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Friday, August 24, 2018

Endometriosis SUCKS

If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times. Endometriosis sucks.

And the crazy thing is, we don't really talk about it much. I'll admit, I've noticed it popping up a bit more here and there, but then again social media likes to target the things I talk about or google so that's probably why...

Granted the subject of female anatomy and menstruation have always been taboo. But ya know what? Let's stop that and unite in solidarity if we can. Almost all women can bond over cramps and bloating and what a damper it is to have your period while on vacation or during a pool party or what have you. And those with endo can all sympathize with the crap shoot that ride is.

Not sure what endometriosis is? Check out this link: http://endometriosis.org/

Ok, now that we're all on the same page let me give you a brief history of my experience. Why? Cause I'm self centered enough to think you care. AND because the only reason I was finally diagnosed was because I read someone else's story. So here's mine.

I've dealt with crazy painful periods since I was a teenager. I would get migraines that would make me throw up. I'd have cramps that would cripple me. And I've dealt with ovarian cysts for years as well. I thought this was normal. But when I was 22 it got to the point where I just couldn't handle the pain any longer. I made an appointment with an OBGYN.

This guy (yes I saw a man. Never again.) was basically the worst. I told him all my symptoms. I told him about the agony and pain and misery. And his response was basically, "Well you're dealing with a lot of hormones which probably makes things seem bigger and harder than they really are. Lots of women deal with cramps, you just probably feel like its more than it is because of a low pain tolerance and the normal hormone fluctuations. You're fine."

Oh. I'm fine? I'm just a wimp. Got it.

He made me feel so unbelievably stupid and little and weak. Shame washed over me. I felt like a fake. Like I was just blowing things out of proportion. I deal with severe PMS symptoms (not quite PMDD but close due to the endo) and he made me feel like a crazy person.

So I accepted with that a$$ hole said. I thought less of myself. Tried to dismiss the pain the total interruption of my life every month. I dealt with the pain and symptoms the best I could. And sometimes they got better. Like back when I subscribed to diet culture and I would go on extreme diets and exercise. Going off all sugar, dairy, wheat, carbs, etc... always seemed to help my painful periods. I wasn't doing it for that reason, but I did see improvement. (I would later learn that making these dietary changes do help with symptoms.)

When it came time to try for a kid it took me a good long while to get pregnant. But I never really brought up all the pain and horribleness of my cycle because we saw how well that went the last time. I was treated for PCOS and "undiagnosed fertility". It took about 3 years for me to conceive and even then it was called "Spontaneous conception" and they weren't sure why or how I managed to get pregnant.

So I had my miracle baby. I got divorced. My period returned, only this time it was worse by like 10,000. Then I started long distance running and dieting again. It got better. Then it got worse. I got remarried. It continued to get worse.

Finally I read the story of a woman who dealt with a similar situation, being dismissed by doctors until finally she got a diagnosis. Her story was so similar to mine I decided that this time I was going to get answers. And I did. - Endometriosis.

Now we are in the midst of fertility treatments because I have less than a 1% chance of conceiving without them. (not great odds, let's be real)

I've made almost all the dietary changes to try and help with symptoms, and I've been trying to run and exercise again to help as well. I think its helped some. I still have floor days (aka today. Today was a floor day.)

So I guess the whole point of all of this is to say... crazy painful periods are not normal. Don't let someone tell you they are. If you feel like something is wrong, get it checked out. And don't let anyone minimize or dismiss your pain. There are treatments out there, and people who understand. Don't give up, and reach out. You've got this. We've got this- together! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Thread the needle (or whatever)

I'm not entirely sure what this pose is called. So I'll call it thread the needle. This is an amazing stretch for your neck and shoulders. However, as with anything with the neck you have to be careful and mindful of your body. 

