Bye Bye Nuva Ring

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Nuva Ring No More

This post is for all my female readers out there!

Since my diagnosis of Endometriosis and undergoing a laparoscopy in January 2013, I’ve struggled with managing my endometriosis without the help of any medicine. I’m finding that my cramps are unbearable for 2 days of the month and I’m spending a whole week miserable with PMS symptoms.

My doctor suggested I go back on birth control because that is shown to help symptoms of endometriosis. Before trying to have a baby in 2011, I’d been on the Nuva Ring for almost 9 years. I never had any problems with it and liked not having to worry about taking a pill each day.

I decided to go back on the Nuva Ring to help control my endo. Well, 1 month later and I’m throwing in the towel.

Let me tell you why…

I didn’t put 2 and 2 together until last week but I’m fairly certain all of the symptoms I’ve had for the past month relate directly to the Nuva Ring. Obviously, with all my other issues from food, these could be related to some new food intolerance but the timing of when I started using the ring and when the symptoms started is just too coincidental.

For 4 days after insertion, I suffered from migraines. I was on a trip with my mother and continually popped Excedrine to control the pain. I was nervous because I typically only get them for 1 day at a time. The fact that it didn’t go away scared me.

The day I took the ring out, I enjoyed another wonderful migraine and finally the heaviest day of my monthly cycle came with a bang and a migraine that sent me to urgent care to get a shots in my butt.  I’d never had a migraine in my right temple and it worried me that this one came with serious vomiting. I even had to do it outside of the urgent care with people walking by to go to the grocery store. Certainly, not one of my classiest moments. I despise vomiting.

One of the shots was a pain-killer and the other one was phenergen for nausea.

A few days before I took the ring out, I developed major anxiety and started having panic attacks for no reason. I spent a whole night crying in our kitchen over nothing and laying in bed with my husband sobbing. Eventually I started mumbling something about the word “gluten” and how much I was sick of hearing about it. I even pulled out some Buspar (anti-anxiety) from last year to help calm my nerves.

My usually normal complexion quickly filled with pimples and cysts on my face like a 14-year-old boy and I managed to gain 10 more pounds in just under 4 weeks. This puts my post celiac weight gain at 30 pounds instead of the 20 I already was frustrated with before going on the ring.

I’ve had the ring out for a week now and all of my anxiety is gone. No more panic attacks. I lost 3 pounds. My face is starting to heal and I hopefully am done with these headaches. I’m going to a new doctor in about 6 weeks so I’m going to track my symptoms and anything else that happens to see if they occur without being on the Ring.

It’s interesting there are also class action lawsuits on the Ring and CBS News even has an article about the potential fatal dangers of this drug. As with any drug, there are always risks but when they start piling up, that’s when maybe it’s needs a second look.

So, let’s recap –

In the first month of going on the Nuva Ring I had the following happen:

  1. 10 pound weight gain
  2. Major anxiety
  3. Panic Attacks
  4. Cysts and pimples all over my face
  5. Migraines
  6. Fatigue

I made an appointment with a new doctor in just a few weeks and decided to cease using the Nuva Ring. My biggest concern is wondering why this time around I’ve seen such negative side effects when prior experience showed my body responded very well to the Ring. Weird.

I’ll post my progress over the next few weeks and keep you updated after I go to my new doctor. I hope he will have some answers for me! But I would love to hear from you, if you are comfortable sharing…

Have you experienced anything like this with the Ring? 

How have you managed your Endometriosis?

A smiling and happy Rebecca

 

The Extra Challenges Associated with Fitness and Celiac Disease

After going through my own weight loss journey, I realized the fitness industry was severely lacking the kind of trainer I needed and wanted – someone who was educated on fitness, motivating to keep me coming back for more and just as excited as I was when I started seeing results.

You see, time after time, I went to a gym or met with a trainer that always wanted to push his own goals on me and then brushed me off when I said that I wanted to do something else. I also ended up with a knee injury requiring surgery because I had damaged it so much during our training sessions from being told that it was “weak” and I needed to lift heavier. Quite the contrary actually – the knee was so damaged, I needed to go lighter.

