Posted in Endometriosis, Family, Life, Relationships, Spirituality, Universe, Writing

Take Life One Skittle At A Time

There are times when I feel like I need an Anonymously Stressed Support (ASS) Group to survive.  If there was one, I would go to a meeting today.  My introduction would be something like this:

Hi, my name is Kelly. I have severe Endometriosis and I have stress issues–a wonderful combination.  I have been in therapy for three years now, working on my stress management techniques.  My stress levels, when elevated, trigger my Endometriosis and send me into a dark, emotional, vortex of madness.

I used to take birth control to help maintain my Endo hormone levels but back in July, we realized that I was having a reaction to the progesterone in birth control.  So my options became surgical or holistic.  I decided on the holistic route.  I thought eating right, exercise, physical therapy and stress management therapy would suffice in maintaining my Endo.  And it did, during the summer when I was stress-free.  I was back to being my happy goofy self until school started.  For teachers, the beginning of the school year is extremely stressful.  This was my first year without the birth control helping me maintain some form of sanity.  Without it, I took a dive off the deep end into a pit of darkness in early September.

This was my Awakening.  I knew I had to change my life around or I was going to end up in a mental institution, bouncing around in a padded cell, enjoying that lovely white jacket that lets me hug myself all day.  So in addition to my therapist, physical therapist, a psychic and Endo doctor, I decided to add a psychiatrist and Buddhist monk to my Team Kelly survival crew.  Our goal: stop my stressful job and the Endo from defining my life.  I needed to reclaim my life and myself again.  I needed to find a sense of peace and calmness.  I needed to survive.

My first step was to move.  I was living in an apartment I hated with extremely horrific neighbors.  I hated going home.  I liked the rental price, the size of the apartment, and the location to work but it was slowly driving me insane.  I had to wear headphones just to hear my own television.  So I moved into a co-workers house.  Which turned out to be another bad situation.  Not as bad as the apartment but still it was not what I needed.  Luckily, I realized it at the right time and immediately found a house that belonged to my California sister’s friend.  Now I am in my dream house.  It used to scare me but now it is my real home.  It is a place of peace and serenity.

The next step was to work on my stress management.  With the help of my therapist and psychiatrist, I finally discovered my real stress triggers and what to do to overcome them.  This has been the hardest journey for me to take.  I really had to look within, at all of my faults, and learn to let go.  You can’t be a perfectionist and be stress-free.  The two contradict each other.  So enter Buddhist Meditation classes.  I admit that it felt really weird at first, and I do still prefer to do it in the comfort of my own home, but it helps to have someone instruct you on the proper techniques and guide you.  I have a rambling mind that will wander through all the crazy rooms that reside in my brain when forced to sit in a quiet room.  I really have to work on my focus.  But the breathing techniques have really helped me get through the day-to-day.  When something upsets me, I focus on my breathing to calm myself down.

For me, though, the best stress relief has been to help my students.  I have been teaching them my stress relief strategies.  Their favorite saying of mine is “forget one day at a time, focus on getting through ten minutes at a time.  Then reward yourself with a Skittle.  By the end of the day, you can enjoy a whole bag of Skittles.”  One of my girls was having a really tough time and I brought her a bag of Skittles.  Putting that smile on her face and giving her a bright moment in her day actually made me feel better about myself.  Helping others really does help you as well.  So when the Endo hormones bring on depression, I do something for someone else to give myself a purpose.  Gandhi was right when he said that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

My other stress relief technique is to dance it out.  Sometimes I make my kids dance with me at the end of the day.  Or I go home and play some of my dancing games on Wii.  Or I will just dance around the house.  Hot Dog used to tease me about my “dancing defense mechanism”.  I used to do it in front of him when we would fight.  I would put on my iPod and just start dancing to relieve the tension.  I know there are probably some scientific studies out there that prove that any type of exercise is good stress relief, a good way to relieve depression.  I just like to dance.  It calms me down.

I think we all go through moments/stages where life sucks.  We have our good days and our bad days.  We get depressed, we are sick, we are in pain, our heart is broken, and the grey clouds stroll in, hanging over our heads.  I feel that way today.  I have been sick for weeks and that has caused my Endo to act up.  Being in pain and getting Endo headaches and cramps makes being around loud teenagers unbearable.  I love my kids but when you have 40 of them in a room, it can get way too loud.  Plus I am also dealing with some financial stress.

