Endometriosis

Endometriosis – What Is It? What Is The Cure? Will It Mean I Can’t Have Children?

There is so much to remember I just hope I managed to get it all down and didn’t go on for too long. This is all very personal but I know how important awareness is so if this helps more Women recognise their own symptoms then me feeling  little uncomfortable is completely worth it.

What Is Endometriosis?!

Endometriosis occours when tissue, like that of the lining of a women’s uterus, grows outside of it. This tissue can grow anywhere but it’s often found on organs in the pelvic and abdominal area. When a woman is about to menstruate this tissue swells and sheds each month but because this tissue has also grown outside of the uterus it cannot escape the body and therefore causes irritation (to put it lightly). This tissue is like glue and it can really mess up ones insides. So far there is no permanent cure and diagnosis can only be confirmed through surgery. Often in surgery this tissue is zapped away and many women choose to have Hysterectomy’s but this only works if all of the tissue grows on the organs removed. If any is left over it will grow back in time and you will still experience pain. Diagnosis take women approximately 7 years but it is usually longer.

Where It All Began

I have suffered from IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome since I was 5 so I’ve always suffered with severe stomach pains. As I got older the pain got worse and this is due to a few factors, grief and extreme anxiety. For years I underwent tests, went through multiple medications and therapy and nothing helped this pain. I missed most of secondary school and found it very hard to cope when I did attend due to being bullied and worrying about the embarrassment of becoming unwell outside of my home. I was very underweight and only ate when I got home from school to try and avoid being unwell when out, I began to fear food and panicked anytime I ate because I knew I’d be unwell. I found out I had an intolerance to dairy so I decided to become a Vegetarian (now Vegan) to see how that would affect me.

I started to feel better and I was able to go back to school, the people in my year just about started to become friendly with me, I started putting on weight and I began to relax and think that it was all over and I could finally live a normal life. Then BAM !! my periods started age 14 and the pain I had experienced before suddenly doubled and I genuinely thought I was going to die from the severity of the pains I experienced monthly. So back to the GP I went and more tests were done, contraceptives were offered which just messed up my cycle and took a toll on my already fragile mental health and even pregnancy was offered as a solution, I was 16 at this point and not in a relationship. The only thing that could be found via ultrasound were Cysts on my Ovaries, some had burst and some weren’t big enough to be removed. I was told that I just had to take painkillers and that the Cysts would either go away themselves or that I would have to wait for them the grow to 10cm before surgery would be considered, my Cysts were only about 2.5cm and never changed.

When Was I Diagnosed?

After years of begging for help from my GP, trawling through the internet, considering a Hysterectomy, being admitted to A&E multiple times to only be made to feel like I was being dramatic and making everything up and even contemplating suicide to escape the pain, I stumbled across this website about Endometriosis and I broke down. This is what I had, I found it, I didn’t have to Pidgeon hole myself into any of the symptoms, this was me exactly and I just remember sobbing for hours because I finally had an answer and knew that I wasn’t ‘weak’ or ‘couldnt handle normal monthly pain’. I told my Mum and she agreed but was wary me of getting my hopes up to only be disappointed. I made an appointment with my GP and told her that I knew thought I had Endometriosis and asked her to refer me to a Gynecologist. She said she just wanted to try a few more medications first before referring me, I was now 21. After trying Provera and the Depo shot, which just made me bleed continuously for about 6 months and sent my emotions into complete meltdown, my GP finally refered me.

When I first met my Gynecologist he was really sympathetic and helpful. He said that it definitely sounded like I had Endo and that he would send me for ‘one more ultrasound and a blood test as a precaution’ but that he would most definitely be operating on me at some point.

I had a blood test and that gave me some news that I really wasn’t expecting, it turns out I have low Ovarian reserve. Anti-Müllerian Hormone, or ‘AMH’ is a hormone which is given off by developing follicles, which are egg sacs containing immature eggs. AMH naturally decreases with age. I was told by my GP that I had a level of 17 and that this is a level that would usually be seen in a women a few years older than me. The level goes from 3 – 30 so I know it’s not too low which was a relief. Unfortunately my GP didn’t have a clue about what any of that meant and couldn’t answer my questions so I had to wait and see my Gynecologist.

