Endometriosis Diet: Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Soy Free…Vegan?

“Health is not valued until sickness comes.”
~Thomas Fuller

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I’ve recently started learning quite a bit more about nutrition, especially as it pertains to endometriosis and infertility.

While learning about meal plans to boost fertility, I had read, and been told on many occasions that the Mediterranean Diet was the way to go, because it increased nutrients from vegetables, and boosted Omega 3’s and other healthy fats, while increasing protein intake, and limiting red meats and other unhealthy fats.

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There are a lot of great article via the web, that talk about the benefits of this diet for all people, but especially for women who are hoping to conceive. There is even a good amount of research to substantiate the claim.

For the most part, I have been trying to eat this way, with marginal success. I certainly need to be more strict with myself when it comes to food and eating habits.

While I would still say that this lifestyle change is a great jumping off point for healthy eating and fertility, I have started to realize that for my particular condition, my diet should be much more strict.

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue and the endometrial lining grows in other areas of your body.  The endometrial flow becomes trapped and can lead to inflammation and pain. Because of this, most diets that focus on relief from endometriosis are anti inflammatory in nature.

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The more I looked into these proposed meal plans and lifestyle changes for endometriosis, the more certain I was that this plan was something that I should try.

It is certainly strict, and I am going to have to muster a lot more self control that I have thus far been able to, but hopefully it will all be worth it in the end.

If we are going to be spending upwards of $20,000 to attempt to get pregnant, I need to do everything within my power  to make sure that our first IVF attempt is successful.

I won’t jump into these changes all at once, however. When your body detoxes from anything, even things that are bad for you, it can make you sick. I might feel like I come down with a cold, or flu. I may actually get sick, as my immune system is slightly weakened by the detox.

My plan is to start with the elimination of dairy (a hard one for me because I adore cheese), and red meat (which I already only consume on a moderate basis). Of course, I will integrate the “Foods to Eat” section immediately.

I will document every step of this elimination on this blog using both photos, and videos. I will also attempt to answer any questions you all may have as I undergo this dramatic lifestyle change.

As of now, I will start with this plan as it is mostly laid out in the above info graphic, but I have also read accounts of women who owe their endometriosis relief to going completely plant based…and by that I do mean Vegan. I may explore that in the future, but for now I am going to still include poultry and fish in my diet.

Even if we are never able to get pregnant, I know that this lifestyle change is important. After all, my endometriosis causes more than infertility. It causes severe pain, bloating, bowl problems, nausea…and could even lead to cancer in the future. I have to get this under control for so many reasons other than a baby. For my family; for my husband and our future; and for me.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or are interested in more of the links and places I have gotten this information.

~Sam

Mother’s Day Musings: 2017

“There is a unique pain that comes from preparing a place in your heart for a child that never come.”
~David Platt

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Mother’s Day is a tricky Holiday, isn’t it?

On the one hand, I am so lucky to have had not one, but four amazing women that have been mother’s to me in my lifetime. I know that I am the person that I am today because of the influence of each and every one of them. Today is a day that I wish to celebrate those great mothers, and great mothers everywhere.

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On the other hand, our infertility struggle is coming up on four years, and this day always fills me with so much heartbreak, as it serves as a painful reminder that I am still not (and may never be) a mom.

And it isn’t just me. This day is painful to so many people for so many reasons.

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Today, I think of these brave women as well.

This holiday is also tricky, because it reinforces some kind of twisted ideal that seems to imply that women are not wonderful, whole, or complete unless they are mothers. I cannot stand when people tell me that, “I don’t understand because I’m not a mother,” or something equally as ridiculous.

No woman is better than any other woman just because they were able to conceive a child. Hell, all evidence would show that for most woman, it isn’t even that HARD to become a mother. You know what is hard? Wanting to be a mother so badly, and constantly being denied. It is hard to put on a happy face every single day and try to live a life that can still feel fulfilling and remarkable even though you are breaking more and more every day.

