Friday, September 9, 2011

A Piece of "My Story"

As a blogger, and as a writer, and for my readers, I think it's important to share "my story", although my story isn't even close to done yet, I still feel compelled to share a big piece of my story. Afterall, if I'm writing a blog, and sharing my day to day, it would be nice if you knew or understood a bit about my journey.

I will jump right in. I was diagnosed with Endometriosis in 1996, my daughter was a year and a half and I was 21 years old. I was in emergency surgery after I was diagnosed.

For the next several years to follow, after learning and experiencing that I also developed cysts and tumors, I endured a  lot of surgery. And when I say a lot, I mean it. I don't say it lightly.

To date I have had 41 abdominal surgeries to remove Endometriosis, and to cut out the tumors/cysts. They were not typical common cysts that can come and go throughout the month, these were hemorrhaging and had to be taken out. The Endometriosis wasn't typical or common either, it was severe and progressive--and it reeked havoc on my reproductive system and other organs. We tried everything to get rid of it or slow it down; from birth control pills to a drug therapy called Lupron to progesterone cream. It wasn't going
nowhere.


(a typical day/night at my house-me resting with Nells on the Sofa)


Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-5
 
Enduring all those surgeries, working full time and being a single mother were some of the hardest days of my life. And not to mention, painful. If you know anything about Endo, it's extremely painful, to the point of debilitating. I was always having to take Short Term Disability at work, and constantly calling in sick etc. . I ended up being laid off due to my health after five years with a company that I loved.



I found myself at the age of 33 having a full Hysterectomy, going through surgical menopause, which was a total nightmare. And I am not sharing any of this for sympathies or attention, I'm only sharing because I think it's important to connect, and share our humble fellow stories, and I hope to help and mentor other women.
Since my Hysterectomy, I had to quiet my job (about 4 years ago), because I had had 6 surgeries that year (2007)--and since then I've been in this state of pulling myself (my body) out of all that trauma. It's a daily battle dealing with  my muscles that have de-condtioned, nerve damage, instability, chronic pain, adhesions (that stick to other organs), scarring and these injuries I get. Such as impingement in my hips and shoulder, falls--random day to day stuff-- because I don't have a lot of strength after recovering from all the surgeries. They robbed me of quite a bit. But they haven't robbed me of my spirit.


 

I won't stop fighting to feel better (I am done with surgery, the tumors are gone but I still have some Endo which is almost unheard of after a Hysterectomy), so I did some research and discovered a type of treatment and I've been doing that every week, twice a week,  for the past two years; a visceral manipulation therapy, ( a deep brutal massage type therapy to free up adhesions so I can heal) and Physical Therapy to gain strength  and improve range of motion.


(I got on some rocks on the North Shore this summer--that is a huge accomplishment for me)


I don't let my circumstances or health define me--it's what's happened to me, but it's not who I AM. I have learned the HARD way that I have to learn to accept where I am instead of where I want to be, or where I thought I'd be at 37 years old. I thought I'd have a few kids, and a full time job, gardening and volunteering during the week. Turns out I was unable to have any more children, and I can't work and I can rarely make commitments to others. I use a heating pad, ice packs, pain meds, nerve blocker medication, HRT and I have to slap Bio-Freeze on every time I leave the house--it's a pain the butt and it stinks!

This isn't he way I'd write my story, and there are a lot of people that don't understand my situation, and that is another thing I've had to learn. There are going to be critical people that just don't understand you and your life. And they will judge you and be cruel. But that's OK. I know and understand, and the people that love me do too.

I might not be fulfilling the goals and purposes I thought I would be, but I've been able to use my life as an example of enduring, and never giving up. I've been able to use my gifts in unexpected ways and use my time in unexpected ways that have blessed others. And if I can do that--then I've done what I've needed. I can accept that.

I think the purpose in sharing stories is to make a difference. I want to be able to help other women who might be diagnosed with Endo, and to give them as much information on it as I possibly can. Info I never had. I want to be able to tell them about these unique treatments I receive, treatments I could have been receiving after my FIRST OR SECOND surgery. Treatments that would have helped me SO much if I had known. But when you pile 40 surgeries ontop of another within 13 years, you get a total mess, and I'm trying to clean that mess up and just trying to maintain appreciating the beautiful things in life as I do.



(Me this summer--I love a pretty dress)

And it's not easy, they take a lot out of me. I get Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I'm down for the count. I've learned a thing or two about endurance, and we as a people have a need for it. It makes us strong. It gives us character. It shapes us.

My story is still being written, and I'll look forward to sharing the next several chapters with you once I get there.

23 comments:

Ashley @ LaLuce said...

WOW. girl, you are beautiful. this story is beautiful and your determined spirit is amazing. that picture of your on the rocks just looks like joy defined. thank you so much for sharing. i'm so glad you stopped by my blog, it gave me the opportunity to meet you! happily following, you're story will encourage and comfort others.

Anonymous said...

<3

~ann

Jennifer, a friend said...