He confirmed what my GP had told me and said that my best option was to freeze my eggs and he urged me to consider taking out a loan to freeze them and to pay for IVF further down the line. He also said I should have serious talk with my boyfriend and maybe consider trying for children sooner rather than later. My mind was all over the place and I found it hard to take in most of what he was saying but when I left I did just what he said. I looked into loans and decided that it was too risky to get into debt for something that may never work. I had many high emotion talks with my boyfriend and it put a real strain on our relationship as he said he wasnt ready for children and didn’t really want to think about them at our age. I felt like a ticking time bomb and worried that with everyday that went past, with every bout of pain, that my eggs were decreasing by the minute.

Fast forward to August 2017, aged 23,  I had a Laparoscopy (key hole surgery) and a Hysteroscopy (inspection of the womb) where I was told that I have stage 3 Endometriosis; there are 4 stages. The tissue was zapped away and luckily the tissue hadn’t grown on my Ovaries as the tissue will destroy, and for want of a better description, eat your eggs.

After my diagnosis I didn’t really know how to feel, I’d be fighting for an answer for 9 years and I finally had one, I could stop trying to convince people that I was actually unwell and that I needed help and I could stop trying to find an answer and try to move forward with my life.

During my operation the Merina coil was inserted, I haven’t had a period since a about June 2017 and I knew I definitely didn’t want them to start again. I haven’t had much pain since my operation and any pain that I have had is nowhere near the pain I used to experience and I will gladly take that over the pain I had before my surgery.

The Healing Process

My goodness did I underestimate how unwell I would be !! During key hole surgery, gas is pumped into your cavity to move other organs out-of-the-way so the surgeon can see what they’re doing. Unfortunately the gas has to leave you naturally and I just thought that I’d feel a bit uncomfortable, be a little gassy and that it would be gone … this gas wasn’t leaving so easily. I was like a lava lamp, every time I breathed in my stomach flipped and I would feel so nauseous, be sick and still try to be sick even though I hadn’t eaten because of how unwell I felt. I had an awful pressure in my chest that made me feel like my whole body was vibrating and pain in my shoulders from the gas too. I felt so trapped in my own body again and I hated it, I couldn’t get comfy, I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t go to the toilet either even though I had the urge to go,  my whole body just seemed to shut down. I had to get my Mum to pat my back to try to make the gas escape and it worked a little but for the most part I had to walk up and down my upstairs landing with a bucket in my hands as when the gas moved it made me sick.

I never had any pain from my incisions apart from the obvious tenderness and the coil has never caused me any problems either, I’m just thankful I had it fitted during my operation as many women have told me its horrendous having it fitted when awake.

What Happened Next

After a few horrid weeks I was back on my feet and although a little fragile I was on the mend. I went back to my GP but this time I had a different experience. I walked in and before I had even sat down, without him looking at me, he said ‘so, still not pregnant?‘ I was in complete shock and very confused, I said to him ‘well no, you fitted me with the coil’AND IM NOT TRYING TO GET PREGNANT YET !! all he said back about the matter was ‘oh yes, that would be quite difficult then’ while laughing. He didn’t have half of my notes, didn’t have the photos from my operation that he said he’d have and very nonchalantly told me that my Ovarian reserve level was now 19 !! He tried to skim over it but I interrupted him and said ‘I thought you said that it wasn’t going to get any higher?!‘ and he said ‘ohh, well it can fluctuate but just because it’s a level of 17 doesn’t mean its going to jump to 30’ I said that I had spent the last few months in a permanent state of anxiety, that I was trying to save up all of my money and that because of the stress my relationship nearly ended. He didn’t understand the severity of what he had said and didn’t apologise either. Once again he told me that I could have my eggs frozen and to consider taking out a loan or that I could wait until March 2018 and have the test again. I said I’d wait and have the test again.

After that appointment I was so angry, I broke down and apologised to my boyfriend for all of the stress and pressure I had put on him to decide about when to have children and the uncertainty of if this would be what broke us up.

Where I Am Now

I haven’t had the test again, My birthday is next week and I didn’t want any bad news to ruin it. I also still have no clue about what to do with my eggs. I don’t know if its best that I freeze them or wait and hope that there are still enough and in good condition to conceive a child naturally. I want it to be my decision and not my body’s. I’d like to think ‘what will be will be’ but it’s very hard when I’ve wanted children for as long as I can remember. It’s a risk either way whatever I choose, freezing my eggs and trying IVF isn’t a 100% guarantee and neither is waiting to try to conceive naturally.

