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Intention – Find your why…

I am 29 years old, I had a full time corporate job, I have 3 children under 5 and I have just recovered from a radical hysterectomy. The surgery was due to a disease called endometriosis, a contributing one called adenmyosis and scares with cervical cancer cells before the national UK smear age of 25. I struggled with this disease for 16 years. The anxiety, pain, embarrassment, debilitation and depression that came with it.
I decided to document my experience and share my story. I came up with a blog idea “Find your glow”. I wanted to create a ‘sharing is caring’ website in which I hoped my honest account of my struggle and journey would empower and inspire others to find their own glow.
Whatever made me find that intention – It has changed my life.
I was extremely honest in my story and I shared more than most people would have liked. Admittedly I was so nervous to post it and it took me three weeks to build up the courage to publish it.
But… I had intention and I knew why I wanted to press that button and eventually I did.

The amazing happened, I had an unbelievable response. Family, friends, colleagues, people from all over my network of people sending messages of support and sharing their own incredibly inspiring stories. It made people stop, think, be kind and most importantly go for their smears and check-ups!
I was so incredibly humbled that by just being brave enough to share a story, by acting on a good intention, that I could change so many people’s lives.
So I got to thinking – What if this is it? What if I could do this every day? Intentionally change people’s lives. Inspire people to be more open, happier with themselves – glow!

With that intention I found my glow. This is how.
I had a few people ask – What is glow? Glow is what makes you you! You make yourself the best version of yourself, reach your true potential and that’s it – you glow. And when you glow you subconsciously allow others to do the same.

Glow comes from the inside out – you use who you are to define what you do.

My intention when I started my blog was that I wanted to share, show and support others on a journey to find that glow.
I would share to encourage other people to talk. Get rid of the stigma of not being able to discuss physical or mental health fears, which are ending up in the worst cases as life threatening.
I would show that even at your lowest point in life, when things are thrown at you that knock you flat, you can use any experience to be a positive, fresh start. Show that you can build yourself back up and you can learn to embrace it.
Most of all I wanted to support others to “Find that glow!” Help people become the best version of themselves. Believe in what could be, not what should be.

The issue was I needed to find that glow myself.

My gran always said:

‘You can’t make anyone else happy unless you are happy in yourself’

This is something I have always listened to but have never actually taken a step back and stopped to understand.
I realised what this really truly means is, I had to start with me.
My brother once sent me a YouTube clip of a guy called Simon Sinek, seriously you should watch it.
He talks about what you do, how you do it but most importantly why?! You figure out why and you start with that intention, the how and what come after. I started to apply this to every-day life and asked myself some serious questions:
• Why was I working full time with 3 kids? – Because I thought money was the best contribution I could give to my family. I was showing my kids that mummy works to pay the bills. But then the kids would ask – “Why can’t you be our reader at school?” “Why can’t you pick us up every day?” “Why can’t I go to dance classes?” I would always reply with, “Because mummy has to work darling”. Work had to change.

• Why did I seriously think coffee and cigarettes were getting me through the day? – I told myself that that was my break and that was what helped managed my stress levels. I look back now and think was just being bloody ridiculous it was an addiction, but like any addiction, at the time I couldn’t see past it. My health had to change.

• Why did I think that monetary contribution was so important? – Money makes the world go round right? Earning money and not having the time or energy to enjoy it with my family was pointless. I had to re-prioritise.

• Why was I surviving and not thriving? – I wasn’t trying hard enough. I thought I was – but I was trying so hard to make the wrong people happy. I needed to stop, re-evaluate and restart.

My hysterectomy operation date was given to me and for the first time (and probably the only time in the next 18 years) of my life, I had been given the chance to do just that. Stop, re-evaluate and re-start.
So I did what any normal person would do in my situation – I asked google! A week before my operation I seriously sat there in bed googling – How can I make myself well? ha!
But I found this – a wheel of wellness:

wheel_500px

In the state I was in it actually made a lot of sense and I decided that if I could tick off everything on this wheel as I was recovering I might actually get somewhere.
First on the agenda was my health – Nutritional. I am a Gemini, I either do something or I don’t. I’m all or nothing. So I threw myself in! I was determined.
My intention was good and I had a why – The sooner I could get better the sooner I could to get back to my babies.
For four weeks after my operation, from the minute I opened my eyes, I had no tea, coffee, refined sugar, cigarettes, alcohol, gluten or dairy. Instead I focused on vitamins, antioxidants, water and pro-biotics. Me hahaha! Miss smokes 6-10 cigarettes a day and totally addicted to coffee decided to stop cold turkey.
However…I also told my mum what I was doing and it was genius! Why? I had just had a hysterectomy so I was not walking up and down those stairs myself any time soon. I physically couldn’t get to those things even if I wanted to. Mum had a list of all the things I was not having and she kicked my ass just for thinking about it… Thanks mum.
Now this sounds doom and gloom. I bet you’re all thinking what on earth did she eat? But it was actually so so simple to do with the right support.
I think the bravest thing I have done to date is admit that I had a problem and I got help. I had been through years of struggling with different physical and mental health issues and not once had I asked someone for help.
My friend has an incredible business which has pure, safe and beneficial products for health and wellbeing. I just thought a good detox was the right way to start, but I had no idea how it was going to change everything in my life.
I was added to a 30 day to healthy living support group and I got put in touch with some incredibly inspirational people. This gave me a social and intellectual wellness, I surrounded myself with positive people and return became a much more positive person myself.