So being sick and worrying about money means I need to kick in some of my stress management strategies.  I have my iPod and a bag of Skittles in my purse waiting for me.  I am taking it 10 minutes at a time and when I make it through the day, I get to enjoy a nice bag of Skittles.  Then I will dance around my classroom in triumph for making it through another day.

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Posted in Endometriosis, Life, Spirituality

Wii Physical Therapy

On July 7th, I had a check-up appointment with my Endometriosis Doctor.  This appointment turned into a major awakening for me–as well as a very difficult pill to swallow. 

Basically, I am running out of treatment options for my degree of Endometriosis.  Over the past 6 years, I have tried every regular birth control on the market.  Nothing worked.  I honestly thought when the Lo Orval didn’t work out, I would go see my doctor and she would give me a new birth control to try.  But there is nothing left in pill form.  And due to my reactions to the progesterone, injectables are out of the question.  So now, I am left with only 2 options: 1) Mirena, an IUD (but it is progesterone and there are no guarantees it won’t get into my bloodstream) and 2) a laparoscopic procedure (and possible surgery) to see what is going on inside of me.

I see my doctor again on July 21st and I am supposed to give her my decision.  I’m a Libra and asking me to make a decision is like asking the Dalai Lama not to smile.  I am working hard on my pros and cons lists but I am still at a loss for what I should do.  I don’t like either option.

Of course, as luck would have it, the lack of treatment options is not my only Endo related problem.  During my exam, my doctor was concerned that I felt an abnormal amount of pain on my left side when she lifted my right leg.  This could be an indication that the Endometriosis is now affecting my “muscular skeleton” and could actually be growing in my muscles.  Endometriosis in the abdominal muscles is rare and usually requires a radical surgery for treatment.  But a laparoscopic procedure may be necessary for diagnosis.  So getting cut open once again may be inevitable.

My doctor, being an Endometriosis expert and researcher, suggested another route–physical therapy.  She referred me to someone who specializes in working with women with Endometriosis–and other female issues.  I saw the physical therapist on July 11th for an evaluation–or what I can once again call another major awakening.

This was the first time I had ever gone to a physical therapist so I had no idea what to expect.  I dressed and prepared myself as if I were going to the gym to workout with a trainer.  My expectations were very much off the mark.  She had me stand up, bend down, lean to the left, lean to the right and then take turns standing on each foot.  I started dancing when I was 2 years old and I still do my best to maintain an active lifestyle so I was very confident in my ability to do these exercises for her.  I was extremely shocked to find out that I couldn’t balance myself while standing on my left foot. 

The whole right side of my body is perfectly aligned and strong.  My left side, not so much.  My left hip and abdominal muscles are weak.  My legs are strong and try to compensate for what is going on in the left abdominal area–the main location of all my pain.  I guess that is why I never noticed anything was wrong.  That combined with my high tolerance for pain left me unaware of the real problems occurring within my body.

The therapist then laid me down and started to poke around in the abdominal area.  On the right side, everything is where it should be.  On the left side, everything is tight, constricted, and there is a lot of resistance.  Everything is being pulled in and my hip alignment is off by about 30 degrees, if I understood her correctly.  She mentioned that I might want to see a friend of hers that is an expert in deep tissue matters.  He managed to correct a woman’s tilted uterus through several sessions of deep tissue organ massage (or something like that.  I didn’t quite understand exactly what it was he did but she said it was amazing to watch).

So I asked her if this could all be because of the Endometriosis.  She said it could be.  It could be adhesions (best case scenario) or it could be Endometriosis in the muscles (worst case scenario).  Right now, the plan is to loosen up the muscles, strengthen the muscles, and then do another evaluation to see if that helped.  If everything is still tight, then surgery would be the next option.

So she gave me some homework assignments (stretches) to do until the following week appointment.  She also told me to work on my breathing techniques.  She said that Yoga and meditation could really help my condition.  So the first thing that popped into my head, I have Yoga on my Wii Fit Plus.

For Christmas 2009, my Mom bought me the Wii system and balance board.  When the balance board said I was overweight, I decided to lose weight starting in January of 2010.  I used the Wii Fit Plus everyday (as well as Just Dance, Dance Workout, and eventually some other fitness games).  I also bought the GoWearFit system (now called BodyMedia Fit or BodyBugg if you go to 24 Hour Fitness).  My friend used the BodyBugg and a personal trainer through 24 Hour Fitness to lose 50 pounds.  I couldn’t afford a trainer so I ordered the public version of the BodyBugg (GoWear Fit) from Amazon and came up with a schedule of exercises through my Wii.  I lost 30 pounds (went from a size 12 to a size 8). 