So, you start out in child's pose. Slightly left your hips and take one arm, flip it palm up and stretch it under your chest towards the opposite side. Turn your head and look towards that hand and rest it on the ground. Keep your other hand stretched out in front of you. Lift your hips a little more and you should feel the stretch either in your neck and/or shoulders. If you want a more intense stretch, kick your leg out and roll onto your shoulder more. (Please see pictures cause this all just sounds super confusing.) Stay here for at least a few breaths and then come back to child's pose for a breath or two and then take it on the other side.  





Thursday, August 13, 2015

Downward Facing Dog

Guys. I wrote this long, beautiful post about Downward Facing Dog. I did. It was beautiful. I pressed save probably 7 times. It disappeared. The internets swallowed it up. Its in some black hole now. Swirling off into nothingness.

I'm very irritated. Sure I'm a meditating, yoga doing, green smoothie drinking kind of gal. But I still get irritated. On the daily. Stupid internets.

Any ways, back to the point. Downward Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana. From Upward Facing Dog exhale and using your core press your hips up and back, either rolling over the toes or just flipping your feet. Bend your knees at first to really press your hips back, feet hip distance apart, and then slowly start to straighten your legs. Try to press your heels down to the mat, but if they don't touch don't stress. "Practice and all is coming."  (I'm compulsively pressing save every 10 seconds here.)

Some alignment cues here (starting from the top!) Fingers should be spread wide, pressing fully into your entire palm. Shoulders away from the ears and pressed down the back. Ribcage knit together, pull your belly button up and back towards your spine (otherwise known as your Uddiyana bandha. We'll talk more about bandhas very soon. Pinky swear.) Pressing your hips up and back, your thighs rotate towards each other, and press y our heels down towards the mat.

The most important thing to do here is breathe! Once you've pressed back into downward facing dog, take five deep breaths. Every inhale fills the torso, breathing into the back and the toes and the fingers. Every exhale you knit the ribcage together. If you are finding it hard to focus on your breathing, come down to child's pose for a bit. The breath is the most important thing in any yoga practice. So BREATHE! And the rest will come on its own.

A few modifications: Bend the knees, a LOT. If you have wrist issues, come down to the forearms for Dolphin pose. And, of course, child's pose is always an option.

Check back tomorrow as we finish off our first sun salutation!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Upward Facing Dog

Next in the sun salutation is Upward Facing Dog, or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. This is a posture I see done incorrectly allllll the time. It takes patience and work to do the full expression of this posture (as seen below). To start, do Cobra. Lower yourself all the way down to the floor from Chaturanga Dandasana. Place your hands next to your chest and on an inhale, barely lift the chest. You're not using your arms much here, but your back muscles. Exhale back down. Inhale lift a little higher, this time use more of your arms, keeping your legs and the top of your feet firmly pressed into the ground.

The full posture goes like this: You've exhaled half way down for Chaturanga. Inhale, roll over your toes so the top of your feet are pressed into the earth, keep your shoulders away from your ears, elbows next to your sides and reach through your sternum as you push up. Your head is the last thing to look up, careful of the neck. Your thighs and calves are lifted off the ground, core is tight.

This stretch feels soooooo good after working your core or your back muscles. It should feel good. If it doesn't feel good, drop down so your legs are pressed into your mat (keep your shoulders away from your ears!). If that doesn't feel good, come down to cobra. Don't let your ego get in the way. Listen and honor your body.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Chaturanga Dandasana









Next pose includes the transition to the pose, and the pose itself. Start out in Tadasana, exhale all of the air out, reaching down towards the ground.












Inhale, filling your ribcage and lift your arms up and overhead, look up at your finger tips. Keep your shoulders integrated, so your shoulders go down your back as you continue reaching up.

















If your hands don't touch comfortably, keep them shoulder width apart. (Now the fun part is to try and remember to do this all in one, long inhale!)












