Daily Life, Health & Wellbeing

Recovering & Gratitude

June 5, 2018

Well it’s the eve of my 37th Birthday! It’s not going to be the most exciting of days tomorrow, but I have much to be grateful for.  I could use this post to have a rant about how shit the last six months have been. How I’m sitting around at home for the last ten days like the bubble boy. How I have been surrounded by cats and heat packs (not so bad). How I have spent most of our savings on medical care this year. But I am trying to process the experiences I have had through a lens of gratitude. Because I have so much to be grateful for about all this.

I’m grateful for top medical care.

I’m grateful for speaking out about Endometriosis and getting so much love and support.

I’m grateful for going to a good hospital when I needed it.

I’m grateful that my body just knows what to do when recovering from a major operation. Seriously. It’s in the worst shape of its life, covered in scars and bruises, but this body? I love her so much for what she’s got me through.

For those of you who had been following my journey, I had my initial diagnosis of Endometriosis in February through a laparoscopy. It started with something not feeling right, and a range of symptoms jumbled up together to indicate alarms I could not ignore. In my first operation, they removed what endometriosis lesions they could from my abdomen, but the problem was that it was on my bowel, and they didn’t know how deep it would be until they started to dig. One thing was for sure that my endometriosis specialist was not going to touch it without a bowel surgeon present, and they were absolutely not going to touch anything without my consent. So I went through the next couple of months of them going back and forward with how they were going to treat it, talking, planning, consenting. In the meantime I was sent for a number of tests to rule out any other issues, cystoscopy, colonoscopy, blood tests (goodbye money).

(This is how this fucker of a disease fucks with you, if you want a simple explanation by the way).

Endometriosis from Endometriosis.org on Vimeo.

In the end, the date was set. When the surgery came around I could not wait for the day to come. I only understood how complex the procedure would be when about 187 different doctors and assistants introduced themselves to me in the bay when I was being wheeled in. Bowel surgery is mostly fine when you’re young, but there is a high risk of infection or puncturing the bowel. There is also a risk you might need a colostomy bag when your bowel is mending. Something I was not super keen on, but didn’t really care at this point.

I was keen for them to do anything they needed to make me feel better.

And I was grateful for the 187 doctors and assistants in that room, because I ended up having a whopper of an operation for almost six hours. They re-sectioned part of my bowel, where the endometriosis had permeated through the whole wall (no wonder I had a stomach ache for six months!), scraped around my uterus, bladder and removed a chunk of scar tissue around my appendix which was causing pain and problems.

When I came to, I was super sick from the anaesthetic and don’t remember much between vomits and painkillers for the first three days in hospital. But I must have been posting that life was glorious whilst I was high…. ahhhhh. On day five I stopped throwing up, got off the drip and started a sloppy food diet, that made me want to start throwing up again. On day six, I started low-residue foods (basically white carbs!), and got sent home to my kitty cats, who diligently took up nursing patrol, under the eyes of The Ginger Hunk.

The road from here will be another week or so of rest (I only left the house for the first time today, I still get super tired!), slowly introducing more fibre over the next three weeks and I can start light exercise again in two weeks time. I’ll be seeing a nutritionist to look at low inflammatory food and crossing my fingers and toes that the next few years are pain free and what they did will slow the growth of this disease – unfortunately there is no cure.

So that’s where it’s at for the eve of my 37th year.

It’s not party central, but things could be much worse!

Much Love, Ashleigh

Health & Wellbeing

My Endometriosis Journey – Update

May 13, 2018

When I woke up in hospital in February, and my surgeon said he found and removed, a large chunk of endometriosis, I didn’t consider the magnitude of my diagnosis and I thought the future would be simple from here. I had assumptions that I would start to feel much better, that I would resume to normal life, and that would be it for doctors visits for the next few years or so. After all I’m usually someone who toughs out the bumpy times in life and pushes on through. But over the next few months, I’ve realised that this is a ‘thing’ I might have to learn to live with and I have to learn to be kind to myself. Gone are the days of ‘pushing’. I’ve pretty much said no to all things social until I have recovered from my next operation, put the halt on pushing myself to do hard-core training (walking and yoga are my new friends) and I’ve had some good weeks and bad weeks.

From my first surgery, there were a about six weeks when I really thought I was on the mend. I was training again, eating healthily, had my energy back and didn’t have any sick days at work.Then the pain crept back like it did before my first surgery. It’s not just a bad time of month for me. It’s an all the time kind of pain that can happen any time. It can feel like a stitch, lower back pain, upset stomach and pressure on my bladder which worsens at night, sometimes so intense that I need to knock myself out with sleeping tablets. This is because the endometriosis is in my bowel and possibly my intestines, and is basically fucking up the zen of my whole digestive system. They could not remove it at the time of my surgery, because I was not aware it was there, and they need a bowel specialist and more testing done. So the last few months have been recovery, tests, and more appointments to talk and talk and talk so I am prepared for what lies ahead. Continue Reading…

Daily Life, Health & Wellbeing

Waiting

April 10, 2018

I’ve been keeping a kind of low profile on the blog over the last few months, it has been busy at work and I’m also hammering away at Hotels With Cats, launching some products (more on that soon!). I’m spending a lot of time at home and just trying to be as healthy as I can and training when I can. I have largely recovered from my first operation in February and have now been sent to another whiz bang endometriosis specialist to look at the extent of the growth of it it on my Bowel. I’m relatively pain free, except for that-time-of-the-month which can really knock me around for a week or two. We now need to decide once the next set of tests are in if the surgery is worth it or not (bowel surgery can go very wrong.)