Becoming a mother isn’t that hard for most people. But I do think that being a good mother is difficult, and today I am so thankful for those wonderful mothers who helped make me who I am; to the fathers who must fill the roles of both wonderful dad and wonderful mom, for those women who will be wonderful mothers someday; and for those woman who are wonderful mothers of angels.

I am also thankful for those woman who may never get to be the wonderful mothers they would have been. Your strength has helped me in so many ways, and the reminder that I am not alone in my infertility makes me stronger every day.

Earlier this week, my husband and I made the decision to partially crowdfund some of our upcoming IVF expenses. It was a difficult decision, not only because we think it is hard to ask for this kind of help, but also because we know that IVF is still no guarantee. However, the love, kindness, and support that has been given to us during our battle with infertility made us both feel that we owe it to those in our support system, to let them help us if they choose.

We have been overwhelmed with the support the campaign has been given so far, not just through donations, but also just through people sharing our story with others.

All of this love and support made me feel a little better about Mother’s Day for the first time in a long time. I had the day off, and so I made the last minute decision to invite my Mother (and Dad) to join me for the weekend.

We had dinner out last night, a nice brunch at home this morning (with mimosas) and an amazing lunch of steak, shrimp, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, and salad, before they left to head back home.

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This is a difficult day for me, no question. But I know that this day also means something to my own Mom. Not just because she is a wonderful mother who deserves to be celebrated today, but also because her mother is no longer with us. Spending the day with her seemed like the right choice, and I’m so glad I asked her to come. It sure beats moping around the house all day while my husband works.

To all of you who read my blog, who struggle with today as well: I hope you found some small amount of joy or peace in this day. I hope you know that you are loved, that you are worthwhile, and that you are not alone.

I’m here for you,

~Sam

Weathering the Storm

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
~Haruki Murakami

 

It’s always difficult for me to remain upbeat in the face of overwhelming adversity.

I’ve had a pretty difficult week.

Mark and I had a great time vacationing in Pennsylvania last week, and I was looking forward to coming home and enjoying three restful days off before going back to work. Things did not really go as planned.

  • The day we came home, I started to experience some discomfort in my back teeth. While not pleasant, it also wasn’t overly painful.
  • We came back from vacation and walked straight into a swelteringly hot house, to discover that our AC was broken.
  • The next morning I woke up to discover that my period had started, and our fifth IUI had been a failure. My tooth pain had also substantially worsened. Eating was now a bit more painful.
  • Our friend who was coming to look at our AC got held up elsewhere, and wouldn’t be able to come by until the next afternoon. We had a second hot night sleeping in the bonus room in front of our tiny window unit AC.
  • Thursday, my tooth pain was almost unbearable. I called my endodontist and made an appointment for a root canal that I was hoping to put off a bit longer (because I just got one a few weeks ago and we really don’t have the money for another one right away).
  • We discovered that IVF is pretty much our only hope to conceive a child.
  • Our friend came and looked at our AC and it was more broken than he could repair. We called a repair company, and they agreed to come in the morning.
  • The next morning, my tooth pain was worse, and accompanied by jaw, head, neck, and face pain. I went to urgent care.
  • I have a “massive sinus infection” that has spread into my ears, also giving me an ear infection. I’ve apparently been sick for quite a while and just didn’t realize it because I get chronic sinus infections. Sometimes, I just don’t realize I’m sick until it’s too late.

I still had one day off work, so I decided to come home and rest.

Hey good news: our AC was fixed while I was at the doctor’s.

Bad news: It was not cheep…really really or cheep.

I woke Saturday, and knew immediately that I couldn’t go to work. Despite being on antibiotics for over 24 hours, I was worse and not better. I called in sick…missing an unplanned day off of work in the face of mounting unexpected expenses.

My puppy took good care of me, giving me snuggles all day.