I was doing great until the stress kicked in and the Endo went crazy on me again.  With the last two birth control pills, I put on 15 pounds.  That is another reason why I knew something was wrong.  I was craving chocolate all the time and I don’t even like chocolate. 

Anyways, when school got out in June, I resolved to lose the 15 pounds I put on.  So I went back to doing 10,000 steps every day and 1.5 hours of activity (exercise) a day.  This is when I noticed the pain getting worse.  I was struggling to do the activities that I did practically every day last summer.  And the great thing about the Wii Fit Plus is that it stores your information so I could look back to exactly one year ago and see what a difference a year makes.

I was an expert at the Hula Hoop aerobics game and now it was a struggle.  Some of the Yoga poses even told me that my left leg is less flexible and more shaky than the right.  I went back to do all of the games and exercises that I did before and they all said the same thing–I was unbalanced and unstable.  (my brother is going to love messing with me on that one).  Well, all of them except the Lotus Focus–a Zen Meditation Balance Game.  That is the only one that I have improved upon.

So when I saw my physical therapist yesterday (July 18th), I talked to her about using the Wii as my at-home physical therapy.  She had no idea the Wii had all of these functions with the balance board and she asked me to bring it to our next session so she could check it out.  She said she would like me to try doing the Wii Yoga poses and balance games every day.  She also gave me a foam roller to use for stretching before and after the Wii. 

I wrote up a routine for myself and I guess we will see how it goes.  I also bought the U Mind Body Yoga and Pilates game for Wii.  I tried that today and it was a little fast paced but I’m sure I will get used to it in time.  I really liked the meditation exercises.

I just hope this works.  In the meantime, I guess I have to get back to my decision about the Mirena IUD.  Right now, I am leaning toward no but I am not making an official decision until I absolutely have to.

Posted in Diet, Hungry Girl

The Beginning of Hungry Girl Weekends

In the spirt of making New Year’s resolutions, I resolved to lose the weight that I gained after my surgery to remove Endometrial tumors 4 years ago.  I used to be a size 8 and I would workout at the gym 5 days a week.  I was in the best shape of my life.  But once I discovered I had Endometriosis, I used that as an excuse to stop going to the gym.  I have had a few tumors burst on me and I convinced myself that if I worked out full throttle like I used to I would pop more but in the middle of the gym instead of in the comfort of my own home.

So here I am four years later, a size 12 and 35 pounds heavier.  I didn’t recognize the person I saw in the mirror anymore.  And when my best friend announced at Christmas Eve dinner that she was down 40 pounds and a size 6-8 (after having a baby 6 months ago), I realized it was time to get healthy again.

For Christmas, my parents bought me the Wii console and the Wii Fit–my new in-home gym.  They also bought me the Hungry Girl recipe cards.  I already had the 2 Hungry Girl cookbooks.  So now I had no more excuses.

On January 6th, I started my Wii Fit/Hungry Girl weightloss plan.  I created my Mii and did my first body test.  The balance board said “Oh My” when I stepped on.  Then it proceded to tell me I was overweight and hoe much weight I would need to lose to reach a normal, healthy BMI.  I had a BMI of 28, anything over 25 is considered to be overweight.  So I set my goals and started my first workout session with Hula Hoops, Step Aerobics, Balancing Penguins and Yoga.

The great thing about the Wii is that it has an activity log, step log, and waist size log so you can monitor your progress.  I pulled out my pedometer and I wear it daily so I can keep track of my daily step count.  (It’s really hard to do 10,000 steps a day).  I also fill out the activity log every night so I can see how many calories I have burned.  I also bought myself little pocket notebooks so I can write down my daily caloric intake so I can make sure I burn off more than I eat.

I told Diana what I was doing and she wanted to join in.  We decided that we would make every weekend a Hungry Girl weekend–trying out different recipes in the Hungry Girl cookbooks.  I have also been trying recipes during the week.  My mom and sister wanted us to keep track of the recipes we were trying and what we thought about them.  So since I have been into blogging lately, I decided to write about our Hungry Girl weekends and the recipes that we try (Julie & Julia but without all the calories and fat).  So feel free to follow if you want to keep up with our Hungry Girl weekends.

If you need motivation then let me tell you this.  After 10 days of doing Hungry Girl recipes and using my Wii Fit, I am down 6 pounds.  By the way, I am in no way shape or form associated with the Hungry Girl franchise.  I just like their recipes, I subscribe to their newsletters, and I really really want to lose weight without starving myself.