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I know, I know. Bad blogger! It’s been awhile. I’ve been a busy Katie. It’s been an interesting few months. The last we spoke, I was deep into cancer mode and my consequent hormonal insanity (what? it’s a thing) while also trying to figure out how to navigate others’ reactions to this newfound diagnosis. Now, it’s 2016 people, and I’m ready to leave cancer Katie behind. She was kinda a drag, anyway.

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I feel like I have so much to say to you! Yes, YOU. Just you. Not anyone else. (Ok I’m going to go ahead and admit that I’ve had a few gluten-free beers on the beach with my little sis and then decided to sit down and write this. This usually means I think I am HILARIOUSLY funny and no one else does, soooo…just a warning that this will be unabashedly and monstrously hysterical. To me.) And my beer top said, “Drinking is believing,” which, come on…that shit is like Shakespeare. And oh-so-true.


Joe and I decided to go to our home state of Kentucky for Christmas this year. We try to go every other year. I’d noticed that I was having some tummy issues again before our trip. Nothing huge, but it still concerned me. Like all other people that have ever dealt with SIBO, I am always fearful of a relapse. I feel like at ANY moment those little bacteria dickheads will stage a revolution, blowing me up like a water buffalo. I decided to do a quick elemental fast before going home (read about my original elemental 23 day fast here) ideally hoping to starve some of the disgusting jerks that like to have an orgy inabsorbplus my gut (yes, I went there) reproducing their bastard bacteria babies. I decided this time to do it with Absorbplus AND leftover Vivonex T.E.N. shakes. But first, I have to take a hot minute to make fun of the Absorbplus website, because this picture ————————>

is hilarious. NO ONE is that ridiculously and psychotically happy about those f*cking shakes. And I also love how they include a piece of fruit on it. Fruit you cannot consume while on the elemental. Brilliant marketing, ya’ll. But anyway, lemme just admit to you that I struggled hard this time around. I’m not quite sure why. It’s not like the first time I did the elemental was a breeze or anything, but I didn’t struggle like this. I did it for 4 days and thought I would die of hunger. And anger. I was so RAGE-Y (are these bacteria anger-producing?)


Previously, when I relied solely on Vivonex T.E.N., I really wasn’t ever hungry. I mean I wanted to eat, but I didn’t feel like I was starving. Absorbplus for some reason (while it tastes much better than the pure fartiness of Vivonex) just doesn’t fill me up in the same way. I had intense headaches and hated every single second of those 5 days. It might not help that I’m still dealing with some hormonal stuff, however. I’m sure you couldn’t tell by how dramatic I’m being. As soon as I finished those 5 days I was happy as a f*cking clam to eat again. I went to Kentucky and was SO proud of myself. I stayed gluten free EVENblog2 over Christmas. I didn’t even think it was possible in the South (especially a tiny coal-mining town where everything is fried and delicious and horrible for you). I made my own food for Christmas with my sisters, even making my own gf pizza and having gf Rice Krispies delivered via Amazon to make Krispy treats with. I resisted beer and opted for enough bourbon while I was home to kill a derby horse (Kentuckians LOVE their bourbon…AND derby horses) and managed to run nearly every day while home.

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It’s always fun to be home…the accents, the familiarity, the fact that I can go to the local coffee shop downtown and run into 12 people that I know or that know my family (i.e….”You must be a ‘Young’ because you look JUST like yo daddy!”) 🙂 Seeing my cousins and high school buddies and running around my hometown fills me chock-full of memories and nostalgia. Hanging with my sisters – drinking booze and opening presents and playing cards. Hanging with my nieces and nephews – playing games, singing karaoke (Joe and I got our niece a karaoke machine and she and I sang Taylor Swift all the livelong night. It was glorious) and stuffing our faces. It’s super wonderful and makes me miss everyone and lament being so far away. But, it’s intense too. It’s crazy and busy as we rush from one family to the other. Iblog4 felt like I was always rushing through a lunch or breakfast, just to finish and then run out to meet the next person. And we get so busy that Joe and I hardly see each other over the holidays that we do spend in Kentucky. It’s also just strange being home, as it reminds me of where I come from and how different I am now. I LOVE my home, please don’t misunderstand, but I simply don’t belong there anymore and it leaves me feeling almost…sad. Or lonely. And that loneliness is never more palpable than being home at Christmas. I love Christmas so much. It’s my Mom’s fault. She was like Mrs. Claus. I’ve seriously never met another human being that loves Christmas more. But ever since she passed away, Christmas at home has never been the same. I’ll always love it, because she taught me to. And I love it because loving it is a way to honor her and makes me feel closer to her; however, it makes me miss her so badly that it aches. It aches the way that blog5fresh grief aches. I always go for a run out to her grave when I’m home. This year I decided to bring Christmas decorations and place them there for her. I picked up two armfuls of decorations and ran with one bag under each arm. I looked ridiculous and I jingled and jangled all of the way there, because some of the decorations had bells. I laughed at myself and how ridiculous I looked/sounded. She would have loved it. I sang carols to her. I cried. I tried to imagine what she would say or think of my life and my choices…choices so very different from hers. I love being home, but there is a sadness there that will I suppose will always be present. ‘Cause you never get over missin’ your Mama.


But even with all of the craziness and sadness, we had a great visit home. It’s bittersweet, because we love seeing friends and family but we hate saying goodbye. Anyway, here is a little slideshow of some of the rest of our trip.  🙂

 

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After a fun and busy visit, we went to Nashville to see my Granny (aka…the mostblog24 amazing woman I’ve ever known) and stay in a nice hotel for a night before getting on a plane again for 10 hours. I was awoken in the middle of the night by a phone call with a recorded voice telling me to hold – that my flight had been cancelled due to “weather.” Weather?!?! It had been crazy warm the entire time we were home. No snow, nothing. I looked outside…dry as a bone. WTF? TWO HOURS later (at 2am, mind you, after I’d about lost my damn mind listening to the recorded voice tell me it will only be “20 minutes” and had about drop-kicked Joe every time he fell asleep because dammit I was NOT going to be the only one kept awake with this ridiculous robot woman) a person comes on to tell me that the flight is cancelled due to weather in Texas. We cannot get out to Honolulu for FIVE more days,

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Maggie’s Cat purrrthday

and we will get absolutely zero compensation nor a hotel stipend during that time. Well, ok. Thanks a lot American Airlines. Class act. So the next day, we sheepishly packed up and headed back to Kentucky for New Year’s! Wasn’t what we’d planned, but we had fun anyway. I got to hang with my sisters and niece some more and actually spend myblog31 sister Maggie’s birthday with her (she’s a New year’s baby!) I don’t think I’ve been able to do that since I was a kid! Naturally the theme was Cats. Because cats. It was, however, the first New year’s that Joe and I have ever spent apart. Which was kinda sad considering how much I love New Year’s, but we both wanted to be with our respective families that night, so we caught up and “kissed” via face time. Ah, technology. You are a wonderful, weird thing.


I am sad to admit that even though I was a SIBO friggin’ ROCKSTAR the first part ofblog26 the trip, after we got stranded there, I fell off
the SIBO horse. Into a pile of gluten. And chocolate. And booze. And every other thing terrible for me. I caved and it was bad. I felt gross and bloated and SHOULD have felt ashamed. But I cannot lie. I totally enjoyed it.


When I got home, I decided enough was enough. I needed to get my SHIT TOGETHER. My LIFE together.

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Last IV session!

 


I’ve been diligently going to my natural chemo sessions, and am happy to report that I’m finished!!!! I am SO happy to be done with those. Not only were they quite boring most of the time (sitting for 3 hours twice a week at the doctor’s office), but they made me heachache-y and tired. Still, hard to complain when so many others on my ovarian cancer forums are going through the brutality of REAL chemo. I also made a few friends sitting in the doctor’s office…people who are going through breast or kidney cancer or getting IV treatments for MS. Great

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Celebrating with friends that I’m cancer free!

