The Resource Doula

Uterine Fibroids, Adenomyosis, and Hysterectomy oh my! - Angelique’s Story

May 30, 2022 Natalie Headdings Episode 12
The Resource Doula
Uterine Fibroids, Adenomyosis, and Hysterectomy oh my! - Angelique’s Story
Show Notes Transcript

On today’s podcast, I talk with my friend Angelique, a nationally board certified health coach, about her own journey with adenomyosis, uterine fibroids, and ultimately a hysterectomy. She also talks about how she managed post-op movement while being the caretaker for her husband. Her story is a powerful one, and I am so thankful to her for sharing with all of us.

Resources Mentioned:

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Please remember that that what you hear on this podcast is not medical advice. but remember to always do your own research and talk to your provider before making important decisions about your healthcare. If you found this podcast helpful, please consider leaving a 5-star review in your favorite podcast app, it helps other people find the show. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll catch you next time!

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Natalie:

On today's podcast. I talk with my friend Angelique and nationally board certified health coach about her journey with the Deno meiosis, uterine fibroids, and ultimately a hysterectomy. We talk about how she prepared well for surgery and took her time to recover post. She gives us all the details. And I'm so glad I have friends who are excited to talk pelvic health with me in case you missed it, you can catch the first part of this conversation about health coaching in the last episode. I'm Natalie, and you're listening to the resource doula podcast, a place where we provide information to help you make informed healthcare decisions for yourself and your face I want to jump into talking about your own health journey that you went through recently and , pelvic surgery, a dental miosis going through that process. What was that like? How did you coach yourself through the process? How did you create your own healthcare team? about at all?

Angelique:

Okay, well, maybe I'll start at the beginning. Um, so when I was in my early thirties, um, I started taking thyroid medication and for whatever reason, my periods changed from being very light and manageable, to being very heavy and, um, atypically for someone with adenal meiosis. I didn't have a lot of pain during my periods, but I had a very heavy flow and I was anemic for about 10 years. Um, but I was not diagnosed. And even when I spoke with my provider who was a progressive provider, who was an alternative medical provider, you know, it was asking her about periods and stuff. And she's like, do you really want to talk about this? We only have like 20 minutes for your whole, you know, yearly visit. And, um, I like, yeah, I want to talk about this, you know? And she still didn't kind of get it that I was, I was having unmanageable periods. Um, Everything I owned was black from the waist down. Uh, you know, it was bad. And, um, so one thing is like, I wish I would have better articulated that my periods were very heavy and were kind of debilitating, um, just with impacting my daily life. Um, and it was really just two days a month, so I had regular cycles, so I was lucky, but I didn't get diagnosed with it until, um, I think maybe nine years later when I got in, when I got an MRI and it's like, yep, you've got ed, no miosis. And. I, um, I'd never had kids. Um, so it was right around 40 and then I was treated with the marina IUD. And, um, for me that was an easy insertion. It was like, oh, this is great. You know, and I had very tiny little periods that were just like heaven. I mean, it was such a, it was such a night and day. And so I had, um, my first one for right around five years, and then I got my second one and, and it was just a breeze. And then, um, I noticed a, a lump in my abdomen. Um, and so kind of freaked me out like, oh my gosh, I'm going to have cancer, you know, or whatever. And, um, anyway, I went to my primary care doctor. And she was like, huh. Okay, well, let's see if this is, you know, maybe like an obstruction, like a brief, uh, uh, obstruction in your colon. I was like, and then I got in for an exam with her and she, um, she did an internal pelvic exam, you know, my yearly pap smear, all the things. And she palpated the, the, the lump on my abdomen while she had her fingers inserted and told me like, Hey, when I pushed the lump, um, your cervix is moving. So this is a fibroid. And this was October of, um, of, uh, 2020. And, um, so when I was moving, so I moved in at the end of October, and then I followed up with a new provider in a new town, um, in February of 2021. And she did an ultrasound and they did a trans vaginal ultrasound, which didn't quite show enough. So the abdominal ultrasound was more, um, diagnostic in this case. But so at that point I had three fibroids inside my uterus that were all over three centimeters, a piece. And then I had a ginormous, uh, fibroid outside my uterus, and it was posted terrier on the left side. Mostly. Um, so at that point, uh, the only real option I was given was hysterectomy, which I wasn't quite prepared for. Um, and I wasn't really feeling symptoms at that point. And, um, and I'm in my fifties, you know, so I would definitely, you know, never had kids and wasn't going to have them in my fifties, obviously. Um, so at that point I kind of was like, okay, I'm going to think about this, do some research. So a few months later I got in to see a natural path to see what type of, you know, hormone support I could get, because I knew that I was like an estrogen dominant hormone type at that point. Um, Anyway, she had like, you know, okay, let's try to put a bandage on this, but yeah, there's not really a lot of options just with supplements and different stuff. You know, this is kind of what you're going to live with. So that was, I think, like maybe may of 20, 21 and then roll the clock through, um, hospitals were closing down, elective surgeries were not available. Um, so I spent. About a year growing my, I called it my litter, litter of fibroids. And over that time I got more and more symptomatic. Um, and I'm a large person. I'm like five, 10. I have a very long torso. Um, so I did it, I think better than your average bear with, with being able to can chain these monsters. Um, but by the end, I, I believe I was looking probably seven or eight months

