Thursday, June 5, 2014

Life Changes and Living with Endometriosis

It seems like I just haven't had the urge to blog in months. Honestly, a lot of changes have occurred between the last time I was blogging regularly and now. The biggest hurdle for me this past year has been learning to live with endometriosis. Now, I know I don't get into the personal stuff much, but I've found that pretending that everything is a-OK is really not the way to deal with endo.

Queue "dramatic sad photo"

So, in case you're curious about the specifics of endometriosis (mind you, this has to do with internal lady-bits) here is a link to the wikipedia page about it:

Last fall I started to have intense pains occasionally and started to think maybe I had ovarian cysts. Before long, however, the pains became unbearable and my symptoms started to look more like those from endometriosis. The hard thing about endo is that you can't prove that it's there without surgery and according to modern medicine you can't treat it without hormones and/or surgery. So, being the kind of gal to "just-say-no" to drugs I don't understand, I basically spent the winter in and out of the hospital for possible ovarian and/or intestinal torsions connected to the spasming of my abdominal muscles, in more pain than I ever believed possible...We're talking in-and-out-of-consciousness pain - like something out of a George R. R. Martin novel. The aftereffects of an "episode" would last for roughly two weeks, after which I'd have to prepare for the next one. What's worse, I began to have endometrial pain in other areas like my bladder, intestine and even (this is a new one) affecting my sciatic nerve!

It drained my energy and my enthusiasm for life, and it put stress on my relationships, my business... heck, even my horses would react to the differences when I rode them! Living in constant pain and fear of pain for those months definitely gave me a new perspective on Dr. House and his grumpy antics. I kind of hated everything and it brought my active life to a screeching halt.

So I started doing some blog-readin'... I tore through anything that gave me hope of managing my pain without modern meds. It wasn't until I found an article about endometriosis in cattle that I started thinking about the one vitamin we supplement ALL of our livestock with. Selenium. In cattle that are struggling with endometriosis, farmers will load them with selenium and send them on their merry way. So I started taking a low-dose selenium supplement to give it a shot.

At the same time, my chiropractor/kinesiologist suggested I may want to cut all processed sugar from my diet as it can lead to inflammatory response. I found several endo blogs where women found that eating processed sugars guaranteed they'd have a bad spell, so I figured why not. It's only SUGAR. Remember folks - I'm a serious sweet tooth... or at least I was. After two seriously grumpy weeks I found myself completely over sugar. I replaced refined sugar with local honey and an occasional coconut sugar (though I'm not a fan, honestly). I've worked out recipes for all of my favorite gluten free cakes, ice creams, candies and sauces using honey in place of refined sugar (even a honey-based caramel sauce!)

It's been a learning process, but I can say that since cutting sugar and supplementing with selenium I have not had a single bad spell. I've come close and I've had to take a dose or two of ibuprofen to fend it off, but in the past even multiple doses of 800mg of ibuprofen wasn't enough to cut the pain.

The thing that is most interesting about all of this is that the foods that most exacerbate my endo are all foods that are dried and processed with glyphosate including wheat, sugar beets, soy, cane sugar and oats. Glyphosate is used as an herbicide and is designed for use as a weed killer (it's the big monsanto chemical in Round-Up).

The problem is, farmers are using it to kill crops at their peak to speed their harvest. Normally the shortened days and crisp nights are what signal plants like wheat to die off. By using glyphosate, however, farmers are able to kill these crops and dry them faster... and we all know faster is better. Right? This use as a drying aid leaves a higher glyphosate residue on crops. Ick. So I avoid anything that is commonly dried chemically.

Well, since switching to sugar-free+selenium I have gotten things turned around again. I can ride four horses in a single morning without pain. I can muck my sheep barn and stack hay bales. I can garden. I can go running. I can enjoy life. I'm not a psycho-B, anymore either... Well, not often...

I highly recommend trying normal doses of selenium for anyone searching for alternatives to hormones and surgeries, and cutting processed sugar really couldn't hurt as long as you're still balancing your diet correctly. It has helped me get back on track, and hopefully I'll be able to get back into blogging about all of the awesome adventures ahead of me!

Stay tuned for a backlog of my adventures in starting an Etsy store, natural dyeing, and the 2014 lambing season!


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