I have spent quite some time reflecting over the last few weeks on the year that was and how the events in 2017 shaped me into who I am today and yet it has taken me a long time to put into words the hopes and dreams I have for 2018 and actually move on from what I went through last year. I think it was an easy way out for me to take the ‘hard done by’ route, the line of thinking that saw me self-victimised and feeling as though the world was against me – only now do I understand that I had to go through last year to get here, where I am today and I am extremely grateful.
To tell you where I am going, I must first explain (as briefly as possible) where I have been.
Coming into 2017 the same way I did 2018, with family and at home barely making midnight, I had little to no idea of what would await me in 2017. I was a full time working mum, I was in agony a lot of the time and I was anxiously awaiting feedback from the NHS regarding funding for a hysterectomy I was due to have. I had been battling Endometriosis and Polycystic ovaries for quite some time (a longer story to be told another day) and was well into a monthly injection cycle of Zoladex injections and hormone replacements (Tibolone) to switch off my ovaries in preparation for a surgical menopause. My specialist had recommended a sub-total hysterectomy and bi-lateral oophorectomy to get rid of my troublesome womanly bits and so early 2017 was spent waiting for confirmation of my appointment after the NHS had rejected the first application.
After over a year of Zoladex hell and many appointments back / forth at doctors, specialists and hospitals, in March of 2017 I finally had my operation and was hopeful that I would have a relatively quick recovery, settle into the new hormones they would give me and get back to some normal way of life. I have had two elective caesarean sections so assumed that the hysterectomy would be somewhat similar, I am young and assumed that my body would recover quickly and I am silly to think that anything short of horrendous would be the way that this year would pan out for me.
Shortly after the surgery, I was changed over to a new hormone (Progynova) and was booked off from work for a period of roughly 6 weeks to begin with. Unfortunately, I expected far too much of my body far too soon and within only a few short weeks of being at home, mostly immobile, I had pulled some already injured abdominal muscles which saw me booked off for an additional 2 weeks.
For a total of 8 weeks at a most inopportune time, I was almost bed ridden with a very slow recovery process and little movement possible. My back and back muscles took strain, I was in daily agony and on a myriad of pain medications that kept me in and out of consciousness for the first 10 days.
I spent the better part of 8 weeks sleeping downstairs as I could not climb the stairs to my bedroom, I was not able to cook or stand for very long, even showering took weeks to re master. It was a recovery from hell and I would not wish it on anyone but nearer the 12 week mark I saw my body bouncing back and making fast progress. Things were looking up for me and perhaps 2017 was not going to be so bad after all.
In the time that I was going through my operation, I was also under extreme work related stress. Not only was I afraid of losing my job due to the ridiculous amount of sick leave I was taking, our company was going through a merger (read takeover) and the office location for which I worked was closing down. As a homeworker, fortunately I was able to keep my job but I was made aware that I would be working for another one of our offices based in Ireland. My colleagues and friends had to quickly find new jobs and the office, just like that, had closed.
When I returned to work after the 8 weeks (end May 2017), still in recovery, on a hormonal rollercoaster and hoping for a slow reintegration, I was told of my move and began working for another team and group of accounts… it was as if I had started a new job entirely and I was not in the most positive of head spaces for optimal productivity.
Wedding knee injuries.
By September I had somewhat settled into my new team and was excited to be travelling to Johannesburg, South Africa to watch my beautiful sister walk down the aisle. I had the very important role of being ‘Matron of honour’ and couldn’t have been more excited to be able to attend the wedding despite now living in the UK. Unfortunately, I was not able to get much time off of work and so I flew on the Thursday, landed Friday morning, the wedding was on Saturday and I was due to fly back on Sunday and land on Monday morning – a whirlwind trip that would have a part to play in the crappy end to my 2017.
The wedding day, as all of them are, was extremely busy and was spent getting glammed up and being a prop in many gorgeous photographs. By the time we got to the reception, my legs and knees had taken more strain than I realised and when the bridal party got up to have our first ‘party’ dance, before I could manoeuvre my legs into a cheeky shuffle, my right knee gave out and I almost ended up on the floor. I spent the rest of the evening sitting down and limping around on my leg and by Sunday morning, I could barely walk and had a large lump on my knee. Anxious to get back to the UK and get to my doctor, I flew home as planned and on arrival on Monday went straight to the GP. Turns out, I had torn my Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and there wasn’t much I could do barring some physiotherapy exercises and pain management – another 3-6 month recovery ahead, the rest of the year was going to be rather anticlimactic and I had resigned myself to the fact that 2017 was just not my year… but wait, there is more.
It is also important to note that September was around the time I decided to create Moonsomnia after trialling a few other blogs over the years. It was also the last time I touched alcohol, my sisters wedding, 2 September 2017.
DVT and recovery.
Early October, still struggling with my knee and the hormonal rollercoaster that had not yet settled, I ended up in hospital with a severely swollen knee and leg which was a beautiful shade of blue. After a few A&E trips and some observation, it was determined that I had an Iliofemoral DVT as well as blood clots in my lungs. I wrote blog posts on the subject in October and documented most of this journey with Human Pincushion and Human Pincushion Again.
It was at this point that I was told that I had to STOP taking any and all hormone replacements that I had been taking to avoid a surgical menopause. It was also at this point that I was told that I would be on Apixaban (anti coagulation) for the rest of my life to prevent this happening again.
It is still too soon to say if I have the genetic predisposition to have another or more DVT’s in the future but I do know that a combination of 8 weeks on my back post hysterectomy, a long haul flight in a very short time and the HRT’s I was on all played a part in creating this little (read huge) coagulated clot of cells within my veins. My little buddy that nearly killed me this year by sending bits and pieces of itself into my lungs, my little buddy that forced me to make some pretty hectic decisions in 2017.