Natalie:

Wow.

Angelique:

with everything I was carrying and I was feeling more and more symptoms. Um, And I wasn't having any periods at all, but I noticed, um, I was having a shift in how I was eliminating, you know, there was, I had to kind of wait to when I was really ready because I felt like I was kind of, you know, it felt like it was kind of, um, uh, impinged a little bit, you know, with, with the fibrate pressing up against my bowel. Um, I also noticed, you know, just to subtle changes in my urination. Um, and I noticed a lot of, um, stiffness in my left hip. Um, so with being in the situation that I was in with, um, Uh, hospitals being closed down and kind of, they would open up for maybe a month and they would close back down. And then the backlog of elective surgeries was really high. I think he went through something similar trying to plan yours. And then we had a conversation and you got me thinking about, Ooh, a specialized surgery center where they do, you know, excision. And at first I was like, oh, could I keep my uterus and have excision? But no, that wasn't right for me, unfortunately. So, but I did kind of follow your lead. And I went to a surge surgery center in Portland, and that was especially attractive cause I have my, my, my BFF from like college days, uh, lives in Portland. Um, and the extra kind of twist that I have is that I was, I'm a caregiver for my husband. So healing from surgery, being away from home, being incapacitated, to be able to give care were all factors for me. So I discussed that with my surgeon. So what I did was I had a surgery consult, um, tele-health. And, um, had a girl I really was impressed with the surgeon. He was Stanford trained, very progressive, um, very like, and he, he really named it as, you know, the culture that we created our at our care center is very, um, warm and friendly and we were open to any questions. Um, and then this, this surgery center also had a great website where it talked about all the procedures that they offer and just has a lot of information on, on women's health. Um, and that the website is, um, Pearl women's center or Pearl women's clinic.org. And they are a great resource just in case you're wanting to hear more about the different procedures available. Um, but anyway, I was like, okay, about into that and then scheduled my surgery and then they did a laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy for me. And, um, and I really glad I got the supracervical approach, um, because I needed a quick recovery, so I could get back to caregiving. Um, and I also wanted to preserve my cervix, um, for me, um, my S my sexual health, um, The cervix just intuitively seem like an important part of that. Um, and I was kind of blessed with the ability to have pleasure from vaginal intercourse and stimulation. And I feel like having my cervix and my vagina intact was really important for me to that end. Um, one of the symptoms that I got that was a real shift for me was having pelvic pain with anything inserted vaginally. And I, you know, that was one of my later symptoms, but it, it, it was really, uh, You know, different for me and a big shift. The other advantage to super cervical, um, procedure was that, um, you don't have an internal incision at the top of the vaginal canal. Um, so if you are doing things you don't have that internal Susan to worry about putting pressure on. So all the incisions are, are basically, um, on your belly. Um, so during the surgery I learned or after the surgery, um, after the surgery, I learned that the large fibroid that I had posterior to my uterus had attached itself to the wall of my, um, abdominal cavity on the left side.

