Adapting To A Diagnosis

Over the last month I’ve been picked and prodded at during various doctors appointments. I’ve had my kidney and liver function checked, bladder and thyroid function. I’ve had a fasting blood glucose test, a regular ultra sound and a vaginal ultra sound before I finally got an answer.

When the gynecologist walked into the office she immediately handed me a brochure for ovarian cysts. An ovarian cyst is a solid or fluid filled sac that is on that ovary. They are actually pretty common in women and only cause concern when they grow or create a significant amount of pain.

“So, I have a cyst?” I asked a little shocked.

“Yes, you have two,” she said pulling out a sheet with the size and location of each cyst. She explained the cyst on the right ovary as being a larger, functional cyst and most likely benign. The other, a smaller cyst on my left ovary, could possibly be a dermoid cyst which may need to be removed, possibly taking my ovary along with it.

The next step for me is to get an MRI to see exactly what kind of cyst it is in order to make a plan of action. I didn’t want to get too ahead of myself in case I don’t need my ovary removed but I was a little scared after hearing this. When I asked about alternatives to surgery like lifestyle changes she said that surgery would be her recommended option and reassured me that living life with one ovary would be fine. Also, I could opt for a more invasive surgery and on the up side, keep my ovary. She didn’t have any recommendations for lifestyle changes and told me to speak with an acupuncturist.

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Berry stuffed into a kite hill yogurt container. I’m trying to find more ways to get berries into my diet. 

It was the quickest doctor appointment that I’ve had yet and certainly the heaviest. When I left the office I sat in my car stunned. I was seconds away from either bursting into tears or running to the store to buy all the fruit that I could to remedy my situation. I decided to call Mando and let him know. I was calm as I told him the first details but then broke down when I mentioned the possibility of surgery. He didn’t really understand all the lingo at first but was very positive from the start. He reminded me of my own knowledge I had on the subject and that just because conventional medicine didn’t offer it, there were other solutions.

I was a little surprised at how upset I was at the news. I mean, I ‘d been studying and reading about this stuff for the past few years and figured I was ahead of the game in this department-that if I ever had a client as a health coach who had cysts, I would know to stay positive for them and feel that it was a natural thing to do. I also naively thought that I could cure nearly anything through holistic health. Maybe that’s why the whole thing stunned me so much. I’m healthy! I thought. Why, then, had this happened to me? How was it possible that I ended up with this condition?

I left the hospital parking lot and headed for the grocery store not really wanting to go anywhere else. I didn’t have my Mom to call and cry to about this but when I thought about it further I realized that I was glad. I wouldn’t want to worry her with yet another thing. I knew what she would say and in a way, can feel her strength more now. I’ve realized she feels closer to me in moments like this.

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I bought myself these flowers at Berryvale Grocery to feel better and more positive about my cyst diagnosis. 

I thought of all of this as I speedily searched the small aisles of Berryvale Grocery in Mt. Shasta for…I don’t know what. Berries, maybe, the only thing I could remember off the top of my head Medical Medium recommending for cysts. But I paused-I didn’t want to come home with, especially since it’s not my home, bundles full of berries. I wanted to think first and make a good plan.

But when I got home and searched for the foods that helped with ovarian cysts, I regretted not getting the berries and cherries that I had wanted to at the store and made plans in my mind to go back. Once home I jumped online to google terms, phrases and my favorite female doctor Christianne Northrup’s recommendations for ovarian cysts, immediately closing my WordPress tab with a long un-posted blog thinking it wasn’t as important.

It was no coincidence that I had taken a break from reading Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and that my bookmark was wedged in between pages with the topic marked Ovarian Cysts. The irony didn’t go unnoticed especially as I did more research on the emotional reasons that women develop cysts.

What I found was that cysts represent blocks in creativity and the lack thereof. I thought back to clicking out of my blog tab, to all of the un-posted blogs I’m sitting on. To the book that I’ve written that sits unedited. To all of my stuck creativity. The creativity that now wasn’t just stuck between my ears but onto each one of my ovaries.

I also checked online for Dr. Northrup’s recommendations on healing cysts and came across a video that I found inspiring and helpful along with the comments left by women who suffer from cysts and Dr. Northrup’s responses to those comments. If anyone reading has ovarian cysts, fibroids, trouble with infertility or any other female issues under the sun, I highly recommend her books, listed below.

Depending on what you read and who you talk to, the causes of cysts can range widely. Below are reasons given to me by doctors and found in the research I’ve done and what I’ve learned from school.

  • Genetics
  • Hormonal imbalances (specifically too much estrogen)
  • Diet, Lifestyle
  • Toxins from cosmetics, household cleaners, plastics, pesticides
  • Emotional reasons-carrying on something from my maternal lineage (more on this later), stuck creatively in life

These are the symptoms I had that led to my diagnosis-

  • aching in ovaries and hips, especially on left side
  • heavy, painful periods
  • frequent urination
  • back pain
  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • mood swings