After a couple of days instead of focusing on what I couldn’t eat and drink I was excited about what I could! Everything that I put in my mouth or on my skin I thought ‘Is this good for me?’ I sort of got a buzz out of knowing that what was going in was going to help, not hinder my recovery.
After the four weeks I felt amazing. I mean the best I have ever ever felt. For the first time that I could remember I went a whole week without paracetamol, ibruprofen or painkillers. Four weeks after major abdominal surgery I needed nothing. I just couldn’t believe it, still to this day I haven’t had any for the first time in 16 years!
Obviously physically I had to take it easy still but mentally, I was on fire! Everything was so much clearer. That foggy feeling every time I woke up on a morning was gone, that self-doubt of ‘can I do this?’, Gone. It completely changed my relationship with food. I now knew how my body could feel and I never wanted to go back the state I was in again.
Next stage – re-prioritise (Emotional)

NO MORE would I put money and work before my health or my family and I quit my corporate job.
The intention and why thing really had worked for me the first time so I tried it again.
I looked at every job I had ever had and I asked myself why I loved those jobs and why was I doing them?
Every why came back to the same thing – I liked to make people happy.
The only part of most of the jobs I did that I actually liked was to help people. That is what gave me a glow, certainly not the money.
On the next list I wrote down all of the people in my life that I loved and who made me happy. They were the people that gave me glow, and they were the people I would prioritise and guess what? They didn’t care about money either.
Once I was thinking much clearer and I had given my body a boost I looked at this list and I discovered that a much bigger thing was going on here. I discovered that I had an addiction. Addiction can be anything. It’s not just alcohol, drugs, cigarettes. Addiction can be any behaviour or habit that you can’t stop, even though you know it’s having a negative effect on you and everyone around you.
Food is a massive one, you feel low energy or upset so you pick up the chocolate or Coca Cola. For for others it’s burgers and pizza! Comfort/pick me up food.

What about exercise? Some people run or exercise excessively if they’re stressed or going through a difficult time. Others are the opposite and stop going to the gym. They think I’ll go tomorrow over and over until they think why bother? Then they tell themselves that it’s not making a difference.

You could be heart broken and addicted to your ex? You sit there thinking what are they doing? Where are they going? You think right I’ll message them, then you watch your phone for hours waiting for a response.

Facebook and social media. The first thing many people do on a morning is check Facebook. That’s not exactly an addiction but if you then have to post about your life to get approval from others – that is addiction. Addiction to others approval.
I had an addiction to coffee and cigarettes but I also an addiction to being ‘successful’ to seeking people’s ‘approval’.
The problem was I was channelling all that drive, passion, motivation and glow that I had into the wrong success, and I wanted approval from the wrong people.

I wanted everyone to see that I was a good mum who could work full time in a big corporate job and people would approve at how well I could handle it. They didn’t see behind closed doors how broken I actually was.

The only people that mattered were the people who were on that list and personal contribution, my time to them was so much more important than monetary contribution. They didn’t care how successful I was or how much money I earnt – they just needed me there. They wanted my time.
Think if the most influential person in your life. I thought of my grandma. My grandma was a reiki healer, a medium, a shoulder and support for so many people. I’ve always said if I could do a small bit of what she could do I’d be happy. She helped so many people in her life it was unreal.
I didn’t idolise her because she used money and bought me the Earth, I idolised her because she helped the earth and everyone she could on it. She gave me all the time in the world – All the world then sixpence.
That’s who I wanted to be.
I had to ask myself what is ‘success’ to me?
I decided success was to keep my family loved, supported, healthy and thriving in whatever makes them happy. Show my babies that personal contribution to people’s lives is more important than monetary.
I thought, If I can make it my business to make people thrive and glow then my children will subconsciously do the same.
I had to find something that I could do to cover all of those aspects. If I truly wanted to help as many people as possible I had to find something that fit. I didn’t care about earning loads of money, I just wanted to give my time (my children’s’ time) and effort to a good cause, really make a difference to people’s lives.
After hours and hours of research and good old google I found this:
A nutritional therapist works with healthy individuals in order to prevent disease and works with sick individuals in order to ease and minimise symptoms of a developed disease.
That was it! That was exactly what I want to do!
Nutrition made such a dramatic difference to my life and nutritional therapy covers so, so many aspects of health and wellbeing. I started looking at different course materials and once I started learning I was addicted! This was a good addiction that was going to bring positivity not negativity. The intention was good, I had a why so the how had been made clear to me.
I took the leap. I signed up to a nutritional therapy diploma, I had to learn from home because I couldn’t get out and about so I chose an online course with a designated tutor and I studied – really hard! I read and read and learnt more and more. Every day, every night, every opportunity I had for the 12 week recovery period, it took me longer than I expected but last week I did my final assessment and guess what – I qualified!!
Qualifying to me was an amazing feeling, but I just wanted to get going! To help!
I asked a friend of a friend, one I thought would be most in need of my help as he was having a pretty hard time so asked him to be my first client. I met with him and did my first consultation. I asked him everything I needed to ask, went away, looked at the results and put together a personalised plan. I created something that I thought suited him, fit in with his lifestyle and enabled him to enjoy his life but also reach his short term and long term goals. A week after he started the plan I had a phone call, I was a bit nervous to pick up the phone but the response I got was one I will never forget. “I don’t know how you’ve managed it but I feel fantastic”. His main daily symptoms had gone, he was feeling more energetic, clear minded, confident in himself in his own words ‘better than I’ve felt in years’.
That was it – I found my glow!

