date.  Your physician may have you stop taking some of these immediately.  Others, you may be instructed to stop taking a few weeks, days, or hours before surgery.

One study stated that oral contraceptives should be discontinued six weeks before surgery due to an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots).

However, if you are interested in a homeopathic route after surgery to strengthen your body there are many supplements that are touted to boost the liver’s abilities and flush kidneys, etc.  Do your research! And…talk to your doctor before starting any supplements.

Smoking

If you smoke, try to stop smoking as soon you hear you have a surgery date.  This could be a month or more in advance.  Too much?  Try to cut out smoking at least two weeks before surgery.  If you can’t cut it cold turkey that far in advance, try hard to at least abstain from smoking a few days before your surgery.  It will alleviate a greater potential for breathing problems or complications while under anesthesia.

Booze

Alcohol may also interfere with anesthesia as well as lead to excessive bleeding during surgery.  Health24 recommends cutting out all alcohol at least a week before surgery, longer if you’re a “heavy drinker.”  And you want to keep the liver functioning at full-capacity after surgery, so avoid alcohol a week or two later.

Food

Omitting meat and dairy products before and immediately after a surgery may help with your body’s recovery.  Certain foods can cause inflammation and discomfort.  And, according to some studies, people who did not consume dairy prior to colo-rectal surgeries had a faster recovery than those who did.  A healthy diet of fiber can keep the blood from clotting, which may minimize the risk of clots occurring after surgery.  A high-fiber diet will also keep your innards a well-lubed & poopin’ machine.

In 1993, mice were given a high-fat diet for three weeks before surgery, some mice were not, and other mice were switched from a high-fat diet to a low-fat diet.  Fatty-tissue chemicals change during surgery.  These same chemicals “talk” to organs inside our body.  During surgery, that fatty tissue…and those chemicals…are traumatized, just like any other flesh being cut into.  The study found that the mice who had the low-fat diet had fewer changes in their fatty-tissue-chemical-balance than the fatty-diet mice.  It suggests that a low-fat diet before surgery may aid in recovery because of the potential of minimalized trauma to that tissue.

And a study in 1998 found that potatoes (and fresh eggplant) may make it harder for the body to break down and eliminate any lingering effects of anesthesia.  Potatoes and fresh eggplant may contain a chemical called solonaceous glycoalkaloids (SGAs) – ever cut up a potato and found green inside? That’s evidence of SGAs.  SGAs are usually found in the stems, leaves, and sprouts, but may make their way into the edible part through damage or light exposure.  The broken down layman version of the article?  Even a tiny amount of SGAs in your system can cause a delay in the body’s ability to recover from anesthetic compounds.

Drink Your Water!

Staying hydrated, before (not the morning of, unfortunately) and after surgery is always a healthy decision.  But it will also help your body operate at optimal capacity.  So, drink up.  Keep those liver and kidneys happy and healthy!

*

So what did I learn today? Probably the same things you did.  And when I do have future surgeries, I’ll:

  • Immediately talk to my doctor about my medications, vitamins, supplements, etc. to see if I need to stop anything – and the timeline to do so;
  • Do the same thing I did with alcohol that I did this last surgery: cut it out a few weeks before and after;
  • Try to better follow my anti-inflammatory diet (NO CHEEEEEESE!) and steer clear of delicious potatoes a few weeks before surgery;
  • Continue to drink lots of water.  Seriously, it’s the only thing I drink these days, besides wine and beer (haha).

What about you?  Do you do something to prepare your body for surgery and recovery? Share below. I’d love to hear it.

Resources:

American Society of Anesthesiologists Preparing for Surgery Checklist

Australian Society of AnaesthetistsPreparing for Your Anaesthetic

BBC NewsGas, Injection or Potato?

California Society of AnesthesiologistsFive Tips to Help Your Patients Prepare for Anesthesia and Surgery

California Society of AnesthesiologistsTen Questions to Ask Before Anesthesiology

Health 24Diet Preparations Before Surgery

Health24Prepare Yourself Mentally and Physically Before Surgery

Hippokratia Quarterly Medical Journal – (Article; Jan. 2007) – Preoperative Evaluation and Preparation for Anesthesia and Surgery

Juicing for HealthAnesthesia Side Effects and How to Flush Out Toxins Post-Surgery

Mayo ClinicGeneral Anesthesia

Mind Body Green Health5 Ways to Bounce Back Quickly After Anesthesia

Science DailyWhat You Eat Before Surgery May Affect Your Recovery

University of Chicago MedicinePotatoes Prolong Anesthetic Reaction

~ Again, I am a layman. I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings. Or challenge them. And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always. Yours ~ Lisa

 

A Party In My Pants – menstrual pads review!

