Have you heard of fibroids?

WARNING – graphic images

If not, you are not alone. 

I had never heard of them either, until I found out I had one.  Not many women know alot about them, yet it is so common that up to 80% of women will have them and most will go undiagnosed and unnoticed.

In most cases, you may not have any symptoms, which is great. For some, you may have a lot of symptoms but think that it’s normal for women to experience these. In other cases (like my own), you may have unusual symptoms that you would never assume would be a tumor and so it goes undiagnosed and it grows out of control until your options are very limited.

Fibroids are usually benign tumors, however on the rare occasion they can be malignant. They usually form in a women’s child baring years and can effect fertility and your overall general health and well-being. They can come in many shapes and sizes, most are quite small and can grow up to grapefruit size. You can have one, or you can have many.  I was in the minority that I just had one that grew very big.

Some symptoms can be heavy, long or painful periods, pelvic pressure, bloating/ swelling in your abdomen, pressure on your lower back, bladder or bowel and low iron/anemia.

For me, I had put on a lot of weight all in my belly.  I thought I was just getting fat… only in my belly.  Not in a million years would I have ever thought it was anything significant or life threatening. 

On top of this, I had severe bloating for the past 5 months.  When I saw doctors they would just tell me it’s normal for women to experience bloating.  “It’s just what we have to deal with” said one GP as she wrote a prescription for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) medication.

For 7 years I struggled with headaches and migraines. I had headaches daily and migraines almost every other week, sometimes more often.  I also struggled with Gerd which is a form of severe indigestion. I couldn’t eat many foods, and as time went by, it got progressively worse until I could barely eat anything without having excruciating pain that felt like I was having a heart attack. On multiple occasions, I actually was seconds off calling an ambulance thinking I was really having a heart attack. 

Time and again doctors would give me medications to try and prevent the migraines and gerd. They  would tell me I had depression and try and give me anti depression medications. They would simply try to pump me full of drugs to mask the symptoms, rather than look for the actual cause.

If they looked further in to it, they would have found a giant tumor pushing on and suffocating all my organs causing severe indigestion, bloating, headaches and migraines.

One doctor even took blood and said I was low in iron, and then tried to convince me it was because I had heavy periods.  Sorry for too much information but that was not the case.  I told him over and over and he said there is no other reason, so it ‘had’ to be that.

Turns out there WAS another reason, and after seeing my 5th or 6th doctor in as many months, a gynocologist and an oncologist, I found out that I had a giant tumor sucking up all my blood. The tumour was 6kgs and 34cm in diameter. 

Unless you are specific and ask your doctor to check for fibroids, they won’t.  If I knew about fibroids 2, 5, 10 years ago, I might have asked to be checked for them and may have caught it when it was alot smaller and might have saved myself a hysterectomy and major surgery at such a young age. If I had çaught it earlier, it could have been a lot less scary to go through. 

I am not writing this to scare you or to tell you that you have fibroids, I’m simply writing this to bring awareness to other women, that if you notice any symptoms and you cannot pin point why you are feeling this way, ask your doctor for a blood test and ultrasound. 

Most women will go through their young adult years thinking that they only have to have a pap smear every two years, and that is fine if you aren’t having any problems, but fibroids will not necessarily be picked up with a pap smear.  A full blood test and a pelvic ultrasound will give you the best results.  Following on from that, your gp/gyno will send you for an MRI if needed.

There are no known causes, although it is thought that fibroids can be hereditary. Obesity, diabetes and age can be other factors and doctors understand that they grow during your fertile years and tend to shrink a little after menopause.

For me, my little monster had grown too big for its own good.  It was using so much of my blood to keep itself growing that it was killing itself off in the middle to keep getting bigger.  It grew to 34cm and doctors told me if I didn’t catch it, it would have just kept growing.  It was already gangrene in the middle, so it could have been a very different story for me.

In some rare cases, fibroids can be malignant. One of my surgeons was unsure if mine was or not due to some signs on the MRI.  Because of this, she informed me that there was a chance it could be a very aggressive cancer and that 60% of patients would only live up to 5 years after diagnosis. This was a hard concept to grasp, but luckily I am here to tell the story as even though large, it was benign. 

So please, share this post with as many women (and there wonderful husband’s, and male family members) to bring awareness to fibroids, it’s not normal to experience any of these symptoms, so if you are suffering in silence, please go and see your gp and ask to be tested. It’s better to know about it now and monitor the situation than find out when it is too late. 

WARNING – graphic images. 

This is the 6kg fibroid I had removed. 