So I thought why stop there? That wellness wheel stuck in my mind. Nutritional, emotional, physical, intellectual, social. Spiritual was one that really resonated with me. I had grown up with reiki healing, energy healing. My grandma was a Reiki master, a teacher. She was an incredibly spiritual lady, a medium, a wonderful friend and always seemed to know the right thing to say. When I was ill, run down, particularly if I was emotionally upset she would lie me down and give me a reiki. I’d never felt anything like it, it was wonderful. She always told me I should do it (she actually said will do it and she was never wrong the white witch!) so I thought right I’ve got the time, I’ve got the intention – and off I went.
I booked the course and it was the most amazing experience. I will never forget leaving, calling my mum and saying ‘This is it mum, this is what I was supposed to do. I’m going to help so many people with this’ and I have.
I did the same thing, I was drawn to people in different parts of my life that I thought would really benefit from a session and I asked them, can I come and help? I had the best intention and with that intention the effects were unbelievable. Some cried, and said they felt like they had a weight lifted. Some felt clear minded. Some didn’t feel an effect straight away but then slept like a log and called me the next saying ‘what did you do? I feel completely different’.

What happened as a result of this outcome? I glowed! And so did the people I treated!
I glowed even more!
Even better I could work this around my family. So I could get to those reading sessions, I could go pick my kids up from school. I spent more time with my baby boy, my daughter started her dance classes and they are all glowing now in their own way. I was still working 2 days a week in an admin job so I didn’t have my corporate salary but did I care? The look on my kid’s faces when I turned up at their open day:
Kids school

Did I hell care! I gave them my time and look how happy they are!
I was putting my energy, passion and drive into the right people. Success. Finally I knew what it felt like!
I’ve still got a long way to go but – here it is!

Ignite logo

Ignite wellness – Find your glow.
After working hard at the right thing I can now help other people with hundreds of different issues. Depression, eczema, diabetes, cancer, addiction, weight management, endometriosis the list was endless! I’d completely gone full (Wellness) circle – from being the person in desperate need of the help, to being in a position where I can provide the help.
Was starting a business my intention – no. It just came to fruition naturally. I started with the why, I found my how and I was brave enough to take the leap and now I have my what – a business that helps people. I help others and in return the people around me are happy and they thrive – not survive. They glow!
Every day I refer back to my why, and every day I think of other ways that I can expand that intention.
I vowed to donate a percentage of my earnings or time to charity. Endometriosis, cancer research, hospice care and more to give back to the reason I was able to make this change. I was given a fresh start, so I will always help others have the same.
I’m also finding new ways to help others, I love meditation and mindfulness it helped me so much! So I’m half way through a mindfulness diploma to coach others. When I feel crap I love a massage so I am also doing a course which covers reflexology, aromatherapy and massage. By the end of the year who knows what I’ll have achieved?! I’ll keep adding to that wheel of wellness to appeal to as many different people as possible and it all comes down to intention – finding a why.

If you’re a teacher, and you become the best version of yourself, happy, healthy, you learn to manage your stresses and self, you become the best teacher and you can change children’s lives even more than you already do.
If you’re a mechanic, and you become the best version of yourself, happy, healthy and you can manage your stresses, you can be the best mechanic and you’ll help people in need more than you already do. Even better you could help others learn what you have to continue that cycle.
Or you might do like a friend of mine did, she found the why and decided to do something completely different. She had that intention, she quit her office job to look after animals that was her passion, with this she had her why. She became a dog walker, then a trainer and now she is truly thriving looking after lots of different animals. She is totally glowing, so are the animals as are the owners! She has built herself a very successful business that she adores and that makes others happy.

She had the intention – she didn’t fail! I’m so proud of her.

I got to thinking that if everyone I knew in any job or any walk of life could find that intention, that why and be the best version of themselves. If everyone could thrive and find that glow – what happened to me could happen to them. It could happen to YOU!
YOU could intentionally and unintentionally allow others to do the same. You sometimes just need a bit of help and to ask yourself why.

Find that glow, keep it, look after it, use it to change your life and in turn inspire others to do the same.
That’s my intention – what’s yours?

