The motto prepping me for surgery and this new journey was: If you set your mind to the goal, you can make anything happen. Our only limitation is ourselves. So I wanted to free myself from all the ropes holding me back. I came to find out that a lot of the ropes I have that hold me back are the ropes I tied I, where there's challenge comes change... and thats the beautiful uncomfortable feeling of growth!
So as I got closer to my surgery date, I turned into a "hippy warrior" LOL I worked on a lot of energy with my mind and body.
To prep my mind, I would clear and clean my environment. Meaning I deep cleaned my house regularly and would clear my energy around my home. I have always been into the "hippy" stuff with crystals and meditation. So that was easy to prep my mind and get into the higher vibrations of life. First, I would smudge my house with sage that I grew. Then, I would burn it with the doors and windows open and release all the negative energy and politely excuse it out of my house. Yeah, it might sound weird... but man, does it work!
To prep, my body I was going to pelvic floor Physical Therapy (PT). For me, one of my biggest joys and stress relief is riding my bike, which I haven't been able to do most of 2021 without extreme pain. Finding out most of my pain was due to my pelvic floor muscles being so tight. So I was super excited to learn about pelvic floor PT.
I started going about a month before surgery. At first, it was super difficult and would cause cramping and bleeding, but I pushed through. My PT said if it got too much to contact my doctor, but I felt like it was Felicia's way of fighting the process (man did she give me hell the last month before she was gone!). The bleeding eventually lightened and the cramping started to lessen each week. In addition, I noticed that I could do many of the exercises while driving or watching TV or on the computer, which made it super convenient. By the third week, my PT was very impressed with my progress in releasing my tension.
I would advocate for anyone to see a Pelvic Floor PT if you ever have any pain or discomfort during sex or just day-to-day pain in the pelvic area. It's so strange to me that it's not talked about more! They can show you basic things like - how we stand, cough or even the way we breathe can be incorrect and that your upper abdominal muscles can really take over your whole lower abdominals, and thats not how it should be. As women, we are told to suck in our stomachs and sit up straight, blah, blah. But in PT, I found the looser I kept my stomach, the better it was for my pelvic floor to release (mind blown?!)!
The exercises I liked in PT were any of the pelvic floor releases. But one of my favorite techniques is sitting on a stability ball. Here's a video about it on Youtube.
Here is the ball I bought off Amazon.
Another thing I did for my body was working on my diet, So I went vegan five weeks before surgery and continued for four weeks after surgery. But it wasn't just vegan. I also cut out all grains, sugar, and drinking alcohol. It was somewhat hard to get on track with low blood sugar, so I got real, local honey and would eat some of that when I felt more on the hypoglycemic side. I also researched healthy things vegans need to eat to have all the suitable types of nutrients in their diet. My friend, a nutritionist, let me know of a shake mix that has all the nutrients we need while on a vegan diet. Here are all the shake ingredients I used for the vegan shake: https://a.co/hIgKNav
Some days, I would eat one shake in the morning and one in the afternoon, with a few small meals throughout the day, also drinking one gallon of water. And some days, when I would have more of a lazy day around the house, not going many places, I would eat four of the shakes a day and a gallon of water. A tip for the shake would be to put a handful of berries or a banana in it and chug the shake when you drink it because it has a lot of the super greens, which can be unpleasant to taste LOL.
I started the vegan shakes at the beginning of September, and by the middle of the month, I dropped 10 pounds and felt great, and my skin looked so clear!!
Now you might think, "how the hell can you just live off veggies and fruit?!" well, for me, it was a pretty easy transition. I have always been pretty strict on my diet because I have many food allergies (corn and wheat, which are in about 80% of all processed foods) and never really "loved" meat - so the vegan way was somewhat of an easy switch.
Now, the whole last month wasn't cupcakes and rainbows. Felicia was giving me a run for my money! I bled the majority of the last several months, which didn't help to be vegan (lose of iron), and I was mourning the soon-to-be loss of my women hood. Somedays, I was a wreck. But you know I let it happen. When I wanted to cry, I DID! When I wanted to be happy, I DID!
