Chronic Illnesses · Endometriosis · Fibromylagia · Hypothyroidism · IBS · Self Care

Surgery #5 and other things

Hello Beauties,

I went through my fifth surgery yesterday morning. When I had another ovarian cyst a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to take a drastic measure; I went in for an endometrial ablation. Which means that the lining of my uterus was completely burned away, and my iud could be removed. My strong suspicion was that my iud was causing the cysts, especially since one of the biggest potential side effects of the iud I had was cysts. I had never had any issues with my first iud several years ago. And I really only had the iud for period management. So the only way I was okay with getting the iud removed was doing something (the ablation) that would manage periods. I wasn’t willing to keep risking my only remaining ovary with getting more cysts.

This was the third surgery I’ve been put under general anesthesia. The second one I didn’t wake up extremely nauseated from or in a lot of pain. I am hoping hoping this ablation will work and I won’t bleed during periods.

A week and a half ago, I hit a really really bad place. It was the closest I’ve come to being suicidal in years. The thing with having multiple interconnected chronic illnesses is that what may work for calming one illness down may cause another one of the illnesses to flare back up. It’s a battle of finding some sort of balance with managing all of my illnesses. I deeply hope that now that my iud is out, my body will have one less thing to deal with that contains foreign matter.

Hitting that low low place was really hard for me. Namely because I felt so alone and defeated. It was that feeling of rushing down a slide, knowing there’s a huge pit of mud at the bottom, and desperately trying to find something to grab on to to stop the falling. I could see what was coming, I knew how I had gotten to such a bad place, but I also didn’t feel like any of my catching mechanisms were kicking in.

Dealing with a singular chronic illness is hard, it’s seriously sucks. Dealing with multiple chronic illnesses is excruciating. Chronic means long term, long lasting, and even in some definitions, something that lasts for longer than 6 months (which, hahahaha, I’ve been dealing with chronic illnesses for over a decade now). Depression and anxiety are constant bedfellows with chronic illness. Not only that, there aren’t many people who can even relate or understand what it’s like to fight to get out of bed every morning, and dread going to bed at night knowing there’s a pretty high chance you won’t fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning. Oh and what about flare ups?! Battling chronic illnesses means that was may have been previously dependable is no longer reliable.

I hate making plans and then having to cancel last minute because of a damn flare up. This happens more than I’d like to admit. For those who are on the receiving end of the cancellations, understand it isn’t our fault, it’s our bodies deciding to take over and make our day hellish. This doesn’t mean we, those with chronic illnesses, don’t want to be invited or asked out for a girls’ (friends’) day out. Fighting with chronic illnesses is not something we can take a break from. We are literally at war with and for our bodies. Having people come alongside us and give us a boost on the bad days really does help.

Friendships falter and shift and end when chronic illnesses rear their ugly heads. Not a lot of people can handle hearing someone say over and over “no, I’m not okay.” It’s easier to leave the ill person in the dust and try to forget them. Those of us with chronic illnesses stop even answering the “how are you” questions. It is easier for us to tell lies than tell the truth and risk losing that friendship. That’s the thing with invisible illnesses – it’s hard for people to believe there is anything even wrong when the illness is not “visible.”

Coming out of my fifth surgery yesterday felt like my normal. I know that’s not how it should be. Having surgeries should not be normal. But I am hoping that this surgery will mean one more step towards getting my body to a manageable and mostly healthy place. I am waiting for labs to come back too, as I got 8 vials of blood drawn a week ago. I may have inadvertently messed those labs up. Whenever I’m getting labs done, I usually try to stop taking all of my supplements a few days before, and then stop using my progesterone cream the evening before getting labs done. This time, well, I forgot to stop taking my meds/supplements, and even put on progesterone cream the morning of getting labs done. I really really hope that doesn’t screw up the results.

The past 6 months has consisted of very careful counting of my spoons every day. Even still, that hasn’t been enough to keep me from falling down. My therapist mentioned a month ago that she felt like I was just maintaining and wasn’t feeling normal life ups and downs. Maintaining is my way of coping when things are really bad. Having four more chronic illnesses added to my list in the past two months has been absolutely hellish. I’ve faced a lot of anger because I’ve been dealing with these things for years, and my parents did nothing, and in fact, they sabotaged any doctor’s visits I had. I’ve been allowing myself to feel more, and I think that’s part of what hit me down so low the other week. I was finally letting myself feel the suffocating heaviness of my illnesses. Since then I’ve been up to high highs and down to low lows. Which yay? I’m feeling? I found my childhood medical records and found a lot of evidence that backs up why I’m so sick in present day. It was validating but also made me feel really sad.