 

women, and having company makes the 3 hours fly by! It also helps to keep my issues in perspective, which as you know (because I talk about it ad nauseam) is a really important component of this health process for me. But the really exciting super good news is that I learned that I am officially in remission!!! [TRUMPETS SOUNDING, beer glasses clinking, Katie doing a happy dance] Shortest bout of cancer EVAR, ya’ll! I was strangely super stoked to hear those words. I mean it’s obviously good news, but since I never really reacted to having cancer in the first place, it kind of shocked me that I reacted so much to being told it was gone. It’s a funny thing…I think I am more freaked out and frightened about it coming back than I was about having it in the first place. The fear of a reoccurrence is oddly palpable. But hey – I’m cancer free and ready to move on. It’s time. Also, as I mentioned last post, I sent my Debbie Dammit Doll out on her very first adventure! She went with lots of prizes and gifts from Hawai’i nei to another women struggling with cancer. I hope she’s now on her way to brighten someone else’s day! Go Debbie, go!

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So, what have I been up to? As mentioned above, I’ve been trying to get my friggin’ shit together. This last year has been so dedicated to healing and getting well and figuring things out health-wise, that I sort of lost myself. I tried not to, but it happened anyway. blog30Between SIBO and the slew of other health issues that accompanied it (h pylori, hashimotos, hiatal hernia, illeocecal valve dysfunction, hormonal and adrenal issues, and finally ovarian cancer) I felt like a damn disaster of a person. At 36 years old. I came to the realization that I’ve been sort of living with a low-grade depression. Not SUPER down, but not ever really happy either. My oldest sister, who ALWAYS speaks the truth (both awesome and annoying depending on your mood – love ya, sis!) sort of called me out on this last month. She pointed out that I wasn’t myself…that I wasn’t volunteering as much, that I seemed distant, that I wasn’t invested in work. It hurt to hear, because it immediately felt like a criticism or an accusation. But once I took a step back, I understood; she cares about me, she is worried. And honestly, for good reason. I began to think about it. I hadn’t played guitar in 10 months (something I used to do nearly every day). I hadn’t read an entire book (other than books about my health conditions) all year, and I’m

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The old Katie. :/

 

normally an extremely avid reader. I’ve been avoiding the outdoors other than running, or occasionally biking to health-related appointments, which is supremely rare for me. I love the ocean, I love to hike, I love just sitting in the park in my hammock reading a good book, but had barely done it all year. It wasn’t that I was actively hiding out, it occurred to me – it was that there was no desire to do these things. It was a profound lack of motivation, which told me that I had been ignoring feeling down and had been leaning into this general sort of malaise. And anyone that knows me knows that I very much despise laziness and apathy. But here I was, feeling apathetic about almost everything. I had stopped doing all of the things that made me, me.


Wow – I’m just jumping right in here, folks! Nope, haven’t written in months so lets talk in depth about my depression! (If this is your first time reading, this is pretty much par for the course. I don’t mess around). I started to analyze WHY I was feeling this way. What was really going on? I don’t want to be this person. I missed being who I was, but I certainly wasn’t feeling motivated to change it. I decided that perhaps it might have something to do with my health issues, and not just psychologically or hormonally speaking. I had gene testing done this last year through 23&me, but never had the results analyzed. I decided to finally take the results to my ND to see if anything would be uncovered. As it so happens, there were just more rocks we hadn’t yet managed to look under. It turns out I have an MTHFR mutation (which my husband also has), a blog33CBS up regulation, and a MAO mutation. To water this down to the most basic of info, this affects my body’s ability to properly methylate and use folic acid or folate. That only means something to but a few of you, but trust me…it matters. I was also insanely low in Vitamin D, despite spending quite a lot of time in the sun, running and biking. These new results certainly don’t redefine my whole health puzzle, but they definitely influence it. For example, once my husband was diagnosed with MTHFR and started getting treatment for it, I REALLY noticed a change in him. He seemed more engaged with me and with work, less apathetic and more connected to his feelings, and more motivated to do things. He started becoming the dude I fell in love with. And after living with a man that is prone to depression, it was wonderful to witness. If I didn’t see Joe’s transition, I don’t know that I would have invested so much in learning about my own genetic mutations. These mutations are INCREDIBLY confusing, however. I feel like you have to be a damn rocket scientist to figure them out. I learned that my combo of mutations makes me prone to gut distress (Nah, REALLY?) and to depression (ding, ding, ding!) both of which run in my family heavily. It’s also greatly related to thyroid issues, which of course I also struggle with. So here we are again, finding yet another “root” cause to my SIBO. It seems like there’s a new one about every 2 months or so. What will we uncover next? Yellow fever? Elephantiasis?


So, I used the New Year as an excuse to get back to Katie. As I mentioned, I love New Year’s. I love goal-setting and resolution making. I love the idea of a fresh start andblog34 the excitement of ringing in the new year with bells and whistles and kisses. When we got back from our trip to  Kentucky, I picked up my dusty, out-of-tune guitar. I clumsily strummed it and sang. I only made it a few songs before my fingers hurt, and my rhythm was terrible, but I did it. I’ve played every single day since. I agreed to teach Gender and Violence for the University of Hawai’i over the summer. I took on a temporary (but totally awesome!) gig as a writer and social worker for Making Media That Matters with Hawai’i Women in Filmmaking (PUHlease support blog35us by liking us on Facebook!) – a group dedicated to using film as a means for teenage girls to express themselves and the issues that they deal with. It’s been SUPER fun so far. I met with my boss for my other job and asked for more hours. He agreed as we are moving into the Legislative season here in Honolulu (it’s a political org) and it’s been keeping me hoppin’! I submitted a story that was accepted for another local magazine, and I’ve made a concerted effort to get to the beach more and be outside in nature more.


So basically, I’m trying. It’s still sort of an effort some days, but I will admit that I DO feel better when I get out and do what I need to do and what makes me happy. My guitar-playing blisters are back and I’ve learned 3 new songs. I’m loving my new job and excited to start planning my syllabus for the summer for UH. I’ve missed teaching. My ND and I are addressing the mutations (I feel like an alien when I refer to myself as havingblog36 “mutations”) and I will start “treatment” (i.e. a lot of methylated vitamins) for that very soon. I hope this improves my mood and motivation. Plus, I’m still dealing with residual hormonal issues from the surgery, so there’s that. But that’s been significantly better, thank God. I’m sure Joe and everyone else in my life thanks God, also. 😛

What a crazy-ass rollercoaster of a year 2015 was. While I really hated a whole damn lot of it, I certainly also learned a lot about myself. And I’ve had a lot of fun with you guys and with this blog. It’s nice to know I’m not alone and it’s nice to connect with strangers over small intestines and ovaries. 😛


To add insult to SIBO injury, my poor little sis was diagnosed with SIBO a few weeks ago. I had a sneaking suspicion she had it, but I felt SO terrible when she told me it was official. This means that all 4 of us (my 3 sisters and I) have gut issues and disorders. Thanks, parents. 😛 It sucks to watch her struggle and go through all of the stages I went through blog37last year. It’s also hard not to play doctor. I’ve read so much and learned and researched sooo much that I think I’m some kind of SIBO savant (I’m not), but I have to hold my tongue and let her handle it her own way. We’re alike in so many ways (this is how alike we are – this picture was NOT staged to be the same. Here we are getting our Master’s degrees from the SAME school in the SAME thing, social work, and these pics were taken one year apart. YEAH. :P) I forget sometimes that we’re going to react differently; she’s not me and I’m not her. And hey – if we’ve learned ONE thing, it’s that no one reacts to SIBO in a predictable or similar way right? I try not to send her stuff I know she won’t read, but it’s harrrrrd. It’s so tempting!  I’m er, obviously not so good at that whole holding back thing I’m afraid. But I’m working on it. (Sorry sis!) Several people have said, “Oh she’s so lucky to have you to help guide her through this!” and it makes me want to laugh, because I think that’s the last thing she wants.