Natalie:

Hmm.

Angelique:

Um, and it also had attached to the round ligament. Yeah. And then it was also putting pressure on my internal organs. Um, so that kind of made a lot of sense in retrospect, you

Natalie:

Yeah,

Angelique:

Um, and, uh, and I would say to that, like, you know, being at my age, uh, hysterectomy seemed like a better option. Um, because a lot of times, um, you know, your, your uterus role grow fibroids again, especially depending on your hormone balance. So to me that seemed like, Hey, I won't have to really hopefully deal with this again. Um, but, um, you know, they, they do have. Uh, procedures where they do preserve the uterus and, um, you know, and that would be something I probably would have considered if I were younger. Um, but at this point that was, that felt like the right thing for me. And I was really strict with my aftercare. I didn't do any of my husband's cares for two and a half weeks. Um, I also really thought about how I would approach doing his caregiving after surgery, um, in terms of what I was lifting. And so I kind of thought it through and found ways to, um, like instead of lifting, I would kind of thread through his sling and then I would pull it by leaning back or stepping back as opposed to like hindering at the waist and pulling back. Um, so I, I troubleshooted a lot of the strategies for doing his cares with minimal, um, pressure on my, on my body. Um, which, you know, was, was a strategy for self care. And then as I got more. Symptomatic and was waiting for my surgery date. Um, I also really pared down my own activity, um, because I felt like there was a lot of pressure on my pelvic floor. Um, I felt like my gait was off because there was so much tension around my left side of my left hip. Um, so I was, I was kind of gentle with myself. So I would say my strategy for self care was, was really a paring down, um, things that felt gentle and, um, and trying not to do too much and realizing that, Hey, this is a period of time where I'm not going to be able to make gains in my fitness. I'm really going to have to preserve my energy and get through this best I can.

Natalie:

Wow.

Angelique:

Yeah.

Natalie:

is quite the journey. Thank you so much for sharing all of that and in such great detail too, because I think a lot of times people hear, oh yeah, you had a hysterectomy and then they don't consider all of the other aspects that are so crucial to healing. And how you thought about how you're taking care of your husband and how you're moving your body and how in tune you are with your body, which is just something that I love about you. And it's has been a theme for so long since I knew you from the very beginning, but, um, yeah, it's, it's, um, eye opening and I think that your story is going to help so many more people can take a look at their own pelvic health, their own uterine health. And can you think, you know, maybe strategies for their future as well? So,

Angelique:

Um, well, I hope so. That would be lovely if it did. Um, and you know, another thing I would add, you know, especially when you, when you, you're getting to that point where like, gosh, what do I do? And that just seems so scary for me personally, I'd never had any type of surgery. Um, the idea of losing my uterus seemed, I dunno, it just seems scary. And there was a bit of emotion tied to it as well. Um, even though it was past the stage of being a mom, um, but I feel like strongly that the period before my procedure was so much worse than the, the results of after the procedure. Um, you know, the healing, my, I had very well-maintained pain. I only took a, um, uh, you know, prescribed pain reliever for like the first few days. Um, I was able to do, you know, small, gentle things. I was able to, um, be comfortable with just minor, you know, minor pain. And it, for me, it really felt very worth it. Um, and I certainly wouldn't have waited as long if I had better access to surgery before. So I'm, I'm glad I did it. And, um, and if anything, I would say, I wish I would've done it sooner. Um, just because the longer that you wait, when you have a fibroid, the more, um, in the sieve the surgery could become. Um, so finding someone that's gonna listen to you and hear you, and also provides you with a diagnosis based on imaging or, you know, science or their expertise that you're satisfied with. I feel like that's really important, um, to just have the information, um, going forward as soon as you can. And if you're, if you're hearing things like, oh no, that couldn't be, or, and they're, they're not really doing their diligence about investigating your concerns. That's kind of a red flag. Um, and there are certain. People that are, you know, gynecologist, but maybe they don't actually address these things in their everyday practice. You know? So getting a specialist, getting somebody that's going to hear you and listen to you and offer you options, um, based on their findings, um, is so much better than somebody that's going to kind of blow off your concerns.