I woke up finally feeling a bit better Sunday and even thought I’d be able to work. However, my tooth throbbing was still pretty bad, as was my ear ache. I took my antibiotics on an empty stomach (not having much of an appetite with the tooth pain) and that turned out to be a big mistake. The strong antibiotics made me sick and I forced down some yogurt and sliced turkey. After I ate, I was dizzy (thanks earache) and had a slamming head ache.

So, I called in sick to work…again. I used some of my paid time off this time, which I hate to do, since I try to keep it for emergencies. I didn’t really have much of a choice. Mark and I are already stressed about money and the cost from the AC, the root canal, and upcoming IVF.

I was finally able to go back to work on Monday and Tuesday, but it was a difficult couple of days. I have never been more excited that I was when I left work Tuesday and headed to the dentist.

The root canal was probably the highlight of my week, because once he numbed me up, I finally had relief from the awful throbbing ache. Tooth pain in no joke, guys. Because of the severity of the decay, and the infection, he put me on pain killers. I went home, managed to get some food down (and a milkshake) and slept for most of the night.

Wednesday, I was finally feeling a bit better, and my husband and I decided to take advantage of that by going on a date. We went to breakfast and checked out Guardians of the Galaxy. It was awesome, and after the week we had, I think we both needed the distraction.

It was a tough week, but I got through it. I’m glad I had two days off right in the middle of the week, but I have no grand illusions that the next few days will be any easier. Mother’s Day is coming, and even knowing that breaks my heart. It isn’t an easy day for me, no matter how much I try to put on a brave face.

I’m going to spend the rest of the day cleaning the house, making a nice budget friendly meal plan, shopping, and doing a bit of meal prep. Date day aside, we really have to tighten up our finances. IVF is really far out of our price range, but since we are not giving up, we just have to figure it out.

Have a great Thursday!

~Sam

 

 

Our Infertility Story: IUI Round Two

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.'”
~Mary Anne Radmacher

Our Infertility Story: The Beginning

Our Infertility Story: The Specialist 

Our Infertility Story: My HSG

Our Infertility Story: The Eye of the Storm

Our Infertility Story: Checking His Swimmers

Our Infertility Story: IUI Round One

After our first round of intrauterine insemination failed, I had to call my doctors office and let them know that my period had started.

The nurse was very kind and sympathetic and let me know immediately that the doctor wanted to change my medicine for the next cycle. This was good news.

I hated the clomid. I hated every single side effect that it gave me and I hated all of the pain I was in.

She told me that the doctor wanted to switch me to letrozole. In his opinion, it had a higher success rate, lower chances of multiple births, and almost no side effects. On top of that, my friend got pregnant after her second cycle (I think) with letrozole.

Sign me up! I was all in.

Downside: It wasn’t covered by insurance.

Upside: When my mom (who was visiting that weekend) went to pick up my meds for me, my husband and I were prepared to shell out over $150. Instead, the pharmacist found us a coupon and it cost like $20.

I started taking it on cycle day 5, at the end of September.

I could tell almost right away that this was the better medication for me. I didn’t have any pain in my ovaries, so everyday life was a whole lot easier.

My ultrasound was scheduled later in my cycle that month, on a Monday.

I was actually really anxious about the ultrasound being later in my cycle. In my first round of IUI, the ultrasound was on cycle day 11. It should have been on day 10, but it got pushed a day when a Hurricane hit Florida.

For my second round, the ultrasound was on cycle day 14! I was really panicked that I was going to ovulate and we would miss our chance. Almost as soon as she started the ultrasound, I knew I was ready. I had three strong follicles, and my best was apparently quite impressive.

I was told to take my ovidrel shot that night. This was a little stressful to me, because I didn’t have the shot yet, and I had to go straight from my appointment to work. Luckily, the office loaned me a shot, and I just needed to bring mine from the pharmacy back to them in the next few days.

My IUI was scheduled for Wednesday at 11:30 am. I went to work, but since I was scheduled to open Wednesday morning, I knew that I needed to talk to my manager . I wouldn’t be able to work the day of my IUI.