Next on my to-do agenda is to get back on the wagon. Theblog38  Fast Tract Diet wagon. For those that have never read my blog before, I am a HUGE lover of the Fast Tract Diet for SIBO. To see why I chose it, read my post on it here. I get so frustrated that newbies never know about this diet option, since doctors only ever recommend FODMAPS or SCD (which, let’s face it…if that shit were working for all of us, there would be far fewer people reading this blog right now). I see success stories in the Fast Tract Facebook group every day, so if you’re feeling frustrated by your diet and not getting results, or you’ve been on your diet for months and you’re still a bloated miserable monster, look into the FTD (plus the new app is totally kickass!) Here is the website for the diet with tons of great info for you. **And no, I’m not selling it or getting kickbacks for this ringing endorsement (but ahem, I would glad accept them…I’m lookin’ at you, Norm, for I think I’ve brought you a lot of business there, buddy! :P) In all seriousness though, I actually just really believe in it. However, if whatever diet you are currently on is working for you, by all means continue.**


Ever since that initial food slip-up on vacation, I’ve never REALLY gotten back to it, not entirely. I need to tighten up the diet, make a concerted effort to keep up with my workouts, and treat my body better. I swore I would never take my body for granted again after getting sick (much like a little kid that promises they will appreciate feeling normal if they can JUST get over the stomach flu!) but I totally, like, lied. Just a few months after feeling better I’m slacking off and putting crap in my body. I’m skipping my runs and binge watching high school dramas on Netflix (high school dramas are sort of my thing…my secret tv shame). It wasn’t TOTALLY terrible, but it wasn’tblog39 great. You would think I would have learned from this last year, but I’m clearly dumb as dirt. So…who’s with me? Let’s DO THIS. If you’ve been slacking and you’re ready to recommit or you just need a good kick in the ass because you haven’t really started your SIBO diet yet, let’s do it together!  I swear I wish I had someone to walk around behind me and whisper fear-mongering things in my ear or smack food out of my hand. Someone needs to be my virtual hand-slapper. I’m crawling out of the sugar and gluten quicksand and draggin’ yer ass with me.


Before I forget, I’ve noticed that many people after reading the blog try to find and follow me on facebook. If you’ve tried this and are offended that I haven’t added you, my sincere apologies. For now, I’m trying to keep facebook to people I actually know. Sometimes that includes people that I spent a lot of time talking to in the SIBO groups, but I very rarely add complete strangers. Please don’t be offended by this, I just post a lot of personal stuff on there. However, I’m totally fine with you following me on instagram, if you’re so inclined. I do post pics of yummy FTD/low fodmap recipes on there pretty frequently if you are in need of food help (as well as copious amounts of cat pictures).  🙂 


Click on the little icon below to follow!

 

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Let’s make 2016 amazing. I’ve dubbed it #theyearofkatie. And it’s going to be, dammit! Make it the #yearofyou, too. 🙂

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Let’s not beat around the bush, ok?  My life is absolutely crazy.  

 

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Pre-surgery! #byebyeoscar #ovaryfarewelltour

The last time I wrote, I was just about to have surgery to have my left Ovary (Oscar) and Fallopian tube removed, due to a large tumor that was found via ultrasound and MRI (see previous entry here for details on Oscar the Ovary). The surgery went splendidly (not that I remember any of it as I was passed out drooling on the surgical table) and the surgeon assured us it was quite textbook.  I awoke in recovery feeling super sore and groggy, while they pumped me full of happy drugs.  I wasn’t in nearly as much pain as I anticipated, and being that I was massively worried that I was, indeed, a GIANT baby and super wussy about pain, I was relieved.  Joe came in and explained that the Doc had to run into another surgery, but that the surgery went well, though the tumor was much larger than they initially thought. He held up his hands to demonstrate its giant Oscar-y size, and compared it to the size of a “deflated football” (cue Tom Brady pun).  No wonder I was so damn bloated.  Oscar was playing a freaking football game in there.  Asshole.


The surgeon had performed a frozen biopsy during surgery to assess if the

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Post-surgery. All smiles because of glorious pain meds.

mass was cancerous or not.  The biopsy came back benign and Joe and I were both happy and relieved.  The nurses got me sitting up and more alert and ready to head home.  They put me in some giant diaper-looking shorts (yeah…watch out fellas, purrrrrrrrr) and wheeled me down to the car. The first night was actually probably the easiest.  I was totally doped up on Oxy and Percocet, and drifted into a dark, dreamless sleep, wondering why they didn’t send me home with pictures of Oscar.  I mean, it’s not like I wanted to display him in a jar on my mantle…but I wanted to at least see what the bastard looked like.  


The next few days were a little tougher, but all in all, a super easy recovery. Many people warned me that recovery would be super hard, but it was surprisingly very simple.  I’d cooked up a storm the week prior, so I had healthy food just waiting to be heated for me.  Joe took the week off to help take care of me, and we played cards and games and watched ALOT of cancerblog3Netflix.  I had all of these dreams and visions of writing and taking online sign language classes and instead I stayed in bed, propped up on pillows watching Switched at Birth (I have a thing for wholesome family dramas…again, don’t judge me).  The 3rd and 4th days I hobbled around a little more, even going for a walk around the block after dinner.  The worst part was being bed-ridden.  I don’t do so well with that.  I am an active person and being in bed for several days was painfully boring.  The

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My lil sis came over to play games with me. She had her beer, I had mah pain meds. 🙂

pain meds were funny.  For some reason, they really wouldn’t “hit” me until I ate some food. Then…WHAM!  I was high as a little Katie kite.  It was quite fun from what I can recall.  I remember trying to write a blog one night and thinking that I had never been funnier, had never been wittier, and when I read it (soberly) the next day, I died laughing.  And not because of my amazing wit. Because it was like a drunk 7 year old with a learning disability had written it.


By the 5th day I had started to ween myself off pain meds (they’re extremely cancerblog4bad for motility and thus, bad for SIBO…and I did NOT go through all of this shit this year to bring SIBO back in just 5 days). I was still taking them at night, when my pain was at its worst (from moving around all day).  My incisions were gross: 1 on each side and 1 raw, disgusting belly button, and my belly puffy and swollen, but I applied comfrey cream each night and did a castor oil pack for inflammation every day as well.  I also took curcumin, which is supposed to help with tissue regeneration and swelling (good to know if you have any kind of surgical procedure looming!). Anyway, on the 5th night, I had my first venture out into the world again. Joe came home and I was so chatty and irritating he told me that I desperately needed to get out of the house.  He announced we were going to PetSmart. “Sweet!  Let me just pop my pain med real quick!”  We went to PetSmart to pick up litter and kitty food, when…lo and behold, I saw it.  A

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I mean. Best. Thing. EVER.

green, sequined, mermaid kitty costume. “OHHHHHMYGOD!” I exclaimed. “PUHHHLEASE can we get this? PUHLEASE?!?!”  Yes, I was on drugs.  Joe looked doubtful.  “Don’t make me play the surgery card,” I warned. Joe laughed and said, “You’re high and she will hate that.”  To which I replied, “But this green color will really pop against her fur!”  Joe raised his eyebrows.  “Enough Project Runway for you, babe.”  We bought the amazingness and I got many hours of joy out of it.  TOTALLY worth $6.99, kids. Every damn penny.  