There was one incident that I broke down for that I didn't see coming. It was the day I had to put my last NuvaRing in (birth control). If you remember, I have had to increase the birth control to every three weeks rather than five weeks (the normal dose). So I thought it would be any like any other time changing out the ring. But when I opened the new package, I felt so taken back that this was the last birth control package I would open. This is the last birth control I would use. I now do not have to prevent myself from having a child. It was a heartbreaking moment, but I let myself feel bad for myself. I let it out and cried. But by the end of the weak moment, I told myself, "it's going to be okay, and we are going to be so much better for it. You are not defined by not having children! And we do not need these synthetic hormones in our body!".
"Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else" - Fred Rogers
Next up... surgery day!!
After I met with my doctor in June 2021, I felt torn. Constant thoughts were, what do I do? How did I get here? Is my life now? Is this forever? How much pain is too much? I should get a hysterectomy! Maybe I should wait? I am a sex coach and my sex organs are failing me. How does this happen?
I was upset; I was grieving. I never thought of kids in my future before this, but now my choice is being taken away.
I am only 33 years old. I'm single. I have never been pregnant. I have been focused on my career and establishing my life. So it should be a no-brainer. Get Felicia out! Right? But then I would think, no one will want me if I can't have kids. So I will be a lonely old lady.
I would try to stay busy because I was so uncomfortable. I wanted to crawl out of my skin! But everything I did would just make me hurt. So I started to find myself not working out, not enjoying a bike ride (if you know me, you know I love bike rides), working in the yard, not hanging out with friends, not wanting to date, not feeling sexy or desirable, not wanting to work on my coaching business.
I fell into a depression after months of pain, fighting with insurance, not being able to orgasm without a lot of pain after, bloating, endo belly, spotting, cramping, chronic pain that wakes me up in the middle of the night, and let's not forget the irritability!
I decided to look into Adenomyosis support groups, found one that was interesting where women would share their tips and what they are going through. It's www.stuffthatworks.health/Adenomyosis
I called my mom one day crying, as I did so much during this time and my mom said "Katelyn, you are not defined by not being able to have children." and it just clicked! Mom was right!
I am so much more than just a potential mother. I am a leader, a lover, a friend, a mentor, a creator, an artist, an advocate for my community. I am a strong, powerful woman and I am still awesome. And I am going to be even more awesome when I feel better!
I realized that what I am going through isn't Sicky Bug Felicia's fault that this is happening. She's causing the pain because she is trying to heal herself... but unfortunately, both her and the doctor's treatment aren't working.
By the end of July 2021, I couldn't take the pain and discomfort anymore. I was noticing more and more pain. If I held my pee for too long, or if I'm constipated, or if I had diarrhea, the pain is even more intense. My thought was that Felicia didn't want any other organ to have more pain than her LOL.
When I felt good enough, I would try to work out. I tried to ride my bike a few times but my pelvic area immediately started to contract.
So I made an appointment with my doctor, who quickly referred me to a surgeon for a hysterectomy. When I met the surgeon, my blood pressure was high and I was upset and crying because I was so nervous. I told the surgeon my history, thoughts on children, and that I was ready for a new path. He agreed that a hysterectomy was the right option for me.
He then laid out the land of what would happen. He would perform a "total hysterectomy," which removes the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes and leaves the ovaries. He also mentioned that I also need to go to pelvic floor Physical Therapy and even do that before surgery to help me prepare.
We came up with a great game plan and discussed all the details. When I left the appointment, I cried happy tears and saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
A few hours later, I got a call about the surgery date, September 30th, 2021, and received the referral for a Pelvic Floor PT.
Next, stop preparing for surgery!!!
After the UltraSound (US) in March 2021,
I started the higher dose of birth control
for Adenomyosis. But, unfortunately, I didn't feel like it was changing my symptoms. I was still feeling bloated, irritable, shooting pains in my lower abdomen and spotting.