I’ve had trainers that didn’t pay attention to me the whole session because they had so many other people training at the same time. I’ve had trainers that took me to Chipotle after our workout sessions. I’ve had trainers that didn’t listen to me when I said something hurt or didn’t feel right. I’ve had trainers that wanted me try unsafe moves or exercises to “sculpt” me.

I opened my own business to be the complete opposite of everything horrible I saw while I was losing the weight myself.

You see I’ve learned over the past 4 years, people want to feel like they belong somewhere. They want to feel a bond with their trainer and the environment. Losing weight is an intimate process. Not everyone wants you to prod them, take pictures of them and feel their sweaty bodies during measurements. They don’t want to feel like a scolded child if they go out for drinks one night and have a life. While I certainly believe there are people out there that are hardcore and want their trainers to yell at them and force them to do crazy stuff, there is a larger group of people who want to be nurtured towards their results. Trainers that push their clients to do fad diets, crazy weight loss plans, extreme cardio or other unsafe weight loss mechanisms will see results very quickly. However, that will soon fade and those clients will be binge eating at a food truck sooner than you can say “grilled chicken.”

Your goals are not my goals. Your goals drive the results of the training sessions. It is not your trainers job to force goals upon you during or after your sessions. Results are a direct response to your goals.

Which is why this post is completely relevant to those of you seeking fitness services while having auto-immune diseases like fibromyalgia, celiac disease, arthritis, endometriosis and the rest of the lovely things we all struggle with along with celiac.

It is essential for us to find a facility with a great reputation for being caring, supportive, encouraging AND results oriented.

You should NEVER feel bad, awkward or uncomfortable talking to your trainer about any pain, physical struggles and emotional struggles. This is an essential component to our health and wellbeing. If the only thing we can do is show up to the session and try our best, than that is what should be acceptable. You are paying THEM to help you get to your goals. Don’t let them treat you poorly. I’m not saying they shouldn’t give you a push or challenge you, but they need to understand there is a limit. I would never want anyone leaving my facility to go home and cry because of me!

Last year I struggled tremendously with my own fitness program and I know how hard it is to get out of bed when you are exhausted and in pain. All it takes is a gluten incident, lactose incident or some other weird food thing to make me ill forcing me to stay at home than go to the gym. A migraine can off shoot 3 days for me sometimes. The cramping from the endometriosis didn’t get better when I worked out.

We need more trainers in the world that are understanding and caring to their clients individual needs. We need more trainers that want to learn about our conditions and help motivate us to keep going even when we would rather lay on the couch and watch tv. I can tell you someone who tells me I’m lazy or a wimp will not motivate me what so ever.

This industry is so quick to say you aren’t trying hard enough or you’re lying about your diet when weight loss goals aren’t met. No one thinks that you could have a hormone problem causing you to retain the weight. No one thinks that maybe you are struggling with water retention from a health condition preventing weight loss. No one thinks that those pills you are taking for XYZ could be adding pounds to the scale and not your eating habits or work ethic in the gym.

At Bexa Body Fitness, we focus on our clients 150% – their goals are our goals. We understand that not everyone is looking for a tremendous weight loss story or wanting to run a marathon. There are lots of people out there that are just trying to improve their quality of life, not win a body building competition. We need to educate trainers on our diseases and start training them to have more coping and coaching skills to go right along with their awesome motivational and training skills.

I realize that my life experiences have put me in the position to intimately know the emotions and physical distress but it’s unfortunate to see so many people struggling with seemingly nowhere to turn. I’m ready to help educating this industry to the best of my ability, hoping to help so many more in the future.

What is a Laparoscopy and how is the recovery?

Last Wednesday I went in to have an Laparoscopy completed to do an exploration for endometriosis or other problems causing my symptoms. Endometriosis was confirmed after an hour long surgery.

What is a Laparaoscopy? It is a surgery done by small incisions in the abdomen and/or pelvic region with a camera. It can confirm diagnosis of things like fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cysts and tumors or can be done for surgical procedures like partial hysterectomies, lump removal and endometriosis tissue removal.

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I was brought into an outpatient surgery center where they prepped me about 90 minutes before my procedure. They do a pregnancy test, hemoglobin test and start an iv with antibiotics. The doctor and anesthesiologist came back and talked to me before the procedure. My husband was able to come back and wait with me until they took me back into the surgery room.