I improved more and more every day and walked just a little bit further every day as well.  The first time I walked 2 miles (7 days after surgery) I was so proud!  It’s a funny thing to go from distance running to slowly walking 2 miles.  One thing I noticed right away is that the huge lower bloating was

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Crazy before and after Oscar extraction!

mostly just…GONE. My baby belly had vanished!  It was that F#&$ING Oscar all along (since clearing SIBO, anyway). That rat bastard.  Here I am, taking every supplement known to man and agonizing over which food is causing this swelling and WHY OH WHY is the bloat not gone now that SIBO is gone?!?!?! and all of this time it was a freaking tumor.  Of course.  Because that is just how my life has decided to go.  😛


Two weeks go by and I’m feeling better and better and walking every day. I’m cooking again and healing and feeling super optimistic-and-rosy-sunshin-y that my health woes are slowly starting to sort themselves out.  I’ve worked hard, I’ve remained diligent, and now I will be rewarded with better health, right? Hahahahahaha ohhhhh dear little optimistic idiot…nope!


I go to see my doctor for my two-week post-surgical follow-up.  I feel I should note that I had to wait over 2 hours to see him.  I good-naturedly cancerblog6really didn’t even mind waiting.  I had my book, and I kept telling myself, “This wait is a good sign.  It means your doctor is taking time to sit and talk with patients and answer their questions thoroughly.”  I even posted on facebook about it, assuring myself that if I was patient, it would come back to me in a good way.  But again, nope!  The good-natured moron strikes again!  


I’m shuffled into an exam room where I wait another 20 minutes.  The oncologist swoops in, very quickly checks my incisions, states that I am healing at a “speed-of-light” rate (das’ right doc, over achiever right cheeere) and then drops a big ole bomb.  Allow me to properly set the stage…

***DOC WOOSHES IN***


DOC: Aloha!  How are we feeling?

ME: Good!  The recovery has been very easy, no real troubles.  My incisions are healing nicely.  
DOC: (inspects my incisions) Wow, those are healing super fast!  It seems you are healing at a speed-of-light rate!  Well, as it happens, it’s a super good thing we took out the tumor, as it turns out it was a Granulosa Cell Carcinoma.  So it’s lucky you made the decision to take out the entire ovary and fallopian tube, because…

ME: Um hold UP a sec. (I blink at him for a moment).  Carcinoma?  Are…are you saying that I have cancer?
DOC: Yes.  Well (clears throat) I’m saying that I think you did  have cancer, but I’m optimistic that we got it out.  
ME: Um. Uhhhhh, ok.  But you told me after surgery that the tumor was benign?  
DOC: Yes, the frozen biosy we did in the middle of surgery came back negative, but we also send samples out to other labs that do a more thorough analysis.  This is when we found that it was, indeed, a carcinoma.  
Your tumor was very large and it’s likely it was highly estrogen-producing, which is why I think you haven’t had a menstrual cycle in 15 months.  I think that now the tumor has been removed, your cycle will continue.  I will see you in three weeks.  If you haven’t had a period by then, we will take further steps.
ME:  Further steps?
DOC: Yes.  If you haven’t, we will need to do another ultrasound and perhaps a biospy because this particular cancer has a tendency to spread to endometrial cancer, so we will want to closely monitor that.  
ME: Ummmmm, errrrrrrr, ok then. What about the right ovary?  Should we be concerned at all that it has cysts as well?  
DOC: (smiles like a f*cking maniac) No.  Not at this point.  We’ll keep an eye on it but there is no need for concern.  You still have PCOS and are likely to always have cysts.  Ok, sound good?  I’ll see you in three weeks!  
ME:  Er, Ok.  Thanks doc! (I chirped this out like a complete idiot…like the man did not just tell me I have cancer and then try to shove me out the door not-so-subtely).
DOC: No problem at all.  See you soon!  *Exits


cancerblog7I walked out the door, wondering numbly what had just happened. Once I got down to the street to walk home, I began thinking, “WTF is wrong with me? Why didn’t I ask questions?  WTF is wrong with him, oh-so-casually mentioning I have (had) cancer?!?!  Why didn’t he give me even 30 seconds to just absorb the information and gather myself so I could ask questions?”  I promptly called my husband and couldn’t answer any of his very valid questions.  I felt like the moron of the century.  I immediately texted my ND, who I’ve seen so often through this health storm that I swear we’re becoming actual friends, and she replied immediately, “Oh wow.  Ok.  Give me 24 hours to do some hard core research and I’ll see you on Thursday.  Don’t stress, we’ll make a gameplan together and I’ll consult with your oncologist and get more information.”  I was thankful and relieved.  I assumed she would get more info outta him than I would.  


So, cancer.  CANCER?!?!?!  Really universe?  I mean for serious?!?!?!?  


I didn’t exactly freak out for some reason.  Maybe it was the way the doc so cheerfully delivered the news that something creepy had been growing inside my body, but I was ok.  I think he was probably just trying to manage mycancerblog8 reaction.  I wish I had had the forethought to say, “Look man, I’m not a really reactive person.  I’m not going to freak out, or sob, I just need you to give me a minute to process this and to answer my questions.”  But really, if ever there WERE a time to freak, it would be when the C-bomb is dropped like it’s hot. However, I just sat there like a damn deer in headlights that has cancer.  


I got home and called two of my sisters in a conference call.  The first thing my oldest sister said was, “Whoa.  WTF?  Well, I just want you to know…I will NOT be shaving my head in solidarity.”  Hahahahahahaha.  They’re assholes. But they’re funny assholes.  They made me laugh.  And yes, sister, if it ever came to that, you WOULD be shaving your f*cking head in solidarity. Because I will get you hammered on wine, wait until you pass out, and then sneak into your bedroom and shave your damn head.  You bettah believe it.  


I did a little research on Granulosa Cell Carcinoma, but I had to limit it because I knew so little.  I had no idea what stage I was in, how large thecancerblog9 tumor was in size exactly, and I wondered how thorough the surgeon had been.  He had told me many times that he was doubtful it was cancer, so the thought kept coming up: you don’t find what you’re not looking for.  How sure was he that he had “gotten it all?”  


I went to meet my trusty ND a few days later.  She was great as always.  She had printed out several articles for me and was armed with info.  She had gotten the biopsy report and surgeon’s notes and though she hadn’t been able to speak to the surgeon directly yet, she said she would hunt him down and talk to him.  In the meantime, I had made another appointment with another oncologist/gynocologist for a 2nd opinion.  A gyno friend in Honolulu had given me the name of another person she trusted (and also actually assured me that my original surgeon was the best on island, so while his bedside manner was not stellar, as least his surgical skills are known to be!).  I learned cancerblog10that Ovarian Granulosa Cell Carcinoma is a very rare cancer (less than 2-3% of all cancers…why am I always getting some shit no one’s ever heard of before? SIBO? Pylori? Now this?!?!?!  :P).  Of course it is.  It is most often seen in women over 45, non-white women, and women with ovarian cancer in their families. None of which I have/am.  Again, of course. Because it is a rare cancer, there isn’t a ton of research on treatment/protocols/survival rates.  Some, but not a lot. My ND was insistent that I get the endometrial biopsy regardless of whether or not I start to menstruate again, which I agree with.  The peace of mind would be welcome. We also agreed to start me on natural chemotherapy as a preventative measure (which basically involves very high doses of IV Vitamin C…many lyme patients actually use this protocol so some of you may be familiar with it).  She also informed me that according to the biopsy report, the entire mass was about 17cm, and the cancerous tumor was about 12cm. HUGE!  Gross.  She also delivered the good news that I am officially a stage 1A.  Oh hells yeah.  Can’t beat that!  I’m a cancer overachiever, ya’ll!  She gave me a lot of stuff to read and told me not to let the doctors intimidate me.  Doctors can be domineering, ego-centric, and cancer is scary, so the combination often results in deer-in-headlights-with-cancer syndrome, but she warned me to be aggressive.  “They work for YOU,” she told me.  


So, there you have it.  My update is not at ALL what I imagined it to be.  It’s kind of funny, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking/reading/pondering about

'The problem is I can't tell the difference between a deeply wise, intuitive nudge from the Universe and one of my own bone-headed ideas!'

