Month: March 2016

Happy Faster… from AutoCorrect

I’m linking up with Carolyn Astfalk’s Bonnets, Baskets & Bunnies linkup in celebration of the greatest holiday in the history of history… EASTER!

We go a little crazy for Easter.  And why not?  We’ve done the Lent thing, and now it’s time to party, because when you plan to party in the praise of the Lord for all eternity, you have to get a little practice in every now and then.

But no party comes without preparation… or without inviting others to party.  on Spy Wednesday, I hid 30 silver coins (quarters) then had the kids search for those and donate money from their own stores to do something sweet and generous for others rather than greedy and despairing. We took our spy money and bought Easter foods, including candy, to donate to our food cupboard.

Holy Week Idea #1--Spy Wednesday: Hunt for 30 Silver Coins (and anything else you can find) and use the money to buy Easter treats for the food cupboard!

Then we had our Holy Thursday dinner, complete with seder foods to tell the Passover story (it wasn’t a seder, of course, because we’re not Jewish, but we do try to honor our spiritual heritage) and our marshmallow treat bichon frise lamb.

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Then Easter Vigil! Complete with new or new-to-you dresses.  Second Shift of Kid wanted to wear the same dress her oldest sister wore for Easter when she was that age.  Excuse me.  I have something in my eye.

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Once our liturgical celebration with the Universal Church had been completed, it was time for traditions new and old.  Such as the Post-Vigil, Pre-Superlate Bedtime Virgin Pina Coladas!

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Next morning, after the baskets were found and plundered a bit, it was Resurrection Rolls for breakfast!

Check out our family's Easter traditions: some weird, some not to weird

(Resurrection Rolls iz srs bznz.)

No Easter Feast is complete without my BFF’s late mom’s pineapple filling (recipe below).

Pineapple Filling is the perfect compliment to your Easter ham

And finally, to cap off our Easter Feasting, we completed the solemn Easter Duty of our domestic church: the dipping of the Peeps.

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Speaking of BFFs, the texting habit between myself and mine inspired Cate & Staz’s texting in Don’t You Forget About Me.

Siri Ruins Easter

Wishing you and yours a holy, blessed Easter and life eternal!

What are some of your Holy Week and Easter traditions? Share here, or blog and link up your own over at Carolyn’s

Before I forget:

Peg’s Pineapple Filling

  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 can crushed pineapple
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 12-16 slices of squishy white bread, cubed

Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine first 4 ingredients, then fold in bread.  Pour into greased 8×11 pan and bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes until brown and toasty and delish.

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Madcap Recap Endometriosis Fun?

Endometriosis WeekBanner2016This March 3-9, in honor of Worldwide Endometriosis Awareness Week, I’ve been doing my part to shed light on the cause.

I’ve shared my story.

There’s also some space here for fellow Endometriosis Warriors to share their stories, whether through exclusive interviews or just by commenting.

EndoStory

Then there’s the matter of this little murder mystery that deals with the very real chronic pain and long-term devastation caused by this silent disease.

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Yes, even when it feels like you’re having your innards ripped to shreds by a very small tiger shark, you can still have a rip-roaring good read that will validate your experience and encourage you to think about your treatment options.

(What’s been fun  for me was waking up not just in the middle of the Top 20 but to see my book one step behind Frank Peretti.)

NextToFrankPeretti

Today’s the last day of the sale.  Don’t you forget to get your copy of Don’t You Forget About Me at the low, low price of 99 cents for the duration of Endo Week.  Spread the word!

DYFAMmar16IG

Endometriosis: My Story

Endometriosis WeekBanner2016As March 3-9 is Worldwide Endometriosis Awareness Week, I’m doing my part to shed light on the cause. I’m still offering Tomato Pie readers my novel Don’t You Forget About Me at the low, low price of 99 cents for the duration of Endo Week.  I also wanted to give you a chance to check out my story, which is hosted over at Franciscan Mom’s blog:


 

I sat next to my husband in yet another pleather office chair.  Yet another reproductive endocrinologist sat across from us.  A supposedly clever cartoon was framed on the wall behind her.  The bubble-letter caption read “Test Tube Babies!”  The illustration was of a giant test tube overflowing with chubby, giggling, diaper-clad (note:  100% Caucasian) babies, climbing out of some kind of bubbly fluid sloshing around at the bottom of the tube.

