Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Endometriosis Diet...My Own Personal Hell

I adore food. Seriously. Authentic tacos that come wrapped in foil. Burgers with bacon and goat cheese. Thin crust pizza with mushrooms and pepperoni. Chips and salsa. Juicy steak with goranzola butter. Pasta in any way, shape or form, always with garlic bread. Warm chocolate chip cookies, my mom's homemade ice cream, sushi, and did I mention garlic bread?

Now stop and think for a second. How many of these mentioned foods have sugar? How many have gluten? How many contain dairy? Red meat? If you take away these foods, what does that leave? Salsa without chips and sushi. So just call me Christina-San, because that's what I'll turn into after all the sushi that I'm getting ready to consume. It turns out that many dieticians and some doctors believe that cutting out red meat, caffeine, sugar, dairy, and gluten can seriously cut out the side effects of endometriosis. Foods that contain these things can lead to increased inflammation which can exacerbate the pain associated with endometriosis, as well as infertility.

So, my mission, should I choose to accept it, is to embark on a journey of fish, chicken, vegetables, fruit, and...sushi.

To be honest, I know virtually nothing about a gluten free diet except that my life is about to be void of my beloved garlic bread. You'd think that I'd know pretty much how to cut out dairy, sugar, red meat, and caffeine, but it turns out that some really stupid questions have arisen in my mind about these things. I mean, really stupid questions! Like...bacon. Do I really have to say goodbye to bacon? It seems like a red meat to me. But if I say goodbye to bacon, then do I also have to live sans pork chops too? Oiy! As it turns out, the United States Department of Agriculture classifies pork as red meat. (DARN!) However, many dieticians consider the very leanest cuts of pork, such as pork tenderloin, to be on par with chicken, and therefore acceptable. (YAY!)

Last week, on my slow decline back to normal food-reality after the holidays, the thought of cutting all of these things out of my diet simultaneously is a thought that almost brought me to tears.

Here's last week's progress....and a few confessions:

Let's start with the good news first. Red Meat: I cut out all red meat successfully without any slip-ups. I bought ground turkey for shell-less taco salad and bun-less burgers, and I had turkey bacon at Cracker Barrel instead of the real-deal, slap your momma, glorious pig bacon. (I'm still drying those tears.)
Caffeine, dairy, and the hard core facts: I limited my caffeine to one cup of coffee in the morning, and then switched to drinking only water for the rest of the day. And that's the way it's going to stay, people, because no one should live in a totally caffeine-free world. Really, it's for your sake, not mine. I limited my dairy to a couple of tablespoons of coffee creamer in my morning cup of coffee, and occasional cheese on salad.
Sugar: In the name of not being wasteful, I used up the last of my coffee creamer, which did have sugar. Okay, and if you're going to hound me, I had one tiny, harmless scoop of strawberry ice cream. (Whoops, that's diary too! Ugh, failure.) Let's focus on the positives, though! I passed up my husbands chocolate orange which I could have totally stolen off the coffee table when he got up to go to the bathroom. High fives all around.
Gluten: In my defense, I did a very poor job of educating myself on gluten before starting the week. I wanted to kind of ease myself into this, so I just tried to avoid the obvious things, like carbs. So my meals basically consisted of lots of vegetables and chicken or fish. Here's where I slipped up: I had a baguette with my tomato soup from Panera. I just couldn't resist. Here's what I passed up: My husband's bangin' good blueberry pancakes at Cracker Barrel that makes my mouth water just thinking about it a day later.

In summary...Week One: Red Meat Free
Weight Loss: None
Energy Level: Average

Okay, so next week! Let's be forward thinkers, shall we?  Next week my goal is to completely
eliminate gluten, sugar, and red meat, and continue to strictly limit my dairy and caffeine intake. I have already bought my sugar free coffee creamer, and the remaining strawberry ice cream is melting in the sink as we speak. I am going to thoroughly research the gluten-free diet tonight, do my grocery shopping for the week tomorrow, and hit the ground running.