Natalie:

Or just do a surgery to do surgery and say, yeah, let's take your uterus out without having that specialized knowledge or surgical skill. Um, yeah. Yeah.

Angelique:

Yeah. And I think that that's something that really like when we had our conversation about, you know, about your, um, selection and kind of vetting things and really doing your research really inspired me. Like, oh, Hey, I don't want to just cause the first, um, the first gynecologist that I saw about this offered me a just regular hysterectomy. Um, and, um, I was like, eh, I didn't even really like her. Um, and she, I don't think she was super experienced. She did them, but it wasn't her, you know, her forte. Um, and she didn't offer me the supracervical. Um, another, and I should have mentioned this before. Another reason why I really wanted the super cervical was because it lowers the risk of prolapse.

Natalie:

Oh, I didn't know that actually

Angelique:

yes. So there's, there's still a risk of prolapse. But, um, it's, it's less, and I don't know the exact, exact statistics, but the risk of prolapse diminishes when you still have your cervix. Um, and then the argument that you might hear from our provider is that, Hey, you know, the cervix could get cancer, so we might as well cut it off. Um, you know, you hear that? I was like, well, yeah, but I mean, my lungs could get cancer too, and I don't want to lose those, you know? Um,

Natalie:

risk benefit analysis. yeah.

Angelique:

Right, And then with a super cervical, there is a chance that you may still have some sort of bleeding. Um, which so far for me, it hasn't happened. Um, but yeah, I find that kind of interesting. I hope I don't get that, but so far so good.

Natalie:

you don't either. That's interesting. I mean, and that like for everybody listening to the risk of. With a hysterectomy is because the uterus is like that Keystone organ that holds up, it's like the middle, right? The middle of that bridge that holds your pelvic floor and other pelvic organs kind of in place. And so to remove that you take away that Keystone block from the bridge, and then there it's way more likely for, I don't want to say bridge collapse, but essentially the sliding down or moving down of that pelvic floor. So yeah, that's really, really interesting. It makes a lot of sense that keeping your cervix can help reduce that risk.

Angelique:

Yes. Well, and also like a lot of people, I think the vast majority of women that get hysterectomies are getting them as a result of having fibroids. And, um, you also not only have the uterus right. Um, kind of anchor, um, but you, you, you might have this distorted full, big uterus as well. Um, and then in my case, I had the extra fibroid on the outside too. So the displacement, um, and then having all of that removed, um, there's kind of a sorting out process, I would say as well, you know, where, gosh, what is this, you know, what is this going to mean for my internal organs now that they're not being smushed? Or, you know, what's, what is this like now my, my, you know, the left side of my abdominal wall, isn't, you know, kind of being, um, encroached on and my, you know, my, so it's, it's a big difference, like having it gone. And I guess I would say to that, like with aftercare. Being patient, uh, following the protocols of recovery, um, not overdoing it. Um, and then I have elected to do, um, pelvic floor physical therapy, um, and in my

Natalie:

here. I just want you to know.

Angelique:

well, in my case, um, I found that the muscles of my left side, um, are so tight, like painfully tight. And then also the restriction on my left hip is very pronounced. Like when I lift my, my left foot from the ground, it is like an unstable, crazy madness with very limited range of motion of my left hip. When I lift my right leg from the ground, it's like, boom, I am like, you know, very good at that. So in the process of pelvic floor physical therapy, they've identified the tight muscles and the areas of constriction. And so my first building block, you know, so like, I guess not my first, my first building block was just to heal and not overdo it. My second building block was like D activities of daily living. My, my new building block right now is, um, I'm healing and recovering and identifying my weaknesses and my tightness and, and trying to balance things out. So for me, I want to achieve, you know, a balanced, healthy pelvic floor, um, where all my muscles are able to work in synergy. We're not tight or in pain. Um, cause I still have. Um, pelvic pain even after my procedure. So, and, and the treatment that I've gotten is a mix of, um, exercises and, um, internal work and internally what the therapist did was she inserted her finger in my vagina and tested me on the right side and on the left side and went through different layers of musculature. And sure enough, my right side was fine, but my left side, I had a lot of pain as she, well, not a lot of pain, but definitely uncomfortable when she would Pell pate. And so now they're working on, um, Uh, doing some fascial release for my left side and my left hip, as well as, um, internally kind of going into the muscle bellies through my vaginal canal to release those tight pelvic floor muscles. And, um, I'm only two sessions in, and I'm already feeling more ease in my pelvic floor. Yeah. It's really effective. And, and it really doesn't matter like how much, you know, or, you know, or what you're doing. Um, if like, oh, I Cagle, you know, it's like, if your muscles aren't responding because they've been, you know, kind of hurt or put in a situation where they're chronically tight, that's kind of the time to call in some expertise where you can really get the help and diagnostics that you need to really get into that balance again.

Natalie:

And it makes total sense, right? You were having a lot of pain on the left side, a lot of discomfort from that fibroid and your muscles. Like the body's really smart. It knows that there's more pressure and more heaviness on that side of the body. And it tightens up to support which results in more, more pain, a lot of time then stiffness and lack of range of motion. But, um, the thing that I think. I noticed with myself and talking to people about my surgery as well is people maybe assumed that as soon as I had the surgery, I'd be better. Right. It would be like a quick fix. Like you got that tissue out of there. Cool. You're moving on. And a lot of people weren't assuming that as well, they, they knew it would be a longer process, but the body doesn't just change its tension, length relationship overnight, even though you move, remove that tissue surgically. So it takes that time of retraining the core and retraining the pelvic floor to be in a different spot. Um, and, and a lot of that is nervous system work, Right? Like calming down your nervous system and getting it to know that it's okay to let go. I think that's huge for so many people, myself included and it takes time, which is hard for people like me who are inpatient.

Angelique:

Oh, of course. Yeah. Well, and you're, you know, I was just reading something about how pain is this signal of danger to your body. Um, and it's like, without pain, you might not have even known that this was happening. And then you're right. Like the nervous system you're unconsciously kind of creating this tension to still guard. And it is definitely a process of like healing and repatterning. Um, but the good news is that if you invest the time, when you're healing to support the balance and really figuring out what's going on, um, then you can create this new pattern of health and balance that hopefully will last.

Natalie:

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And the other aspect too, you mentioned that like, it's an emotional thing to have surgery, especially if it's your first surgery ever, and thinking about your uterus being gone

Angelique:

Yes.

Natalie:

That's a nervous system thing as well. And so working through that and waiting for surgery and deciding to have surgery, like all of those are, are triggers in some sort of sense for your nervous system and you have to process it and work through it and then actually go through the process of having surgery on top of that.

Angelique:

Yes it is.

Natalie:

oh, I was just going to say also like how long it takes you to get diagnosed because man, it, it just blows my mind and it makes me so sad that so many women go through years and years of pain and heavy bleeding and being anemic and being exhausted all the time and having thyroid issues right. Without getting the appropriate care or diagnosis, which I wanted to, oh, I wanted to also, um, define at a no meiosis or a dental meiosis. However you say it, um, if you would do that for our listeners,

Angelique:

Ah, okay. Well, and step in for me too, if I, cause I, I feel like you might know the definition better than I do. Um, but it is a thickening in the layers of musculature of the uterus. Um, and it's, it's more common after childbirth. Um, so as your, um, as your uterus kind of replenishes itself and, and recalibrates, it can, um, develop these kind of, uh, polyps or, um, thickening, um, thickened areas, um, in the lining of your uterus.