The results of a few blood tests were sprawled on the desk between us. The doctor had just offered three separate “treatment options.”

I sighed.  “I don’t want to do anything that won’t actually heal whatever problem I have—and you don’t even know what that is.  I want to heal my body more than I want to get pregnant.”

“Well, the Pill will force your hormones—“

“We’ve already been through this, haven’t we?  Will the Pill actually heal anything?”

She gave me a patronizing grimace.  “But I can’t prescribe the testosterone blockers unless you’re on—“

I shook my head.  “I said I’m not comfortable with that.”

It was now her turn to pause, then sigh.  “Then I’m sorry.  There’s nothing we can do for you.”

She wasn’t the first one to say that to us.  She wouldn’t be the last…


That’s not how it ends! Click here to read the rest of A Murder Mystery and a Medical Mystery!

Meanwhile, don’t you forget to get your copy of Don’t You Forget About Me at the low, low price of 99 cents for the duration of Endo Week.  Spread the word!

DYFAMmar16IG

Endometriosis Awareness: Meet Jessica Worthley

Endometriosis WeekBanner2016Welcome, readers, new and old!  The subject of endometriosis is near and dear (as in, costly and painful) to my heart… not to mention most of my abdomen.  As March 3-9 is Worldwide Endometriosis Awareness Week, I’m doing my part to shed light on the cause by featuring some women who also have faced this diagnosis.

JessicaWEndoToday, I’d like you to meet Jessica Worthley.  Besides featuring my interview with her, I’m also offering Tomato Pie readers my novel Don’t You Forget About Me at the low, low price of 99 cents for the duration of Endo Week.  But more on that in a bit.  First, let’s meet today’s guest!


Hi there, fellow endo-girl, and welcome to Will Write for Tomato Pie!  How about you take a moment to introduce yourself?   

My name is Jessica and I’m 28 years old. I was born and raised in a small town (<1500 people) in Iowa. I have been married to my husband Josh for just over two years and we recently welcomed our first child, Sebastian, in January! We live in a slightly larger town (<6200 people) within a half hour from where I grew up. I worked in the finance industry for eight years but am now enjoying my job as a stay at home mom.

When and how did you first discover that endometriosis is a part of your life?

My endometriosis went undiagnosed/misdiagnosed for many years. It wasn’t until I started charting with Creighton in 2013 that my then fiance mentioned my symptoms to my practitioner. She advised me to chart my PMS symptoms to better determine if it was in a normal range or not. At our next follow up she saw the 14+ days of symptoms and referred me to our local NaPro Medical Consultant. I worked with him for a couple of months but nothing seemed to help for a long period of time. It was then that he mentioned it sounded like I could have endometriosis and referred me to the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha. The referral was accepted and in July of 2014 I had a diagnostic laparoscopy. They found a ton of damage and decided that a second surgery would be needed. In August of 2014 they went in with the help of the DaVinci robot to remove all the areas.

Tell us about some of the ways endometriosis has impacted your life, health and relationships.   

When I was a teenager I remember having terrible periods. There were times I would lay on the ground in the fetal position crying because the ibuprofen/Tylenol/Midol was not alleviating the cramps. I would ask my mom if we could have the doctors remove my ovaries so I wouldn’t have to deal with the pain each month. After all, I could adopt if I wanted kids later on in life. I would constantly soak through pads in a short amount of time. When I was in junior high we went on a field trip to an amusement park. I brought supplies but apparently not enough as I ended up in my last pad and I soaked through it. A classmate asked what I sat in as I had a red patch on my jeans. She saw my embarrassed look and gave me her coat to wrap around my waist for the rest of the day to prevent others from pointing it out. In high school, I would get extremely light headed and the nurse would always comment how pale looking I was and would tell me to go home for the day. It got to the point where I ended up staying home every month for the first one or two days of my cycle. After high school, it started to affect my job. I would have to call in sick on some cycles still and then I started to have pains in my abdomen mid cycle. It was at this point that I started a multi month journey of doctors visits that eventually led to a colonoscopy and a misdiagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome when the colonoscopy didn’t find anything wrong.

What have been some of the treatments you’ve used, and how effective were they?  