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The Aftermath

What does one do when their life is compromised with the thought of the possibility of only having 5 years to live? Or finding out you have a tumour filled with gangreen?
Not much really…. yet! 

I would love to say that my experience had given me a new lease on life and that I am going to live so much more healthier and happier and do everything and anything that makes me happy. 

Gosh I would love to say that, and I am hoping that does happen.  But for now, I’m still getting through the day to day pain of the surgery.  7 weeks on I’m still getting regular pain and having good days and bad. 

I want so badly for this to be my wake up call.  For me to get a new lease on life and change for the better.  I think for this to happen, I have to be able to really reflect on the last 3 months. To really delve in to my feelings and assess everything that has happened. 

To date, I don’t think I’m ready.  I know when I do, it will bring up a lot of raw emotions. Being so fresh, I don’t think I’ve let myself sit down and process the whole experience on a deeper level just yet.

Sounds like morning

Can you hear it?

The soft drips gently making their way from the pipe into the tank.  You can hear the echo of each drop as they hit the water inside.  You can visualise the ripples as they get larger and larger with each drop.

The cicadas, softly buz in the trees above.  At dusk they can get very loud, but at dawn, it’s as if they are all as sleepy as humans as they open there eyes, one beetle at a time.  The sound is a very soft hum in the distance. 

The birds are starting to wake too. The sound of a few early risers. Some near, some far.  It’s a beautiful and soft chirp, as if they are all saying good morning to each other. 

As I peer out the window, the sun is not up, but it’s getting lighter. The fog is here.  A beautiful high fog that gives a white blur to the trees in the distance.  You can see the fog whisk through the trees as it moves past ever so slowly.

As the breeze blows through, you can hear the trees shaking their water drops from their canopies and the drops fall from leaf to leaf below.

Then just as the birds chirping fades to a distance for a moment, you can hear a faint low grunt of a bush turkey in the distance.  Hunting food for breakfast. What does a bush turkey eat?

The fog rolling in is getting thicker.  It’s starting to engulf the lower and closer trees now.  The higher trees that had the soft white tint have now disappeared in a thick white cloud and the ones only a few metres from us have the soft white cloud pasing them now. 

The morning is gentle and soft.  The air is clear and cool. The fog is thick and the animals of the rainforest surrounds are waking just like the humans around me.  

Its a wonderful morning to be alive and experience the beauty of waking up on this incredible mountain.  I love where I live.  There is nothing better. 

I used to wake up staring at the next door neighbors house, with the sound of a highway or the couple next door having a domestic fight.  Now I wake up with nature.  

7 years, I have lived one the mountain  (back on the mountain, as I grew up here), and I’ve always appreciated the serenity that comes with living in such a wonderful place, but I have never really put it in words, until now. 

Welcome to my world. Welcome to my new appreciation of life and everything in it. Welcome. 

A Special Christmas Message

As I lay here at 5am on Christmas morning, the air is thick and hot and the fan is blasting, it feels a lot like Christmas.

Its definitely a true Aussie Christmas. Families will be swimming and getting sunburnt. Eating seafood and cold meat.  Playing outdoors and trying to stay cool with a cold beer or two.  

Before I make my way out to the lounge to see what Santa has left me and start the day with my own wonderful family, I was taking some time to myself to think about Christmas and the events of the last few months. 

I can honestly say that I wasn’t sure I was going to be here this Christmas. Something I had never even contemplated in my life previously. It did cross my mind that complications could happen during surgery.  I tried to push those thoughts away, but they would creep in. 

I guess it’s normal to wonder and be scared, but on top of that there was always the possibility of it being malignant or the gangrene getting me. Luckily for me, I’m here to celebrate and i’ll be here for a long time.  But for me, and in my head, I wasnt sure, and that was scary to say the least.

So as I lay here, on the 25th December 2017, I want to make a special mention to my close family and friends.  I don’t need to mention names, you all know who you are. 

Those who surrounded me with so much love and support, who listened to my fears, who gave me words of encouragement, who put their arms out when I needed a hug, who let me cry and wiped away the tears, who entertained me when I needed a distraction, who held my hand when I was scared and who loved me even when I was unlovable. 

To those people, I say a huge thank you. I wouldn’t be in this place right now, where I can be happy and healthy to celebrate Christmas with my family.  I wouldn’t be in this positive mental state if it wasn’t for all your support through a very difficult time.
So, as you are all starting to open your eyes and the kids are jumping on your bed asking to open presents, I just want to get in their first and say Thank you and Merry Christmas. I hope you all have a wonderful day with loved ones.  I hope you appreciate Christmas and the time spent with those close to you. 