Natalie:

Yeah. Yeah. Another way that I like to think about it and how it's been explained to me is, so I have endometriosis, right? I had surgery for that, and that is tissue. That's similar to the lining of the uterus elsewhere in the body, outside of the uterus. Maybe it's on your ovaries, maybe it's on your bowel, maybe it's on your spleen. And that tissue creates its own estrogen, progesterone, nerve supply and blood flow, which is just wild. It's its own monster. Um, and, uh, Deno miosis is that kind of tissue growing, but within the musculature of the uterus. And so it, it cannot be taken out unless you take the uterus out. And so that's why a lot of times that just the answer is okay, hysterectomy for that diagnosis. Um, and I don't, were they able to see it on an MRI? Is that what you said?

Angelique:

Yes. Yeah. I was diagnosed with that via MRI.

Natalie:

Okay.

Angelique:

Yeah. And with, with, with ethno miosis, um, symptoms are painful periods, heavy bleeding, which, you know, are kind of, can be generic, you know? Um, and those are symptoms that I had for like almost 10 years before I was diagnosed. Um, And I had a very progressive provider. We had a great relationship. She had been seeing me for about 12 years. You know, all those things were in place, but still I went undiagnosed for much longer than I should've. And I was like anemic for about 10 years.

Natalie:

Yeah.

Angelique:

Um, so none of,

Natalie:

same as me at the same situation. yeah.

Angelique:

Yeah. So it's super common and, and, you know, and, and both of us are very like savvy on health, fitness, women's health, you know, so it really doesn't matter who you are, um, being really, um, uh, a big advocate for yourself. You know, if you are experiencing debilitating periods or weird periods or, you know, irregular periods, um, it's really great to get someone on your team that will help you investigate.

Natalie:

Absolutely. And I think I have changed my definition. Like people ask, you know, like what is considered a heavy period? And I used to be like, well, mine aren't that heavy. Like, they're kind of heavy, but not that heavy. And now post-surgery, there's so much more normal and I tell stories of how heavy they were and people are shocked. Like. If you were counting the hours or worried about leaking out of your protection in, in a half hour or an hour, that is too heavy. That is not normal.

Angelique:

Right, right. Yeah. And if like, if you stand up and it feels like the flood gates open and you got to run to the bathroom, like, Hey, some dope, you know, the dam has ruptured, you know? Yeah. I remember the days of like, um, and it was when I was a personal trainer at the gym and I would be with a client. I remember I usually could change my pad in between clients. Um, but I wrote this one day I was with a client and I, you know, I don't want to waste their time and. And I also, don't like to handle that business at the gym, but I didn't have a choice. Um, but like, I'm like, okay, Hey, I want you to do another set of this and rest for 30 seconds and I will be right back. And, uh, but I mean, it was bad and I would wear a full-size, um, ultra tampon and a nighttime pad, um, and still just worry about like, and then I would wear the cups and, um, I would wear the disposable cups and, um, and then those were great until they got full and that everything in the cup and I would come charging out and that was really bad. Yeah, it was. And everything I wore was black for a good reason, you know? So if you're wearing all black, because you're afraid of a, you know, a leak and a stain, then that's a good sign.

Natalie:

Yeah. Yeah. And if it puts you out of work or school, or you're a regular. Activities that you have to do because of the pain or the bleeding, or if you're too exhausted from the bleeding, then that's another sign. that things are not normal. So, um, a really good resource that I just like to add all the time is Laura Brighton. She wrote the period repair manual book, and that is something that kind of started my thought of, oh, I think I probably have endo and I should do something about it. So she talks about what is a normal period. Like, and if you have these symptoms, what are some things you can do about it? So I highly

Angelique:

Wow. That's a great resource.

Natalie:

Yeah. She has a new one. Um, the hormone repair manual, I believe it's called, but

Angelique:

Oh,

Natalie:

yeah. So I'll link those in the show notes too, for everybody. But I have yet to read that new book.

Angelique:

Yeah. Um, and you know, another additional thing I'm going to do is, um, get some hormone balancing, um, advice from an expert as well. So I'm going to be, yeah, I'm going to use someone at the Pearl women's center, um, that my doctor recommended my surgeon recommended. Um, so that's another step. So like, if you are high in estrogen, you're a little bit more likely to be growing, um, you know, things and being, having your, your estrogen, progesterone, um, testosterone, all those things in balance can really help you achieve better health.