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How I lost my glow…

Nobody really knows how much anyone else is hurting. We could be standing next to someone who is completely broken, and we would never know. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you have no idea about

So, be kind – always. With yourself, and others…

This is my story.

In order for me to truly blog about changing and thrivingfinding my glow. I felt I had to share how I lost it in the first place.

I established in my first blog that before my operation I was an extremely unhealthy person. Truth be told I was just exhausted, fed up and desperate for a new lease of life. Surviving.

I used to glow and be such a positive person. I was enthusiastic, used to dance through life just loving it, I seemed to take everything in my stride. My grandma used to call me her sunshine, she told me I shone on others and made them feel warm. So how did I get thriving to surviving?

I used to be one of the healthiest people I knew. I was a professional dancer/singer. I ate brilliantly, exercised every day and really looked after myself. My first job was in Israel, it was amazing! I was 18 years old, working 1-2 hours a day, staying in a beautiful resort completely free, whilst during the day sitting in the 40 degree sun – bliss!

Israel

I had always enjoyed performing as a hobby but soon after I started this contract (as amazing as it was) I realised that this career was not for me. I was doing the same thing day in day out, I was losing my passion for my favourite thing to do in the world (performing), and I was being restricted. I also wanted stability, I didn’t have the guts to not know where my next job was coming from.

All of my friends that work in the performance industry now – I take my hat off to you. You must be the strongest most driven people I know, I’m so proud of you.

Aerial view of London and the River Thames

 

I left Israel and moved to London. I stayed there 5 years in which time I went from working as a hostess for a large hospitality company (sitting guests down at tables) to within 3 years being a regional brand/training manager for the same company.

These were some of the best years of my life. I met some incredible people. I was learning, every day, at a rapid pace. Not just about business but about people. My colleagues were so multi-cultural, I listened to their stories and understood their backgrounds from all over the world. We all encouraged each other, we all became like family. I loved it!

I loved my job. I helped people. Everyday. I felt like I had found my forte, I would go to different cities every week and help train and support different people. I made them more confident in themselves, I made them believe they could achieve more. I encouraged people to set their personal standards higher, which in turn raised the business standards. As a result the customers got a better experience, the company made more money and I got rewarded – ace!

The only negative was it was very unhealthy! I had taken up smoking in London, I drank a lot of coffee and caffeinated drinks like monster and red bull, worked late nights/early mornings (typical hospitality hours), I ate when I was hungry whatever was around (Usually fast food or leftovers at work) and eventually one day it caught up with me.

I had gone from doing something that I knew in my heart wasn’t right for me – and being really healthy. To doing a job I totally loved – and being very unhealthy. I was young, I didn’t put my health high up on my priority list, when I was Ill I took antibiotics or painkillers and carried on…that was normal was it not?

I had suffered with repeat water and pelvic infections for years, I had them from when I very first started my period in my very early teens.

Everyone woman remembers their first period… Yes, I am going there, I am taking about periods – ha!  I sort of have to when I’m discussing endometriosis…I said I would be honest.

It was a big change in my life – I had become a woman (and it was bloody painful). I mean just horrendous.

My first experience was like a bleeding horror film, definitely not what I was expecting.I remember flooding my Nanas’ spare bed in agony whilst my parents were on holiday. I remember the pain and crying my eyes out and my lovely Nana looking after me with a hot water bottle and a cuppa.

I didn’t know at the time that these pains were not normal, neither did I have any idea at all what I would end up experiencing in later life! I just learned to deal with it, took pain killers and just moaned at my poor mum for a year – sorry mum. I went on a contraceptive pill soon followed by a contraceptive injection at 12 years old to try and control the pain and bleeding.

I used to really heavily bleed and by going through various pills/injections it was the only way to keep myself going. College years were mortifying – Stood in a ballet class in light pink tights and boom! The worst happens and your running out the room as fast as you can before everyone sees the total mess down the inside of your legs. Luckily my friends at college were incredibly supportive and I’m still very lucky to have them in my life now.

College 1

So these water/pelvis infections and horrendous periods continued all through my most important growing up years. I used to get told “you’re a dancer you aren’t drinking enough water” “you aren’t eating the right foods to fuel your body” and the doctors always said the same thing “you’ve got a small urethra”. I do! Ha! They weren’t lying – I went for a camera in my bladder once as a teen to find out what the problem was, I remember screaming and uncontrollably crying when they tried to put this tiny thing in and me bleeding for days after – apparently I had a small urethra (pee hole).

You are now all thinking seriously could this get anymore daft!

So now every time I went to the docs with a water infection, (literally 2 infections a month) that was the excuse. Until – one day a few years later, I collapsed at work.

My bladder infection (that I seriously just don’t think went away for about 3 years) because I worked too hard and loved my job had turned into a kidney infection and by body just said no. Not doing this. Stop now. It was about a week before Christmas 2011. I went in the hospital, they told me I had a kidney infection and I had to stop and rest, two things I’ve never been very good at doing! So I went home for some mummy TLC for Christmas early, dosed myself up on Tramadol and antibiotics, got better, then of course – went right back to doing what I was doing before – Working silly hours, coffee and cigarettes and I just didn’t take the hint.