The first treatment I was prescribed while in college was the birth control pill. Though because of a genetic mutation that increases my chance of blood clots I also had to start taking a baby aspirin to counter the increase associated with the pill. I was on this for a couple of months when I realized it wasn’t helping and in fact was making me feel worse. I figured this was just normal for me and decided to stop the pill and deal with it. Fast forward five years and my practitioner saying it wasn’t normal, my medical consultant started me on HCG injections post peak as I had low progesterone levels. It seemed to help a little but I was still experiencing painful cramps though the amount of days had decreased with the HCG. he then put me on a tranexamic acid for my heavy cycles. I was on this for a couple months but I was getting debilitating cramps at work as I was passing half dollar size clots. It was at this point he referred me to have the surgeries.

A murder mystery about… endometriosis? For real? For real!  And it’s only 99 cents through March 9, 2016!

 

Has your faith impacted what treatments you would accept?  In what ways?

My faith has impacted what treatments I would accept. When I was put on the pill, I knew it was OK since I wasn’t sexually active and it was for medical purposes and not contraconception purposes. However, when the first pill was not successful I would have been more prone to take the doctors suggestion and get the IUD placed had it not been for my faith. I knew eventually I would get married and wouldn’t want to be using birth control so, I didn’t want to choose a more permanent option like the IUD.

Have you found your Catholic faith to be a help or a hindrance in your relationship with your endometriosis treatment team?  How so?  

Had you asked me this year’s ago, I would have said hindrance since many doctors like to say birth control is your only option. However, now I see that my Catholic faith actually helped. If it wasn’t for my faith I would have settled with a treatment plan that just masked my symptoms and didn’t actually treat the underlying problems. If it wasn’t for my faith, I would have not felt the need to learn NFP which ultimately led me to my NaPro journey.

Imagine that a friend of yours has just been diagnosed with endometriosis and asks for your advice.  What would you tell her?  

I would recommend she see a NaPro doctor over a regular doctor as the techniques they use in surgery are far superior at removing the endometriosis as well as reducing the chances of it coming back in the same areas. They also listen to you and will keep trying to find the underlying cause and not just write a prescription to get you out of their office.


 

Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your story with us. I especially like how you said, “If it wasn’t for my faith I would have settled with a treatment plan that just masked my symptoms and didn’t actually treat the underlying problems.” I’ve found it to be true in my own life, and I’ve seen how true it seems to be across the board.

Readers, please comment to thank today’s guest!  Meanwhile, don’t you forget to get your copy of Don’t You Forget About Me at the low, low price of 99 cents for the duration of Endo Week.  Spread the word!

DYFAMmar16IG

Endometriosis Awareness: Meet Silver Pyanov

Endometriosis WeekBanner2016Welcome, readers, new and old!  The subject of endometriosis is near and dear (as in, costly and painful) to my heart… not to mention most of my abdomen.  As March 3-9 is Worldwide Endometriosis Awareness Week, I’m doing my part to shed light on the cause by featuring some women who also have faced this diagnosis.

SilverPyanovToday, I’d like you to meet Silver Pyanov.  Not only is Silver a fellow endomazing lady, her first name is so awesome that Echo & the Bunnymen wrote one of my favorite songs about her.  Not really, but that’s still a beautiful name.  She’s also an editor and contributor at BellyBelly and a doula and childbirth educator.

Besides featuring my interview with her, I’m also offering Tomato Pie readers my novel Don’t You Forget About Me at the low, low price of 99 cents for the duration of Endo Week.  But more on that in a bit.  First, let’s meet today’s guest!


 

Hi there, fellow endo-girl, and welcome to Will Write for Tomato Pie!  How about you take a moment to introduce yourself?   

I’m a wife and mother with four rambunctious boys.  I’ve been married to my wonderful husband for almost ten years. Our faith and ministry have always been important to us.

After having my oldest I fell into the birth world, and just supporting women in general. I started as a volunteer at a local crisis pregnancy center and over the years turned my love of supporting women into a career. I’ve been able to continue ministering to women as a volunteer in several ways while also supporting my family as a postpartum doula and writer.

When and how did you first discover that endometriosis is a part of your life?

I began having symptoms in Jr high and with each cycle my symptoms became worse. By 9th grade I began missing school monthly due to vomiting from pain every 10-20 minutes for 12-24 hours each cycle.

Unfortunately an ill informed doctor did an ultrasound and said all was normal so I assumed I didn’t have endometriosis. After having my oldest son I developed chronic pelvic pain. We assumed it was due to pregnancy and birth (despite having a completely unmedicated, problem-free vaginal birth). After a couple years of physical therapy, steroid injections, another baby and then a miscarriage, my pelvic specialist said I had to have endometriosis. She said they treated me for every other possible cause of pelvic pain, added in my miscarriage and difficulty conceiving following that loss and she was certain.