I’ll be honest, I’m not ok, I’m struggling to deal with having low reserve and not knowing what to do about it or what will happen in the future just makes it worse. Whenever I see children or a pregnant lady, which is often, especially where I work, it’s a constant reminder of this issue and that it might not happen for me.

I will post an update on things in a few months and hopefully I’ll have a clearer idea about what I will do and fingers crossed my reserve hasn’t dropped any lower !!

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Lush

My Vegan Lush Skincare Routine

Since working for Lush it has become natural for me to transition to using their products daily, it also helps me when recommending products to customers if I have used them too.

At Lush we don’t believe in skin types as we feel that can limit what a customer looks for so we ask customers to tell us about their skin and what they want from our skin care products. They may say that their skin type is but we wouldn’t ask the question directly.

My skin has been through all stages, I used to suffer with Eczema on my face so my skin was very dry and sore, then it became very oily due to hormones and being on my period but as I’ve gotten older I would say I don’t really focus on my skin type and rather use products depending on how its feeling that day. My forehead is on the oiler side while my cheeks and the area around my nose and chin are more dry.

I will be talking about my current routine and talking about products I have previously used which are all linked down below.

Here is what I when and when.

My Basic Routine

In the morning I use Lush’s 9 to 5 cleanser either with a flannel (face cloth) or on damp cotton pads if I’m feeling really lazy. It contains Almond oil and fresh Dove Orchid extract which hydrates and calms the skin and makes it feel smooth. Afterwards I use a toner; Eau Roma Water contains Lavender water and Rose water. Lavender helps to sooth, soften and balance your skin and Rose calms and reduces redness. I spray this on a cotton pad and sweep it over my face, it will remove any excess cleanser and makes my skin feel hydrated. If I feel my skin is more dry I will spritz this directly over my face again and let the product just sink in. I will then use a moisturiser, I have used 3 Lush moisturisers Imperialis, Celestial and Enzymion but I currently don’t use a Lush one.

In the evening I used to use 9 to 5 to remove my makeup, especially eye make up, and then a Fresh Face Cleanser to clean and exfoliate my skin but actually I personally found that my FF cleanser removes my make up so I just use that. I use Herbalism but I started off using Angels On Bare Skin. To use, take a small amount and add water to make a paste. Herbalism cleans my skin without that tight and dry feeling afterwards. It has ground Almonds to exfoliate, Kaolin to absorb any oils, Chlorophyllin water which is a plant extract that helps to reduce inflammation and spots and Nettle, Rosemary and Rice Vinegar extract which also help with inflammation, reduces redness and brightens the skin. I then tone and moisturise as normal.

Fun fact, the Roseaca society contacted Mark Constantine, the founder the Lush, as Herbalism was going to be discontinued.  They told him that Herbalism was the only product that helped reduce the redness in their skin.

 

My Weekly Routine

Once a week I will use 9 to 5 to cleanse my face and then swap out Herbalism for a small amount of the Self-Preserving Ocean Salt face and body scrub, the original version isn’t Vegan. Lush also offer an alcohol free version too. Ocean Salt is a scrub packed with Sea Salt, Limes that have been steeped in Vodka and fresh Grapefruit juice. These ingredients exfoliate, cleanse and rejuvenate the skin. This scrub can seem harsh on the skin if you have any dryness or sensitivity to your skin, which I do, but if I use a small amount then its a pleasant scrub that wipes the week away. It also contains Mango and Avocado butter and Organic Silken Tofu to soften the skin and I must say I really love this scrub now I’m using the correct amount for my skin.

 

I will also use a face mask, usually on a Sunday. After I have cleansed with 9 to 5 I dry my face and use Full Of Grace face serum before applying my mask as it helps the ingredients to sink into your better. Full Of Grace contains Portobello Mushrooms which protect the skin, Murumuru and Cupuacu butters to moisturise your skin, Chamomile Blue and Organic Almond oils to sooth and hydrate the skin and Calamine powder which helps calms sensetive skin. I run the bar in between in hand to encourage it to melt and then sweep the bar across my face and gently massage the serum into my skin with my hands.  After I take a small amount of Cup O’ Coffee face and body mask and begin to gently exfoliate my skin with it. This can be a thick face mask so I add a tiny amount of water to loosen the mask and that helps make it have a more of scrub like consistency. I then leave it on for about 20 minutes and wash it off, tone and moistuise. Cup O’ Coffee is packed with ground Coffee to exfoliate, Coffee infusion to stimulate your skin and organic Agave syrup to moisturise your skin. My skin always feels plump, smooth and looks brighter after using this.