So I continue to try my best with things that are within my control, I had a bit of a waylayed March on the non drinking front, and figured that it is easier to be abstinent than try to moderate, so I am back in the non drinking camp until my birthday in June. I’m back into training, swimming, and yoga and have signed up to 28 By Sam Wood. I did it before, and had some success, just making the meals vegan. I enjoy the accountability of the Facebook group and the yummy food. Plus 28 minutes of exercise is not so daunting, especially that you can do in your loungeroom and I am just up for building up some strength at the moment. I still have 7kg to lose but I am trying to think of it from a health perspective. I have lost 5 since our trip in October but no doubt my body has been hanging on to fat due to stress. The next surgery should help even out my hormones.

Being in this waiting zone is a little bit annoying, especially for my mental health (I am such a planner!). Not knowing a date, or when, or how is driving me a little bit crazy. All should be revealed in the next two weeks and I keep reminding myself that I have much to look forward to once this is all over: Greece in August (yaaaassss), The Cat Lovers Show in Melbourne in September, and Queenstown Half Marathon in November.

Thanks for all your well wishes and understanding!

Ashleigh

Linking with Kylie for IBOT 

Health & Wellbeing

Endometriosis As A Childfree Woman

March 13, 2018

I wasn’t planning on writing about my endometriosis all over the internet. But that Big Magic thing happened one night, at 1am when I was in so much pain. Literally the words flew out of me onto the computer. I finessed the piece with a few quotes, and pitched it and here it is, published for SBS Life! I’ve been working so much on Hotels With Cats that I have not had time to write much of late, so this gave me a confidence boost that I still remember my freelance skills.

The link is here! 

Enjoy and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Any experience with this horrid thing?

Ashleigh XXX 

Linking with Kylie for IBOT

Daily Life

“If you run out of hope, put it on with your shoes”

March 5, 2018

It’s official. I have a new writer lady crush. Barbara Kingsolver. I love her without even reading any of her books. But now I will endeavour to devour them all. She said the quote above yesterday at All About Women, Sydney Opera House, in relation to the devastating situation of our environment.  The days environmental theme aligned with the changes I’ve made this year to go vegan and not walk past trash in the street, so I found myself nodding along to many comments. As always, it was an inspiring majestic mess of women gathering to share ideas, new books and to talk about every thing, from climate change to #metoo.

Anyhow, Barbara is most famous for  her bestsellerThe Poisonwood Bible, and has recently written a book called “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’. A tale in which she uprooted her family to a farm, eating only what they could grow and kill themselves. She spoke of hope, of individual action, of activism through words and loving the environment. I could have listened to her for hours.

The second talk was called “Disappearing Islands” by Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner and Ursula Rakova, two strong women, from the Marshall Island region advocating against climate change, and facing the loss of their island homes to the sea. Call me ignorant, but I did not in fact know that there were so many islands disappearing under the sea. Right on our doorstep in fact, affecting 6,000 of our neighbours.  In their culture, the loss of land and islands to climate change affects women disproportionately , as land is passed down through the women in their family, from mother to daughter.

It’s not only an environmental issue, but an economic one, too.

I was depressed. I was shocked. I felt helpless listening to their stories. But what I saw yesterday more than anything was women rising in hope. I don’t believe that government has the answer to these complex problems. We should not wait to be led to action. I believe that individual actions daily will reverse the damage that we have done to our world.

Gathering. Rising. Sharing.

Someone pulled me up for having a vegan rant, or picking up plastic on Instagram the other day, that I was going to make myself sad.

But what’s the alternative? To do nothing?

By not eating animals and picking up plastic I feel so empowered. Like I am part of something bigger.

It gives me hope.

Ashleigh 

PS. Watch the damn video

PPS. Linking with Kylie 

Daily Life, Health & Wellbeing

Recovery

February 13, 2018

Well it’s been about ten years since I have had the joy of the knife on the belly and I don’t know if it’s age but this time it’s taking me a while to recover. I’ve had the pleasure of many things go wrong down there, an adhesion, appendicitis, a burst cyst to name a few. Last Thursday after a series of stomach pain, bad monthly cramps and a feeling like I had to pee all the time for about six weeks I had a laparoscopy to find out the cause.

(Oh what joy being a lady).

Anyhow, the surgery was a success in that my lovely surgeon found the cause, Endometriosis. Which is a delightful condition in which the lining that’s meant to stay inside your uterus grows outside and in other places, forming painful scar tissue. This can make for a very painful period (and at other times) indeed and in some cases even the organs can get stuck together. Gross. (The wonders of the female body). So part one was removal if it from my abdomen, part two (which I shall find out tomorrow) will be removal of it from my bowel. I am not sure when this will be but I am inclined to get it sorted sooner rather than later. Feeling very sorry for myself despite my attempt at starting this year super healthily! (Vegan and alcohol free still going strong by the way, despite feeling sorry for self.)

At any rate I should feel a whole lot better in a few months. I hesitated about oversharing this on the blog but I felt I should let you all know while I’ve been silent. Plus it’s just a part of life isn’t it these things? I certainly have a new found wonderment and admiration for women who have caesareans then go home and look after a newborn! No wonder your stomach muscles are never the same. Anyhow for now I am snoozing a lot and it’s hard to sit up for too long but today is the first day I have felt a decent bit better, to sit up and write this at least.

So back to bed with my trusty nurse cats for now. (They have not left my side, little angels.)

Fingers crossed for more chirpy updates soon!

Ashleigh XXX

Kylie for IBOT.