For my first IUI, I worked afterwards. The day had been tough, because of the pain (from my stenotic cervix). My husband had hated that I worked, and was afraid it caused too much stress. So we had already decided that for the next round, I would relax afterwards.

My manager was able to help me get my shift for Wednesday covered, which was a relief. When I got home from work Monday night, I had to stay awake for a few hours in order to give myself my shot at 11:30 pm. It was easier the second time.

The morning of my IUI, I was still feeling really stressed about how late in my cycle I took my shot. My husband was called back almost right away to do his part, but my wait time in the lobby was much longer than usual. I stared to freak out that we would miss our window for insemination, not realizing that we really had at least another 8 hours.

The IUI was less painful this time, probably because my cervix had just been opened last month, but I was also told by the nurse that the doctor (I saw the practice’s other doctor this time) used a different type of catheter.

I went home all set to rest for the next few days (Thursday and Friday are my usual days off). Unfortunately, this month a different hurricane decided to hit the opposite coast of Florida this time, and my parents were evacuated and came to stay with us.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have a stressful weekend, but with people in town, I probably didn’t rest as much as I should have either.

My two week wait this time was brutal. I actually started experiencing cramping in my stomach and legs REALLY early. I don’t usually have anything until a day or two before, so I got my hopes up thinking it was implantation pain.

I took just as many negative pregnancy tests as the first time, if not more.

I was also afraid to do anything this time around. I didn’t want to get a pedicure because a massage might affect implantion, and I was afraid to get a haircut because off “strong fumes.” I was a mess.

The wait was awful. Every single twinge, or pain, or cramp, made me symptom spot worse than ever. I got my hopes up. I mean…really really up. I was certain I was having implantion pain. I was certain my boobs felt heavier and hurt more than ever before…I could go on and on.

It also felt later than the previous month. In my first round of IUI I got my period on cycle day 29/cycle day 1 (obviously).

I got it on the exact same day (cycle day 29/cycle day 1) in round two, but for some reason it felt so much later.

I was at work when my period started, and as you may recall, I felt completely helpless and depressed.

After I was able to regroup, I called the nurse to let her know my period started. She told me the doctor didn’t want to continue with more than one more round of IUI…it was IVF or surgery.

I was devastated.

She scheduled us for a meeting with the doctor the following week.

That week was one of the worst of my life.

~Sam

Playing Catch Up

“Happiness is often the result of being too busy to be miserable.”
~Paul Frank Baer

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With the chaos that has been November, I only just realized that I have not added to our infertility story in quite some time. Has it really been 21 days? Where has the month gone?

I might as well go ahead and reveal a few more personal details about myself, since I am very nearly ready to let those closest to me know about this blog. Why is the thought of going public so scary?

I am currently participating in NaNoWriMo.  It is a writing challenge that occurs every November, but the basic gist is that you write a 50,000 word novel in a month. I am currently at 27,482 words (so yes, I am behind). But given that I have written 27,482 words since November 1, I should probably give myself a break for falling a bit behind on this blog.

I started writing the novel to take my mind off of our infertility for a while, though it is interesting to see that the novel has become about mental health in many ways. That wasn’t intentional, but it is an interesting development.

Next piece of personal information: I work for a grocery store. This is one of (if not the) busiest weeks of the year for us, and I am also in the middle of being transferred. Life right now is a little frustrating, but I can’t imagine how I would be feeling if I were not staying so busy.

I am going to try to post the next part of our infertility story tomorrow. I can’t believe it, but it is actually almost caught up to where I am today. Where we are now in our journey, is a place that I find to be very scary.

Though we may be riddled with uncertainty now, I will try to stay positive as we end the month. We are, after all, in the season of thanks.

I hope to find more that I am thankful for in the days that follow. I am immensely grateful for this blog, and to those of you who have reached out to us on our journey. Your presence in our life has been a welcome gift.