Natalie:

And can I ask, how did you get those tested? I know you mentioned that before you knew you were estrogen dominant. How did you find that

Angelique:

Yes, a blood test. And I was seeing a very gifted provider at the time who knew a ton about that. And, um, and it's interesting how, um, those building blocks of hormones support. Other functions in your body metabolic functions. So when you are out of balance, it's not just having high estrogen or low progesterone or vice versa, but it's, you know, thyroid and, um, and other, just really, you know, if you're tired, it could also be a hormone imbalance. Um, so it was a blood test that I was, that I was given by my provider to test to test that. And it tested the whole spectrum of, of all of those, um, key components. And it's so fascinating how they all work together in different functions in your body?

Natalie:

Yeah. I have done the Dutch test. I don't know if you've done that one before.

Angelique:

No, I don't. I I'm not sure. I haven't heard of that

Natalie:

It's a dried urine test. So you pee on a strip of paper several different times throughout the day, and it, it tests your hormone levels, but also how you process hormones in your body. And so it's an interesting, yeah, it's an interesting set of data that you get at the end of it. Um, and my first one was probably a year prior to surgery. And so, um, now that I'm about seven months, post-op, I'm going to do another one and kind of see if there's a difference, which is exciting. Yeah.

Angelique:

And what was your, what was your pattern before with the Dutch test

Natalie:

Estrogen dominance as well.

Angelique:

Ah, okay.

Natalie:

Of the worst type of estrogen, how I metabolize it is not healthy. So.

Angelique:

ah, interesting. You know, that, that just the stunning to me, because you're so young and healthy and you have such great habits. It's crazy how. You know how crucial that is to health, but also how kind of under the scenes under the, you know, um, it, you, you would never guess that you, that you had something like that going on

Natalie:

and it's, it's wild too, because I also have Hashimoto's and. Hypothyroidism. And I got off my medication. I took medication for about five years and then finally got off, which I think I was able to with diet changes and reducing my stress level and all of that. Um, but I think that definitely played into my hormone imbalance. Obviously the thyroid controls a lot and my endo progressively getting worse. Um, so it's just another piece of the puzzle that I'm putting together. Yeah. Kind of wild.

Angelique:

And, and I have Hashimoto's as

Natalie:

Hey, look at us.

Angelique:

I know. And then another, you know, so auto-immune wise, um, I also have very sensitive skin. I'm very prone to eczema. Um, so yeah, these are kind of a cluster of, of symptoms that it seems maybe correlated in some mysterious way.

Natalie:

I would love to know a little bit more about all of that. I think, um, the more I read the more like, oh yeah, I had that in that, in that, in that as well. So it's all related. Our bodies are so interconnected. It's incredible.

Angelique:

the way these things are interlinked and, you know, um, can, um, give us good function and work together in synergy, or if there's a component or two off, it can really affect our health and our systems and the way we function, the way we feel. Um, yeah, so much interconnectedness,

Natalie:

that is not to say. You know, to be overwhelmed for everybody listening too, because it can feel like a lot all at once. Um, and everybody's on their own health journey, but I think like my, my thing with sharing all of this about my own health is like pay attention to your body. And if something feels off, then you are your own S expert on your body and pay attention to that and bring it up and bring it up again and advocate for yourself because there's probably more underlying than you might realize. So, Yeah.

Angelique:

Yeah. It definitely pays to, um, yeah. Added to be as aware as, as you can. And it's amazing how we are so resilient and can get through these things, you know? Um, and, and how, like, you can, you can have these kind of, you know, different little issues going on and still do. Okay. But, um, I think that, you know, just in general, people really want to thrive. So kind of attaining this information, having it, presenting it to your team and, and really seeing like what new piece of the puzzle you can really figure out, how does this maybe fit together, um, are all things that you can do to help manage your own health and advocate for yourself successfully.

Natalie:

I love it.

Angelique:

And, um, yeah, and, you know, there's, there's, there's so much to it. And you know, like you were saying, like, um, finding ways to care for yourself by paring down the pressure that you put on yourself by doing things, to calm your nervous system, um, by being aware and advocating for yourself, you know, those are all things that are going to help you. Hopefully find the answers that you might need to thrive.