The path to the room was very cold. The room appeared sterile and bright lights were everywhere. All the nurses introduced themselves to me and made me feel very comfortable. The last time I had a procedure done for my D&C I was asleep prior to entering the operating room so it was weird to be awake while they prepped me.

I came out of my surgery in the recover room with a very sore belly. The nurse kept giving me pain medication until the pain was a 3 out of 10. My stomach looked like I swallowed a basketball. My husband spoke with the doctor after my procedure which confirmed I had endometriosis and an inflamed bladder.

At home I was all set up on the couch. It was advised not to go up or down stairs and stay close to a restroom. I fell right asleep and my husband went to pick up the pain medication and nausea pills. I will tell you that every time I have surgery, I become extremely nauseous. I asked this time for the doctor to prescribe some Phenergen which will not only help you sleep but eliminate the stomach problems. I was given Tylenol 3′s which lasted through the weekend. After that I moved on to Aleve.

I really didn’t notice any pain in my shoulders and back like many people said I would and I think partially it’s because of the pain medication and staying laying for most of the time.

Here are some pictures!

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Now here are my tips for recovery –

1. Make sure you have someone the first couple of days to help pull you up off the couch or the bed. Your abs will be incredibly sore. I often found myself sliding off the side of the couch just to get up.

2. Go to the restroom – it’s going to burn but it helps alleviate some pain and fullness in your belly.

3. Drink lots of non-carbonated liquids.

4. Have food and snacks at home to help you. I basically lived off of Annie’s gluten free mac & cheese, jello and gluten free crackers.

5. You will likely be constipated. I resorted to yogurt even though I have lactose problems just to get my bowels moving. I ate 3 containers of yogurt and never had a loose stool or stomach ache.

6. If you just have the scope done with nothing removed and 1 entry point, I would say 3-4 days is a good time to recover. If you end up having things removed, plan on being out for at least a week.

7. Rest! Don’t try to do anything, even though it’s incredibly boring! I really believe I’m healing faster because I’ve stayed on the couch and forced my body to rest instead of jumping back into things too quickly.

8. Get up and move every few hours just to prevent stiffness.

9. Make sure you have baggy pants because anything tight around your waist will be very uncomfortable. Not to mention I gained 10 pounds right after the surgery and none of my normal pants fit me. So I’m glad I had some baggy pants laying around I could wear.

10. Dont stress. While it’s overwhelming to think about what  is going on, it’s important to remain stress free!

So, today is my last day on the couch and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I’m ready to get back into my gym and back to work. I finally can sit up for a little bit at a time and write this post. That’s been a huge struggle for me just to sit up right.

Many of you sent comments, messages and love to me while I was down and I appreciate it so much.

Thank you!

 

 

 

Living and Coping with Chronic Illness: Staying Positive is Key!

Today is day 3 of recovery from my laparascopy procedure. I’m still in quite a bit of pain, nauseous if I get up to move around  and have a huge swollen belly. My body hasn’t stopped itching since I had the procedure despite taking a shower and rinsing all the antibiotic gel stuff off. But overall, I think I’m healing more and more each day. I feel much more aware today despite being very sore still.

The laparascopy confirmed an endometriosis diagnosis and I also have an inflamed bladder, whcih I will need to go to a urologist specialist to have it cheked out. I will go back to the doctor  in a couple of weeks to follow up and see where we go from here.

I wanted to write this post after a negative comment I read on a forum while researching chronic disease. It was a comment about a certain chronic disease being “fake” just to collect disability money and live off the system, which I found highly offensive. I never personally had someone say this to me (partially because I would chew them out) but I know other friends have heard similar things. I have however heard the following on numerous occasions:

Yes, I know there is “something wrong with me.”

Yes, I know that this “isn’t normal.”

Yes, I am “sick of being sick.”

N0, I am “not pregnant.”

No, I am “not falling apart.”

I do not need a constant reminder from people about what I am going through. You want to know what I need? More of the supporting, loving and encouraging people in my life that have been there through it all, never question my illness or treatment and make me feel sane during a very emotionally charged time. If you are not one of these people, please don’t expect to hear from me that much.