May your day be filled with as much love as you have shown me over the past few months.  ❤

Have a wonderful day.

🌲🎅🎁

Facing the fear

Facingthe fear (1)

So we left off previously at the night before surgery. I was scared, not only was there a possibility I might have been facing cancer, but I was also fighting my body with a tumour that was so large it was gangrene in the centre. 

I won’t bore you with the play by play of the surgery or the days that followed.  All I will say is that I had fantastic support from the surgeons, my family and friends and of course my wonderful partner. 

I am now almost 5 weeks post surgery.  It had taken me this long to put pen to paper (so to speak) as I really wasn’t ready to talk about it.

I am happy to say that the extra large tumour  (34cm, 6kgs) was benign.  Hearing those words was the best news I’ve had.  You really can’t fathom what it’s like to be faced with such a potential disaster until you have had to consider the prospect yourself. I can tell you, hearing that word ‘benign’ was the massive relief I didn’t even know I needed. 

Knowing this, I was free to get on with my recovery. With such a major surgery and large incision (keeping in mind my hysterectomy came with a 6kg tumour) vertically from my pelvic bone right up through my belly button and to about 5cm under my chest bone, the recovery is a difficult one.

The frustration of not being able to do the simple things like get up from a chair or pour yourself a drink is something that you really don’t understand until you are put in that situation. 

3 weeks in to my recovery, I ended up in the ER with excruciating pain in my back and hip.  The frustration that I wasn’t healing as fast or as sufficiently as I wanted was real.  After another 3 days in hospital and more scans and blood tests, I was found to have a large blood clot in my pelvis. 

So as I sit here and write this post, almost 5 weeks post op, I feel like I am improving a little each day.  The blot clot is still there and regular check ups are required, but I’m feeling a little bit better each and every day.  

With another MRI and check up at the hospital next week, I am crossing my fingers in hope that my recovery is still going well and the blood clot in my pelvis is healing itself, otherwise there is potential for a small procedure to drain it, and after what I have been through, I can honestly say that I do not want it at all!

All in all I’m feeling like my recovery is going to plan and I hope they can confirm this for me next week.

So what did I learn about life and myself from going through a traumatic and very scary procedure and situation in my life? Well you’ll just have to watch for my next blog post.  🙂

xx

A hot mess, for real.

This is a story about a girl. One who was living her life as best she could.  With some extra struggles over and above your average person, but nothing she couldn’t handle. Migrains and bloating where the main struggles. Not being able to fit in her work shirts anymore, thinking she was putting on weight but only in the belly.  Pop some painkillers for the migraines and throw on a oversized shirt and off she went, good as new.

Jump forward 2 months… and here she is, laying in bed, trying to take her mind off her impending surgery in just over 30 hours.

You see, that girl is me. There was never a day in my 34 years that I thought I would be in this position.  I am the one laying here in bed, struggling to come to terms with the fact that I have to have major surgery first thing Monday morning.

A couple of months ago I woke up feeling unwell.  It was a cold. I also had a mild pain in my stomach and so when I saw the GP, I mentioned it. A new clinic and new GP.  I also mentioned my bloating, just out of the blue as I was sent packing with IBS medicines each time I mentioned to any other doctors, so I didn’t expect anything different this time.

I had questioned my bloating to 5 other GP’s in the previous few months with them all commenting that it was normal for females to have bloating and there is just nothing you can do, or they would tell me it’s IBS.

For the firt time, this GP felt my stomach and instantly commented “that’s not right”. He told me he could feel a lump.

The next week was a blur of tests. 3 Ultrasounds, full blood work and a papsmear.

There is nothing like the doctor pulling and pushing and then going to get a second GP to do the same. So having two of them down that end with one with their arm up you like a bloody cow (whilst looking in your eyes! – please note this is not right GPs, don’t look us in the eyes as you’re ferreting around up there!) whilst telling you they can’t find what their looking for wasn’t very soothing.

A week later I find myself at a specialist office at the hospital, giving me another exam, because the first one wasnt enough! Then the next week, more bloods an MRI, a CT scan, followed by more bloods and then a referral to Gynocology Oncology.

As I sit in the surgeons office with my better half and my father, through my bloodshot eyes, I see my MRI resultes on the screen and the surgeon tells me I have 30cm tumour on my uterus and I need to have a full hysterectomy.

Not just some keyhole procedure though, but because I am so talented, and I grew my tumour nice and big, they are going to cut my whole stomach open with a verticle incision from my pubic bone to my chest bone.

