This is a true story. It is my personal story. The reason why I am writing this is to illustrate the power of nutrition, in hopes of preventing others from suffering as I have suffered.
I'm talking about endometriosis, but nutrition affects every disease known (and unknown) to mankind. From cardiovascular diseases to diabetes, from arthritis to cancer, from obesity to hypertension, etc. Nutrition plays a cardinal role in our health and healing.
So without further ado, here is my story:
I started menstruating when I was 12 years old. Well do I remember the first time, for it was far from joyful and it hurt. Little did I know that this was how it was going to be for the next 20+ years.
Age 13: first signs of endometriosis
I must have been 13 or 14 years old when I was on holiday with my father. We were on a camping site and early in the morning, I joined the queue at the toilets. While waiting, I noticed that my period had just begun and I started feeling strange. My head was spinning, my belly hurt and my vision was narrowing. I tried to stay conscious by running cold water over my wrists and splattering some in my neck, but to no avail, and I fainted.
At the age of 15, I visited my doctor for the first time to discuss my periods. Because every month, I was in such pain, I thought it couldn't be normal. My doctor however, told me that unfortunately, for some women, this was the way it is, and I just had to live with it. He advised me to take something like paracetamol against the pain, and sent me home.
Age 19: endometriosis nightmare
When I was 19 years old, I started a university education. One day, I had only just arrived for a lecture when my period started. I immediately started feeling ill. Faint, nauseous and most importantly: my belly hurt. It was cramping as if there was some evil spirit in there, playing with my inner organs. I decided to skip the lecture and go home.
As I cycled home, my vision narrowed more and more and my ears were ringing. It got so bad that I got off my bike, sat at the curb with my head on my arms and my eyes closed, and just wished I could disappear. It was a nightmare and I had no idea what to do and how I was going to get home and to bed.
After some time, someone spoke to me: "Are you alright?". Obviously I wasn't. The man to whom the voice belonged offered to bring me home with his car, and I accepted. I had just enough presence of mind to direct him to where I lived. He helped me out of the car and waited until I had fumbled my keys out of my pocket and into the doorlock. Then he wished me well and left.
I dragged myself up the stairs and went straight to the bathroom where I sat on the toilet emptying my bowels while vomiting at the same time. I was in so much pain, and I was so terribly cold, I just wanted to die. Instead, I hauled myself into my bedroom where I huddled into a bal on my bed. I ended up falling asleep after I don't know how long.
And that was pretty much how it was going to be from then on: when my period started, I had about 20 minutes to get to safety (home, bed, warmth) before the pain and the misery would incapacitate me. It wasn't always as bad as that though. Sometimes, the pain was bearable and I wouldn't get sick. However, there was no way to predict it, and sometimes it was worse. The pain would drain me so much that it would take me up to three weeks to fully recover my energy.
My period had never been regular. It was between 25 and 32 days. Which meant that I was tired most of the time, and that it was very difficult to make appointments. My calendar always showed a margin of 7 days where I would be hesitant to make any appointments. Because if I got my period on a day where I had an appointment, I was screwed. So you can imagine the impact this had on my life.
Age 30: another nightmare experience
Fast forward to the year 1999. I was 30 years old, it was December and I took the train to visit a friend who was celebrating her birthday. It was a one-and-a-half-hour journey and half an hour into it, I got my period. Which turned into a nightmare. I was in such pain that I had to throw up. Fortunately, I had a plastic bag with me, so I used that. I was also on the verge of losing consciousness (which would have been a lovely escape) and I must have been white like a sheet.
I was in a train full of strangers and none of them offered any help. Nobody even spoke to me. I guess they thought I was badly hung over...
When the train arrived at my destination, I managed to get myself off it. I sat on a bench on the platform, trying to disappear. A kind railway guard took pity on me and asked if he could help. I told him I was too ill to walk or take the bus and he escorted me to a taxi. The taxi brought me to my friends house, who put me to bed with a hot water bottle.
After a couple of hours I felt better and joined the party. It was just a group of 6 or 7 women chatting over tea and pastries. Of course they wanted to know what was wrong with me, and when I said it was "just my period", they all agreed that it wasn't normal and that I had to see my doctor about this.
Which is exactly what I did after the weekend. He listened to me and said that it sounded like endometriosis. I had never heard of it, and it was the first time any doctor agreed that what I was experiencing wasn't normal, and gave it a name. I was sent on to see a specialist, who confirmed the diagnosis.
In fact, I had two so called 'chocolate cystes', one in each ovary. They were a bit bigger than golf balls and they had to come out. Surgery... I wasn't fond of the idea (in all honesty: it scared me to death!), but there seemed no other option, so the surgery was scheduled for 6 weeks later. That gave me enough time to research endometriosis and to get to grips with my fears.