‘The problem is I can’t tell the difference between a deeply wise, intuitive nudge from the Universe and one of my own bone-headed ideas!’

intuition…leaning into it, listening to it, learning to rely on it a little harder. But I often joke that my intuition is broken.  It’s ALWAYS wrong.  If my small intestine is the slow kid in class, my intuition is the overly-confident loudmouth that sits in the back shouting the wrong answers.  I was SO SURE that this wasn’t cancerous.  I confidently told everyone this.  Now who’s the dumbass with cancer?  I need to just listen to my gut and then do the complete opposite of whatever it tells me.


Okay, back to SIBO (but actually, this next part applies to a new cancer diagnosis, too…however I’ll use SIBO for examples).  During this whole surgical process, I was super afraid it would bring back SIBO symptoms.  I know, I know, a chick with cancer shouldn’t really be that concerned, but I think I’ve been hyper-focused on it because it feels like something I have a little more control over.  I had ALOT of time to think and be online during this recovery time.  I commented on every post anyone ever made on facebook. I’m sure everyone loved that. You’re welcome. It got me thinking more about what I alluded to on my last post.  When you get a chronic illness, your life drastically and immediately changes.  It’s a SERIOUS adjustment.  As such, it’s really interesting and important to allow yourself to move through the grieving process.  We’ve all heard of the steps of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  My stages of grief are usually: Eat body weight in pizza and chocolate (denial); pick a fight with my husband for no apparent reason (anger); decide to give up pizza binging ONLY if I’m still allowed wine (bargaining); cry intensely while watching something like Grey’s Anatomy (depression); and finally wake up one day, start a damn diet, exercise, start a blog to bitch publicly about my woes, and take every supplement ever created (acceptance).  I see it often in the forums. What it looks like:


Denial and Isolation: “I don’t believe I have to stop eating ____ because ____” OR “I refuse to give up ____ because I’ve eaten it my whole life so how can I be reacting to it suddenly?!?”  I believe denial to be a very key part in the grieving process.  It’s a self-protection thing; not looking at what we really have to face because we’re not ready.  I often like to set up camp here and hang out until someone smacks me in the face with reality, which I find very irritating indeed. Another interesting part about denial is how we pull others into it. Meaning, sometimes we can’t face the truth and we try to ask others for their opinion. We pull people in that we know are emotionally or socially invested (friends, family, others with our same illness) to help keep our delusions.  We tell them to be “brutally honest” but they often cannot.  They will tell you what they think you want to hear or what they personally wish to believe because they are emotionally and fervidly invested in us and care about us.  Their own emotional attachment clouds their vision as well, as we sweep them up in our denial and make them play our denial-filled game.  🙂 Isolation is sometimes used by social workers in conjunction with the denial stage.  This reason is clear, right?  We isolate because we don’t want anyone else to break our denial.  I don’t WANT to leave my house bubble of pizza and Gilmore Girls because someone might actually try to tell me that eating pizza 6 meals a day isn’t good for a digestive condition.  


Anger: “I am so sick of this shit!  I will not be on this strict diet anymore!” OR “Everyone in this forum is wrong and I’m pissed so I’m going to take it out on everyone and everything around me, including getting completely furious and taking things out of context that I normally wouldn’t! RAWWWWR!” Anger will manifest itself in so many ways, won’t it?  Anger at our loved ones for not “getting” it, anger at our friends for not respecting our dietary restrictions, angry at all of the people around us happily munching away on pasta and pizza without a care in the world, anger at ourselves for not taking our health seriously or taking things for granted before we got sick…sigh.  Anger is one of the easiest emotions to go to.  Getting furious is a way of channeling pent-up energy.  It’s a way of making sense of some of the grief you’re feeling.  Even if you have the presence of mind to realize that your anger is illogical or WAY out of proportion with the situation, it’s still an easier go-to than sadness.  My husband and I have a joke about the anger stage.  He calls it my “Bouts of Aggression stage” (aka BOA, as in, “You’re having a BOA right now”).  I’ll get super worked up about something and I’ll look at him and his eyes are big as saucers and he looks scared.  BOA.  Anger too, is a protective stage.  And, when you are facing an unjust loss, it’s natural to feel angry about it.  One of my favorite professors from Grad School, whom I’ve quoted on here before, always said, “Feelings are neither good nor bad, they just are. ” I love that, and try to remember it when someone else’s feelings don’t make sense to me.  


Bargaining:  In the movies, people in this stage are always making deals with God…of the “I promise to go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life if you’ll only…” variety.  In real life, bargaining takes on so many different forms.  “If I give up milk, I can still have sugar.”  OR “I know exercise is important but I don’t feel well.  If I don’t exercise but stick to the diet strictly, it evens itself out, right?” With SIBO, other than denial, this is the stage I see most often. Probably because it’s so glaringly apparent.  😛 Bargaining statements also often come in the form of “what ifs” and “if onlys.” We might even try to bargain with pain or with the past.  We get so desperate that we will do anything not to feel more pain or loss.  So we choose to dwell on the past, trying to negotiate our way out of our present situation, as if we can step into a time machine and change our past decisions. It’s important to note that bargaining is often a reaction to feeling helpless or scared or vulnerable and is sometimes used as a means to gain back power and control.  We bargain and beg with the SIBO gods (or devils…lets face it, those assholes are probably devils and demons) in an effort to feel like we actually have some kind of control over the outcome.  


Depression:  “I want to die.”  OR “I can’t imagine anything being harder than this.”  OR “No one understands and I just want to give up and I don’t care what happens.”  The depression stage is a DOOZY and is often the one people get most stuck in.  While often we oscillate between stages, it is common for depression to last the longest.  It’s the catastrophizing stage, the stage in which we lose perspective.  If you are thinking to yourself while reading this, “NO! YOU just don’t get how horrible this is for ME!” then I challenge you to do some deep thinking and soul-searching.  Is this the worst it could ever be? You might feel the worst you have ever felt, but do you have people in your life that you love?  Do you have a roof over your head and disgusting SIBO food in your belly?  Because if you have those two simple things, you are MILES above many people in the world.  This isn’t meant to shame you. Depression is also an important stage and one that everyone (me, too!) has to move through.  It’s important to emphasize that the depression stage is not a mental illness.  While therapy can help and is indeed suggested by this social worker, the depression stage is the appropriate response to a loss.  We are grieving the loss of our old life, of our old way of being.  It’s hard.  We’re left with intense sadness we don’t know what to do with.  So let yourself feel it, try not to chastise yourself for being sad or for catastrophizing, but also, don’t move into depressionville and set up shop.  For one thing, most people in your life cannot handle it and you will end up even more isolated than ever. And for another thing, it’s a terrible way to live.  Give yourself full permission to grieve, and then give yourself full permission to let go and move forward, because you’re better and stronger than the depressed version of yourself. You’re YOU, and you’re a one of a kind…a damn snowflake or some shit.  


Acceptance:  Ah, the holy grail!  You’re here!  You made it! Everything’s gonna be ok!  Wellll not entirely.  That is why acceptance is still a stage, instead of a state of being.  Most people are not ever going to feel 100% ok with a significant loss.  There will be times in which you’re still pissed that you can’t find something to eat, times when you’re still a little down, times you may decide to regress to bargaining because you realize a new food is actually bothering you.  Acceptance is about learning to adjust to the reality that this is your new permanent reality.  We may never love this reality, but we can learn to live with it and accept it.  This new lifestyle becomes our new norm.  The inclination is to sometimes try to live our old normal life as it was pre-diagnosis, but through time and acceptance, we learn that we must adjust.  Our lives have been forever changed and we must learn to adapt by reorganizing certain aspects of our lives.  Acceptance might simply boil down to just having more good days than bad.  And that’s ok.  Those good days will slowly increase.  