My ultrasound for my second IUI is tomorrow, which means the two week wait is right around the corner. Let's see if a healthy diet can help with a big, fat, positive pregnancy test!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Mr & Mrs

Thanks, Pinterest! 

I got the letters at Hobby Lobby. The & sign was 15 dollars, which was a little pricey, I'll admit. BUT, I got the little letters for a steal of a price at 4 dollars a piece, bringing the whole project to 35 dollars. Not too shabby.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Ovaries, Endometriosis, and Polyps...Oh, My!

At the end of October, 2013, I went through the most anticipated experience of our trying to conceive journey thus far -- laproscopic surgery to diagnose and remove endometriosis. Though I haven't experienced the crippling pain most people associate with endometriosis, I have had many other symptoms that clued my doctor in to this diagnosis being a possibility.

I was nervous about the surgery -- what they would find. What they wouldn't find. The pain. The outlook on our fertility. There were so many emotions that went into this experience that it was difficult to navigate through them. I felt very at ease, though, with our doctor and his expertise in the area of endometriosis. If anyone was going to know what to do and how best to "fix" me, it would be Dr. Hill.

So I went through the surgery and two hours later I came out with the prognosis that I had waited a year for. I did, indeed, have endometriosis, in addition to finding out that I only had one ovary, a polyp inside my uterus, and an "undesirable endometiral lining." My left ovary, the only remaining one, was completely attached to my pelvic wall with endometriosis. There were also several patches of scar tissue on the outside of my uterus. Dr. Hill removed all of the endometriosis that he could find, detached my ovary from my pelvic wall, removed the polyp, and did a D&C to remove the endometrial lining on the inside of my uterus. He feels confident that one of the reasons for my infertility is from my ovary not being in an optimal spot to release an egg where it could be picked up by the fallopian tube. (Which was thankfully in tact and endometriosis-free.) When I left that day my doctor told me that I was as "cleaned up as I could be."
They frown on makeup during surgery. Something I greatly protested!

From there I had a week's recovery. We tried naturally to conceive the month of my surgery, which was unsuccessful.

Last month, December, we had our first round of Clomid and IUI. (Intra-Uterine Insemination) Though I had previous had three cycles with Clomid and ovulated successfully on it, my ovary was never in the right position to get the eggs to the fallopian tube. Now after the surgery, they were supposedly where they could be picked up and ready for fertilization. In addition to the ovary and eggs being in the right place, we had the added benefit of going through IUI where they take all of the strong swimmers and place them directly in the opening of the fallopian tube so that there are more sperm, and therefore higher chances of conceiving. I think we were both excited to be doing something different and felt like our chances were better post-surgery and with IUI, but it was unfortunately unsuccessful.

After 15 months of seeing countless negative pregnancy tests, one becomes sort of "numb" to the whole thing. I wasn't overly disappointed when our first IUI round failed, but every month has its own separate and individualized sting so I can't say I escaped completely unscathed.

Knowing that God has a plan and a reason for all of this is what keeps me going. He is requiring me to rest on Him entirely. This is a situation that is almost entirely out of my control, and so complete trust is necessary. This has been the lesson of 2013 for me, and one that I will continue learning the rest of my life. I thank God for His presence and His provision in my life, and I'm looking forward to the day when I can look back on this and see its purpose and worth.

Our plan at this point is to go through IUI with Clomid again next week. If it's unsuccessful, we will try one last cycle of IUI with Clomid in February. If that is also unsuccessful, we are pre-scheduled for our first Invetro Fertilization (IVF) round in March. It feels good to have a "plan" when I really can't "PLAN" anything. Eventually God is going to lead us out of the wilderness. Until that day, I just have to keep trusting in His unfailing love.

...And that's that!

Living Scripture

"17 In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field
    and the fertile field seem like a forest?
18 In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll,
    and out of gloom and darkness
    the eyes of the blind will see."

and again in verse 23:

"23 When they see among them their children,
    the work of my hands,
they will keep my name holy;
    they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob,
    and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. "

I want our little ones to come when the time is right. And when that time comes, I hope they have THESE DIMPLES!