2018 presented me with some new and interesting health challenges. In particular, going through severe abdominal pain and a ridiculous amount of bloating, led me to urgent care followed by a CT scan. The resulting diagnosis… a “bulky uterus.” My initial reaction was to laugh — just the phrase “bulky uterus” sounded comical to me.
But, then shifting my attention, trying to figure out what this meant and the related treatment options, led me to consult with two gynecologists. One doctor prescribed me with the birth control pill. His theory was that my known condition of endometriosis is related to, or perhaps even causing the bulky uterus, and the pill may reduce the related pain.
The other gynecologist recommended two treatment options. First, he suggested a hysterectomy. His theory was that the endometrium attached itself to my uterine muscle, hence causing the bulky uterus. Ergo, by removing my uterus, the related bulky uterus pain would go away. His secondary recommendation was to try taking prescription Gabapentin, and see if it reduced my pain level.
I then researched all of the aforementioned options, and learned more about the implications of each recommended course of treatment. After careful consideration, I decided to go in a different direction altogether: alternative medicine (aka functional medicine). This decision led me to seek treatment with a practice that came highly recommended by my dear friend.
In addition to my endometriosis and related issues, I dove into all of the various aspects of my health that I considered less than optimal, if not challenging. One of my primary concerns was an underlying layer of fatigue that plagued me. This, on top of endometriosis related pain, often debilitated me. As a self-employed working mom with many demands, lack of energy proved an enormous challenge. Yet another phenomenon I have endured for many years is overactive bladder, necessitating trips to the loo every 20-30 minutes. And, headaches, TMJ, sore shoulder and neck muscles… and the list goes on.
My lab work revealed quite a bit and led the functional medicine practitioners to formulate a treatment plan accordingly. My initial course of treatment involved four acupuncture sessions. These sessions came with a marked increase in my energy and eased much of my pain. In tandem with B12 shots, my energy continued to climb.
The next part of the treatment plan involved a nutrition consultation and recommended diet, again in light of my blood work results, and health history. Upon hearing about my newfound elimination diet, I thought of it almost like a punishment sentence. For 28 days I had to avoid the following items: gluten, dairy, soy, corn and added sugar. As if that weren’t challenging enough, there were many other guidelines including how much of each given category I could consume per day (e.g., proteins, legumes, dairy alternatives, nuts & seeds, fats & oils, non-starchy vegetables, starchy vegetables, fruits, gluten free grains, beverages, spices & condiments). Thankfully, the nutritionist allowed me to have coffee – otherwise that would have put me over the edge.
Part of my strategy involved maximizing items within allowable categories. For example, rather than opt for two small apples in a day, I went for eight apricots. Likewise, for nuts, instead of twelve almonds, I went for the 32 pistachios.
Within three days of my elimination diet, my energy skyrocketed. I felt once again like the Energizer Bunny who I was often compared to when in my twenties. Very soon into the regimen I started to realize that I no longer had neck or shoulder pain and no TMJ related tension. My endometriosis and bulky uterus pain manifested far less frequently and intensely. As a bonus, I could now go hours without having to relieve my bladder.
The results I felt spoke volumes, let alone that my follow-up appointment revealed that in the 28 days of my elimination diet, I lost eight pounds! My body composition report indicated that four of the eight pounds lost were fat, and two were bloat. Even though weight loss wasn’t a specific goal, it was a glorious incidental benefit. This totally amazed me and proved to me the pivotal role nutrition plays in my health.
While I realize that functional medicine, like any other form of treatment, isn’t one size fits all. Each individual will benefit from different methods and variations. But for me, for the time being, coconut milk lattes and 32 pistachios are part of my new normal.