Other Products I Use/ Have Previously Used

Angels On Bare Skinis Fresh Face Cleanser that contains ground Almonds to gently exfoliate the skin, Lavender, Rose and Chamomile Blue oil to calm, sooth and balance the skin and Kaolin to clean the skin and absorb and oils.

Coal Faceis a face soap is made with antiseptic Rosewood, Sandalwood oil and Charcoal that helps absorb excess oil and Liquorice Root softens the skin.

Breath Of Fresh Air – fresh Sea water goes into this toner water, with mineral-rich Carrageenan Seaweed extract and Rose absolute to tone, reduce redness and balance the skin and Fair Trade Organic Aloe Vera gel and Patchouli oil is cool and hydrate the skin.

Imperialis – an all rounder of a moisturiser really and quite light too. With Fair Trade Organic Cocoa and Shea butter there is Brunello Lily petals to help inflammation, Orange Flower absolute, balancing Lavender flower infusion, cooling Sweet Violet extract and cooling Elderflower extract.

Celestial – I used this when my skin was feeling sensitive. Almonds are rich in Vitamin E and hydrates the skin, there is Almond oil and Almond milk in here. Vanilla water and fresh Dove Orchid extract soothes and Fair Trade Organic Cocoa Butter conditions skin.

EnzymionThis gives the skin a matte finish due to a whole Lemon being squeezed into each pot to stop shiny skin. Freshly juiced Papaya brightens skin, Fair Trade Organic Aloe Vera is soothing and cooling while Fair Trade Organic Cocoa Butter and Organic Avocado Oil nourish the skin.

Catastrophe CosmeticThis is a Fresh Face mask and needs to be kept in the fridge.  Blueberries are an antioxidant that protect and soothe the skin. Irish Moss Gel softening the skin and Calamine powder calms the skin. I love this face mask and will alway use this if my skin is feeling dry and sore. I use this when I don’t use Cup O’ Coffee.

So this has been a long post but I hope you have found it helpful, let me know which Lush products you love using and if there are any Lush products you’d like me to blog about.

Body Positivity · Mental Health

Being Naturally Slim And Body Positive

There are a lot of ‘Body Positive’ posts, pictures and campaigns online for people who are classed by some in society as ‘fat’ ‘obese’ and ‘overweight’ but I rarely see body positive posts supporting people who have been criticised for being naturally slim. Growing up it has always been at the forefront of conversations and even now at nearly 24yrs of age I have people making comments about my weight without thinking they’re causing offence because I’m on the other end of the weight spectrum.

My youngest memory is of a Boy saying ‘ew, I can see your collar bones’, I wasn’t even 10yrs old and I was the required weight for my height and age, as I am now. Yes, I have been underweight but that is because I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Endometriosis , I eat well and I love food but these conditions can effect my weight if I’m going through a bad patch. As of late I have had a few comments from people close to me regarding how ‘skinny’ I am and they hope that I’m eating properly yet I haven’t lost any weight. One person in particular as commented, in front of other people, that they could feel my ribs when they hugged me and on another occasion could feel my spine when I was hunched over and they felt my back, to me these comments are just as bad as comments that are said about people bigger than myself yet they are thrown around as non offensive comments.

There was a time comments got to me and I felt so self conscious that I felt the need to eat a lot in front of people so they could see I had a good appetite and wasn’t ‘starving’ myself and that I didn’t have an ‘eating disorder’. I would stand in front of my mirror looking at my body and want to change so many things about it, I wanted curves, I wanted bigger breasts and if I could see my hip bones or my collar bones I would feel so upset and I was made to feel less of a women because of the stigma surrounding women and girls of my body shape which is natural !!.