I was referred to a reproductive endocrinologist and had a diagnostic laparoscopy. He removed unidentifiable scar tissue from my intestines and burned a few endometriosis adhesions.

Tell us about some of the ways endometriosis has impacted your life, health and relationships.   

I definitely entered womanhood hating my body and not understanding the pain. I thought I was a whimp. Vicodin and antinausea medication and I was still too sick to function during my period. I worried I’d never be able to handle childbirth. Just to give an idea of how bad endometriosis cramps can be, I’ve had four unmedicated, out of hospital births that were less painful than my menstrual cramps. I was pleasantly surprised in my first labor though there was pain, when I had myt first real contraction I thought, “I can TOTALLY do this! I’ve done this for years.”

My overall health has suffered mostly due to fatigue. Breastfeeding suppressed my cycles and no one could understand how I had TONS of energy as a sleep deprived mother of a three month. Then months later cycles returned and I had days I could barely function due to the fatigue. My constant use of NSAIDs in high school also caused an esophageal ulcer. If I get heartburn I can still feel the exact spot, though it’s been pretty much healed. I can’t know for sure, but I do believe it’s played a role in my two miscarriages.

It has without a doubt impacted my marriage. I’m incredibly fortunate to be married to a very patient, loving and genuinely Christ-like man, but he’s still human. We’ve had months in our marriage where I was unable to keep up with the home, errands, cooking, etc and so it’s fallen on him. We’ve also had stretches where intercourse just wasn’t physically possible. No matter how solid your marriage, it’s a definite struggle.

Even socializing in general, there are times I’m just too tired to hang out.

What have been some of the treatments you’ve used, and how effective were they?  

The first thing I was told was to try NSAIDs. It provided little relief and after a couple years I had severe GERD and would vomit blood. Then it was vicodin and anti nausea meds. They didn’t offer relief where I could function. They essentially knocked me out. I ended up sleeping 20 hours straight one cycle.

By 17, the same doctors that told me it was normal pain, also said they could no longer offer pain medication and my only option was the pill. I was hesitant, but took it. It helped a lot, but it doesn’t actually treat endometriosis. By its very function it’s an endocrine disruptor. So while it temporarily relieves symptoms it doesn’t solve the issue and can potentially cause more hormonal or fertility issues in the future.

After the birth of my oldest I developed chronic pelvic pain. After all of my births I had incredibly heavy postpartum bleeding and horrific cramping. My last, the cramps were worse than labor itself and lasted days. I was treated with steroid injections and pelvic physical therapy. Both worked extremely well, but were more maintenance solutions helping you to cope rather than healing.

I had a traditional laparoscopy and that helped a lot. My chronic pelvic pain is now intermittent and bearable. But, I’ve also been pregnant or breastfeeding since the procedure and both suppress endometriosis symptoms. To be honest, breastfeeding has been my absolute best “treatment.” Interestingly, I’ve only had fertility issues upon weaning while I conceived easily and without miscarriage while nursing frequently.

I’m set to start more NaPro treatment, hcg or progesterone first and then if needed another laparoscopy. I’ve heard great things and am looking forward to seeing how it helps.

A murder mystery about… endometriosis? For real? For real!  And it’s only 99 cents through March 9, 2016!

Has your faith impacted what treatments you would accept?  In what ways?

Definitely. I have a lot of hesitation using hormonal contraception, especially progesterone only as it can act as an abortifacient. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about it, I just know it makes me uncomfortable so I haven’t used it since I’ve been married.

Have you found your faith to be a help or a hindrance in your relationship with your endometriosis treatment team?  How so?  

Well I’m not Catholic, I’m nondenominational Christian, but I can align with Catholicism when it comes to certain areas of contraception. I don’t feel right using the Pill, though I wish I did because the temporary relief is appealing.

Imagine that a friend of yours has just been diagnosed with endometriosis and asks for your advice.  What would you tell her?  

Find a doctor that actually understands endometriosis. There’s SO much misinformation surrounding it, even among medical professionals. It’s also probably a safe bet to stick with a NaPro provider, as the basis of NaPro seems to have a better understanding of endo than most other schools of thought.