So many things run through my head.  Babies, surgery, dieing, the fact that the surgeon also told me that they are unsure if it is cancerous, but if it is, it could be very aggressive and I would have a 60% chance of living for 5 years.

Unfortunately there is no alternative options, the mass is so big that it is killing itself on the inside to grow bigger so they tell me it’s starting to turn gangrene.

I’m trying so hard to think positive, but until you have heard those words, it is very easy to tell people how to think and react.

I will write again soon with an update, but in the meantime, please be sending me all of your positive vibes, good wishes and prayers.

Love to you all xx

Live true to yourself

lIVE TRUE TO YOURSELFAs a childless 33-year-old female, I more often than not get put into the category of “career women”. If I don’t have children at this age, does that automatically mean I have to tick the career women checkbox?

A career woman is defined by Wikipedia as a woman whose main priority in life is achieving success in her career or profession. It may specifically refer to a higher interest in a career than in marriage and be having children. It can thereby be used in contrast to a housewife, or following the “mommy track”.

Society seems to enjoy categorising women into different boxes.  You are either in one box or another box and it is mandatory to tick a box. However, you can only pick one.  You either have children and choose to love unconditionally and wipe noses or you choose to follow a path of professional achievement where you partake in all day meetings and stress over budgets and sales targets.

So why does society say we have to choose one or the other.  Why can’t we be both? Or why do we have to be either?

I have friends who see themselves as both professionally successful and personally successful in that they are wonderful parents who are raising beautiful, well-respected children and have flourishing careers in high sector jobs.  They are achieving their career goals all while raising children.

Their children are not neglected by long hours in the office and their careers are not neglected by school drop-offs and sick children.  They structure their day to achieve everything they need to.  They are both career women and on the “baby track”.

On the flip side, I am 33 years old and I am neither.  I am not a mummy, nor am I a career woman.  Yes, I have a job and it allows me to eat a decent meal and keep a roof over my head, but it is not a career. I am not looking to achieve professional success, I simply work to live a life where I can achieve personal success with my hobbies and goals.

I am simply a woman living a life true to myself and not what others want or expect of me.  I call it like it is, and I encourage other women to live a happy and fulfilling life, whatever that looks like for them.

So how can we change the outdated view of what we are and who we are based on our reproductive system and what we do when we get out of bed?  How do we ensure we are viewed as individuals and women and not what we have, what we do or who we have in our lives?

We have to ensure we are living a true and honest life, doing what we want and when we want and making sure we are not the ones categorising ourselves.

Simply live a life that makes you happy.  Be whatever you want to be, be one or be all, or be nothing, but just make sure you be yourself and don’t let others dictate how you should live your life.

Have that child or don’t, have that career or don’t, get married or don’t. It is all up to you.  Do everything YOU want to do and you can have it all and be successful based on your own goals.

I am going to write my own box from now on. It will say AWESOME hot mess! and that is the one I will tick, as that is me to a T.

xx

Me time… You time…

Lately, I have started painting first thing in the morning.
We all get stuck in a morning routine and we all curse and moan (well I do!) that we have to go back to the office (or wherever it is that you may work) or have to get the kids ready for school etc AGAIN.

Painting is my new morning routine, where I don’t think about anything, I don’t think about the pending stresses of work, all the chores I have to do or the big one… finances.  I simply tune out to the world and paint my little heart out.

I also find that I paint better in the morning, sleepy-eyed and in my pyjamas!

It is my ME time.  I don’t have children, but I still find that most of my time is spent between work, chores and solving other people’s problems, so I don’t often get time to myself.

What do you do when you need some time out?  Are you an artist, do you paint or sketch? Do you read a book or go to the movies by yourself? When was the last time you took some time out for yourself?  Can you even remember?

In such a busy world, we need to remember to take time out for ourselves.

Too often, we focus our time and energy on everyone else around us that we forget to take care of yourself. Everyone needs a break at times. Some time to think, some time to enjoy our own company.

On so many occasions, I have seen people focus their time and energy on their partners, their children, work and chores, that the stress builds up and before they know it, they are struggling. Unmotivated to change because it all just seems too hard.  This often ends in depression, anxiety and can also have worse effects on some.  Life can get us down, we can be too busy to realise we are on the path to a stress overload and are at a risk of being burned out.

So I challenge you!

Take some time out for yourself this week.  For my fellow Aussies, it is a long weekend this weekend.  Take some time for yourself. Discover a new hobby that you enjoy… and continue this.  A few hours every week is not too much to ask for.

