I’ve introduced a new category to this blog, ‘Health and happiness’ to chart a few changes I’m making to try and be…er…healthier and happier. (Just as a pre-warning, these posts will be quite personal – I’ve been inspired by Ellie Stonely to chart a journey I seem to be on.)
The lifestyle changes have come about following a surprise diagnosis of endometriosis after an operation in November. I didn’t really change anything about my lifestyle in reaction to the news at the time – no sooner had I taken stock than it was time to move to Cardiff. But now Carl and I are settling into our new home and things are calming down a little, I have a bit more time and headspace to devote to my health.
Although the diagnosis came as a shock, it kind of made sense to me once I’d worked out what endometriosis is. My periods have always been very long and painful, I just naively thought that that must be the norm as no Doctors I spoke to about it thought there was any cause for concern. Quite frankly, they’re a drag and in the first couple of days it’s always a choice between knocking myself out on painkillers (the Weekend Option) or gritting my teeth and getting on with things. To be honest in some ways the diagnosis was a kind of relief – I’d feared I must just be a bit weaker and whinier than most other women!
But, as my consultant explained, it also presented another problem, as 40% of women with endometriosis have trouble conceiving and the only way to find out if I’m one of them is to start trying. Erk. Carl and I had discussed having kids sooner or later but now my body was telling us that if we didn’t start trying sooner there may very well not be a later. We suddenly discovered that we weren’t as free to decide when and how (a natural childbirth is already out of the question) as we thought we were.
After we’d had time to digest and think and freak out and talk there was a return trip to the consultant to discuss our options. The conclusion of that was, as it’s causing some pretty painful symptoms and may be causing problems with conceiving, we’d wait until April and if I’m not pregnant by then I’ll undergo another operation to treat the endometriosis. No pressure, then.
In the meantime I’m to keep a diary of my cycle and all the related symptoms I’m experiencing. I’ve never been very good at keeping track of my cycle, I had a vague idea but never got into the habit of marking dates, etc. Luckily a friend introduced me to the fantastic free iPhone app Pink Pad, proving beyond all doubt that there really is an app for everything. It’s a great little calendar app where you can chart your dates, physical symptoms, mood changes, when you’ve been ‘intimate’ (ahem) and notes for anything else. It uses the information you put in to work out the averages of your cycle and displays with a little flower when you should be more fertile. It’s perfect for any woman wanting to keep track of their cycle and how it’s affecting them.
So when (or if?) I next see the consultant and he asks to see my diary, it’s my iPhone rather than a pocketbook that I’ll be getting out of my handbag!