My body told me I needed to change and I didn’t listen. I promised my mum I’d drink more water and look after myself more but that soon switched back to red bull…again I collapsed at work.

This time was at a work party. I thought I was drunk or someone had spiked my drink?! I was falling about everywhere and projectile vomiting and I’d only had two drinks, but this time it didn’t go away?!

A whole week I spent on my own in a hotel room in London and I still couldn’t get hydrated and I couldn’t shift this sickness. I reluctantly (because I’m usually too stubborn to get help) rang my sister in law, got on a train, (in the beyond gross state I was in), and went home. Spewing the whole way – delightful. My sister took one look at me and took me straight to A&E! She said I was green. I thought I had gastroenteritis, or had yet another kidney infection.

It turned out I was pregnant and had severe morning sickness…

Lilly baby 1OH.MY.DAYS.

My body HAD to stop now. There was no question. My life had changed forever in those few words “having a baby”.  I was going to be a mother?! Me?! I rang my best mate and after quite a few bleeps and ‘Ha! You are joking right!’ she said – ‘this is not you’. She sat on a bench and cried for me. She couldn’t get her head around it. Safe to say my mind was well and truly blown.

I know what you are all thinking – Why did I not know?

Firstly I was tiny, far too thin, I didn’t show until about 7 months down the line. Secondly I had been taking a contraceptive pill by his point for 10 years! So I didn’t have periods?! No bleeding, no cycle, nothing?! My sister will tell you my face in that hospital room was not a pretty picture. I felt like the walls had come in on my face and literally knocked me out, I genuinely thought with no period it was totally impossible – it was possible.

My pregnancy I was totally in denial of what was going to happen me and spent the whole 9 months trying to hide my stomach. I got towards the final stretch and endured a particularly bad bout of pre-natal depression. I was a single mum, I was leaving a job I absolutely loved, a lifestyle that wasn’t great but that I enjoyed so so much and I was going to have a baby I felt that I could give NOTHING to. Not a family, a home, nothing – just me.

This poor child was coming into the world to me – and I wasn’t good enough.

There is a reason for me divulging all this information, telling you the back story. All of this time from a young girl of 12 to a mum to be at 23 I struggled with Endometriosis. I kept going, focused on the positives and got used to the pain because emotionally I was doing ok so I could handle it. It was slowly grinding me down and my glow was slowly wearing off particularly throughout my pregnancy.

If I’m going to talk about finding your glow – I need to share how I well and truly lost mine.My grandma, my best friend, my absolute rock of my life had a stroke just before I gave birth to Lilly, the time where I needed her the most.

I lost her and I lost my glow completely.

Lilly 2013

When Lilly came it was instant love, she was totally perfect in every way but I felt like I still had to live my life the way it was? I felt detached from my baby. It took the doctors and my parents a while to persuade me that all my baby needed was me. But I don’t think I realised this until quite a while after she was born.

I couldn’t prioritise work/baby/me, I struggled emotionally and made some very bad decisions particularly in that first 6 months. I just didn’t know what I was doing?! I had no idea what I was letting myself in for at all, and I didn’t have granny to talk to, I was grieving.

My way of combatting that was sticking to what I know best – work! Routine, work and money. When Lilly was 4 months old – I went back to work. With it came the tiredness, coffee, cigarettes and crap lifestyle. Except this time I had to go home and put someone else’s needs before my own – Lilly’s.

I would easily say that year was the most difficult year of my life. It was a mental illness pre/post-natal depression that I was in complete denial about and wouldn’t get any help for. I was grieving and I topped off with what can only be described as a disability.

I didn’t know what this disability was yet, but I knew that there was something going on with me that completely wasn’t right and I was hell bent on finding out what. By this point, emotionally I was shattered, I was struggling to find the will power to carry on and most of all I was sick of the pain!

Whilst pregnant I obviously stopped my pills/injection that had for 10 years kept my bleeding under control, and by control I mean I didn’t have periods, I didn’t bleed at all. After having Lilly my periods came back and my body went crazy. I mean completely crazy. THE most difficult year of my life. Endometriosis at this point for me was a disability. It was uncontrollable, I couldn’t manage the pain and took over my body. Even more frustrating – I still didn’t know I had it.

Bleeding, agony, horrendous periods, not being able to breathe through the pains for what felt like the whole month, every month. Before, during, after it was just a vicious cycle! Pretty much every month I couldn’t go to work for 2/3 days minimum because of my periods?! I mean was I being a complete wuss?? Surely this can’t be right?

Not only that but the bladder and pelvic problems came flooding back, infection after infection, over and over. Hospital trips pretty much every month through pain or infection or I needed a catheter in cause my pee hole just shut closed? Totally embarrassing – but when you can’t pee you have no choice!

What was happening to me? Why was this so much worse? Headaches, migraines, aching back, aching body, pain and bleeding during constantly, but most of all I felt utterly exhausted and depressed. I had a one year old (a beautiful totally amazing one year old), I worked full time and had all this going on around me.