Also, understand that endometriosis can be treated, and quite well, but for many women it is something you’ll have to chronically treat and be aware of. Be kind to yourself and know that NONE of your symptoms, physical or emotional, are in your head. You have a real medical condition and you deserve treatment.


Thank you, Silver, for sharing your experience, courage and honesty with us.  Readers, please comment to thank today’s guest!  Meanwhile, don’t you forget to get your copy of Don’t You Forget About Me at the low, low price of 99 cents for the duration of Endo Week.  Spread the word!

DYFAMmar16IG

Endometriosis Awareness Week: Meet Rhonda Ortiz

Endometriosis WeekBanner2016Welcome, readers, new and old! The subject of endometriosis is near and dear (as in, costly and painful) to my heart… not to mention most of my abdomen. As March 3-9 is Worldwide Endometriosis Awareness Week, I’m doing my part to shed light on the cause by featuring some women who also have faced this diagnosis.

Today, I’d like to revisit an interview from NFP Week 2015 with Rhonda Ortiz.  Rhonda also has lived with endometriosis and has a powerful story to share.

Besides featuring my interview with her, I’m also offering Tomato Pie readers my novel Don’t You Forget About Me at the low, low price of 99 cents for the duration of Endo Week. But more on that in a bit.

Here’s an excerpt from Rhonda’s NFP Week Interview:
RhondaOrtizHey there! I’m Rhonda Ortiz. I’m a 34-year-old Catholic convert, wife, and mother of three. Other than chasing after kids, I spend my days writing and working as a freelance graphic designer. …

I spent five frustrated years wondering, if I wasn’t destined to be a mom, what the heck was I going to do with my life. My thoughts ran wild through the rat nest that was my head, making this and that set of plans, seeking…something. Anything!…

I finally agreed to see a doctor and learned that I had endometriosis. I had my first laparoscopic surgery to remove endometrium in June 2007.

We assumed I would be pregnant right away, but that also didn’t happen…

 

For the rest of Rhonda’s courageous story, please visit the original interview at this link.

Thank you, Rhonda, for sharing your story with us not once but twice. Readers, please comment to thank today’s guest! Meanwhile, don’t you forget to get your copy of Don’t You Forget About Me at the low, low price of 99 cents for the duration of Endo Week. Spread the word!

DYFAMmar16IG

Endometriosis Awareness: Meet Barb S.

Endometriosis WeekBanner2016Welcome, readers, new and old!  The subject of endometriosis is near and dear (as in, costly and painful) to my heart… not to mention most of my abdomen.  As March 3-9 is Worldwide Endometriosis Awareness Week, I’m doing my part to shed light on the cause by featuring some women who also have faced this diagnosis.

Today, I’d like to revisit an interview from NFP Week 2015 with Barb S., aka Franciscan Mom.  Barb also has lived with endometriosis and has a powerful story to share.

Besides featuring my interview with her, I’m also offering Tomato Pie readers my novel Don’t You Forget About Me at the low, low price of 99 cents for the duration of Endo Week.  But more on that in a bit.

Here’s an excerpt from Barb’s NFP Week Interview:

Barb aka Franciscan Mom talks about being Catholic and subfertile as part of NFP Awareness Week.I’m Barb from Franciscanmom.com and Cook and Count. I’m editorial consultant at Catholicmom.com, a musician at my parish, a Secular Franciscan and a school-library volunteer…

It’s actually NFP (and all those years of carefully-recorded information about my own body’s patterns and in-depth knowledge of what was “normal for me”) that came to my rescue in getting the fourth GYN in as many years to finally listen to me and send me to yet another doctor for treatment, which wound up being a DaVinci (robotic) hysterectomy and the discovery during surgery that I had endometriosis. Suddenly everything made sense, and I felt vindicated in my decision to walk away from Doctor #3, who told me that what was happening to me was “normal, even if it is the sucky end of normal” (how’s that for a lovely exam-room manner?) Apparently the endometriosis invasion was extensive; one of my Fallopian tubes was attached to my intestines by scar tissue….

For the rest of Barb’s story, please visit the original interview at this link.  

Thank you, Barb, for sharing your story with us not once but twice.  Readers, please comment to thank today’s guest!  Meanwhile, don’t you forget to get your copy of Don’t You Forget About Me at the low, low price of 99 cents for the duration of Endo Week.  Spread the word!