The surgery was a laparoscopy where they made 3 small holes in my lower belly, and conducted the operation through them. It took 75 minutes instead of 30, because there was way more damage than had been visible on the echo. As I recovered from the operation, I fiercely hoped this was my first and last one. I even managed to convince myself that I was now cured.
4 months after the operation, I was back with the specialist because the symptoms were back. He explained to me (again), that endometriosis cannot be cured. They can operate and give medication against the pain, but that's all. There is no cure.
5 years of hormones in high doses
He put me on medication. Orgametril is a synthetic progesterone (hormone). It was a bit of a hassle to get the dosage right, but once I got that figured out, I was like a man. No more periods, no more pain, no more mood swings, nothing. The drawback was in the side effects: it dulled my emotions. Not as in becoming a zombie, but still, I noticed it. I just couldn't be bothered to get upset by anything, nor get very happy...
Though the Orgametril completely suppressed the symptoms, I gradually started doubting the sanity of taking large doses of hormones on a daily basis. As a biologist, I have some idea of the roles hormones play in our body, and it just felt wrong. And then my cousin came to stay with us and we compared the dose of progesterone in her birth control pill with my Orgametril.
I was completely shocked to discover that I took 200x her dose, day in, day out, and I decided there and then to stop with the hormones.
A naturopath helped me slowly reduce the dose I took, and after several months, I stopped them entirely. That was after almost 5 years. My period took some time to come back, but when it did, it came with a vengeance. My bleedings had always been very light, compared to most other women, and especially women with endometriosis. But now, it seemed like all the blood that hadn't flown in those 5 years came out. Fortunately, it didn't hurt.
I thought (and hoped) that maybe from now on I would bleed more, but it wouldn't hurt. I thought maybe I was cured.
Of course I wasn't and my specialist was right: there is no cure for endometriosis. I lasted another 4 years before I checked in for my second operation, 9 years after the first. And that helped for a short time only, so one year later, I was once again back in the office of the specialist. We discussed a hysterectomy, and he said he was prepared to do it, but there was no guarantee that it would take away all my pain. And he would prescribe hormones against osteoporosis, for I would get menopause instantaneously.
I told him I didn't want to take hormones anymore. He suggested we do MRI first, to have a look at the actual situation in my belly before taking any decision. I agreed and had another 6 weeks to ponder my situation and to research once again.
This time, I found a website with "the endometriosis diet". That sounded interesting!
The MRI confirmed that the endometriosis had affected 3 new spots in my belly, plus an other one that was already largely inactivated by scar tissue. As I sat with the specialist to discuss my options, I told him about the diet and that I wanted to try that. If it didn't work, I could always reconsider an operation or hormones, but I wanted to try this first. He agreed and wished me luck.
Changing my nutrition
I never saw him again, because the diet worked! In fact, it worked even better than I had hoped, for I had rarely felt better in my adult life. I felt fit and full of energy and I was completely pain free. My periods would surprise me, in the sense that I no longer worried about them. They would just happen, but they didn't restrict me in any way anymore. Life went on, even when I had my period.
No more pain
It was incredibly liberating, and I wanted to share it with the world. Especially with other women who might be afflicted with the disease without being aware of it. Because I knew now that specialists suspect that around 50% of all women are afflicted by endometriosis! It's a relatively unknown disease that affects so many people. Many women believe that having a painful period is a normal part of life. Well, it isn't! Yes, some belly aches may be involved, but they shouldn't be so fierce that you cannot function. Or that you wish to die. That is not normal.
So what is this diet? Mainly, it's a whole foods, plant based diet. It's pure and non-refined. And that is a diet that not only helps to heal endometriosis, but a whole host of modern diseases. If you don't believe me, go visit Forks over Knives Succes stories. There's over 200 of them, and they cover every major disease.
Actually, we can turn it around like this: our modern mainstream diet of animal products and highly processed foods causes the majority of all diseases known to mankind.
This is not to say that everybody should change to a whole foods, plant based diet overnight. The point is, and I repeat myself: nutrition plays a cardinal role in our health and healing. So instead of taking synthetic medicines that, in a best case scenario, will only suppress the symptoms, have a look at your diet. Because you might not need any medicines, you may just have to change your diet.
You will find plenty of information on this blog to help you change your habits towards more health and happiness. For starters, read our Beginner's Guide to Healthier and Happier Living. Then, download our Change sheet to help you get started today with whatever changes you desire. Make them happen in a stress-free way by taking incremental baby steps towards your goals. Success is guaranteed!