Always be kind – some people around this time were not kind to me. I hope one day you read this and see how your unkindness could have pushed a young woman over the edge – very easily.

The only incredible thing to come out of this year (obviously other than my gorgeous little girl) was I met my man, my rock. My gran always said ‘the lord gives and the lord takes away’. He took my grandma, but thank goodness he gave me Rob.

I mean come on – not exactly the best year for him to come swooning in the poor bugger! For some reason he stayed – and I am truly blessed to have him. Safe to say he knows me inside and out. I helped him how I could with issues he had but I don’t think he will ever know how much he helped me. I was no longer my Grandmas’ sunshine. I wasn’t lighting up at all. He gave me love when I needed it the most – When I was on the edge and in the dark. I love you.

me and rob

I kept going because I’m strong willed, my family and Rob gave me some strength, positivity, happiness and they supported me. They got it now, they saw me suffer and they tried to encourage me to focus on things that made me happy. I had to carry on for my daughter’s sake, I could not fail in front of her. I would not allow it.

After a stupid and pretty mortifying amount of times going to and from the hospital and doctors I finally got a referral to a gynaecologist to have a look at what on earth was going on with me.

The first thing he did was a smear test. I was 23.

I had the smear one week and within a week I was back in the hospital, I had CIN 2 abnormal cells and HPV virus. That’s what it said in my letter, I had NO idea what was going on?! I was like – do I have cancer?! Is that the issue? Why would I have these dodgy cells? Do I have an STD? What the hell do I tell my partner?! I thought you had smear test at 25? All these questions – but really all that mattered was that I got rid of them! They did biopsies and burnt them away. The biopsies showed that they were actually CIN 3 – the last stage of cells before cervical cancer.

So listen here ladies – 23 was when I first had a bad smear. The UK standard age to have a smear is 25 – thank god I had one early. I will always campaign for this to be changed (that is for another blog) but never miss your smears!!

Following the smear – it only got worse.

I went back to my lovely gynaecologist 3 months later, he asked me how I was and if that had helped the procedure I had done. The answer was NO. If anything (although I was relieved I didn’t have bloody cancer) I still felt terrible in fact probably much worse! I had to sit there in TEARS and plead with my gynaecologist to please sort me out. Find what on earth was wrong. So a full year later of being told it may just be heavy periods and again more trips to the hospital and infection after infection I finally got some answers.

I had a laparoscopy done at 24, (a camera inside my belly button), to have a look at what was going on in my womb – or so I thought. I was going in for the morning for “investigatory” surgery. A few days off work whilst the anaesthetic wore off and done.

I was also about 6 weeks off from doing ‘Sister Act’ at the Harrogate Theatre, I was the lead! Whoopi! It was the best thing I could have done, I got back on a stage as a hobby. The people I was doing it with were the most wonderful, supportive, just inspirational people and I couldn’t wait! My mum and my other half pushed me to do it and it really did give me some glow back.

Sister Act 2015

But…it was then that the doctors found it. Great timing.

After 12 years of suffering and not knowing what was wrong I was diagnosed with Endometriosis and Adenomyosis. I had NO idea what this was at first but once I understood – everything made sense.

In my case my camera inside my tummy showed that I had had Endometriosis for years (12 to be exact). I won’t go into detail because we all have google. I’ll tell you in simple terms what this meant for me…

My womb was attached to my pelvis which explained the pelvic infections.

My ovaries, tubes and womb were stuck together which explained the excruciating period pains.

My womb was stuck to my bowel and bladder which explained the years of constant water infections/IBS and bloating.

I also had endometriosis on my cervix. It’s not proven but I’m convinced this lead to my HPV and cervical cells so young.

The Adenomyosis meant that my womb lining was too big which explained the monstrous bleeding every month.

Finally – IT MADE SENSE.

My amazing gynaecologist did the surgery there and then. He found it and he treated it the best he could. When I say I was stuck together these are called adhesions, where the scar tissue joins. This most likely happened when I was pregnant and my womb grew. It stuck to everything and pulled everything back in with it. He separated the adhesions and removed as much endometriosis as he possibly could and I was so unbelievably grateful.

So that took it to 12 years. 12 years of suffering it took me to get a diagnosis.

And lord knows if I hadn’t have had that smear test done by coincidence I may not be here to tell the tale. I’ve been extremely lucky.

By now I also had an incredible man and a gorgeous crazy step son. A lot of women who suffer with Endometriosis are not able to have children, it greatly de-creases their chances so for me to have had one beautiful baby girl was amazing.

The first question I asked when I came round from the anaesthetic was – can I have a baby? We wanted a baby together, to have that amazing experience of bringing a child into the world in a loving relationship, doing it all with someone. Neither of us had had that. I loved my man more than anything in the world, I was desperate to give him that. I wanted to link our gorgeous crazy four some together. We were in no rush – but this changed everything!

The longer we left it, the more unlikely conceiving would be.