KIMG2530

I’ve never been one to want to try those new period-soaking panties or reusable pads.  I thought the idea of running around in wet panties or stained, soaked pads was gross.  For some reason, the disposable idea sat much better with me.  I felt like the “ick” was further away from my womanly-bits.

But I was also intrigued by all of the adorable fabric pads available on sites like Etsy, etc.  They were just…too cute for words.  But my terror won the battle and I strayed back to my store-bought (organic or not, bleached or unbleached, etc.) pads.  And I’ve tried A LOT of them.  I’ve steered away from tampons (for personal reasons) and only use them when the necessity arises (like swimming!).

Out of the blue, I was contacted by a gal at Party In My Pants, a company that makes fabric, reusable pads (and a few other adorable things).  One of her co-workers had heavy periods due to Endometriosis and only found great coverage (and comfort) by using their gigantic overnight pad, called the Queen.  She thought I may want to try out their wares.

I didn’t see the email for about a month due to my surgery, recovery, and it got lost in the fray.  BUT, I eventually stumbled upon it and wrote her back all of my trepidations of using a fabric pad: the nastiness factor, the wetness, carrying around a stinky wet pad all day in my purse if I had to change during the day, having to wash them, and the fear of them just not being absorbent enough for my over-active period-blood-pushing uterus.

Liz took the time to calm my fears, explained the wide assortment of pads available, and threw together a gift package for me.  I let her know I’d have fun taking notes and share my opinions on the blog.  Ya know, just in case any of my readers were having the same fears of fabric pads.  BUT…I also let her know that if these bad boys failed me, the world would know. Ha!

Queue Aunty Flow:  I started period the afternoon of August 17, 2018.  I had a spare Always pad in my purse and donned it.  The following afternoon, the postman dropped off a package from Party In My Pants (We’ll just call them PiMP from here on out).  I excitedly tore into it and loved the assortment of fun things Liz chose for me.

I have the:

Medium: to me it feels like I would wear this on my light to medium days.  It’s thin, but enough coverage to make me feel safe from front to back.  My medium is an adorable fox pattern. OMG. Too cute.

Organic Super: can we say soooooft?  And it’s got cute little sheepies on it (including the black sheep!).  Larger than the medium, and a smidge thicker.

Super Overnight: GRUMPY CAT!  It’s large enough where I won’t be afraid of leaking at all during the night.

Queen:  The Mother of all pads! This thing is MASSIVE.  Full coverage … and I mean FULLLL coverage!  According to the description, it’s meant for super-duper heavy flows, or post-pardum bleeding, etc.  The big stuff.  (I wore this my first night)

KIMG2531
Testing out the Queen (literally the front tip of my panties to the full backside!)

That night I wore the Queen to bed.  I was skeptical.  I had a heavy-bleed day, but I figured I could wash the sheets if I made a mess.  I woke up Sunday morning surprised: no leaks.  I thought that my bleeding would just ooze and sit on top of the pad’s adorable panda material: nope.  I was bone dry when I woke up.  Usually my nights are heavy, especially on Day 1 or Day 2.  The only evidence that I was on my period?  A few stains on the pandas.  I must admit: it was kind of satisfying to have bloodied up a few panda bears!  I got ready to shower, unsnapped my Queen, folded it up, resnapped it, and set it aside near my dirty clothes hamper for later.  And, ’cause let’s be honest here…I sniffed it (curiosity killed the cat and all that jazz…).  It didn’t really smell like anything!  When I change a regular pad, I reek to high heaven.  Like, I drop my undies and the scent just wafts right on up to my nose.  But these cloth pads?  NOPE! What the heck?!?

