Tumbling Through the Rabbit Hole...
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The Endo Diet

Posted by Haisla Saturday, 22 March 2014 0 comments

I started on a fairly strict (no wheat or gluten, no sugar, no dairy, no alcohol, no caffeine - I think the list was even longer back then) endo diet almost exactly a year ago, just before my 34th birthday. Being the slightly extreme gal that I am, I gave it all up cold turkey style. And then it was my birthday. Luckily I have the most wonderful husband and friends, so I got two everything-free (and may I add delicious) birthday cakes that birthday. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Because if there's ever a time when you need a treat, it's on a birthday when you've just started a crazy diet, given up almost everything and are struggling to find things to eat. May I recommend almond flour to anyone reading this who loves their cakes, but is considering going wheat free.

At that point I didn't even know if I had endo for sure, but thought the diet couldn't hurt. Except that I ended up losing a TON of weight in quite a short period of time and got told by the registrar whom we first saw re: our sub fertility struggles that I needed to gain all that weight right back, or no laparoscopy. That was a bit of a bummer. And it turned out that trying to gain weight on the endo diet = almost impossible. That's when I discovered egg mayonnaise with gluten free bread and peanut butter with almost everything in earnest. I even got one of those calorie counting apps to try to make sure that I got some excess calories into my system every day. And I started weight lifting. Weight lifting! I, who hate any exercise that is more strenuous than yoga, did some flipping weight lifting. But it worked. I slowly but surely gained back the weight and then some, got my lap done, was diagnosed with endo and from there on continued on the diet and have done so for a bit over a year now. (Yes, please give me my gold medal now, as I do feel quite smug and no, it hasn't been exactly a walk in the park).

Any diet that deviates from the norm can bring on some social life related challenges and make you feel like the awkward one ('No, I can't go to that restaurant, as there won't be anything but salad leaves for me to eat'), but friends and family have been good to me and are getting used to my weirdo ways. And I do feel like less of a faddish freak when I go to restaurants now, since many of them have become increasingly geared up to catering for gluten free individuals. I do still find myself feeling like a bit of a fraud though, especially when ordering something gluten free, as it's not like I'll swell up and go into an anaphylactic shock if anything gluteny was to pass my lips. I just get a sore tummy for a couple of hours and maybe some constipation or mild diarrhoea (sorry for TMI) and even then I would have had to chuck down quite a bit of the stuff for a noticeable effect. An example of feeling like a fraud took place a couple of weeks ago when I encountered the most sympathetic of waitresses in one of Jamie Oliver's restaurants who told me that she "too," suffers from celiac disease (this was after I'd enquired about gluten-free options on the menu - they served excellent gluten free pasta dishes and I must say I had one of the best endo friendly meals that I've ever had eating out). I didn't have the heart to tell her that I do not suffer from anything of the sort, even when she proceeded to whip away a perfectly edible sorbet from underneath my hovering spoon (yes, I'd made the decision to deviate from my diet for once, since they didn't have any fruit salad on the menu) with an apology, telling me that they'd discovered it contained some gluten in its thickening agent. I almost cried into my raspberry pavlova, which she had brought to me as a replacement item (I really hadn't fancied anything that sugar-laden when I'd ordered a pudding), as it was the only gluten free option on their pudding menu. I wowed at that point that I would from there on end be brave enough to clear up any such misunderstandings with waitering staff, should I ever again come across one so au-fait with gluten-free living..

I don't believe this diet will 'cure' me. I don't even believe it will necessarily help me get pregnant (although having less inflammation going on in your bod' must be a good thing), but it has certainly reduced the almost crippling IBS symptoms that I used to have and helped me feel happier and healthier than I did as a complete wheat and sugar junkie. I had no idea how bad those foods were making me feel until I gave them up completely. And it's only since then that I've realised how often those ingredients are added into foods like yoghurts, muesli, crisps, almost anything and everything even mildly processed. (Sorry, but that really grinds my gear considering how not-good those things are for us. White sugar for example is literally stripped of all goodness [minerals and nutrients] and is, according to research, only as addictive as crack cocaine! And yet it seems perfectly acceptable for the food industry to add it into most foodstuffs, presumably to add to the mourishness and to get us hooked to buy more. Ahem, I will now descend from my soapbox).

I haven't remained completely faithful to the original diet. I now try to have some full fat goat's milk every week as a weight maintenance tool and I've also found a stevia milk choc bar sold in Holland and Barret that is my tasty treat. But whenever I stray badly from the diet (e.g. eat a whole plate full of cheesy sauce with normal pasta) I pay the consequences, so I've kind of learnt that it's not really worth it. And by now I've become so accustomed to buying things that I know I can eat that it's almost no bother - even in restaurants. Most things can be adapted (my lovely husband - who loves cooking I hasten to add, before you think he's some kind of a domestic slave - for example found a brilliant gluten free pizza base recipe online), so I don't feel like I'm somehow missing out on most things. And the cravings for sugar and wheat are gone, surprisingly. Also, I'm not a fanatic; sometimes I buy things that have a little added sugar or dairy or wheat in them and I know it's not going to kill me.

