Tuesday, February 16, 2016

My Endometriosis Story {Part 4}

I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Endometriosis on September 16, 2015

I talked a little (well, really, I ranted) about it in this post 
And, here is Part 1, and here is Part 2, and here is Part 3


Of course I did research.  Traditional and natural approaches to managing endometriosis.  I reached out to a family member who also has endometriosis, and is a medial professional, to get her advice on everything.   

And, in the end, I decided on utilizing both for my treatment and long-rang therapy.    

I started an anti-inflammatory diet, as outlined by Dr. Weil, on November 1, 2015.  I've maintaining a mostly vegetarian diet for the duration of my traditional treatment.

received my first Lupron injection on November 24, 2015.  Lupron is a hormonal chemotherapy and I receive a once a month injection.  The medication slowly releases into my blood over a one month period.  
There are many differing thoughts on Lupron's effectiveness in treating endometriosis all over the internet.  All I can say is, I chose this method of treatment because I thought it was the best option for me.

Additionally, I am taking Norethindrone, which is an "add back" (used to add back some progesterone into my system, which the Lupron is halting production of) that assists with the side effects of Lupron.  

Which, might I add, I've experienced pretty much all of them
redness/burning/stinging/pain/bruising at the injection site,  CHECK
hot flashes (flushing),  CHECK
increased sweating,  CHECK
night sweats,  CHECK
tiredness,  CHECK
headache,  CHECK (during certain days of the month)
upset stomach,  CHECK
nausea, CHECK
diarrhea, CHECK
constipation, CHECK
stomach pain, CHECK
breast swelling or tenderness,  CHECK 
acne, CHECK (hello hormonal acne, I hate you)
joint/muscle aches or pain, CHECK
trouble sleeping (insomnia),  CHECK
reduced sexual interest,  CHECK
vaginal discomfort/dryness/itching/discharge,  CHECK  
swelling of the ankles/feet, CHECK 
increased urination at night,  CHECK
dizziness,  CHECK
breakthrough bleeding in a female child during the first 2 months of leuprolide treatment,  CHECK 
weakness,  CHECK
chills,  CHECK
clammy skin,  CHECK
skin redness,  CHECK
itching, or scaling,  CHECK
depression,  CHECK
memory problems  CHECK

The good thing, though, it's not all of them all of the time.  I can count on that as a small blessing.  

So, from a natural approach I went with my go to person regarding herbals and that's Susun Weed.  I scoured her book The Menopausal Years for information on dealing with different symptoms.  I settled on the use of Oat Straw tea (which I drink 2 glasses a day of, 3T each) and Vitex (which I take 2 400mg capsules of daily.  Additionally, I take Cod Liver Oil.  

So, why Oat Straw?  Susun explains more here.  I felt that I needed something to help stabilize my mood.  As I was tracking my symptoms following my first injection on November 24th I noticed some pretty wicked mood swings and some pretty low days.  Oat Straw also helps with bone strength (a side effect of Lupron is brittle bones), stabilized blood sugar (with a change in my diet, I wanted me make sure that I wasn't spiking or crashing), relieve depression and emotional uproar, reduces frequency and duration of headaches, eases bladder spasms and vaginal dryness.  

So, why Vitex? Susun explains more here. But, specifically she shares in her book The Menopausal Years that daily use of Vitex will "reduce and eliminate endometriosis and uterine fibroid".   But, as shared in the linked article, patience is needed.  Daily use for two or three months will result in improvement of symptoms. Given that endometriosis is not a curable disease, I figured I had nothing but time on my hands and why not give it a try.  Additionally, it helps with hot flashes and dizziness and helps maintain an emotional calm.  All things that are side effects of Lupron.  

Cod Liver Oil?  Well, I've been taking it for years.  I wasn't going to stop now.  

Stress is also a contributing factor.  So, once a month I get a massage and once a month I attempt to get to a salt cave for a session.  I meditate daily and do yoga twice a day.  I've also examined what are necessary actions that I need to do in my life.  Work?  Yes.  Contract multiple jobs?  No.  Volunteer?  Not right now.  Weekly commitments? Nope, not right now.  Doing things that does not bring me joy? Nope.  
I say "no" a lot more now.  

I've also started exercising regularly. Simple things, like walking daily and continuing my physical therapy exercises at home.   

The idea is to have these lifestyle changes firmly in place so that once my traditional medical treatment is done (my last injection is in April), I can continue to manage my endometriosis in a natural manner, with, hopefully, a positive outcome.  I'll never be cured of endormetriosis, I know this.  But, I don't want to get to a place where I cannot enjoy life because of it.  If that means that I need to change how I eat and exercise more, then that's what I'm going to do.          

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