DYFAMmar16IG

Endometriosis Awareness Week: Meet Brittany Schmidt

Endometriosis WeekBanner2016Welcome, readers, new and old!  The subject of endometriosis is near and dear (as in, costly and painful) to my heart… not to mention most of my abdomen.  As March 3-9 is Worldwide Endometriosis Awareness Week, I’m doing my part to shed light on the cause by featuring some women who also have faced this diagnosis.

Today, I’d like you to meet Brittany Schmidt, who also blogs over at Sapphire Blue Soul.  Besides featuring my interview with her, I’m also offering Tomato Pie readers my novel Don’t You Forget About Me at the low, low price of 99 cents for the duration of Endo Week.  But more on that in a bit.  First, let’s meet today’s guest!

Endometriosis Awareness Week: Meet Brittany Schmidt

Brittany Schmidt

EMC: Hi there, fellow endo-girl, and welcome to Will Write for Tomato Pie!  How about you take a moment to introduce yourself?   

Brittany: Hello, my name is Brittany Schmidt and I am a 23-year-old living in the frozen tundra of Minnesota. I am a devout Catholic dedicated to seeking holiness and learning about my incredible Catholic faith that astounds me every moment of every day. My husband and I have been married for almost two years and I feel so blessed to have such a supportive best friend and companion by my side. I am currently working towards my Doctorate in Chiropractic, I have two years left of school and I cannot wait to graduate and be a physician that is dedicated to optimal health and natural wellness.

EMC: Sounds like a good thing! When and how did you first discover that endometriosis is a part of your life?

Brittany: Shortly after starting my doctorate in the Fall of 2014 I began to have a persistent pain in my lower right side, I also noticed my monthly cycles became heavier and more painful. I sought help and advice from an OB-GYN who did nothing, I am still very angry about this. The pain continued and got increasingly worse until one day in May (2015) while I was at school I experienced an intense and sudden pain. I went to the ER where they told me I had an ovarian cyst rupture and that I had another one growing and should follow up with my OB-GYN. I decided to go see a different OB-GYN who was wonderful and finally listened to me. She suspected endometriosis. We set a date for laparoscopic surgery at the end of July 2015; on that date she removed an ovarian cyst the size of a tennis ball and confirmed it was an endometrioma and that I did in fact have endometriosis.

EMC: A tennis ball! Yikes! Tell us about some of the ways endometriosis has impacted your life, health and relationships.   

Brittany: Endometriosis has impacted my life in many ways. I’ve always considered myself strong and able to overcome any sort of pain or illness and I never expected to experience such a debilitating condition. Endometriosis has interrupted my hobbies such as running and exercising, endometriosis has brought on many painful periods that have caused me to miss days at school or social outings, endometriosis has sent me to the ER several times because the pain hasn’t been manageable, endometriosis has caused me to have two surgeries in the past 6 months, endometriosis has made sex with my husband almost unbearable, and endometriosis has had a major impact on my emotional capacity.

I don’t look sick and I feel like I am battling something terrible. When I realize I will have this disease forever and that I will have a future of recurring surgeries, endless pain, and possible infertility I feel my heart shatter. I’ve never been so devastated over something in my entire life and it has affected my relationships because I don’t think anyone can truly understand what I am going through. No one feels my pain, no one knows my fear of not being able to conceive, and no one knows how much it hurts both physically and emotionally to be intimate with my husband. I don’t like talking to others much about it because not only are they incapable of understanding my feelings but I am afraid they will tire of having the same conversation over and over again and lose sympathy for me. Because that’s what endometriosis is, it’s the same conversation over and over again, a conversation consisting of abnormal cell growth, pain, recurrence after surgery, infertility, and the emotional heartbreak that comes with having an invisible illness.

On the positive side, it has taught me to be more aware of my body and my needs and limitations, I do take better care of myself both emotionally and physically since my diagnosis. Endometriosis has shown me how fragile my human flesh is and that there is a need for a healing and compassionate God, endometriosis has strengthened my faith so much and shown me the power of redemptive suffering. I am a better Christian because of my endometriosis and that is a huge gift and blessing. I also believe that all of these experiences will make me a better doctor and more compassionate to those who have chronic pain.

A murder mystery about… endometriosis? For real? For real!  And it’s only 99 cents through March 9, 2016!

EMC: What have been some of the treatments you’ve used, and how effective were they?  