Anyway, sorry this is a heavy post. My mind hasn’t been in the best place lately and I just needed to get these things out. Thanks for reading.

 

Chronic Illnesses · Endometriosis · PCOS

Having a Laparoscopic Surgery? Here are my tips

** Warning! Pictures of my incisions below **

Hello Beauties!

I am two and a half weeks out from my second laparoscopic surgery (4th surgery overall) and I figured I’d share my top tips for recovery and healing from surgery.

One of the things I have known from previous surgeries is that I don’t handle anesthesia very well – like at all. I had my deteriorating gallbladder removed two years ago, and ended up having to get admitted because I was unable to keep anything down and was in so much pain they couldn’t get a handle on it. So when I went in to have my right ovary removed two and a half weeks ago, I made sure to explain to the anesthesiologist that I needed all the anti-nausea meds they could give me.

First, let’s talk through what typically happens in the week before and day of surgery. You will typically have a pre-op appointment with your surgeon or doctor, then either the same day or another day, usually at the location of your surgery, you will have blood drawn, and sign a whole bunch of paperwork for surgery. Day of surgery, depending on the time of your surgery, you will be cut off with food at midnight the night before, then roughly 5-4 hours before, you will be told to stop drinking everything. I was allowed to take a few sips of water to take my thyroid medication and my Zoloft, but that was it until after surgery. When I showed up to the hospital, I brought along an overnight bag just in case, even though my surgery was technically outpatient. Think bare minimum. If you do get admitted, you will not be up to doing your normal night time routine (if you have one) and I can guarantee that you won’t be up to wearing many of your own clothes.

You’ll get your weight done (this is an important step for anesthesia), leave a urine sample, and get an IV started. I always prefer an IV in my left hand so it doesn’t get pinched in my elbow, or get in the way of my dominant hand. The IV will start a drip of saline, and you’ll get anti-nausea, pain meds, and antibiotics through your IV as well. Then it’s settle and wait for everyone to come see you. The anesthesiologist will come see you and go over everything with you and any concerns you have, then the head nurse for the OR will come, and once you see your surgeon, that means you’ll be wheeled back within minutes of them leaving. When I had my gallbladder taken out, I remember everything up to being strapped down and getting cozy on the operating table. Then everything goes black. For this surgery, I remember being wheeled out of my pre-op room, and then everything peacefully and happily fades. I’m not entirely sure what they gave me, but my awesome pre-op nurse called it happy juice. It kicked in within minutes of her pushing it into my IV, and boy do I much prefer that way of heading back to surgery than being fully aware.

Now waking up in recovery is always going to feel weird. I can’t remember the moment I actually woke up this time around, but I do remember I was just suddenly awake. SUPER groggy, but not nauseated or in pain at all. Which was so incredibly relieving. I could barely keep my eyes open, but I felt amazing. I credit that solely to my anesthesiologist getting the drugs balanced correctly and giving me pain meds BEFORE surgery.

Alright, on to my suggestions!

Nausea-Prone

If you are nausea prone, then I highly recommend talking with the anesthesiologist about getting those anti-nausea meds. Especially if your procedure is supposed to be outpatient. I got something this time around called a Scopolamine patch. It was this little brown/tan patch that went behind my left ear. I did experience some of the side effects, such as blurry vision and headaches AFTER I took the patch off 48 hours after surgery. These side effects were so minor compared to dealing with nausea. I didn’t have any nausea at all post-surgery this time around and it was glorious! Also ask your anesthesiologist if they can give you the anesthesia through your IV instead of giving your gas. That will greatly reduce the risk of reaction and nausea post-surgery. Another note about nausea – have some instant rice or soups on hand. I wasn’t hungry for several days after surgery, but I managed to easily get down soups/broth/rice.

Pain Meds

DO NOT SKIP A DOSE OF PAIN MEDS! Especially in the first 72 hours after surgery. You typically get an IV dose of pain meds while you’re still in the OR (Operating Room), so if you do get to go home after a hours in recovery, it should be time to take a dose of pain meds as soon as you get home. This surgery I took Aleve and Percocet together. Percocet every 6 hours, Aleve every 12 hours. I know from experience I can’t handle prolonged doses of Ibuprofen, and Tylenol does next to nothing for me. Ask your doctor for their best recommendation for pain meds, and then seriously, stick with a schedule. If you fall behind on doses, it will be very hard to catch back up and you will be in a lot of pain.