KIMG2533
Time for the Organic Super

Before my shower, I grabbed a clean pair of undies and the Organic Super – awww, the sweet sheep were next for my period onslaught!  Snapped it onto my undies, showered, and pulled up the incredibly soft fabric ready for my day!  I bled moderate to heavy throughout the day. The instructions say to change the PiMP pads when you feel wet.  Well, I never did.  I literally wore that one pad the ENTIRE day…and night.  I had a bit too much champagne and rather than change into my Grumpy Cat Super Overnight pad, I just fell into bed while still wearing my pad from the morning.  So, of course, I expected to wake up an overflowing sticky mess.  I woke up Monday morning completely dry.  There was barely even a stain on the pad…on my adorable fleecy sheeps.  No leaks!  NOT A ONE!  Again: I unsnapped my dirty pad, folded it, snapped it shut, and placed it next to the dirty Queen by the hamper.

KIMG2543
The Medium (squee, sooo cute!)

I donned the cute foxy Medium pad for Monday morning, ready to leave the house and get to work.  The Medium felt far less noticeable than the Super or the Queen.  I walked around all day barely realizing I had it on.  By now, my flow was non-existent to low.  I don’t think I even stained the pad all day.

So, when I got home, I decided my period was going to be a short one (Friday through Monday; four days) and I thought I’d wash the dirty ones for my next period.  I expected them to be stinky: nope.  Not at all!  Although Liz did instruct me later to keep them unsnapped dirty so they don’t get musty.  I’ll snap them for transport (if I’m in public) and unsnap them when I’m home.  I was sad that the Grumpy Cat lay sad, forgotten…and grumpy…in my drawer.  Next time, Grumpy Cat, next time…

KIMG2549

So I set the settings on the washing machine as instructed: cold water and a low tumble dry.  My husband was so grossed out by the thought of period blood in the laundry (as was I) that I made them their own tiny wash load.  They came out great! My sheep & fox look good as new, but a panda or two are still stained.  Which is fine.  I expected it.  And it’s not gross or anything because the pad is laundry-soap fresh and clean.

As a precaution, I wore my Always pad to bed last night, just to catch any residual bleeding I may have.  Want to hear a funny story?  Apparently, I wasn’t as close to being done as I thought…and woke up this morning with a leaky mess all over my undies.  Way to go “super absorbent 10x” non-reusable pad.  Way. To. Go.  So am I wearing my fabric pads right now?!? All clean and shiny?  Nope…I have a water aerobics class to attend tonight and I have opted for tampons…

I thought I was going to wait until my next period to publish this review…but I’ve decided to publish it now and update it as the months progress.  Just so you can all get an up-to-date Lisa’s Opinion on how these fabric, washable pads are holding up cycle after cycle.

I loved them, though.  They never leaked.  They were adorable and made me smile every time I used the bathroom.  They were easy to clean and not as disgusting as I thought it would be.  I’ll buy a few more to add to my collection (right now I only have 4…and my periods like to last 5-8 days…) and we’ll see how it goes.

And I must add:  it felt REALLY good not having to peel a sticky pad out of a noisy wrapper and make a bunch of trash.  I didn’t think I’d really care that much about the “environmental factor” of fabric pads…but last night when I opened up my plastic pad and threw away the wrapper…it kind of hit me a little bit.  That it was the first time in days I had to do that.  And it really made me think about all the crap I have thrown away in the past.

For September’s period, I’m going to also buy their adorable (and inexpensive) little zipper “tote” bag that fits a few pads in it and I can carry them discreetly in my purse (clean or dirty…).  And next month I’ll actually give it the “out in a public bathroom” test.

Wanna try them yourself?

The people at Party In My Pants want YOU to try these out for free, too (well, the sample is free, but you pay a small shipping fee):  All first-time customers can order a free sample pantyliner on PiMP’s website for the cost of shipping ($3.99 US, $7.99 Canada). You want to check them out?  https://partypantspads.com/products/cloth-pad-curious-giveaway
And Party In My Pants let me know that domestic orders over $50 get free shipping.

Right now PiMP is selling their organic pads for NO EXTRA CHARGE! (the same price as the non-organic fabric).

Choices, choices, adorable choices!!

There are over 75 patterns at any given time, and customers can choose from lots of different fabric materials: cotton, flannel, double-gauze (which is a looser weave that allows blood to absorb faster), and organic cotton, organic flannel, and organic double-gauze.  And there are 13 different sizes you can choose from, along with a handy-dandy “sizing guide” to help pick the best fits for your periods!

How do I clean this thing?