Brittany: It is hard to say what was effective and what was not, I may think that because I had recurrence of endometriosis after surgery all of the treatments I tried were not effective, however, what if the recurrence would have been faster or more extensive if I hadn’t been using the therapies I was? I don’t know, there is no way of knowing, but I think it’s important to keep in mind when discussing what is a valuable or effective treatment and what is not. After my first surgery in July I changed my diet by cutting out dairy, limiting gluten, switching to all organic meat, and only consuming 30 g of sugar (that included sugar from fruit). The diet was harder than I expected but I will say that I felt better while doing it, mostly because it was something I could control and I felt like I was actively contributing to preventing my illness. I also had weekly acupuncture sessions which I LOVED, it was so relaxing and the quiet time that it brought was emotionally healing. I also felt the acupuncture helped the healing of my scars and reduced my pain that continued after surgery. Again, attending weekly acupuncture sessions made me feel like there was a component of control in the midst of an uncontrollable disease. A few months after surgery my pain unfortunately returned and I had the presence of more cysts confirmed by ultrasound, I decided to yet again switch OB-GYNs and see an endometriosis specialist. The specialist explained that removal of endometrial adhesions by surgical ablation (burning or cauterizing) was not very effective and that there was a high recurrence rate. I was angry when I heard this, why did I have an ineffective surgery? Or why didn’t the OB-GYN who did my first surgery fail to tell me that there was a better surgery out there? Is it possible that she didn’t know? This is unacceptable to me. The specialist told me that he uses excision to fully resect all endometrial adhesions and that there is much less of a chance of recurrence with this type of laparoscopic surgery. I am now two weeks post-op from having excision by laser to remove more endometriosis. I am hoping that my outcome this time is much better and longer lasting than my last surgery.

EMC: I hope so, too!  Has your faith impacted what treatments you would accept?  In what ways?

Brittany: My faith has most definitely impacted what treatments I would accept. Since getting my diagnosis every doctor I’ve seen has recommended the birth control pill. This was really hard for me because the pill is something I have been so publicly against for so long for both ethical and medical reasons. I could not imagine taking the pill; the very idea of it nauseates me. I decided to seek guidance from our parish priest who was also apprehensive about granting permission to use the pill. He told us that the pill works in different ways and one of those ways is as an abortifacient in case there is breakthrough ovulation, of course as a devout Catholic I was not okay with this. Our priest granted us permission to use the pill only if we could detect if there was breakthrough ovulation and then abstain during that time, if we were not able to detect ovulation then we had to abstain during the course of taking the pill. What a burden, huh? Hubby and I finally decided to reject the pill, it was a decision that came with much prayer and many long conversations, but at the end of the day we were dedicated to our faith and to protecting life.

EMC: Have you found your faith to be a help or a hindrance in your relationship with your endometriosis treatment team?  How so?  

Brittany: My endometriosis treatment teams have been very considerate and open to the fact that our faith comes first and that we reject birth control of any kind, however, I don’t think that they truly understand where we are coming from. I’ve never felt pressured or judged by my health care team because of my faith and subsequent choices but I do think that it has created a bit of a hindrance because they don’t know how else to treat me. The only other option I’ve been given is to conceive a child. Ironic, my options are either the birth control pill or to conceive a child, neither of these options are ideal right now so it kind of leaves me in a place where no one can really help me or offer me any sort of advice.

EMC: Imagine that a friend of yours has just been diagnosed with endometriosis and asks for your advice.  What would you tell her?  

Brittany: I would say first of all, if they are going to have surgery to make sure the surgeon is going to remove all endometrial adhesions by excision and NOT ablation. I feel like my first surgery with ablation was a waste and was very upset when it all grew back right away. Women need to know that there is a more advanced and successful surgical method of removing endometriosis and shouldn’t have to have undergo the effects and dangers of anesthesia and surgery just for it to be ineffective. I would also tell her that she is more than a diagnosis, that although endometriosis is devastating, that positive things can always come from terrible situations if they are open to it. Embrace suffering, keep moving forward, find support by joining an online support group (there are many on Facebook), and remember that we are never alone in Christ who is bigger than all things—even endometriosis.

Excellent point, that last one, and one that is really easy to forget on those days when we’re just underwater with the pain, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual.  Brittany, thank you so much for sharing your story with us.  