This all might seem quite obvious to you, but I think for many, we don’t realize when starting out what a long haul this is going to be.  Many seem to think they’ll pop a few antibiotics and poof!  They’ll be cured!  People even seem overwhelmingly desperate to get those antibiotics (which in some cases can be hard – some insurance companies don’t cover it and some docs refuse to prescribe them).  And I’m sorry to tell you, but antibiotics are not the key to this illness.  If they were, we’d all be better.  Unfortunately many doctors don’t help, as they tend to downplay or flat our refuse that some digestive issues exist at all.  The point is, while punching SIBO in the junk is absolutely possible (and encouraged!) it can take quite a while.  And understanding and accepting where you are in the grieving process can help you cope.  Don’t beat yourself up, feel your feelings. It’s not fun to be chained to your toilet (but thank God for the cancerblog12internet, right? Don’t even ACT like you don’t do it!), it’s unfair that others can eat whatever they desire, it’s frustrating that even healthy foods and a strict diet hurts your belly. And while I always want you to be true to your feelings, I also want to encourage you to keep perspective. You know what’s hilarious?  I always used to say, “SIBO sucks, but at least it’s not cancer.”  Hahahaha whoopsie!  (See?  My ridiculously dumbass intution really had NO idea).  Lastly, try not to expect everyone else around you to “get”it.  Humans are flawed and often can’t quite empathize until they go through something similar.  Accept where you are, then try to move forward. You can do it.  🙂


I want to thank you for reading.  I want to thank you for your amazing support, kind words, hilarious jokes, kicks in the ass when needed, and my fellow SIBO partners for befriending me, helping to guide me, and challenging me to just keep going.  Imma working on my Recipe page and will have 6-7 new recipes coming your way soon!  Also, if you’re new to the blog and new to a SIBO diagnosis, check out my SIBO Guide page for some guidance on good resources.  If you have questions about H. Pylori, the Elemental (there are actually 4 entries on this!), or how I came to decide on the Fast Tract Diet, scroll and read or click the highlighted links for more info.


Until next time, aloha!  🙂

cancerblog14

Ovary Farewell Tour

September 8, 2015

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I am flying through the air at 30,000 feet, thinking about my ovary. An ovary is a strange thing to think about on a thursday afternoon, flying through the air in a steel tube of impatient, head-phoned travelers trying to ignore the screaming baby. Perhaps the baby is why I keep thinking about it, as babies begin with that simple little ovary. It’s my 36th birthday today and sidebar, I had an incredibly fun beach birthday bash with friends to celebrate.  It was cat-themed.  Because I am a 9 year old girl.  You know you have good friends when they dress up as cats for you and drink beer on the beach.  🙂 And yes, I am wearing a cat bikini.  

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If you’ve never stopped by my little corner of the internet before, welcome! You can read past entries by clicking the home page and scrolling, or by clicking on “My SIBO Battle” above for the history of my digestive and thyrodial (yes, I sometimes make up words) woes. OR click here for the previous entry, or here if you’ve stopped by to learn about my experience with the elemental diet, or my Recipe tab if you want some yummy, SIBO-friendly recipes.

For 36 years I’ve given very little thought to that ovary, probably even far less than your average woman. Even as a teenager, I somehow doubted I was going to be a Mother. I was quiet about this doubt, because growing up in the South as a woman MEANT Motherhood, and wifeliness, and these things were (and still are) very tied into being a “proper” and “good” woman. I can recall someone many years ago talking about how my husband’s friend was marrying a “Good Southern girl” and what she really alluded to before and around that statement was that girl’s (open) desire to get married and start a family quickly. I remember thinking, “I will never be a ‘good Southern girl.'” And despite myself, feeling sort of shameful or sad about it…or maybe it was just the loneliness of knowing it was one more thing that made me not fit in, in the Southland. Either way, it was the beginning of a lifetime of defending my choice around Motherlessness.

Anyway…my ovary. My husband Joe and I have named it “Oscar.” I have a thing about namingconfuseduterus objects women’s names. It pisses me off. I think it’s because it’s a default of our culture to so naturally objectify women that we automatically attribute female names to objects. Things like boats, cars, hell even hurricanes, are given the pronoun of “she” and given a female-sounding name.  It’s one of those seemingly small and harmless things that perhaps isn’t so harmless after all.  That kind of thing fascinates me.  So I name objects with boy names. I know. I am SUCH a rebel. And I think it funny to name an ovary, something so intrinsically and overtly female, “Oscar.” We named it Oscar because it is grouchy…as in, of course, Oscar the Grouch. It has become hostile and surly and needs to find a new garbage can in which to live.  Yes, I just essentially called my body a garbage can, which isn’t a too-off analogy for it these days.  😛

ovary
Looking pregnant when you’re not pregnant. No fun.

The last I wrote, I was celebrating the fact that I had totally kung-fu chopped SIBO and H. Pylori in the balls. I have to admit, I was READY for some celebrating. After months of a crazy strict diet, becoming a bit of a hermit, feeling ill, dealing with debilitating stomach pain, and feeling lonely because no one in my life REALLY got it…I was all too ready to reclaim my former perky, adventurous, go-get-’em self. But something was still…off. I was still having symptoms. I still had intermittent digestive issues, bloating, fatigue, and back pain. At first I just attributed it to a weakened gut. I’d blasted it with antibiotics, strong herbals and antimicrobials, hundreds of acupuncture needles and B12 shots, and denied it many delicious foods and drinks. The fact that it was pissy was understandable. But after weeks and weeks of unchanging symptoms, I knew something was still up. After being mistaken for being pregnant at the grocery store AGAIN (what IS it with people at the grocery thinking I’m preggo? It seems I’m always accused of being “with child” in the same grocery store on my block, which I suppose is convenient because it allows me to slink home quickly to feel bad about myself in private. Of course this is after rubbing my belly fakely to the person that has audaciously asked when I’m due while pretending to be happy about my fake baby. I just feel like lying in that instance is a public service. No one wants to be that uncomfortable). I went back to my ND, my trusty ole girl that has been with me in this fight from the beginning and said, “What else ya got? We need to keep checking…something else is up.”

She asked when my last ultrasound had been taken. I’ve had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) for quite a long time now, but over the past few years, it seems to have gotten worse. PCOS is an unpleasant, but fairly mild illness. It ovary2causes really fun things like heavy/painful periods, spikes in hormones (especially testosterone), weight gain, acne, unwanted facial hair, and mood swings. Sounds fun huh? It basically makes you so ugly and disgusting that you don’t need birth control anymore because no one wants to touch you. I hadn’t had an ultra sound for a few years, so my doc suggested we start there. Despite my digestive issues being “resolved” (so said the tests anyway), she wondered if there might be something going wrong with mah lady bits. So, off to the gyno I go! (Never a fun sentence for a woman).

ovary3As I was getting a standard ultrasound the radiation tech was making a lot of noise. Many, “Hmmmms” and “Oh, MMmm Hmmmmms” were happening. She asked if we could do a pelvic ultrasound as well to get a better look. Why not? My body has become fodder for new explorers. Er, I mean that in a non-slutty way (the slutty way would be far more fun). While performing the pelvic, I had a LOT of pain. It was extremely uncomfortable and the incessant murmuring of the tech made me think that yup…they found something weird. My body is just chock FULL of weird shit.  But alas, radiation techs are sworn to secrecy for some inexplicable reason while they make discouraging faces and probe your most private of parts.


The next day I met with my ND for the results. They found that my left ovary (Oscar) was nearly 4 times the size of my right ovary (Kanye West) and that there was a substantial growth of an indeterminable size on Oscar as well. They referred me for an MRI to get a better look at that old grouch.