Exhale, bring your arms down and out and hinge at the hips, keeping your back flat until you can't any longer. Fold forward, bending your knees as much as you need too so your hands touch the floor. Drop the head, relaxing the neck.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  




Inhale, come up half way to a straight back, finger tips to the floor. Keep your core strong
                       








                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                     This next step can be the hardest for some because you are doing all of this on an exhale. But you can do it. Here is what you're going to do. Exhale slowly, step back into high plank.
                                                                                                                                   





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       




Stack your wrists under your shoulders and spread your fingers as wide as they go.          








Roll forward on your toes, lower down keeping your elbows by your side. Lower down half way, keep you body as aligned as possible (because I have that nice little bubble butt, it doesn't look like I have my hips in line with my shoulders. But I really do. Pinky promise.)



If you need too, come down to your knees. It is better to keep your alignment than keep your ego puffed. Coming down to your knees will build strength. Eventually you will be able to stay on your toes. Its all good. Celebrate where you are now.

As I worked on this posture, sometimes I would just do a set of chaturangas. Its what helped me build strength, and chaturanga is the basis for a lot of other fun postures (like inversions!)

Some modifications: If you have wrist problems, curl your hands into fists. If you have shoulder issues, don't go down as far. Like I said, coming down to your knees is always an option.

Let me know if you have any questions! I'll answer all that I can.










Monday, August 10, 2015

Meditation Monday, Tadasana and how this is all going to work!

So I have a new little thing planned for you. I have a bunch of yoga poses and a sequence that I will break down for you. It won't be perfect because I am not perfect and I am still learning a lot. To see the new pose each day you can visit my Instagram page. I'll have a more complete breakdown and pose instructions on the blog every day as well. Every Monday will be a guided meditationas well.

To start everything up I will be breaking down sun salutations, or surya namaskar. Sun salutations serve to warm up the body and calm the mind to get your yoga practice started. They are the foundation that the rest of the practice is built on. The very most basic and most important of the poses is Tadasana or mountain pose. 

It looks like this: 


Seems simple enough, right? Toes together, heels slightly apart. Spread your toes and distribute the weight evenly throughout your feet. Ground through your feet. Which is a fancy yoga way of saying take a moment and feel the earth under your toes. Feel tall because you are growing roots. I know it sounds funny, but give it a try. Activate all the muscles in your legs. Pull your knee caps up and rotate your thighs away from each other. Tap into your core, take a deep breath and feel taller. Feel your shoulders relax down your back and the crown of your head reaching towards the sky. Spread your fingers wide and reach a little down. Imagine energy running down your arms and feet. Breathe in and feel your rib cage expand. Breathe out and knit your rib cage together. Take five deep breathes. 

You should feel grounded and energized and maybe you feel like moving some more! Check back tomorrow for the next pose.

And now for some Meditation Monday. Every Monday will be a new meditation. Just 5 minutes of meditation every day can make a huge difference in your life. It helps decrease stress, anxiety and tense muscles. It allows you to have that quiet moment that we all need to recharge.

Meditation can be whatever you need it to be. I know some who like to sit at the kitchen table, hot tea in hand, and meditate in a comfortable chair. Others enjoy sitting on a couch or against a wall. I prefer to sit on my mat. I dedicated my yoga mat to be a place of safety and calm and no judgement. I've worked hard to leave everything else behind the moment I step on to that mat. So it is my favorite place to meditate.

However you want, sit comfortable. Feel tall, crown of the head pulling towards the ceiling, Shoulders down your back. I like to start each meditation by taking a deep breath in and holding it for a second, gathering all the busyness in my mind. And then on the exhale I let it all go. Let my mind be wiped clean, if only for a second. Breathing like this can be meditation enough.


Today's meditation is focusing on Acceptance. You can focus on this concept however you like. I listened to Deepak Chopra's guided meditation on Acceptance. (I highly recommend downloading his Soul of Healing Affirmations cd. You can get it on iTunes and it is everything.) The guided meditation was just over 2 minutes long. Here is one similar that is wonderful.