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Sometimes I think I need another business card for my issues or a line on my resume for my special needs.  It’s very hard for some people to imagine that this could happen to someone all at once or that the treatment is difficult and slow. It’s even more difficult for people to believe it happens to young people like me who are in their early 30′s. That usually takes the direction into a conversation of how much worse it’s going to be when I get “older.”

Living with a chronic illness is difficult enough, we don’t need people in our lives challenging how we feel, minimizing our pain and treating us differently for suffering. I never thought in a million years I would spend an entire year trying to find answers. I didn’t expect to spend a whole year dramatically changing my entire lifestyle.

A chronic disease is something that lasts longer than 3 months and affects numerous parts of your life. Right now I’m living with celiac disease, endometriosis, arthritis, latex sensitivity and hypothyroidism. My body is completely out of whack. This is challenging enough as it is, I don’t need inconsiderate jerks to remind me.

Alright, we know this is an issue and if you are reading my blog, I know you totally understand where I’m coming from with this point. So, how can we help ourselves through this?

1. Slowly back away from people in your life that aren’t supportive. The negativity is draining you emotionally and is impeding your recovery from illness. In order to get through it all, you have to be mentally and physically tough. It will be hard to say good bye at first but I can promise it will be worth it in the long run. Replace those negative nelly’s with people who genuinely care, love and support you unconditionally. This includes a clean sweep on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter etc.

2. Don’t debate people over the issue. There is no point. If they don’t or can’t understand what you are going through, they aren’t going to change their mind after you “educate” them on the disease. It isn’t worth your time or energy.

3. Focus on yourself for a while. It’s ok to miss the parties, happy hour’s and other social events. They will be much more fun once you can get out there healthy and enjoy the time with friends.

4. Follow doctors orders. I struggle with this. I want to be superwoman and heal quick to keep moving at a fast pace. I actually thought I would be able to drive to Pittsburgh to speak today at the Celiac Awareness Tour 3 days after my surgery. Primarily it’s because I am nuts. Sitting in a car for 3.5 hours there and back would have been torture for me. But I thought I would be fine after 1-2 days post operation. Lesson learned on this one!

5. Some of you might get mad at me for saying this but don’t use your illness as an excuse to get out of things all the time. That’s when people get mad at you and when they start thinking your condition isn’t “real” or whatever else they think. Just be honest and truthful with people and they will be much more accepting of your empty seat at the dinner table.

Do you suffer from this? 

How do you stay strong in the presence of non-believers?

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Natural Remedies: Acupuncture and/or Acupressure for Endometriosis

Yesterday, I completely forgot to write a post about a recent experience with massage. I really love a great massage, especially if the masseuse has great, strong hands. Deep tissue massages are a great way to help your muscles!

While I attended the Earth Fare Columbus health fare last weekend, I met  Kathy Petty. She was doing chair massages and won me over in less than 5 minutes. She made me a believer and my body melted in her hands.

Tuesday (the day before my laparascopy), I went to get a massage with Kathy at her location on Cleveland Ave (just a little south of 270). Kathy is trained in acupressure and told me she enjoys incorporating some of those pressure points into massages. The massage was fantastic however something interesting happened when I was on the table.

Kathy began massaging my feet which always feels amazing. I would pay for someone to just dig into my hands and feet. Well, a little ways into the massage on my feet, I felt an incredible pain near my ankle and almost flew off the massage table. I asked her what that point was that she just applied pressure to because it was painful and her reply, “uterus.” I couldn’t believe what she just said. My other sore point on my feet was for my ovaries! Incredible to me.

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Kathy didn’t know anything about my history with cramping nor did she know I was going to have a laparascopy the following day to check my lady parts!

Acupressure is just one of a number of Asian bodywork therapies (ABT) with roots in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

Traditional Chinese medical theory describes special acupoints, or acupressure points, that lie along meridians, or channels, in your body. These are the same energy meridians and acupoints as those targeted with acupuncture. Through these invisible channels flows vital energy or a life force called qi (ch’i). It is also believed that these 12 major meridians connect specific organs or networks of organs, organizing a system of communication throughout your body. The meridians begin at your fingertips, connect to your brain, and then connect to an organ associated with a certain meridian.