Readers, please comment to thank today’s guest!  Better yet, go visit Brittany at her blog.  Meanwhile, don’t you forget to get your copy of Don’t You Forget About Me at the low, low price of 99 cents for the duration of Endo Week.  Spread the word!

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Worldwide Endometriosis Awareness Week

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A murder mystery about… endometriosis? For real? For real!  And it’s only 99 cents through March 9, 2016!

Endometriosis is a large part of the reason I wrote Don’t You Forget About Me , and this mysterious disease factors largely in the plot. I know, I know.  It’s counterintuitive to read a novel–not even a non-fiction users manual about a women’s health disorder but a novel–about a disease that affects an estimated 176 million women worldwide.

Why would we need a novel about endometriosis?  Because…

It’s a disease that’s diminished…

Everybody gets cramps.

It’s victims are plagued by myths…

Just take this Pill and it will go away.  

Just get pregnant and it will go away.

A hysterectomy will solve all of your problems.  

It’s a disease that works to crush us around the clock and around the calendar.

It’s just once a month.  Can’t you just power through? 

Yes, there are websites and books and even personal blogs on the subject, but to the best of my knowledge, Don’t You Forget About Me is the only novel out there that deals with this women’s health issue.

We need a novel about endometriosis because we need to see our stories told.  

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This week I will be running a series of interviews with endometriosis warriors telling their own stories.  I’m also offering Tomato Pie readers my novel Don’t You Forget About Me at the low, low price of 99 cents for the duration of Endo Week.  

 

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Has your life (including the guys here) been impacted by this misunderstood, myth-plagued disease?  Leave a comment and tell us YOUR story.  

An #OpenBook: A New Linkup for Bookworms

Carolyn Astfalk has something new in the works: a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!

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Here’s what we’ve been reading.

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To close out Black History Month, we read Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey, illustrated by Floyd Cooper.  It’s the story of a little girl and her family who wanted to take a trip in their new ’52 Buick from Chicago to visit her grandmother in Alabama.  The story starts with Ruth’s mother… cooking for days to prepare for the trip?  This book was a great introduction through a child’s eyes to what life must have been like during the decades of racial segregation.  We hear about buses and lunch counters, but we don’t often hear about how difficult it would have been for an African American family to stop for gas, use a public restroom, find a hotel room, or locate a mechanic if the car breaks down.  This book introduces us to another little-remembered aspect of black history: the Negro Motorist Green-Book, which was a directory to black-friendly businesses where a traveler could work or vacation safely.  Ruth and the Green Book portrays the real fear a child must have felt on a trip like that, but it also shows how people–even the youngest among us–can reach out and help one another.

Next up was A Boy Named Giotto.  I picked it up for Second Shift’s read-aloud because I’m an art history nerd (not a geek, just a nerd), and I wanted to introduce her to “Giotto Eyes.”  The illustrations were a lovely homage to Giotto’s style without being copycats.  The story itself was a little predictable (mean dad doesn’t want son to be an artist but Obi-Wan Cimabue comes along and calls forth the prodigy etc etc).  Still, it was a nice little story and a great way to introduce young eyes to Florentine frescoes.

As for myself? Still working on The Moviegoer by Walker Percy.

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I’m liking it but in the way I liked Catcher in the Rye many moons ago.  I’m not sure I see the point yet, but I can’t stop caring about these people and wanting to know what happens to them.  I have a feeling I’ll have to reread it when I’m done.  It feels like poetry in the sense that I’m intuiting what it’s about more than understanding it on initial digestion.  Hopefully I’ll have it more fully processed by April’s Open Book.

And as promised when I interviewed Not God’s Type, I snagged this from the library.

Hopkins

Quite a good writer… for a Jesuit.  I kid!  I kid.  He and T. S. Eliot are my two favorite poets.  Reading Hopkins is like filling my lungs the first full draw of fresh air after a winter spent in asthmatic bronchitis.  I know of where I speak.  If you haven’t read Hopkins yet, first of all, what’s your problem?  Second of all… you kind of have to read it out loud.  Or at least whisper it to yourself.  His meaning lies heavily in the rhythm of sound, and without it, his line breaks look awkward.  But when you read it out loud, ah!  There it is!  I see now!  You might not see exactly what he “meant,” but you will see your world more clearly.

What are your open books right now?  Link up with Carolyn or at least visit her page and comment. Looking for your next great read?  Visit the linkup and get some recs.