Cough Drops 

Okay, so during surgery you will have a breathing tube down your throat. This is a given for any surgery you’re fully under for. The nice thing is that you typically never even know you have a tube down your throat…caveat for those who scarily wake up during surgery. The downside to this is a scratchy throat and cough for a few days to a week after surgery. If you’re having any sort of abdominal surgery, this is going to kill and you’ll feel like any cough or aggressive clearing of your throat is going to rip your stitches out. Have 12 hour cough syrup on hand, and a whole bowl of throat/cough drops next to your bed or wherever you are going to sit yourself when you get home. Also, have a blanket or small pillow you can hold over your incision whenever you do cough or blow your nose or sneeze 6 times in a row like I did. My youngest kindly gave me his cold after surgery so I was sneezing and blowing me nose a lot and man that hurt. Another suggestion I have is get a bottle of 100% pure pineapple juice. I had big glasses of pineapple juice and ginger ale mixed together. Pineapple is very soothing to your throat and it tastes good, win win!

Shoulder Pain/Gas/The big “C”

This mainly is helpful for anyone having an abdominal laparoscopic surgery. For that kind of surgery, anything to do with any of your organs, your abdomen is pumped full of gas. It is very easy for that gas to get stuck in pockets after surgery and this typically manifests itself as major RIGHT shoulder pain and neck pain. After my gallbladder surgery I couldn’t lie on my right side for a whole week because every time I tried to lie down I’d almost black out from how sharp the pain was. So I was prepared after this surgery. Get a bottle prior to surgery of ULTRA or EXTRA strength GasX pills or a store brand. And take those almost like candy. I took them every time I took pain meds and I only had a few twinges of shoulder pain for the first 36ish hours. Stay on top of those, and also ask your surgeon if they get as much of the gas out before closing up. Apparently this is thing as my surgeon said she’s rather anal about making sure to get out as much of the gas as she can before closing incisions. Next, get some Icy/Hot cream or Arnica gel, or Salonpas patches. And make sure to have a heating pad on hand as well!! These things will help shoulder and neck pain if you can’t get on top of the gas pain with the GasX. Okay, now this is VERY important. Make sure to have a bottle of stool softener on hand too. Any time you take heavy duty pain meds, constipation always shows up. Take a stool softener as often as you can, and keep taking it until you’re no longer take the heavy pain meds. Another thing to keep on hand are some probiotics. Because of all of the antibiotics they’ll pump in for surgery, it’s a good idea to combat them and keep your gut healthy by taking an actual probiotic (link for my favorite down below).

Clothing

This again is probably more helpful for those having abdominal surgery, but make sure to have loose fitting sweats or yoga pants to wear home from surgery. Or even better, a maxi or swing dress (here are links for my two favorites: one and two). After my breast biopsy/lumpectomy ten years ago, I wore sports bras for a few days, but went braless whenever I could. For abdominal surgery, high-waisted leggings that don’t rub on your incisions are helpful; tunics, and comfy nightgowns were all my go to’s as well. Plan to stay in bed for a few days, just to let your body rest. It is easy to overdo it, especially if you feel good. Take. It. Easy.  Even being two and a half weeks out from my own surgery, I am still needing to take it easy. Lots of leggings and yoga pants still.

Showers/Baths

As long as your incision are glued shut/steri-stripped shut, you should be good to take a shower within 24 hours of surgery. I had to wait like 50 hours after my c-section to take a shower, but that was because I had a 48 hour pain pump attached to my incision and I couldn’t take a shower until that came out. Make sure to ask, or have your partner or who ever is with you and takes you home after surgery ask when you get discharged. I waited until the steri-strips came off about 5 days post surgery and then another 4 days after that before I took a bath. If your incision still have scabs, I’d say wait until those have completely fallen off before taking a bath.

Before I wrap this post up, here are pictures of my three incisions. When I had my gallbladder surgery, it was only one incision in my belly button, but I can’t say I minded having three tiny incisions. I did get some geranium oil (I got this one) which is supposed to be good for healing scars and incision. It has a sort of strong floral/greenery scent. But I swear putting a tiny bit on each incision (AFTER every bit of scab had fallen off) has helped especially with the bruising and tenderness of each incision. Vitamin E oil is good for incisions too, but I’ve always been pretty lax about remembering to put some on my incisions.