According to theory, when one of these meridians is blocked or out of balance, illness can occur. Acupressure and acupuncture are among the types of TCM that are used to help restore balance. Herbal and nutritional therapy, meditation, and therapeutic massage may also help. – Source WebMD

I’ve also done acupuncture in the past with Dr. Shauna Hindman of Polaris Wellness Acupuncture and Chiropractic Center to help me with my sleeping. I will be the first to admit I was skeptical about the entire process. But when I started becoming more calm and sleeping better, I became a believer. Another issue for me is the needles. I know many of you are like me and think the needles will be painful, but in actuality the are not!

I’m thinking based on how my recovery is going right now, next week I should be able to get with Dr. Shauna and start my acupuncture again. She sent me this amazing article on how acupuncture can help endometriosis.  I’m trying to take it easy, rest and sleep a lot to help my body recover from the trauma of  surgery.

Over the last few years, I’ve become much more aware of my body  and what I’m putting into it with food and medications. I do believe that there is something to acupressure and acupuncture. As I continue through this journey, I will keep everyone updated on how my treatment process is going.

I’m struggling today with a very bad sore throat and am in a decent amount of pain if I try to move around too much. I haven’t experienced the C02 yet but I’m waiting for it. I am happy I actually have some answers but now it is just another ailment to add to the rest of them. Should I update my resume for under the skills section to say: Celiac disease, Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism, Latex Sensitivity, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Endometriosis and poor vision. (just kidding of course)

Which leads me to the question:

How many of you are handling or treating your endometriosis naturally? 

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This celiac mask is really getting on my nerves.

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Disclaimer: Men this post is for the ladies :)

Celiac disease is quite the emotional roller coaster. Whenever it seems as though you’ve got it figured out, something new creeps in just to keep you on your toes. Hence the title of this post about celiac being a “mask.”

Wednesday I’m having a laparoscopic procedure done to check for anything going on in my reproductive organs like endometriosis. I keep having these stabbing like cramping pains throughout the month and my ovulation time is excruciating. And even after cutting gluten, latex fruits/veggies, lactose, corn and poultry – I continue to gain weight right in my belly region. No, I am not pregnant.  

I’ve gained 10 pounds since Christmas and almost 20 since last summer. Today I woke up and weighed 5 pounds more than I did yesterday along with feeling a tightness and fullness in my stomach that I never usually have. Something is going on. I feel completely uncomfortable and out of control. I don’t eat gluten-free processed junk foods so I know that isn’t the case and even if I did do that, the weight doesn’t come on that quickly from over eating.

It really is true that once you resolve the main problem, you start finding things that were masked by the undiagnosed issue. Once you cut one thing, another comes along making you wonder if you are ever going to be able to eat anything ever again.

For me – I was diagnosed with celiac disease, Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and arthritis last January. At that time, I cut gluten, poultry and latex laden fruits/vegetables. Then in the spring I cut lactose too as Greek yogurt continued to irritate my stomach. Finally in December, I cut corn. I’m not sure there is anything else to cut.

I’ve been able to manage the Hashimoto’s strictly with food. My thyroid levels are perfect with no extra medication. It took a full year to get there but I’m happy I chose not to take medicine.

Then I started feeling sick again last fall, which didn’t make sense because I’ve been very diligent about gluten removal only to find out that I should have cut corn too. The over compensation of corn products sent my body into overdrive again.

As a fluke, my old obgyn didn’t fill my Nuva Ring prescription and I have been off that for almost 2 months now. It’s amazing that my migraine headaches went away during my last 2 periods and I’m sleeping perfectly. Could it be that was causing all my sleep problems for the last 10 years?

Bottom line: I feel amazing. My head is clear. I’m productive again. I feel like I’m on top of my game. I’m not having any stomach pains (the old kind) and all of my blood work levels are perfect. So why am I having these other issues?? It is so cruel to think that I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do and there continues to be one missing link each time I think things are great.

Hopefully, Wednesday is the last missing link and I can get that all figured out. I will post again at the end of this week and let you know how it goes. I get really nervous about these types of procedures simply because I don’t have them often and I am terrified of anesthesia.

What other things did you find out you had along with celiac disease?