A few days later, I go for the MRI. Easy peasy. Big, loud tube that screeches and clicks and clucks at you rudely. Then you’re done. The next day I again met with my ND for the results. She was very solemn this time. Serious face. Ruh roh. The growth was in fact a grapefruit-sized mass that was both hard and had fluid-filled sacks. Dammit, Oscar. She and the doc that read the MRI wanted to refer me to Oncology at the Kapiolani Women’s Center to see what my options were. Oncology is always a scary word that tends to sort of hang in the air after uttered, taunting you with its possible canceryness. But, ovary4in all honesty, I was mostly unworried. I’ve had these “female issues” my entire life and every time they find a new cyst or scary something, it turns out to be nothing. I’m young and despite my small intestine being the slow kid in class, I’m relatively healthy. I was pretty dern confident that I would see this scaryologist, and he/she would pat my head and tell me it’s “nothing” and send me on my uncancery way.


I go to see the Gyno/Oncologist. He was highly recommend by my ND, and he turned out to be really wonderful; personable, patient, and easy to talk to. ovary5He did none of the “I AM A DOCTOR AND THEREFORE GOD” stuff that has become so familiar to us SIBO folk. He told me, however, that he was quite concerned after looking at my MRI. He said he wanted to examine me. Up in the stirrups I go (again, never a fun sentence for a woman). The funny part was, I was in a teaching hospital, so there were 5 med student interns staring right at my lady junk. A few of them tried to awkwardly make conversation… “So…you live around here?” or, “isn’t parking horrible in this area?” to which I just had to reply, “Guys. You’re starting at my vagina. Let’s just skip the small talk.” They laughed and I stared at the ceiling, wishing I had the forethought to draw something funny on my pubic bone for the show.


After he examined me, he sat up, looked at me and said, “Yup. We have got to take that out. Soon.” I was surprised, really. I said, “Soooo…surgery?” and he nodded. 3 incisions, out through the belly button. Gross. The thought of pulling a tumor out through my belly button makes me wanna hurl. He told me that removing the entire ovary was ideal, in case it was cancerous (if it is, it would be safer to have removed as much as possible), but that if I was at all concerned about fertility, he would leave it. I told him that I wouldn’t be having children. He looked at me concerned, “Are you SURE? You’re only 35!” I nodded. “I’m sure.” I said. He asked again, “But what if you change your mind? Are you sure you are sure?” This is something that irks me (and I imagine any woman that chooses childlessness)…the assumption that we might “change our minds” as if we don’t understand our own wants or desires. It’s quite insulting and frustrating. If someone says, “I want children!” The answer is not automatically, “Are you SURE?!?!?! You’ll probably change your mind!!!” I looked at him in the eye and said, “Doc, have you ever been sure about something for 35 years? I have. I’m sure.” He laughed good-naturedly and said, “I haven’t ever thought about it that way. Fair enough.” I was liking this dude more and more. Besides, even if he did preserve Oscar, my PCOS is so terrible that I haven’t ovulated in over a year, making it an “almost certainty” (my gyno’s words) that I would have to go the in vitro route to conceive. I’ve always doubted I would become a Mother (but I’ve also always tried to remain open to it as well) however I certainly have never wanted it badly enough to go through THAT. I always imagined adopting orovary6 fostering if I were to parent, anyway. But I’m rambling. I think I always feel a need to explain or pander to people reading this blog that are silently judging my non-Motherly ways. I don’t know why. Ok that’s a total lie. I do know why, it’s because we still view women’s “roles” as synonymous with Motherhood. It’s still, even in these “progressive” times, strange to nearly everyone that I have not longed my whole life to be a Mother. People really have severe reactions about it, so I am almost always (because of these reactions) a little bit on the defensive about this choice, which I truly hate. I don’t want my defenses up. It seems unfair. My husband NEVER gets questions or judgmental looks or statements like, “Ohhhhh, you’ll change your mind…just you wait!” They accept his childlessness with complete approval. But if I tell someone that even though I really enjoy and like children, I just don’t think that parenthood is the path for me, they look at me like I am the Antichrist and immediately seem suspicious that I will try to kidnap and cage their children Hanzel-and-Gretel-style.

To be perfectly clear, just because I have made this choice does not mean that I don’t respect your right to have children.  I love my nieces and nephews.  I love my friend’s kids and love being auntie.  I will jump up and down with you when you tell me you are pregnant and buy your child ridiculous gender-neutral toys (because that is what Auntie Katie does), and I will cry with you when  you suffer a miscarriage or when the in vitro doesn’t work, and I will fight for your right to breastfeed in public (because boobs do not exist solely for men’s pleasure!). I will hardCORE go to bat for any Mom out there, because they do not get even a tenth of the respect they deserve.  I simply would like the same respect for my chosen path.  Perhaps now that Oscar is movin’ on out, this will be a built-in excuse and that disdain will turn to pity. In fact, I’m certain it will. But I refuse to be pitied. Instead I will always make it clear that I have chosen this path for numerous intelligent reasons, and that should be enough. Maybe one day it will be. My biological clock is ticking, and I really find that sound quite soothing. I’ll just let it tick. Reader, meet soapbox. Stepping down now. Damn, this thing is high…

Good God I’ll probably turn 45 and suddenly decide I’m DYING to have a freaking baby and will have to delete all of this.  I’ve always been a late bloomer, after all!  If anyone would get pregnant with one ovary gone and another covered in cysts, believe me…it would be me. 😛 Anywho, we scheduled the surgery for the 8th of September, because I’ve had a fun vacay planned to Portland and Denver for awhile. I’ve taken to calling it my #ovaryfarewellltour. Ya know, show him the sights

ovary7

#ovaryfarewelltour in full effect in PDX!

before he leaves the womb. The oncologist believes that the residual bloating I’ve been experiencing (despite clearing SIBO and pylori) is due to the growth. He said that because of its size, it could be causing other issues as well, as it is pressing against my transverse colon and bladder. This COULD explain so much! I inquired about the possibilities of cancer and he simply said he didn’t know, and we wouldn’t know until he got in there. It’s strange but again, I am weirdly not worried. I feel like it’s silly to waste time worrying and freaking over something that very well may be benign. I’ve spent enough time this year hyper-focused and obsessed with my health and my future. I just don’t wanna do it anymore. Whatever comes I’ll handle it. Er, I hope. But just in case, don’t judge me if my next entry is a self-pitying mass of fear and overwhelming anxiety. 😛


So now, I have to get into the next thing, which has been HUGE for me! H-U-G-E I tell ya!  I posted about it in the SIBO forum but I have to mention it again. Some of you have heard me talk about the Illeocecal Valve. Check out this nifty little blurb about it from this website:


“Between the small intestine and the large intestine is a sphincter-type valve called the Ileocecal Valve (ICV). The purpose of this valve is to “prevent backflow” from the Large Intestine, once any material leaves the Small Intestine. Not all the contents entering the digestive tube are going to be absorbed as food. In fact, much of what is ingested and processed continues to flow through the tube for eventual elimination. At the point where the small intestine ends, it sends its watery waste products into the large intestine.

IF things “are normal” the ileocecal valve:

– Remains closed most of the time.
– Opens briefly to let the contents of the small intestine exit.
– Closes again quickly to prevent any materials in the large intestine from leaking back.

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This very important anatomical structure does an unheralded job. The Ileocecal Valve is such a major cause of digestive symptoms for people that the problem has reached epidemic proportions; yet, outside the chiropractic profession, its function and importance are practically unknown. Problems with an open ileocecal valve (Ileocecal Valve Syndrome) are extremely common in today’s society yet its symptoms are often misdiagnosed. Very few health practitioners understand the significance of the ICV in digestive problems.”


My nd has been talking to me about this because one day, on a whim, she decided to manipulate the valve to close it. I was having stomach pain that very moment and was very bloated and frustrated. She had me lie down and proceeded to push in on my right side and move slowly back and forth in little waves (video of how to do this found on my SIBO Guide page, under Websites/Videos). It isn’t pleasant and hurts when someone pushes on it, but once it actually closes, you feel relief. Sometimes it’s very small at first, sometimes almost imperceptibly so. But a few minutes later I noticed that my stomach pain was subsiding, and my bloat had decreased. She encouraged me to try it at home on myself, or have my husband do it.