So to start my week of thanks, let me say that I am thanful for you.

~S

And We Keep Living Anyway…

“Life doesn’t discriminate
Between the sinners and the saints
It takes and it takes and it takes
And we keep living anyway
We rise and we fall and we break…”

~Hamilton: Lin-Manuel Miranda 

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Well, we finally heard back from the Doctor’s office this afternoon, and got the bad news we were expecting.

Our insurance company doesn’t cover IVF…not even a little bit.

Of course, this isn’t really much of a surprise. Very few insurances companies cover IVF, but since much of the rest of our fertility coverage has been incredible, I was still very hopeful. Once again, being hopeful doesn’t get my anything but more disappointment. Why do I even bother?

So, that’s another option that has been eliminated. We don’t have between $17,000 and $20,000 lying around, so there is no point wasting any more time on this.

IVF is the single most effective way for a women with endometriosis to conceive, so I am certainly feeling a bit heartbroken right now. I feel like our best option has been eliminated, and I am more certain than ever that I will never be able to have a baby.

The office should be calling me sometime tomorrow to schedule my laparoscopy. I guess the only piece of somewhat good news we received today is that we have met our out of pocket…so if we can get in before the end of the year (something my doctor assures me will we do) the cost will be substantially lower.

I have zero hope that the surgery will help us conceive, but my husband and my doctor both think that we should do the surgery because it will increase my quality of life.

As far as I’m concerned, I don’t care even a little bit about improving my quality of life. I have been living with this pain for my entire adult life . It is as normal to me as breathing, and I am terrified to have surgery. I would skip it all together, if I didn’t want to know how bad my endometriosis is; how advanced.

So that’s what this is for me. I feel defeated, and scared…and we are running out of options. I think that is the worst part.

~S

*Photo Credit: Heartseverywhere.com

 

So Much Love in Such a Small Body

“The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.”
~Johnny Depp

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I mentioned in my Halloween post that I have been trying to keep myself occupied, as my husband and I try to traverse the tortuous labyrinth that is infertility. I am proud to say that I am doing a pretty good job in this endeavor.

My mood has been elevated lately, and all of this keeping myself busy has actually led to a few moments of pure joy. At a work event this week, I held a friend’s baby for the first time. This was long overdue, as the little man is approaching 6 months old (I think), but there was just never the right opportunity before. He was always either strapped to mom, sleeping, fussy, or straight up upset with life.

The moment that I did finally hold him filled me with so much happiness. He was in his father’s arms, and we were chatting. I was making faces at the baby, and he was smiling and grabbing at my glasses. After a few minutes he started reaching for me, so much so that he was making his little body almost parallel in his father’s arms. I asked if I could hold him, and he said yes before I took the baby. His mother was sitting behind me, and as I put him in my arms she erupted in a coo of, “aw.”

She told me that as soon as I had the baby in my arms, his face lit up. He was apparently extremely happy that I took his hint, and picked him up. I held him for about ten minutes, as he nuzzled his little face into my neck, and sucked on my shoulder.

I definitely had to force back tears at one point, but the emotions I was feeling were overwhelmingly powerful, and varied by nature. I felt sad for my husband and I, who may never be able to conceive; I felt happy for these wonderful parents and their sweet little bundle of actual joy; and I felt so much love for this baby…and coming from this baby.

I confided in a close friend later how difficult and rewarding those moments with the little guy had been. I told him that ,”he (the baby) made me sad and amazingly happy tonight. So much love in such a small body.”

It is true, though. Babies need so much love, yes, but they are also capable of giving so much love. That is all they are. Just love. They are free from judgments, stereotypes, rivalry, and hatred. Babies are love.

I rediscovered a piece of myself that night. I was reminded of something that I thought I had lost, and this sweet little baby will never understand the impact he has had on my life.

I know my journey isn’t over yet. I still have hope. I know that now.

I am hope…

…and love. 🙂

~S