I obviously let myself recover from the surgery and myself and Rob decided that I would have a coil put in. This was suggested by the doctor as the best way to stall and slow down Endometriosis. I took the advice and we decided that I would have it taken out when our kiddies were a bit older and we were ready to complete our family.

Unfortunately no more than a month later it started again. The pain (even though I had no periods?!) was excruciating. I started hurting going to the toilet again and I just knew, even though this awful coil was in that it was coming back.

Something was not right. I had my routine smear test (I was having them every 6 months due to the cells) and they had been negative since the last time thank goodness.

The one just after my 25th birthday – positive. CIN 2 cells again – back I went.

More lasering had and now I was worried – seriously worried. Why did I have them again? If I’ve had my cervix burnt again will it weaken? Can I have children? Is the endo coming back too quickly? Will I need more surgery?

After much deliberation and to be honest through total fear of the unknown we were left with a choice. Wait – and I might not be able to have any more children because something was obviously not right or we take the coil out and crack on, try and have a baby. By this point I was desperate for a baby. Rob’s baby. For our family to be complete.

The thought scared me a lot, I didn’t think I would be able to conceive that nothing would happen because my tubes and ovaries had endometriosis on them. But my surgeon was great. He assured me that after the surgery and the good clear out he did that now was the best time to try, and so we did. Out came the coil and by some miracle one cycle with not even a full blown period (Thank god) and we were pregnant!

I cried…a lot. We couldn’t believe it! We were having a baby but I have to admit I was worried sick. All the way through I was anxious encase something were to go wrong. I did have a lot of issues. I contracted early, from 32 weeks which was exhausting with two older kiddies to look after. My labour had to be induced but in the grand scheme of things – we had a son!

Ronnie baby 1

A beautiful son! So I didn’t care.

I knew everything was going to be stuck again. I knew I’d be badly for however long it took me to get referred again or get a new appointment but….I’d had a baby, and we were so lucky. A beautiful baby boy that completed our family and I’m thankful every day for him.

You can imagine what happened next – pain. Exactly back to how I was before.

I went back to the gynaecologist who said he would have to do more surgery, so I asked him straight, how can I stop having surgeries?! I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other without my womb dragging because I was stuck together. I was worried sick about getting cervical cells and not catching them in time. I struggled to push my kids on the swings. I couldn’t run or go to a dance class.

My quality of life, but more importantly my children’s quality of life, was suffering.

I told him my family was done and this was ruining my life. He told me that a pretty sure way of stopping the Endometriosis being made worse in my case was to get rid of my periods because of the Adenomyosis (which is why my periods were so heavy) the two combined was just going to take over- there is only one way to get rid of periods, get rid of my womb.

My mum had hysterectomy a couple of years previous for similar reasons and I had seen her struggle for years. Similar scenario to me so I sat there at 27 and asked him (Pretty much begged him) for a hysterectomy. I had my family which I was so lucky to have, I can get rid of the periods, stop the pain and start a fresh. I can stop worrying about cervical cancer because he would take my cervix too – hallelujah! He explained my Fallopian tubes would have to come out, no big deal for me. My ovaries needed to stay otherwise I would have gone through the menopause at less than 30 years old, the long term effects of that may not have been great. But everything else was going to be out.

I remember this lovely man sitting there and saying to me “my darling I have seen you suffer if you are sure that’s what you want, I’ll do it”.

So I said yes! Do it! As soon as possible and I cried, I hugged him, I cried for a good 2 days after on and off in relief! Thank god this was going to end!

I had to go on Zoladex injections for a while to see if HRT worked with my system (just encase I needed my ovaries taken). Zoladex was a whole different experience but I persevered.

I went back for my check up on the 15th Of December 2017 and god bless him less than a month later I’d had the phone call and here I am.

I’m 28 years old and this morning I had a full radical hysterectomy. No womb, no cervix and no fallopian tubes, all adhesions un-stuck and Endometriosis removed and I’m done.

Hospital photo

My new life begins today – I have been given the chance to start a fresh and I am going to take it.

…I‘m going to find my glow.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my story – it is long – but I promised myself I would be honest and if I was going to share it would be in its entirety.

If anyone has been effected by any of the above please contact me using my contact page and I will be happy to be someone to talk to. I’ll happily share any information I can in the hope that this will help others. Don’t struggle alone.

 

Surviving not thriving…

 

coffee

So today started out like any other day…
I woke up, tired. Went downstairs to my 4 and 5 year old eating breakfast while my other half bless him was tackling our 1 year olds morning nappy. I took over the nappy job (as he had let me have an extra 10 minutes in bed) I dressed the baby and went straight to the kettle…coffee!
I made a coffee, stopped the 2 oldest from fighting over a balloon?! I then got them dressed for school. My other half took the big ones to school and the baby got placed in the bouncer with some baby television on while I gathered bits and packed my bag. Baby is happy, the big ones have gone – morning pick me up time – coffee and a large cigarette!