The easiest way to wash & dry: after using the pad, just put it in the laundry hamper in such a way that it can dry out (you don’t want it to sit wet too long, or it will get musty, especially in warm/humid climates), then when you’re ready to do laundry just machine-wash it with cold water, then air-dry in the sun or tumble dry on low. No need to rinse or soak beforehand!

Can’t decide which patterns to pick?

I’m told PiMP always has great sales (under the “Steals & Deals” tab on the website), including “Surprise Party” and “Organic Surprise Party”, which allows customers to order pads at a discounted price- you choose the size and material, and PiMP staff choose from a random assortment of patterns! It sounds like a pretty fun surprise! I can’t wait to do this!

Bookface contests!

And PiMP has lots of fun contests on their Facebook page, including opportunities to help name new patterns.

My photos.

Yes, I’m gross. I take photos of things I shouldn’t.  But I wanted you to SEE!  And none of these are truly gross…

 

 

Thanks to the crew at Party In My Pants for helping me jump off the diving board and embrace reusable menstrual products!

PS ~ there are no affiliate links in this review. I don’t wanna make money off of you guys!!!! ❤

Feel Good Fridays

baby-elephant-elephants-family-group-259728
(and yes, I’m still stuck on the elephants thing…)

Friday already???  The week flew by for me – mostly because I was under the weather and resting for three days thanks to a stomach bug. Ugh.

So here I am hunting down a quote that speaks to me, flipping through the pages of a large book of quotations my Mum gifted me a few years ago.

And here we have it. The one that stood out to me immediately:

In 1992, Barbara Bush said,

“To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.”

My immediate thought when I read this? I melted and thought of all of the people who have come together because of our shared illness.  Not just the EndoSisters, but our support systems, too.

Recently, we had a BBQ for our support. Our friends, our family, our loved ones.  A way of honoring them.  And it was beautiful to sit back, sip on a glass of sangria, and just watch everyone get to know each other, share stories, hug, cry.  Strangers…all woven together in this large family.

We may not be blood, but we are absolutely family.

I love you, guys and gals.  Have a wonderful weekend.  ~Lisa

Endometriosis Excision Surgery 3.0

Lisa Howard - Resilience
Dr. Mel Kurtulus and I before heading in. Photo courtesy of Brandy Sebastian; used with her permission https://www.brandysebastian.com/

On July 18, 2018, I underwent my third robotic-assisted laparoscopic excision of Endometriosis by Dr. Mel Kurtulus ( of San Diego Womens Health).  As always, I love to share my experiences with you – not only to create awareness of this illness, but in the hopes that the process of my surgery (and later recovery) may help you, or others.

Before I go on, I just want to take a moment to express my joy in the above-photograph.  I am a detached head, floating beneath a fluffy warm-air blanket in the pre-op area, enjoying a wonderful moment with an incredible surgeon and man.  Thank you, Brandy, for capturing this.  And thank you, Dr. Kurtulus, for being so marvelous!

Okay, on with the nitty-gritty!

My mom, husband, and I were awake at 6am and in the hospital by 8am to check-in.  If you’ve never been to the Scripps Hospital La Jolla, it’s glorious.  Every attention to detail and the efforts of the staff are meant to soothe and calm: beautiful artwork, a live piano player in the lobby, and compassionate staff.  It’s wonderful.  We were joined by a wonderful friend and fellow EndoSister, Brandy, to document the experience (these photographs will be shared at a later date…I’m so excited about what she is doing!)  I was rolled back for pre-op somewhere around 11:30 and wheeled back to the OR by noon.  My surgery took approximately four hours.  And here I was worried he wouldn’t find any Endometriosis…(I should know better…)  We arrived home around 7:00pm.  A very, very long day for my friends and loved ones.

procedures

The plan was to open me up and peek under the hood, so to speak.  If any Endometriosis was discovered, Dr. Kurtulus would excise it; any adhesions would be freed; the ovarian cysts that were seen in ultrasounds would be removed; my ureters would be examined and freed of any adhesions; he’d look inside my bladder for any Endo or evidence of Interstitial Cystitis; and he would (with my willing and educated permission) remove both of my Fallopian tubes.