The next time I got that weird pain, I dutifully laid down to dig weirdly into my stomach. The things we do, I swear. Anyway, try as I might, I couldn’t “close” it. I ended up nearly giving myself a bruise from pushing so hard. I had Joe try it and he was even worse. He pushed so hard and was digging so deep it was like he was trying to find a buried treasure. We were laughing so hard (in between my screeches and yelps because it felt like he was pushing straight into my kidneys). 😛 The next appt., I asked her to show me again and to explain it in detail. That’s when I videoed it to share with you all. Shortly after that appointment, I left for Portland, Oregon to visit a friend. I had PLANS for Portland. Mainly of the food-and-booze variety. I wanted to test out my new sibo-free belly. I was ready to indulge and drink bourbon and eat my body weight in cheese. My nd

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Gluten and coffee and cheese, oh my!

instructed me to try to close the valve before eating and again afterward. Luckily, the friend I was visiting (Celina) is super comfortable with the body. She’s a yogi and reiki master and when I explained she would have to close my valve multiple times a day, we had a good laugh and she was like, “Well…lay down. Let’s do it!” Aren’t good friends who will close your intestinal valve the best? Haha again…the things we do. It would sometimes take awhile to get it, but when we did, it helped SO. MUCH. I mean I really indulged people. I had gluten. I

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My fantastic Portland buddies! ❤

had beer. I had donuts. I had coffee every single day (I’ve been off coffee and well, ALL of these things for nearly 8 months!). I went out and partied for my birthday and even ate at an all macaroni and cheese restaurant ‘Dis girl wasn’t playin’.  Only a few times did I have pain ( I THINK I am tracing the pain to my digestive enzymes) but each time I did, we worked on it and it subsided quickly, along with much of the bloat. It’s like some sort of weird SIBO switch. DISCLAIMER: This is ONLY going to help you if it is actually your problem. Meaning, this technique will only provide you relief if you are actually having illeocecal valve disfunction. ND DISCLAIMER: My ND wants to be clear that she is not recommending this treatment to others without personal consultation.  This massage technique was recommended to me during my individualized treatment plan and she would recommend you seek medical care/advice from a doctor or educated practitioner before attempting it.  So basically, try it at your own risk.  It certainly made my vacation more fun. 🙂 And it’s a hilarious memory for Celina and I for many years to come. I’d eat and then say, “Close mah valve, gurrrrl!” and she’d get right to work.  When you have friends like that, you can’t really complain too much about life.  🙂

I also began to notice another pattern while on vacay. I only had stomach pain every now and then (about 3x times while on the trip) and the foods I had eaten when the stomach pain came on were not consistent. Then, BING!  A light went on and I remembered that with each of those meals, I had taken digestive enzymes beforehand.  A while ago I was taking Protease as a biofilm disruptor, which I learned really hurt my stomach.  Many people can take these without issue, but for some reason, it gave me terrible stomach cramps.  I have now tried 3 different brands of digestive enzymes and finally realized that all of them have high levels of Protease.  Why didn’t I put this together before, you ask?  Because I am a moron. The connection never made its way into my brain.  I had slowly convinced myself that tomatoes were the culprit, but once I realized the enzyme connection and stopped taking them, I tolerated tomatoes with no problems at all.  I tell you this in case YOU are experiencing some pain and are currently taking enzymes.  It seems that NDs and doctors ALWAYS recommend these and for many people I think it can be extremely helpful.  But some of us are just too sensitive.

So that’s where I am. I have now moved on to Denver to finish this entry and just indulged in a mocha and small sandwich. It’s so fun to eat again, I can’t even tell you all. I even indulged in Portland

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Mah drunk-on-a-rooftop-in-Portland face. 🙂

with a spicy mango, orange, jalepeno infused vodka drink. YUM. And shockingly, no problems whatsoever. F-U-N I tells ya! Those things are highly problematic for SIBO, so right now I’m feeling on top of the world, despite Oscar telling me otherwise. He’s an old bastard anyway. I just love thinking of my ovary as a grumpy, pissed old man. (For those of you reading my blog for the first time…yes, I’m weird)


Denver and Portland brought great times with old friends, LOTS of food andovary13
 booze, trail  running and huffing and puffing while running in the altitude, hours of Dr. Seuss reading with my friend’s adorable little girl, hanging with my aunt and uncle and cousins, and catching up with some of my favorite people in the world – my friend Sarah and my friend Celina. My friend Celina is in so many ways, my complete opposite.  We are so vastly different that we often

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Celina and I

laugh that we even became friends.  But I LOVE our differences. She challenges me to look at the world through an entirely different lens.  She forces me to look at things that make me uncomfortable or to notice things I would never otherwise notice or contemplate.  Likewise, Sarah is one of the most self-aware people you’ll ever meet. She constantly challenges me to break out of my little Katie world and to push beyond my usual thought patterns, which can lead toward self-ridicule and anger at myself. We had many intense conversations about our life choices; why we remain entrenched in the same destructive spaces, why we ignore our higher selves and how we cling to denial out of fear. It stirred up quite a bit in me, honestly, and I need some time to work through it. But despite a surgery looming and some weird life

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Sarah and I

choices that I need to work out in the next few months, I’m so grateful in this moment. No, not for food (ok, not ONLY for fun food) but for…life. For the ability to move outside of myself, to not linger any longer in self-pity or shame about that self-pity. Not gonna lie about it, this year has SUCKED health-wise, but in so many ways it’s been eye-opening. I had my major crutch, my drug-of-choice, my main coping mechanism taken away: FOOD. My entire life I’ve relied on food to soothe, to calm, to celebrate, to cover up pain or anger or fear. Having that taken away has been incredibly difficult and also eye-opening. It’s forced me to really learn to concentrate on other joys in life more, and to focus more inwardly on my feelings instead of just eating them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I’ll still be an emotional eater, but I think I’ve finally learned to look at my relationship with food in a healthier way, as well as (and probably even more importantly) learned to look more closely at my reasons for using food as my emotional savior.  I’m still muddling through all of this, but I can honestly say that all of these health issues, while being a total bitch, have also shown me some things that I needed to focus on; like my attitude, my great privilege in this world, my tendency to self-loathe, my desire to grow and be

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Contemplating mah life in the CO mountains

a better, more empathetic and compassionate version of myself, and my fear of failing. These are things I would eat away. These are things that I need to dive into, instead. Seriously, I am NOT one of these “everything happens for a reason!” people…in fact that statement makes me viscerally angry (work with child sex abuse like I have for awhile and see if you can EVER say that statement again), but I DO, wholeheartedly believe that we can grow and learn and push our boundaries in the face of frustration and difficulty. I am proud to say that I am doing that. It might have taken me awhile and I might have spent one-too-many days holed up in mah “bed cave” (that’s what my husband calls it…when I get REALLY down I lie in bed with the shades drawn with my cat and binge-watch things like “Keeping up with the Kardashians” or “Project Runway”…don’t judge me!!! And simultaneously feel sorry for myself while hating myself for basking in self-pity), but I’m facing it and that’s what matters. We all have to move through those stages in order to get to acceptance…which is something I’ll talk more about next time.

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The hubs and I on our trip. 🙂

Fast forward 4 days and I’m at home, finishing up this entry.  Today is my surgery and I’m less nervous than I thought.  I’ve never even had so much as a stitch, so this is all unfamiliar territory to me.  I was super healthy right up until the day that I wasn’t.  And while I know that surgery and the removal of Oscar will come with it’s own set of issues, I am hopeful that I will finallyoscar15 get some relief from (other) issues.  It’s time to heal and recover and get back to my Katie self.  Some friends and I went out for one last toast to Oscar yesterday. Cheers Oscar…it’s been real.  But now you gots to go.  Rest in peace, ya grouchy old bastard.

 

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#byebyeoscar #ovaryfarewelltour
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