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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

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 

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. 

Daily Life, Health & Wellbeing

With All Best Intentions

January 19, 2018

I started off 2018 with all the best intentions after a firstly stressful and then decadent 2017 which saw me lose 5, then gain 8kg over the course of a year. Returning from Europe in 2017 on the back of two overseas trips, gym closure, and stress eating/boozing saw me at my heaviest weight in October. I’ve put on and lost 5 kilo over the years here and there but the thing is at this point that I had reached is that I no longer felt healthy. The sight of myself in a swimsuit made me cry. I stood on the scales for the first time in a long time and realised that changes need to happen. No fad diets. No keto. No starving. Just changing my lifestyle back to what it was before the shit of the last few years which saw me reaching for food and wine as a relief.

I’m all for embracing and not beating up myself like I was in the past but here is the thing.

I was no longer healthy. 

Training was an effort. 

My knees hurt.

My ankles cracked.

I felt shaken and weak.

I could no longer fit into my “comfy” clothes.

It was time to make changes. In a forever kind of way. Over the last four months, I’ve stuck relatively to Michelle Bridges, albeit for a 3 week hiatus after Christmas and I’ve managed to drop 4.5 of the 14 or so kg I need to lose. Which I was pleased with, as Christmas is hard, and I gave myself some slack.  I’ve stuck to a swimming program and signed up for a half marathon, as well as the next round of Michelle Bridges. I’ve also gone vegan, and tooting my own horn (AND LOUD here!) but I have not had a drink in TWENTY DAYS, which is a miracle in itself.

I was starting to feel great. But, in the last two weeks, doomsday on the transformation has approached. Some issues with my inner lady workings have reared their ugly head again (sometimes it sucks being a woman), and I am booked in for some minor surgery on the 8th of February. This will set me back two weeks with my running, and I have to sit around with the feeling of a constant stitch in the meantime. Just for icing on the cake, I came down with the crustiest cold sore in the land this week.

WHY DO THEY ALWAYS FEEL BIGGER THAN THEY ARE?

So despite all the best intentions for 2018, I am on ‘hold’ for the next few weeks.

But, what I can do and I do have control over is my healthy eating, strengthening for my knee, and being bloody grateful in my mind that I can receive the best possible care here in Australia. There’s always a bright side to these things.

Are you on a health kick in 2018?

How is it going?

Better than mine?

Much love and happy weekend!

Ashleigh

Daily Life

I’m baaaack!

December 31, 2017

A couple of months ago I couldn’t think about blogging. I was starting Hotels With Cats, thinking about putting a manuscript into Hay House, starting a new job and I felt a whole sense of overwhelm trying to maintain this blog. So I said goodbye to My Meow for a while, and it sat there, ignored, but over the past few months without it I’ve felt a little bit….naked!  So I’ve updated the site, added some new fonts, cleaned out a whole lot of spam and here I am!

My one day of the week to write is now mostly taken up with the running of Hotels With Cats (and some exciting stuff happening over there!), but you will see me on here in 2018 as well. I miss the accountability that this blog gives me, the time for self-reflection, the freedom to explore topics dear to my heart and take the opportunity to connect with people deeper online. This also keeps my friends around the world up to date with what is happening in our life down under.

2017 was a great big year. As you know I took long service leave, travelling to Bali to do my freedive master course then to Europe. This post could take all day, but from travelling on my own to Bali and changing schools and instructors last minute, making the 30m mark, meeting new friends, the whole amazing experience gave me a new sense of courage and self. Most of the rest of the first half of the year was Ginger Hunk recovering from his hip replacement last December. I underestimated the true time of recovery it would take to recover from chronic pain, and I only really got my husband back in September, emotionally that is. The whole thing was shit really, but it has made us stronger. Now we can get through anything!

We were lucky to have a month in Europe in September, spending flights that had been cancelled 587 times before, visiting Greece, Rome, The Dolomites, and France, catching up with family and dear friends on the way and adding a few extra kilos under our belts.

Now we are back, ready to take on 2018, achieve some work and personal goals, (more on that later!)

But tonight it is time to party and farewell 2017, so I wish you all well for tonight, and 2018.

Much Love,

Ashleigh XXXX