What the heck is endometriosis?!

After months of severe fatigue and just feeling off, I knew something was not completely right but I couldn’t quite understand what was going on with my body. I had painful periods, which I thought were normal but they were often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and an overall feeling of being sick.  Oh and painful sex.  After ending up in the ER and many tests later including an ultra sound, the doctors believed it was endometriosis along with an extremely painful and growing ovarian cyst. They wouldn’t be 100% sure until I had surgery.  I didn’t even know what endometriosis was exactly so I had a lot of confusion and anxiety. 

I began to do a lot of research about endometriosis as I waited for surgery, its symptoms, causes and treatment.  After feeling down and a bit depressed, I dusted myself off and started to look for a solution. I didn’t feel like dwelling on the story about the disease I just wanted to find ways in which to get better. The disease had attacked me on every level, not just physically but emotionally and mentally.  I had always been a relatively healthy person but my body felt like it was falling apart at the age of 36.

So, what is endometriosis?

Endometriosis occurs when the endometrial tissue lining in the uterus implants itself out of the uterus on the bladder, bowels, or ovaries. Misplaced endometrial tissue responds just as normal endometrial tissue behaves during a menstrual cycle. The endometrial lining of the uterus routinely sheds each month, but endometriosis tissue is trapped around various organs with no easy exit. It then causes various degrees of inflammation and scar tissue that may cause infertility. 

The infertility part started to also make me panic and worry.  Would I be able to have children? Even with all the thoughts and what-ifs, I still remained positive to finding a better way.  It was my journey to extreme self-care. 

So, now what?

After my surgery, the doctor confirmed severe endometriosis as well as the removal of a 7cm cyst in my left ovary and another cyst in my uterus. Here’s the super graphic part - my uterus was one congealed mass of tissue. Hmm, the years of pain and not feeling quite right finally made sense.  Finally, I could get some relief of the pain but that didn’t come until a year later.

I knew that another solution existed outside of Western Medicine to support and treat the pelvic pain I was still feeling after surgery. Fatigue had become my friend. I just didn’t feel like myself anymore. I felt more desperate that something needed to change. 

I visited my Ayurvedic Health Counselor and she devised a plan for me to help with some pain management and treatment of what I was going through – the real work and next phase of the journey was about to begin.  

Eleni Tsikrikas of Belly Mind Institute, in Silver Lake/Los Angeles area helped guide me through the process and provided me the tools to become empowered and help get better.  I felt like I was finally taking the steps to become a hero of my own story. My first step was to cleanse my body.  I was going to go on a cleanse or Panchakarma Cleanse to reset and give my digestion a bit of a break. She evaluated my diet and my supplements as well as herbs to support my symptoms. 

For a month, I did the following: (Caveat:  This plan was developed just for me by my practitioner and you should schedule an appointment with Eleni or another Ayurvedic Counselor to devise a plan just for you and your specific needs).

1.  Cleaned up my diet

  • Eliminated Red Meat
  • Eliminated all dairy products
  • Eliminated caffeine and started drinking more teas
  • Eliminated processed / fried foods
  • Eliminated all refined/processed sugars
  • Increased my intake of warm foods, fruits, and vegetables (especially green leafy veggies)

I know it sounds like a long list but I felt the need to make a drastic change and go through a detox. This meant that I had to do most of my cooking at home.  While the list looked a little daunting, I was up for it because anything had to be better than living helpless in pain or being dependent on drug medication.  I’m not knocking Western Medicine, I just wanted other natural options.

2.       I introduced some herbs to help support my pain and the inflammation that was occurring in my body. 

  • Increased my cinnamon intake - I put cinnamon on EVERYTHING! My fruit, in teas, my almond milk, etc. What does Cinnamon do? Well it helps cleanse out the liver naturally and reduces inflammation.  It’s one of my favorite spices!!
  • Increased my turmeric intake – I made a concentrated paste with pippali (a pepper) that helped with inflammation. I took that and continue to take that daily.
  • I took my Vitamin D religiously – anti-inflammatory and a deficiency is linked to auto-immune diseases.
  • I took my Fish Oil daily too along with my Magnesium Glycinate
  • Triphala – liver detoxification herb that I still take today

3.       I had to look at the emotional body too – what was going on with me emotionally and mentally over the last few years?  What was I holding on to? Lousie Hay has written an incredibly powerful book called, You Can Heal Your Life.  Illness however mild or severe is an indicator of your emotional state, caused by your thoughts and focus.   

I looked up endometriosis and her description was: Insecurity, disappointment, and frustration. Replacing self-love with sugar. Hmm, when I look back on my life, it did make sense – In the few years leading up to my diagnosis, I had feelings of both disappointment and frustration.  They were related to relationships and my job mostly.  I was traveling quite a bit for work and had lost track of my self-care and the importance to make time and space to take care of myself.  I also had to release some past hurts and just practice self-love and compassion.

This diagnosis meant saying YES to myself and my life again – the best version of my life – happy and healthy on the physical body, emotional and spiritual body.  I was rewriting the story and making myself the hero of it.  It was liberating, empowering and just a powerful reinforcement of what I needed to do next.  I started up my yoga practice again as well as followed my regimen with the care of my Ayurvedic Health Practitioner, my acupuncturist and changing my eating lifestyle.  I started to feel the light again and feel the vitality come back.  My hope and gratitude was high.  I continue to be thankful for my progress.  It is a daily and conscious choice – at times it’s not the easiest but it so empowering to know that food and lifestyle can change your health.  Food is medicine! It was not a one size fits all approach – my plan was for me and my symptoms. 

The point of all this is to say, that you’re not alone – your symptoms are real, so listen to your body and get the right treatment for you. 

If you’re interested in learning more about Ayurveda and my teacher, visit: BellyMindInstitute.com.  Schedule an appointment with Eleni and become a hero of your life.