Just enjoy your own company and do something that you love. Read, paint, sketch, do your nails, build something for yourself, meditate or simply just sit and relax. You will feel light and happy once you start to make this a regular date with yourself.  Trust me!

What will you do?

xx

Living Mindful

Living Mindful

With the recent 12 month anniversary of my Grandfathers passing, I have been thinking about life.

My Grandfather (Pappa) lived a good life up until a few years ago, but even in the past few years he still had his happy moments. He suffered from dementia in the final years however he still enjoyed his family and he loved to play the harmonica.

So with him and his longevity fresh in my mind, it makes me wonder if my life is going to be as substantial as his.  Am I going to live a long and happy life until I am 94 too?

Only we are in charge of the way we live our lives.  So how do we ensure we get to live a long and happy life?  There are no guarantees in life, but there are ways to ensure we improve our life now. And if we improve our life now, we will have a better chance of continuing along on this happy and healthy path to living a long life.

Practicing mindfulness is one way to still your life and be thankful for the beauty in this world.  Being mindful allows you to see things from a different light and to really take the world in and appreciate where you are and what you are doing.

More often than not, we are too busy to notice the things around us.  We are rushing to our jobs, rushing to meet deadlines, rushing to pick up children and rushing to get dinner prepared and kids to bed.

If you stop to take in your surrounds even for just a minute, you can simply enjoy life to the fullest.  When you are rushing to get to work, look up, look around you. Notice the blue sky, notice the birds chirping, notice the landscape that you are so lucky to be able to enjoy.  When you are rushing to get dinner on the table, stop to appreciate the ingredients, appreciate the fact that you can afford these ingredients and stop to appreciate the meal you have cooked.

If you stop to appreciate the small stuff around you, you will realise that your life has more beauty in it than you would have ever imagined and you have more to be thankful for than you have ever known before.

Being mindful is just one way that you can slow down, as the days are going by so fast and the more we rush and hurry through life, the more stress we will encounter and the shorter and more hectic our lives will be.

Don’t let time and life get away from you.  Appreciate what you have and the people in your life and enjoy the moments while you have them. Practice being mindful every day and you will notice a shift in your moods, your stress levels, and your behaviour and in turn, this will enable you to start living positively and healthily that will ultimately turn into a long life just like my Grandfather (Pappa).

I am consistently working on this. I lose track a lot, but if you are like me, just keep trying.  One day it has to stick surely. In the meantime, just try on a daily basis

 

20151003_114727.jpgIn loving memory of Pappa (Jack Taylor)

03.10.1921 – 06.08.2016

RIP, Forever in our hearts

(Picture: Pappa playing his harmonica for 3 generations of family members on his birthday)

 

Do you have a vision and mission for your life?

Do you have a vision and mission for your life-

I have been thinking a lot lately, and yes, we all know that can be dangerous!  However… I have been thinking about values and visions/missions.  We all know that a business should have a mission, vision, and values to run successfully, but how many of us actually have these for our own personal life?

Some would say it just comes naturally, what you are passionate about is what you do in life.  But others could disagree and say that we do what gets us by and this is not always our passion. We don’t always live by our mission or our vision for our lives, let alone follow our values to a tee.

So, do you have a vision and set of values or a mission you live by in your personal life?

What are you passionate about, does this become your vision?

I am a person who wants to live life to the fullest and enjoy every minute.  I want my life to be fun, happy and fulfilling. So in light of this, I have been wondering what my values and vision is in life.  What am I here to do?  If I know my vision and have a list of values and a mission, will this lead me to fulfilment and a life full of happiness?

So, if I was to sit down and think about what my VALUES are… I guess they would be:

  • Happiness
  • Love
  • Fun
  • Honesty
  • Kindness
  • Inspiration

My VISION would be:

To lead a happy and fulfilling life for me and motivate others to do the same.

And so with that said… my MISSION would be:

To achieve my vision by;

  • Encouraging strength and guidance for others
  • Motivating others through my written work
  • Leading by example
  • Taking risks and jumping into life without hesitation
  • Having endless amounts of fun and laughing at myself and with others

So, now that I have this information, I guess it is safe to say I am on the right path to living true to myself.  I have my blog and my bucket list I live life through… a list of everything I have ever wanted to do and I am doing these things on a daily basis.

So what are you doing to ensure you a living true to your vision and your values? Do you know what you passionate about and what will lead you to live a happy life?

Why not give it a go, write down what your values are and what makes you a better person and see if you can use these as a guideline for life.

Once you know how you want you your life to turn out, you can then follow through by writing goals. These goals will ultimately help you to succeed with your vision for your life.

xx