In May 2021, I turned 33. It was supposed to be a fun month! But Felicia decided to go rogue.
It started with me waking up in the middle of the night with cramping, not normal cramping—the type of cramping that takes your breath away. Then I started having severe cramping after orgasms, so painful I was hunched over for up to 15 minutes to an hour after.
Felicia went to another level of pain-where the labor contractions started. I would have such severe camping attacks. My body would immediately bend over in pain. My breath would be taken away, lips quivering, falling to my knees in agonizing pain. That would travel from my knees up to a little above my belly button. This would happen a few times a day. And the days after the attacks, I would be so sore and completely terrified the contractions would come back.
At the beginning of June 2021, I was so distraught about what to do.
I was also fighting my insurance because they denied the prior auth to get the higher dose of birth control (eye roll). Emotions were high!
So I went to my doctor. He was concerned and wanted to help, but the options were very limited. I didn't want to be on narcotics and I didn't want to be on high doses of synthetic hormones. So the next step was to get a pelvic MRI to get a clear picture of what was happening with my dear friend, Felicia.
My doctor got me in for the MRI a week later. Surprisingly the worst part of the MRI wasn't the enema or the MRI machine. No, the worst part was putting contrast both vaginal and anally, then sitting still for an hour and a half! (I now know how a stuffed turkey feels on Thanksgiving!) So here's the REAL TMI to the story: I had a bad reaction to the anal contrast and had severe intestinal distress the rest of the day and contemplated going to the ER if it didn't get better by the following day.
A few days later, I saw my doctor for results, and he also got my birth control approved by my insurance. My doc confirmed all the pain and symptoms I was having were due to the Adenomyosis and that Felica was enlarged and tilted.
The next step was for me to think about my future and to come back to see him in a month or two.
TO BE CONTINUED...
📷 by istockphoto.com
So in March 2021, after having had many issues with Felica (my bitchy uterus) for several months. My Gyno set me up with a transvaginal UltraSound (US), which was super uncomfortable from all the inflammation.
The US showed two different conditions. The first condition is that I have a heart-shaped uterus. What the hell is that? Well, it's a uterus that has an indent at the top, making it look like a heart. Although, I thought this was cool. I did find out that this is a condition you don't want. It develops abnormally while you were still in the womb. In some cases, women have no idea they have one, and everything is fine. But, in other cases, some women can be at risk for Endometriosis and pregnancy issues - such as recurrent miscarriages, pre-term birth, breached birth.
The second condition I have is Adenomyosis (Adeno), the ugly sister to Endometriosis (Endo) that no one talks about. Both Adeno and Endo conditions are not life-threatening, but they can really negatively impact your quality of life and make it hard to become pregnant.
With Endometriosis, the cells grow outside the uterus. And with Adenomyosis, the cells grow within the walls of the uterus, so the inner lining of the uterus breaks through the muscle wall of the uterus. As the wall grows thicker, the uterus becomes enlarged.
I have all the symptoms of Adeno with the prolonged periods (bleeding for months at a time), sharp knife-like cramping, chronic pelvic pain, enlarged uterus causing "endo belly" and bloating, and painful intercourse.
With Adeno - The exact cause of the condition is unknown. And the treatment options are equally disappointing.
Now I want to start by saying I trust my doctor. He is super knowledgeable and very well known in the medical field. So when I was given the list of treatments, I was so deflated that the only options were hormone treatment to stop the period from happening (aka birth control, which I am already on), over-the-counter pain meds (which I am already taking). And if the over-the-counter meds aren't enough, I can then go on a pain management regimen with narcotics (um hell no!?). The surgical treatments are an ablation (a procedure that destroys the lining of the uterus) or getting a hysterectomy.
My doctor suggested against the ablation, as there is a 50/50 chance of any improvement. So we agreed that wasn't the route to go.