 

List of supplies for post-surgery care

Meds

GasX or store brand equivalent (extra or ultra strength is the best!)
Stool Softener
Throat Drops (I used these)
Cough Syrup
Salonpas patches (I use these I did get some bigger patches, but didn’t end up using them)
Arnicagel (I use this one)
Probiotics (I use these I did see these at Costco so when I run out, I’m going to get those instead)

Comforts

Wide waist/loose waist yoga pants
High-waisted leggings (favorite leggings!)
Swing/Maxi dresses (I like this one)
Comfortable loose nightgowns (it’s uncomfortable to have waistbands rubbing against healing incisions)
Small pillow/blanket to hold against your incisions

Foods

Broths/soups
Instant rice mixes (they were still gentle on my stomach, but tasted good)
Pineapple juice
Ginger Ale
Applesauce for if you really don’t feel like eating

**Disclaimer: may contain affiliate links! I will get a very small percentage of anything you purchase through an affiliate link. 

All Things Beauty · Chronic Illnesses · Curly Curls · Endometriosis · Fashion · Fibromylagia · Hair Care · Hypothyroidism · IBS · Makeup · PCOS · Products · Self Care · Skin Care

The Journey Begins

 

Hello Beauties!

Welcome to Chronically Curly! I am so excited you’re here, and am very much looking forward to what I can create in this space. I have had a burning desire to learn more about makeup, hair care, fashion, and beauty for several years now. The older I get, the more comfortable I am with my makeup, taking care of my curly hair, and being adventurous with my fashion and overall aesthetic. My dream is to become a makeup artist one day, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

Something you will soon learn about me is that I struggle with two officially diagnosed and three suspected chronic illnesses. These are a HUGE part of my life, and during the bad weeks, I don’t always have enough spoons [more on this in another post] for doing a full blog post. So bear with me please. During those bad weeks, you will probably see posts about self-care, counting spoons, and how I’m functioning especially being mama to two young boys (ages 1 and almost 4).

I grew up very conservative Christian and didn’t get my first “stylish” haircut until I was 20. All of my teenage years, my hair touched my waist, and I often wore “modest” clothing and didn’t start really wearing makeup consistently until about 2 1/2 years ago (at 24-25 years old). I am no longer a Christian, my hair is in an jaw length curly a-line bob that is a dark brown and burgundy ombre, and I wear some sort of makeup daily. And let’s face the truth, most days I live in yoga pants or leggings and comfy, cozy tops! But! Stylish clothes are only what you’d see me in when I’m out in public. It’s all about balance, ya know?

Okay, let’s talk Chronic Illnesses quickly. My officially diagnosed illnesses are Fibromyalgia and Hypothyroidism. The three suspected are IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), PCOS, and Endometriosis. I was officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia February 2nd, 2009. Hypothyroidism was only officially diagnosed roughly a month ago on February 13th, 2018. I had surgery two weeks ago today (on March 8th, 2018) to remove my right ovary due to chronic cysts. Turns out my ovary was at least tripled in size, full of hemorrhagic cysts, and a large benign cyst. My surgeon also found a lot of scar tissue, including scar tissue binding my bowels to my abdominal wall. The scar tissue sounds a whole lot like endometriosis scar tissue, but I will have to get a second opinion about that.

Moving on!

I am short. Like 5′ 1″. So short. I wear typically a size 10/medium, but I have thunder thighs, a bubble butt, thick calves, and am short-waisted, and struggle with body image at times. When I’m in a lot of pain, or after both of my children were born, I have issues staying grounded and connected to my body. I started a habit a decade ago that each time I look in the mirror I will not leave until I have pointed out at least one thing I like. This has helped greatly with my self-confidence. That AND learning what clothes and styles look best on me and what I love and like the most <– that is important, I always tell anyone I’m giving fashion advice to, do not wear it unless you are comfortable and really LOVE it. Not just like, you need to LOVE the clothes and things you wear.

As I’m nearing 30 I have found skin care is becoming more important to me. So I will be sharing tricks and tips I’ve learned with taking care of my skin (more specifically my face). Also the makeup I use daily, the products I have found the easiest to use or cheapest, and hair care, let’s not forget about that! With my curls, I will be talking most about taking care of your own curls, so I apologize straight haired beauties! I don’t have as many tips for you as that is not something I’m as familiar with. But, I do know that several of my favorite hair care products are good for all types of hair, so keep an eye out.

Well, until next time! Stick with me as I continue to set up the blog and get it the way I want it looking. My hope is in the next few months to get my YouTube channel back up and running, but I am in need of several crucial pieces of equipment before I can start that again.

Hugs!