People assume that because I am slim that I must be in perfect shape and love my body but that isn’t true, I’m not the fittest and I don’t exercise but I plan to start. I have insecurities from time to time and I think thats something most people go through. I am sick of being made to feel bad for having a naturally slim body, I haven’t worked for this and actually this isn’t my ideal body shape either, I’ve always wanted to have more weight on me and I am working towards this in a healthy way.

This leads on to another area in this conversation, why are there no healthy ‘build up’ meals for those of us who want to put on weight but struggle? All I see around me is ‘low calorie, slimming world, weight watchers’ meals, pills and shakes to lose weight but nothing to help me and others who feel the same. I would have to buy protein powders that are normally targeted at people who go to the gym, I don’t want a powder or a smoothie or to eat junk food, I want options and nutritional guidance to help me achieve the weight I would like in a healthy and tasty way. I haven’t suffered with an eating disorder so I can only imagine how people feel when they’re trying to recover and all they see are ads and food for people wanting to lose weight, I wish there was something to help make their recovery a little easier and to help other slimmer people gain the weight that they need or would like. I’m surprised that nobody has picked up on this big gap in the market and I guess people could say ‘just eat more’ but it’s not as simple as that, I could say to someone bigger than myself to ‘just eat less’ if they are struggling to lose weight but that’s not helping them, they need to know what they can eat and how to get all their vitamins and minerals without becoming unhealthy and this is exactly the same for us on the other end of the weight spectrum.

I must say though, I am happy with myself currently and have decided to challenge any comments about my weight. I’m not ‘skinny’ and I don’t have a ‘perfect figure’ yet society is torn between which label to put on my body type. I am happy and I am healthy, can’t that be enough??

Vegan Posts

Superdrug Announces A Vegan Store !!

Today, Superdrug have announced that from tomorrow (21st March) a pop up store in Boxpark, Shoreditch in London will be opening with 300 own brand Vegan products from across every range !! The store is open for 3 months but I really hope they bring it back permanently.

Superdrug have really listened to their Vegan customers and even veganised their whole B. make up range which now looks so professional and has clear signage that it is a proud cruelty free and Vegan brand. Withdrawing their old make up range was a risk and a step they must not have taken lightly but it’s absolutely paid off.

Most of Superdrug own branded products are now Vegan and they have everything from skin care, shaving products, hair care and mouth care.

Other brands need to look at what Superdrug have done and continue to do and make the change themselves. So many big brands are making their products in such a cruel way that I’m surprised they are still held in such high regard. Brands have even taken a step back and starting testing on animals so they can have their products sold in China !! This is something I will never be able to understand and I hope these brands are boycotted.

I personally won’t use anything from a brand that is owed or co owned by companies that test on animals or have animal derivatives in their products so knowing I can go to Superdrug and have faith and trust in a drugstore brand is amazing !!

Here are some Superdrug’s social media platforms.

Superdrug Instagram

B. Makeup and Skincare Instagram

Superdrug Facebook Page

Superdrug Twitter

Superdrug YouTube

Mental Health · Uncategorized

Back From My Break

Well that was a longer break than I had anticipated but I’m back and I intend to use this blog more often.

My break was mental health related, things got on top of me and I found myself feeling quite overwhelmed so I withdrew from a lot of things going on in my life. Breaks are good, they give us a chance to take a step back and re-evaluate certain aspects of life and situations which are clouding our judgment.

I’ve had a chance to recharge my mental batteries and have begun to feel more motivated, I really hope this continues and I don’t slip again … not quite so soon anyway.

That might sound strange but when you have dealt with Depression and Anxiety for over half of your life you know that these are illnesses that are going to take over from time to time and I think coming to terms with that makes it easier to deal with when it happens. I’ve tried ‘curing’ myself and convincing myself that I’m 100% better each time I feel better and while that is a positive outlook I personally found it more hindering as when I did start to slip again I found it very difficult to accept and pull myself out of.

To summarise, i’m feeling better than I was and I hope this continues.

Uncategorized

Why am I here?

I’ve been meaning to start a blog for a while, I don’t know if anyone will read what I write but thats not really the point. This is a way for me to express myself and clear my mind.

So, why not just use a diary? been there, tired that and honestly as bad as it sounds, I prefer using a keyboard to a book and pen for this kind of thing.

Who knows how often I’ll use this blog, I have nothing planned.