I finish my coffee and cigarette, I still feel tired but I am running late so I get the baby out of the bouncer, cuddle him for a minute (because I have always got time for that) and I get him in his coat, into the car seat and I take him to the childminder. It’s 8.15am.
I drive the 3 miles to work which takes me 45 minutes in traffic. I get to work (still feeling sluggish and tired) and I make another coffee before I sit at my desk. I know I’m going to be there a good 3 hours before I move so I tell myself the coffee is needed.

It is 12 noon. My back hurts so I get up go downstairs and I make another coffee, I have a cigarette and I go back to my desk where I sit for another 3 hours. The phone rings and my nana can’t pick my little girl up from school so I jump in the car, drive to pick her up and I come home. I get her settled with a snack – I make – you guessed it – a cup of coffee. I put a load of washing in the tumble dryer and one in the washing machine, I wash the pots from this morning/last night. I tidy up the kitchen a bit then it’s time to pick the baby up. My coffee goes cold but I drink it anyway!

I come home with the baby (who is really tired and hangry) it’s feeding time at the zoo!
I make homemade meatballs and spaghetti because my 4 year old is adamant I said that I would make them tonight. I can NOT remember this conversation (but you teach them to stick to their word) so here I am rolling mince up into balls with my eyes streaming from onion and I am making them. Luckily the baby loves them too and he also enjoys watching me cook or I would be royally screwed!

It’s 6.30pm. They are all fed. I run a bath, put them in the bath, wash them, dry them (my little girls hair is down to her bum so it takes a while) PJs on, bed and finally they go to sleep at 8pm.

It’s now 8.30pm (yes, I have just sat on the back door step and given myself a pat on the back with a coffee and a cigarette). I am absolutely starving and still tired. So I eat the leftover meatballs and spaghetti. I get in the bath and I get into bed.

And breathe…

I’ve survived the day. I survived.
On about 6 coffees, 6 cigarettes and a drive to be ‘successful’ I have got through the day.

I kept my kids alive, fed, educated, clean and watered. I worked hard at my job, I have made the business I work for money and I have kept their customers happy. I have done the washing and kept the house semi tidy so I’ve kept my other half happy(He has clean clothes fo work tomorrow) and now my kids are happily sleeping. My hubby, who also hard works 8-5.30pm has helped with all of the above is now sat doing invoices as he’s self-employed and we’ve got a tax bill to pay.
We are a total tag team, a partnership, we share all jobs, we share all responsibilities (albeit we are better at different things) but our method of madness keeps us surviving and I absolutely just could not do life without him.

In the back of my mind I have always known that this surviving was going to come to a head at some point. I’ve had friends say to me “You’re going to kill yourself if you carry on like this” and “I don’t know how you do it”. My gods honest response – I don’t know how I do it either. I’d then put my head down and carry on regardless.

I absolutely knew that my life needed to change. Somehow in this hectic, very un-healthy and fairly lonely lifestyle I had lost the “why”. Why was I doing what I was doing? My body was starting to give up (although I’m not surprised surviving on coffee and cigs) my mind was all over the place and my heart just wasn’t in what I was doing anymore.

My grandma was an incredible lady, she once said to me “you can’t make anyone else happy unless you are happy in yourself”
Was I happy? No.
I felt like I was failing in all areas.

My health was the worst. I didn’t eat well (most days not at all), I smoked, I drank at least 5 times the daily caffeine allowance and to top it off I couldn’t exercise much (which I’ll come on to). I totally wasn’t looking after myself, my hair, my skin, I just felt horrendous constantly – permanently exhausted.
This affected everything.

I was not being the best mummy, I was doing the best I could, but it was not good enough! My babies should have the best of me-always.

I was a crap friend! Where in any of the above does leaving the house or having the energy or time to socialise come into my life?!

My better half has always said to me “You do what you think is best for us”. He has never pushed me to go back to work after having my babies, never asked me for anything other than to keep the kids alive and happy! I made my own choices to live how I was living so yes – I completely felt that I was letting him down too.

I was trying so hard to contribute monetarily to our family success that I wasn’t making us thrive.

We were surviving not thriving…

So why I’m writing this?

I wanted to write this for a few reasons.
First and fore-most to raise awareness of a long suffering health condition in the hope that other women and particularly young women will be brave enough to speak up, be heard and get help. Hopefully it will help other people’s lives or at least get them the help and support they need.
Secondly I love to help people, when I look at my previous jobs and the reason I do pretty much anything in life I discovered I am happiest when I am helping people. I am hoping that by being brutally honest and open about my experience, my illness and my lifestyle changes I will inspire others take a step in the right direction for themselves and their families too. I’d like to help others change their lives for the better – however I can.
Lastly a selfish reason is to keep me going. I’m going through a massive change over the next few weeks. I’m having major abdominal surgery, therefore going through a lifestyle change physically and mentally. I’m going from my worst to hopefully my best…and I am not going to lie I was kind of worried that I wouldn’t get through it emotionally very well. So the third reason is entirely selfish…but I hope that my reasons are sincere enough for you to choose to stick with me as I take this step into thriving not surviving.

We only have one life – surviving is not good enough!

If I can change – anyone can – I’m going to find my glow…

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