Thank you Gina. Your astounding outward beauty so easily masks the physical pain you talk about here. It's hard to believe such suffering could course through you. I am glad that through your writing that heart/ache is revealed. Your gentle, bright and optimistic spirit graces us all, but the physical vulnerability and this painful betrayal of your body is important for me to "see" as well. With love. Jennifer

Gina said...

Thank you both so much, Ashley and Jennifer for reading and commenting. I really felt it would be good to share my story, but wanted it to "come out" right...so I really appreciate any encouragement! I'm new at blogging, so I double appreciate readers! You both brightened my day, thank you again.
gina

Nancy said...

Wow. God meant for me to read this post... for sure. I am having a hysterectomy just like you in 3 weeks. I have a very high cancer risk from the BRAC 1 gene. Preventative for me. I am 38. Hello menopause! I have been writing my posts about how I want to document this journey. Not many young ladies have to go through this. They usually go into it gradually later in life. Thank you for sharing. It has meant a lot to me and my journey. God has grand plans for all of us.

kinze said...

such beauty written all over in this post!

Gina said...

thank you Nancy and kinze for your comments, they mean so much to me!
Nancy, thank you for sharing--I thought you would maybe be interested in reading this post:http://contemplatingbeauty.blogspot.com/2011/06/where-do-i-fit-in.html
May God bless you in your tough time...it's so hard. But God can do so much with us if we are open vessels...

Gina said...

Nancy, if you can't click on the link go to the June Archives, and it's called WHERE DO I FIT IN

amy o said...

i'm glad you're sharing your story... you have an amazing spirit and are one of the most beautiful and hopeful people i know. i'm proud to call you my friend. for whatever reason, your post made me think of this poem by rumi.

Moving Forward

The deep parts of my life pour onward,
as if the river shores were opening out.
It seems that things are more like me now,
that I can see farther into paintings.
I feel closer to what language can't reach.
With my sense, as with birds, I climb
into the windy heaven, out of the oak,
and in the ponds broken off from the sky
my feeling sinks, as if standing on fishes.

Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Robert Bly

amy o said...

oops, i mean rilke (that other great poet). :)

Gina said...

Amy, I LOVE this, thank you for leaving it here, and for your comment, you are one of my number one supporters, love you!

Desiree said...

you are nothing short of amazing. many have gone through less than you, and give up. you have gone through so much and remain so strong. found you on a link up on JaNeal's blog,... I will now follow you. <3

Susan said...

Wow. What an incredible story ~ and difficult journey you've had.
I don't know you but you must be one strong woman. And beautiful girl!

HopeUnbroken said...

such bravery and courage in your story. keep sharing, keep encouraging, keep fostering hope. there are others who need you and what you have to offer them by way of inspiration.
so glad i stopped by today.

Darby said...

Gina I think this post is such a great inspiration for many women out there. I needed to hear it too. I have been dealing with chronic pelvic pain and inflammation since the birth of my daughter almost 5 years ago. I have had every test under the sun and tried many different docs to come up with a diagnosis. I do not have endo, but I have had many many days that I just cry because I can't do the things that I love to do anymore and I have to be careful most of the time for fear of a "flair up". I am hoping God willing we will someday be able to have another little one but we will see. Thank you for sharing your story....I needed to hear it.

Courtney said...

I found your blog from your guest post on Ashley's Luce. Your story is beautiful (and beautifully written). A spirit of contentment and peace flows through your words. Health is such a fragile thing and your perseverance is an encouragement to me. I want to follow your blog if I can find your follow button...gonna look around a bit more...

Bless you,

Janis said...

such beauty can emerge through so much pain...thank you for sharing your story! You've inspired me to share on my blog. Our stories are important and they should be told! We don't know how God will use our story, but I know suffering is not wasted. I just started blogging, and found your post on being enough...I feel blessed already!!!!

hannah singer said...

beautiful, friend. encouraged by your leaning into jesus. praise him!

i had a hysterectomy at 29. still not where i need to be physically, but i am ok...because HE is near.

lovelove.

Farrah said...

Wow Gina, reading this makes me appreciate every little blessing in my life. You're a strong woman and I admire you so much!

Ana Magdalena said...

I am speechless. Reading about your relationship with your daughter was enough to WOW me but reading about your experience against Endometrosis is beyond inspiring. I love your story!

Megan said...

Gina, you will forever be in my heart. I am fortunate to be blessed with you in my life. We met because of our endo pasts. You have never ceased to amaze me with your strength and positive outlook. YOU, are a hero to me!

<3,
Meg

engineer's wife said...

Gina,

Is it not completely God that we were brought together. We have so much in common. I am sorry you have suffered these health issues, but you and I both know that the Lord uses them for good. I adore how you share your heart.

Shelley

Nicole Marie said...

Honestly, I don't know how you do it. Regardless of all you have been through, you still have a strong spirit, heart and soul. I was told I had a mild Endometriosis when I was 17. It was kind of hard to hear. I was also diagnosis with IBS and Fibromaygia. I'm sorry that you have been through so much. I wish you didn't ever half to go though this or of anyone else.