So my verdict on the endo diet? It hasn't provided a complete cure (i.e. they still found the patches of endo even after 9 months on the diet), but it has certainly improved my symptoms and is something I will probably stick to, now that I've finally found it.

The NHS Strikes Again

Posted by Haisla Friday, 14 March 2014 0 comments

Not as in literally strikes, but..

Anyway, let me reverse a little, since I haven't updated in a bit. My period arrived without fanfare on the very last day of the conference. If anyone was looking for silver linings, I guess it would be that I didn't have to suffer from my periods during the conference and my periods were the lightest and more pain free than they've ever been since I ditched the pill. So bring on Clomid, I say!! I'd read some horror stories of super heavy and extra painful periods post clomid, so was pleasantly surprised. Then of course had to google 'light, painless periods after clomid' to death, as was starting to convince myself that perhaps it wasn't a period at all, but some kind of a crazy break-through bleed. Well, it turns out that period after clomid can go either way; super heavy or super light (or just regular good old fashioned blood fest as ever). That too isn't indicative of anything at all, just the way it goes with medicine. So sorry, if anyone wandered here after googling 'light, painless period after clomid' in the vain hope of finding a surprise preganacy story - I hate to disappoint. But as far as Clomid goes, bring it on! I could get used to light and pain free periods.

So great was my disappointment with NHS today when I finally (after five phone calls and two voicemail messages over the period of a week) received a call from Nelly the Nurse at the subfertility clinic to say that, yes, my meds are ready for the next IUI cycle, but that they won't be doing any scans between 7th and 21st April. "Um, say what now?"  I was so shocked I didn't even have the wherewithal to ask any questions about whether I could have my scans done somewhere else, since the next cycle squarely falls within that time period. All nurse Nelly said to cheerfully end the call was to call her when I get my period next.

I cried today when I got home. I think it was the combination of the disappointment of our first failed IUI cycle (which took me nearly a week to really face) and now the news that our month's wait for the next cycle is likely to turn into two. I could have lived with a month's wait, I'd armed myself with distractions and ways to cope, but being faced with an additional month has just thrown me. Today, whilst I was on my way home from work it dawn on me that 'normal' people are able to plan when to have their children. I can't even plan for when we'll have the chance to try again (I mean properly try with medical interventions, of course we can do, and will do, as much pointless BD'ing as we can possibly muster the energy for, I know, I know I'm being a total pessimist and sex is more than just about procreation, but..). I have just so little control in all of this. And for someone who is as much of a control freak as I am, this is H-A-R-D. As much as I love the NHS I can't help but wish at times that money was not an issue and that we could be proper paying customers and have some choice over the way our treatments are dished out, or not. But no, paupers as we are, we shall wait and wait a little more, whilst I hit the magical 35 year mark and my ovaries will start shrivelling up. My birthday is next week. Anyone care to join me celebrating this milestone? No, didn't think so. Pity party for one it'll be then.

Apologies for anyone reading this for the totally negative tone of this post. I just needed to get it out of my system. I promise I'll buckle up soon and be back in fighting mode, kicking the butt of infertility.  But for now, I'm off to bed.

HCG has left the building

Posted by Haisla Saturday, 1 March 2014 0 comments

So I decided to POAS. I'm not normally the POAS kind of girl. But this time I couldn't resist a little science experiment and the chance to see that elusive second line, that I've never seen as a result of my own urine hitting a stick. So it had to be done. I decided 6DPO would be a safe day, considering that I'd still have some HCG left  from the trigger shot circulating in my system. And then I POAS'd again on 7DPO and noticed that the second line was ever so slightly darker than the day before (see photographic evidence, not sure how well it can be seen on a computer screen). A short moment of cautious optimism followed, until I remembered that I'd left my water bottle at home that day and had suffered from terrible dehydration all day at work (I refuse to drink London water straight from the tap; call me fussy, but yuk), so the HCG levels probably had gotten super-concentrated as a result. So, yes, not an early pregnancy detection after all, just a little fluke in my testing system. And then today when I POAS'd the line had withered to pretty much a non-existent ghost of its former self.

So HCG has left the building. At least I seem to metabolise the substance fairly rapidly, which is good(?), I guess.  My initial plan was to carry on POASing each day leading up to AF, but have changed my mind, because a) it would potentially be a huge waste of money and b) also potentially extremely depressing. So I think I'll just wait patiently for AF to arrive (please no), whilst taking a single peestick with me to the conference for an emergency situation, should my period not start at its usual 13DPO.

In terms of symptoms (which it's probably far too early to be spotting) I've felt all sorts of pulls and twinges in the pelvic / vajjaj region, but that's nothing unusual for an endo sufferer. A month with no pelvic pain sensations would be something to marvel at, but having twinges is the norm and (I try tell myself) not indicative of anything at all. 

So that's what's up in Endoland at the moment. Getting bored and fidgety and trying to entertain / distract myself with science experiments. I don't know if anyone else recognises this compulsive kind of behaviour from their TWWs? The compulsion to DO something, anything, no matter how futile. No? Just me then..