Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Curing Myself

I love reading about health and wellness: scientific breakthroughs, super foods, organic findings...all that stuff. I know you have to be careful about some of the places you find this information, so I stay away from fanatical, faddish sites and sources that are designed purely to sell something.

I have endometriosis. I don't think I've discussed it here because...well, I'm not in the habit of discussing my innards in general! At the same time, endometriosis is a real disease that affects a lot of people. It's painful, and at the very least it is a nuisance. At the very worst, if you're trying to start a family, it can be devastating.

I've never been in the start-a-family-camp (though I think kids are great...just never made a place for my own in my life) so I don't have those concerns, but when my doctor found a large mass in my abdomen during my annual exam a few years back, it was startling to say the least. "It's either cancer or endometriosis," he announced, "but don't worry...we'll take care of it." He handed me a release form and told me to schedule diagnostic surgery right away.

I'd been in a lot of pain and throwing up on and off for a few months. Of course, I feared the worst. Poor Steinvic...quirky as I am, I'd been pretty normal up until that point, but the thought that - after all I'd been through to get to a happy place in my life - cancer was going to become part of my story was too much to take. I was a wreck for a month until the laparoscopy that diagnosed the endometriosis. Steinvic was supportive the whole time. He drove through an ice and snow storm for two hours to be there for that procedure.

Thank goodness it wasn't cancer, right? Right! But endo has a whole bunch of fun tricks she pulls out from her hat, and I've been trying to kick her stupid butt ever since I was diagnosed. However, there is no cure for endometriosis and you can do only so much to reduce the symptoms.

So, I'm reading Allure magazine this month and there is an article about a former model who had breast cancer. The article mentions that she'd been diagnosed with endometriosis and that no one had told her that it could be a precursor to breast cancer later in life.

No one told me that, either, though a study I once read indicated that endometriosis could be a precursor for some other female cancers.

Also, no one told me to avoid soy and processed soy, as these can make hormone levels soar, increasing the endo symptoms. But I found that information out on my own, too. As a vegetarian, I was gobbling soy like crazy and it certainly wasn't helping my cause.

So, I start thinking...the link for the model was estrogen - she started her period at an early age and had endometriosis - two indicators that she had a high level of estrogen in her body. What about foods and supplements that could control or reduce the amount of estrogen our bodies produce? I found this and thought, hmm... if the things on that checklist are really truly indicators that your body is on "estrogen overload," then I'm a candidate. There are nine - NINE - things on that list that I've been treated for. No doctor ever put those things together.

I'm not a hypochondriac. The fact is, though, that I haven't felt my best for a number of years. I am on a perpetual diet, hanging on to an extra 15 pounds even though I eat healthily and I'm energetic and fairly active. I've battled depression and been treated for migraines. I'm incredibly peppy, but I believe it's sheer will...I don't want anything to hold me back. But I would love to feel better. According to that list, a lot of the things I have experienced can be caused by an over abundance of estrogen.

So, estrogen-reducing foods have entered my life as of today. I am armed with broccoli. I ate oat bran hot cereal with dried cranberries for breakfast. I took Zinc and B6 today. I baked yams last night (and I added fresh sliced ginger, because it's so freaking good) and I have dry roasted walnuts to snack on. If there is extra estrogen in my body, I'm making it go away.

I am not fooling around.

And soy and I, for the time being, are probably going to part company, except for maybe the occasional cookout, but even then, my veggie burger could easily be replaced with an amazing marinated portobello mushroom.

Here is to being healthy! The excitement from thinking that I might be able to cure myself - to feel better through something as simple as eating a certain way - is a really good feeling!

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