Again, I was booked off of work for 6 weeks that later turned into 9 with the potential of being 12 weeks dependent on my recovery. This time however, I no longer had any paid sick leave and I was reduced to SSP – this led to financial worry and increased anxiety and pressure to recover. The uphill battle most certainly was NOT over.
My last vape / nicotine ingestion was the 12th of October 2017, another major milestone in the year that was.
Bye bye full time employment.
A DVT is a pretty cruddy thing to deal with. Mine left me completely immobile for a few weeks as the swelling disallowed any movement in my leg (bearing in mind that my knee was / is also not yet fully healed).
A DVT is an even cruddier thing to deal with when you are also going through a forced menopause at the same time caused by the immediate stoppage of the hormone replacements. I went from raging bull to gentle rabbit in a matter of seconds and whilst those around me would have happily fed the rabbit to the snakes at the time, somehow they managed to deal when the bull was around.
Pair all of this with the instability of mental health, anxiety, depression (detailed further in My not so little secret) and being stuck at home and indoors with your own thoughts for weeks and weeks on end and it is easy to see why I slowly but surely started loosing the plot.
It was imperative that I remove one of the biggest stressers affecting my life, my mind and my relationships and so I made the decision to resign from my full time job – I detail this a bit more here in A Leap of Faith. I figured that I was not earning money anyway and the stress of worrying about going back to a full time job, stuck at a desk all day risking further clotting problems and adopting a mindset that meant my health came first saw me handing in my resignation. This was the scariest and most exciting time in my life, the freedom floodgates were opening and things were looking up…
That menopause I mentioned earlier? Still going through it at this time and so when I thought resigning would make things a little easier, the menopausal symptoms and my ‘mood’ only got worse. It was time for me to do something about this and after seeing the GP, I then waited for my gynaecologist appointment to look at my options for the future.
It is a pretty awful thing to sit in a chair in a gynaecologist’s room and be told ‘there is nothing more we can do for you’ from a gynaecological perspective. I felt useless and doomed. He suggested using Vitamin D supplements to strengthen the bones and advised me he would write a letter to my GP with some suggestions. Again, bouncing around from specialist to GP, I was feeling like I was wasting my time with this hormone nonsense and should just deal with the symptoms like most women 20 years my senior.
It was only a few weeks into December when I received the GP’s letter to go in and see them to discuss another option, which I called up and booked extremely quickly. They had decided that the best course of action for me, over and above my Apixaban (anti coagulation) treatment and the vitamin supplements I now take daily, was to put me on a low dose antidepressant to counteract the menopausal symptoms and stabilise my mood. Though not a hormone, Fluoxetine is now my friend and what should have taken 4-6 weeks to start working, took away my hot flushes and insomnia almost immediately… another positive from a negative situation, a medication to treat my menopause with the side effect of treating my mind. Who can complain?
Weighing in on the year.
It is no wonder then that after all of this throughout the year and the ridiculous amount of time I have spent bed ridden or immobile, I have packed on the pie. I am not blind and am actually conscious of this every hour of every day.
I have, up until now, had to choose my battles and dealing with my weight gain or my Psoriasis have had to take a back seat to the DVT recovery. I am well aware that the fact that I have put on weight is a reason that perhaps I haven’t recovered as quickly but I was in a catch 22 situation – I chose the life threatening worry to focus on rather than the uncomfortable one.
Unfortunately, all the issues I had this year were in my abdomen and leg, this meant that I was able to do very little exercise and for the first 3 months post DVT, I was still in a very dangerous period where the clot can break apart and hit the lungs if any over activity is done. I had been advised by my doctor that I should not be doing any more in this time than I would normally do and for a little while, going to the bathroom was exercise in itself so I chose to listen.
And now… here we are, almost at the 3 month mark (12 January) and I am ready to reclaim my life, my dignity and my health. I am only 33 years old and yet I feel that I am in the body of someone double my age (who is super unhealthy!).
Goals and things.
The year 2017 has taught me over anything that I am resilient as hell. I am a Duracall battery and you are not going to get rid of me yet, I bounced back and though it felt wholly negative throughout the year many good things came from the bad times and I am fortunate that I am in a place that I can see that now.
My main goal and focus this year is to be healthy.
- Being healthy to me means not drinking or smoking, neither of which I do anymore.
- Being healthy to me means losing a considerable amount of weight and not to compromise my body more than I already have.
- Being healthy to me means going down a veggie route, I want to start small and cut out read meat after which I will tackle chicken and fish and then animal products, ultimately vegan is the end goal.
- Being healthy to me means being a lot more active – I cannot afford gym at the moment so I will try to do a lot more walking as my knee and leg get healthier and am hopeful that one day I will be back to normal, as if nothing ever happened.
- Being healthy to me means being kinder to myself and recognising that I am human and I make mistakes but at least I am trying and that is the most important thing.
Sure, I have other goals which I am working toward but they all tie in with being a better and healthier me. I am my own priority for 2018 and everything I do will be with my own wellbeing in mind. After all, if I do not look after myself then who will watch my children grow?
I have many hopes and dreams for myself, my family and my blog but I am learning that I need only worry about one thing at a time. Yes, things are a little more difficult now that I have to constantly think of my body before I can do something or because our income has halved since I no longer work full time and have a regular income but I won’t stop, I won’t give in and I won’t quit on these dreams.
I have had to learn over the past 12 months that there can be no rainbow without a little (or a lot) of rain – I am pretty rain soaked but I am ready for the sunshine.
So like many others this time of year, I say bring it on 2018.
Sidenote : I have since received a letter from my GP advising that may actually be able to come off the Apixaban after 6 months! Eek Xx