My ‘Do’s’-

  1. Get the MRI-I will go from there and remain positive until then 🙂
  2. Eat foods that can help- Blackberries, strawberries, figs, raspberries, blueberries, wild blueberries (if I can get my hands of them again), cherries, asparagus & avocado. All of these recommendations come from Medical Medium specifically for ovarian cysts and or ovarian cancer. Many are also good for general vaginal health. The following recommendations come from Woman Code and this article by Alisa Vitti, the author of Woman Code cruciferous vegetables; brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, collards. broccoli & cauliflower to balance out estrogen because the overabundance of estrogen may be the cause of cysts. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles are also known to help with cysts. Fiber-filled foods such as pears and flax seeds are also listed in the above article.
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It hasn’t been easy to stick to a particular way of eating especially while eating out. We were out bowling and I just wanted deep fried anything bad but decided to hold out. We went to the HiLo in Weed after and there is a salad bar so I made it work. Mando had a slice of pie and had a stomach ache afterward. I felt great after eating! 😉
  1. Supplement with Red Root-More on the benefits of red root against ovarian cysts can be found here.
  2. Be creative-I would have to agree when I read about stagnant creativity, I understood what it meant. The truth is, I have been really stuck. and other creative endeavors I’ve been too scared or lazy to unveil or really sink my teeth into. But not just writing I want to paint and find other ways to tap into my creative spirit.
  3. Relax-Not so much physically as mentally. I would to implement more self care in order to stay calm and positive about my health.
  4. Affirmations-There are a few that are specific to women’s health issues such as cysts and other female issues. One I love and I have used before is, “I love being a woman. I love my body and I enjoy being female.” Another is, “I dissolve old angers,” and “I am balanced in my creative flow.” A powerful one that resonates with me is, “The movies of my mind are beautiful because i choose to make them so. I love me.” These are can all be found in the book You Can Heal Your Life by the late Louise Hay.
  5. Use my resources such as…the new hormone health class I’m taking through IIN the timing couldn’t be better! I can also use my curriculum and referrals and recommendations from my previous health course with IIN. I will also absolutely continue to speak with my Dr. about her recommendations and not take conventional medicine for granted. Even if I don’t agree, it’s important to look into options on both sides. Follow the Woman Code protocol which can be found online here as well as the book which is what I’m using. I also downloaded the ‘Flo’ application on my phone for $1.99. This will help me track my menstruation, list symptoms and get recommendations.
  6. Acupuncture-It can alleviate symptoms of cysts such as throbbing and aching. It’s also been proven to make them smaller in some women. I will also take my acupuncturists recommendations.
  7. Possibly see a functional medicine doctor. This type of doctor may better be able to get to the issues of my cysts as well as any other health concerns. They have the time to be more thorough and use techniques and treatments that are of Eastern medicine which is preferable for me as I prefer natural remedies.
  8. Use Medicinal Marijuana-Although I prefer not to get a prescription for medications from my gyno for cramps, pot helps with cramping pain and now the pain that my cysts cause. Indica helps with the pain but I would only recommend this in a combination with other recommendations listed above and not solely rely on this for easing pain as it can’t do that alone. I want to also get to the root cause of my cysts and not just cover up the pain.

My ‘Don’ts’

1.Caffeine-I wasn’t surprised to find out that caffeine isn’t good for cysts because any time I have too much, I’m achy. Mostly in the form of coffee but I’m going to lessen my intake of caffeine in all forms in hopes to help with my pain. This won’t be easy. I’ve enjoyed coffee on and off, sometimes on it hard like five cups a day and sometimes off like haven’t had a cup in months. I’m not sure it’s knowing that I can’t have it that makes it worse or not. All I know is that I need to listen to my body regardless of what my brain wants. I’ll be busy making drink concoctions that are good for me and don’t leave me feeling like I can’t participate in all the beverage fun so stay tuned! 🙂

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I brought my own caffeine-free tea to sushi date night. The staff were really nice about bringing me refills of hot water 🙂

2. Alcohol -Unfortunately, another one added to the list of bummers courtesy of my cysts. Alcohol, in any form, exacerbates the symptoms of cysts. This won’t be easy for me because I love to go beer tasting and have recently gotten more into kombucha as well which has naturally occurring alcohol. I’m choosing to consume less alcohol because I’ve physically noticed that my cysts ache more when I drink.

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Fresh water Mando got for us from the headwaters at Mt. Shasta City Park. Check out the fancy lid 😉 Drinking a lot of water, especially with lemon, helps ease cramping. 

3. Worry-It’s usually my favorite thing to do, not really I just do it too often. I’m going to try a combination of things to help myself worry less and still enjoy life. My therapist helps as well as continuing as much as possible with my favorite activities; hiking, traveling, trying new places for food, searching thrift for good music tapes and clothes, watching old movies, dates with Mando, catching up with friends, writing, painting again, cooking and planning meals, playing with dogs that aren’t mind but I’m lucky to have in my life and more I’m excited to explore.

It hasn’t be an easy road to easing the symptoms of my cysts but I truly believe that I can get rid of them with a combination of eastern and western medicine.

Mando said something since this all began a week ago that has stuck with me and helped motivate me to stay positive. What he said was that it couldn’t have happened to a better person because of my strength and all of my resources. He was positive that I would be able to remain positive as well and decide what would be right for me.

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I stopped my car and got out to watch the sun go down over the hill. It was beautiful and uplifting. 

One last thing…..All of you women out there- our menstrual health tells us everything else we need to know about our health and bodies! If you have any symptoms like the ones I’ve shared, go to the doctor and get checked out. Don’t ignore your pain like I did! 

If any of you have ovarian cysts and want to share your experience or have recommendations to share please do!!! I don’t know it all when it comes to ovarian cysts and different things work for different women and I love to learn 🙂

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