My doc also suggested that I try a different form of birth control (BC), such as the IUD or the implant in the arm. About five years back, I was fitted for an IUD, and just getting fit was excruciating pain, and I vowed to myself "never again". The other BC option was the implant in the arm, which I was also not a fan of. So my doctor suggested that I continue my current form of birth control, the Nuva Ring, but at a higher dose. I used to take it out every four weeks and put a new ring in, and now I would take it every three weeks and immediately put a new ring in. He said to keep track of symptoms and come back if things get better or get worse.
So I took my newfound diagnosis and higher doses of birth control, hoped for the best. But very soon, Felicia would take a turn for the worst...
📷 by ShutterStock, Katelyn Thompson, Reuben Juarez
My period and I don't have a good relationship. My first visit from the dreaded Felicia and her friends Crampy and Bleedy, I was 12 years old.
After that, Felicia and her friends would only come to visit a few months a year, and I would be in unbearable pain during those visits. I would often be at school and would have to rush out of the classroom with a hoodie wrapped around my waist because I was dripping in blood because Felicia and her friends wanted to remind me who was boss. So many times, I would have to miss school because I could never control the bleeding and pain. The best thing for me to do was sitting on the toilet most of the day because pads wouldn't keep up. At 14, I was put on a low dose of birth control to try and "control" the periods, but it seemed to stay the same.
Once I got older and became sexually active, I tried to avoid the dreaded monthly visit at all costs. The first was with the depo shot, which helped. I used that form of BC for about eight years. Some research was done on the depo shot, and I was then educated to switch to a new BC option. I wanted to go with a low dose of hormones and didn't want to take the pills because of the lack of success I had with them when I was a teen. So the next option was the Nuva Ring.
I wanted a low dose of hormones because I was also diagnosed with PMS syndrome, meaning I only would feel " normal " one week out of the month. So anything that was preventing me from feeling "okay" I wanted to do away with.
Ever since being sexually active, there would be times I would have pain after orgasms, like a hard cramp after sex. Any doctor I asked just said, "yeah, your uterus is just contracting. Don't worry about it"... So I tried not to think about it too much.
In my mid 20's I also found out I have a mild
case of dysplasia, so I always had to get
PAP Smears every six months and the
occasional colposcopy. A colposcopy is
where they biopsy your cervix (it is terrible!),
it's similar positioning to a PAP but deeper...
a lot deeper. They would never find anything
in my colposcopy results. It was always benign,
so that felt relieving but also like, "why did I even have to get that procedure?" I have had a total of five colposcopies in my lifetime. At the beginning of the pandemic was the last one I had done. And it was the worst pain I ever experienced. I felt like they stabbed my heart and was left to drive home and lay in the fetal position the rest of the day.
When I turned 30, I immediately felt different about Felicia. My period began to regulate the cycle, but it was still bizarre and painful. I didn't know what was happening, I was instantly uncomfortable and feeling extremely nauseous while on my period, and sex became increasingly more painful.
In November 2020 (I was 32), I started having more and more problems with Felicia and her friends. They wouldn't ever leave. I was bloated, had sharp cramping, and was constantly bleeding. So finally, after bleeding for about four months straight, I saw my Gynocologist (Gyno). He immediately sent me to get a transvaginal UltraSound (US) done. I felt awkward, thinking to myself, "aren't I supposed to be pregnant getting something like this done?" But, the US tech made me feel comfortable and was kind, and even complimented my high platform shoes (instant way to become my friend LOL). The US itself was super uncomfortable because you have to realize I have been on a period for four months. I didn't want anything down there, not even a tampon, let alone a probe that some stranger is sticking inside me. Before I left, she said, "there is no reason to be bleeding for that long," and then wished me good luck on my journey. It was a nice gesture, but I really didn't know how to take that; it made me think there was something way more wrong than just a heavy flow.
A few days later, I went back to my Gyno and was told I have all the signs and symptoms of Adenomyosis.
This was the beginning of the end of Felicia...
As a clinical sexuality coach, Katelyn works with individuals and couples to help them discover their best sex lives.