What did he find?  Following is a page of my op report, in case you enjoy reading all of the medical terminology (like I do).  I’ll also further explain what I understand and share photographs below!

op page

In a nutshell?  I had:

  • I was laid on a table, strapped in, and tilted somewhat upside-down.  Then a tiny hole was punched in my belly, 3 liters of CO2 gas was pumped in and I was inflated, and the doc took a peek around.  Three additional ports were added (tiny incisions) so tools and the robotic arms (tiny!) could be inserted.  On with the discovery:
  • A cyst on my right ovary;
  • A cyst on my left ovary;
  • Endometriosis on my cul de sac, small intestine, near my sigmoid colon, and on my left ovary and fallopian tube;
  • My fallopian tubes were hideous, “angry”, inflamed, swollen;
  • Adhesions on/near my sigmoid colon, my bladder, my fallopian tubes;
  • My sigmoid colon was stuck to the left side of my pelvis;
  • My bladder was pinned to my uterus;
  • My left ureter was surgically detached to allow safe access to Endometriosis lesions on my left ovary, then reattached once all-clear;
  • And (hooray!!!) NO evidence of Endometriosis was found on my liver or diaphragm (discovered there in prior surgeries).

During my post-op meeting, Dr. Kurtulus let me know that this time my Endometriosis lesions were all either clear or red.  He said they were almost grape-like.  I’m so pleased that he is so skilled and thorough during these procedures!!  And grateful he knows what to look for!

Ready for photos of my insides?  I don’t know if you can click on the photos and make them full-size, so if you ARE curious about the full-sized (and zoomable) versions of these photos, you can view them here.

The Fallopian Tubes

My Mum told me that when Dr. Kurtulus showed she and my husband the photographs after the procedure, he said my fallopian tubes were “angry” and swollen.  That description will stick with her for quite a while, especially when she saw the photographs.  I am so glad we had already discussed removing my fallopian tubes before my procedure; as he likely would have removed them due to their massive state.

I had a 3cm cyst on my right ovary, which he removed while saving my ovary.  Also,  a cyst and Endometriosis lesions on my left ovary, which he excised (still saving my left ovary).

FT and ovaries copy
The yellow circles are showing Endometriosis on my fallopian tubes

My husband and I don’t want children at our age, but it doesn’t make the medical sterility any easier to bear.  I have grieved and mourned and cried and sobbed.  I am feeling much better now (although sometimes it still hits hard) after talking about it with friends and family and I wanted to share some incredible words from a few friends that they shared to comfort me:

“You may no longer have fallopian tubes, but you got one of the biggest pair of brass balls I’ve seen.” ~Barbara Carrera

“It’s a good thing to have the diseased bits out of the way.  And now you don’t have to worry about condoms.  And it’s fun to imagine your ovaries as crazy, free-floating googley-eyes!  They’ve been unleashed!!  Fly my pretties!  Fly!!”  ~Sarah Mew

Thank you, ladies.  I needed those laughs. ❤

The cul de sac (aka Pouch of Douglas)

This is my third surgery and during both of my prior surgeries, I had Endometriosis in my cul de sac.  To quote both of my first two op reports, my cul de sac was “obliterated.” What the heck is a cul de sac?  It’s the little empty space between the back of the uterus and the rectum.  It’s usually very common for Endometriosis patients to have lesions in this area.  This time, most of my Endo was on the left side, rather than everywhere in that little pouch.  And, Dr. Kurtulus excised all that he saw.

PofD Before and After

I’m flabbergasted at the difference!!! But, here are more photos of what my cul de sac looked like before I was all tidied up:

PofD Additional copy
Again, circles indicate Endometriosis lesions that I’m aware of

The Small Bowel

Two lesions were discovered on my bowel.  Dr. Kurtulus brought in a colo-rectal surgeon to look at the lesions to determine if they could be removed superficially or if something greater would be required.  The colo-rectal surgeon confirmed the spots looked like Endometriosis, but I would require a resection of that bit of small intestine.  It’s close to my appendix, on the right side.  So, it’s still in there, but I did already have a consult with that colo-rectal surgeon on August 8th.  My surgery date for the resection is pending and may take place by the end of this year!

Bowel Pics

The Bladder and Uterus

When I saw the photographs of my bladder being pinned to my uterus and held in place by a literal web of adhesions, I was amazed!  AMAZED!  I’d been having pain often when I peed and wonder if it was related to anything-Endo.  So Dr. Kurtulus freed my bladder (he’s my hero!).  He also looked extensively at the inside and outside of my bladder and found no evidence of Endometriosis or Interstitial Cystitis (aka IC).

bladder uterus copy

The Cost of it All!