Another option is to focus on your breathing for a few moments, and then imagine a small circle around you. With each inhale accept everything in that circle, just as it is. Your body, mind, soul. Everything about you. Focus on that acceptance. Exhale acceptance and love, inhale acceptance. As you start to feel at peace with everything in that circle, start to feel the circle expand. Maybe it expands to the room you are in, maybe it is your house, maybe you start to include people. Perhaps you place your job, health or a relationship in the circle. Focus on accepting it, just as it is. No change necessary. It is what it is, and that is ok. Spend five, ten, twenty minutes just breathing and feeling accepted and loved by yourself.

Don't expect much or get frustrated if you can't quiet your mind. This is a practice. No meditation is a bad meditation. Simply taking the time to try is wonderful. Appreciate the effort you put in to showing up for yourself today. And accept yourself, just as you are.





Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Infertility

I decided that sometimes its better to just write it out. You know, instead of letting all the frustration and anger swirl up inside. Sometimes it helps to just word vomit until there is nothing left. Or at least until the storm feels less like a raging hurricane and more like a manageable thunderstorm.

Here's the thing: I'm one of those women. One of the women I looked at and prayed for. One that I empathized with, imagining her pain. Well I know the pain. I know the frustration. I know the hurt and irritation. I know the gut wrenching, heartbreaking cycle of being let down month after month.

I struggle with infertility. I am one of many, and yet I still feel alone.

Struggling to conceive was always something I feared. I'm not sure why. I come for a prolific family. I'm the oldest of 8 kids. Both of my parents come from big families. All of my aunts and uncles have plethoras of childrens. Sometimes I wonder if my own worry caused the problem. If somehow I jinxed myself. And then I remember that I don't really believe in jinxing (unless I'm going to get a free soda out of it).

Oddly enough, I don't really feel like my body has failed me. I know many other women have felt that way. But it isn't something I've thought. It is more that I have failed my body. That I must have not paid enough attention, or taken care of myself so that my body could function the way it is supposed too. I have struggled with eating disorders. Maybe I brought this on myself?

I try not to think this way. I try to remember that I can't control everything. That I am unable to change the past and can only love and accept who I was then and who I am now. Most days I can do that. Some days I can't.

PCOS isn't uncommon. Not at all. Many women suffer from it. And there are treatments that can help. And maybe I'm just a big old wimp. But taking the medication that I need too to help us conceive is brutal. I feel sick and tired and grumpy 90% of the time. And right now, that is the most frustrating part of all.

I'm constantly on the verge of vomiting. I'm tired. So very tired. And I spend the majority of my time feeling like my entrails are trying to become my extrails. It is unpleasant. And sometimes unbearable.

Maybe it would be different if I KNEW, much like I know my mom loves me and the sun will rise tomorrow, that all of this would give us a baby in the end.

I don't know that. And sometimes it feels like needless suffering.

Between the constant nausea and my bewilderment that this is my life, sometimes I feel dizzy. I turn 25 this year. I expected to be a stay at home mommy with a chubby baby and a small zoo. I'm working on the small zoo. I'm also working on a career I never thought I would have. And I'm discovering things about myself. I'm learning what I really do want to do outside of the home. (Teach. Yoga.) And I am loving what I get to learn and do.

But more than that, I want the chubby baby. Or a skinny baby. Just any baby really. I want the nausea to be from a bun in the oven. I want the stretch marks and baby weight. I want the sleepless nights and mountains of dirty laundry. I want it all.

And so I pray and hope and love and hurt. Every day. I love on my new furbaby and my old furbaby. I buy puppy clothes instead of baby clothes. I look for ways to start building up the life I have, instead of pining over the life I want. I surround myself with the best of friends and family for support. And I stop wallowing. That is what I need to do right now. Pick myself up and stop wallowing.



I know I'm not the only one who has walked this path or will walk this path. And so, to my sisters in infertility, I say let us hold hands and walk together. Or at least sit on each other's couches and eat ice cream. A girl can only do so much.