As usual, I LOVE to share what this type of surgery costs.  And, to date, this was the most expensive for my insurance company!  I paid a $500 co-pay to the hospital and my insurance covered a whopping $121,669.50!  Holy moly!!!  I’m still waiting to see if the colo-rectal surgeon will submit a separate bill for his time, as it wasn’t itemized on my Estimate of Benefits form.  Other than that, there shouldn’t be any sneak attack bills…I hope.  If you’re curious what my first and second surgeries cost, check this out!

Future Plans

I had my post-op appointment with Dr. Kurtulus on August 6th.  He spent some time with me going through the details, labeling the photographs, and talking about our future plans.  Did we pick curtains or china patterns? No.  We covered prospective treatments!  I’ll see him again for an 8-week follow-up in mid-September.

He brought up birth control and remembered I don’t want to take it as I feel it truly makes me a different person.  Then he mentioned Lupron Depot and Orilissa, but acknowledged (before I could say anything), that he knew I didn’t want to take those.  So, he wonderfully respected my opinions and desires; didn’t push anything.  Didn’t make me feel like I was a “hostile patient” or making poor choices.  And he supports my desire to strive toward an anti-inflammatory diet, keep a positive attitude, and pursue the bowel resection surgery as soon as I am able.

The Recovery Process

I fully intend to fully blog about my 2-week recovery and share my notes soon.  But I wanted to also mention it briefly here.  It wasn’t easy at times, but mostly it wasn’t hard.

My pre-op Endometriosis pain is 99% gone!  Just a little bit of “ugh” near the lower-right edge of my abdomen…and I may either just be healing or it’s the last bit of Endo clinging to my bowel waving at me.  I was even on my period! And it was so pain-free that it was a Sneak Attack period and caught me by surprise (the poor bed sheets).

The first week was a whole lot of paying attention to my body, small little walks, a mostly-liquid diet, lots of lounging on the couch-bed and watching Netflix.  There was the expected post-op pain the first day, a vomit on Day One (whoever wants to do that so soon after abdominal surgery?), sleepless nights, and difficulties getting comfortable.  And those first few days of hardly any sleep wasn’t easy on my husband or mother, who had to help me get in and out of bed multiple times throughout the night.

The second week I felt far more capable, although I didn’t do much of anything other rest and be lazy.  And I returned to work on August 6th.

I had very little shoulder pain related to the CO2 gas and I blame that on my surgical team’s skill in deflating me as much as possible and getting out as much gas as they could!  For anyone who doesn’t know that absolute agony of post-laparoscopy gas pain, please, read this! I did have a few episodes of that pain, but nothing in comparison to my first surgery.

It took three days to poop.  The discomfort was so great that I opted for an enema.  That is a tale in and of itself; one you shall never read about!!

My body is still healing: sitting too long causes discomfort; stairs are from the Devil; and  I don’t allow myself to squeeze out a poo – if I have to do more than just a gentle push, it’s not time yet.  No straining.  No lifting.  No pushing. No pulling.  BUT I have been cleared to go swimming in a pool (no lakes or oceans)…and we can have sex! We were recently brave enough to give it a go and I’m happy to report there was no pain or discomfort!

The last of my steri-strips were removed at my August 6, 2018, post-op appointment and they’re healing well.

 

BEFORE I GO…

I want to thank Dr. Kurtulus and his staff for their excellent care, the incredible nurses and other surgical team members at Scripps Hospital La Jolla, Brandy for her amazing photographs and the project she is working on, my Mum for driving out (yet again) to be with me for surgery and during a hardest days of my recovery, my husband for all that he’s endured with me, Erin for taking care of me for a few days, Rosie for spending time with me during my recovery, Laura & Chris & Carrie for their wonderful company to celebrate my health, Zeiddy for constantly checking in on me, my employers and co-workers for the beautiful flowers, and all of my EndoSisters, friends, and family who also threw me well-wishes and love.

This has been an amazing experience.

Be well. All of you.

~ Again, I am a layman. I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings. Or challenge them. And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always. Yours ~ Lisa