Natalie:

Okay, this is a perfect segue into my questions that I ask everybody.

Angelique:

Okay.

Natalie:

you to tell us what your favorite wellness habit is that you incorporate into your daily life.

Angelique:

Hmm. So that has changed over time for me and lately. Um, so I, I told you that I'm a caregiver for my husband and through his spinal cord injury. Um, going through that process really brought on a lot of trauma and I've really come to terms with like, ah, you know, I've, I've got some trauma that I didn't really have before. And, um, and I'm really acknowledging that trauma. And I also acknowledge that, Hey, I get these like borderline, um, anxiety driven, um, bouts of, you know, almost panic, kind of mild panic. Um, and so for me, I recognize when I'm starting to go to that hypervigilant. Kind of almost panicked state. Um, and then I do a nervous system calmed down exercise. Um, and, um, one of the things that I've studied, uh, last year, they had a course that I took called positive intelligence and positive intelligence. And it's, it's really cool. Positive intelligence.com is a really cool resource. Uh, typically when you are triggered into anxiety, you're thinking with your sympathetic nervous system, you're kind of in fight flight freeze or fun. Um, and you're, you know, kind of anxious and, and functioning in survival mode. Um, and I, when I recognize that trigger, um, I will do a brief intervention where I like do a diaphragmatic breathing technique, like stacked breathing, or I do a mindfulness, um, uh, practice where, where I'm using my five senses senses and getting back into the present moment. And I'm, I'm using my diaphragm to breathe as opposed to up in my chest or my throat. And I am sending myself back into a more calm rest and reflect parasympathetic nervous system state. Um, And the theory around positive intelligence is that, um, you can be triggered to go to sympathetic nervous system state, like a million times a day. And that trigger is very fast, you know, with anything that might trigger you into a slightly P like, is this a danger, your brain assesses that in like less than a second. So are triggers just as being survivors of evolution. Um, we assess threats

Natalie:

Um,

Angelique:

And, um, the more you redirect yourself with some sort of a calming practice back into parasympathetic nervous system state, um, the more likely we're to kind of override that tendency to go to that panicked reaction, um, and more into a reasoned reaction. Um, the more often you practice it.

Natalie:

That is incredible lot. I think that's really, really helpful for a lot of people to kind of understand the science behind it, because I'm one of those people I want to know exactly why you're asking me to do something. You have to tell me the reason and the explanation for it, and then I will do it. So that really speaks to me and makes a lot of sense.

Angelique:

Oh, good. You know, I have found that to be a powerful coaching tool because a lot of people, um, will, will. And when you are using the sympathetic nervous system state, and you're thinking with that part of your brain, um, our thoughts tend to be survival oriented. They tend to be more negative. Um, some people will think a thought kind of over and over again. Like for me, I think thoughts like, oh my God, what's wrong now? Is there danger? Is, is my husband okay? Or, oh gosh, I sucked at that. Or good grief. Why did that happen? Um, or, oh, that person pulled out in front of me and I, you know, flip them off or whatever. Um, you have these like reactions and, and they, you, you, sometimes you can notice patterns in that reaction. You know, like for instance, a lot of people will be like, oh no, I messed up again. Now it's all bets are off. I'm going to eat everything I want to I'm back in that self hatred kind of failure phase or whatever it is, you know, there's so many different ways that that expresses, but some of those thoughts can be familiar. And for me it's all about danger of like, oh gosh, I just got a text from my husband. What it's going to be something bad, you know, like he's, he's, you know, hurt again or, you know,

Natalie:

Um,

Angelique:

and, um, redirecting that into like, let me see what's wrong. It's probably not likely that something else bad is happened. You know, it's probably going to be okay. Those thoughts are more parasympathetic, nervous system thoughts with the, with the more higher reasoning parts of your brain, as opposed to those survival thoughts, like, you know, he's gonna be injured again, you know, I mean, and, and also kind of acknowledging like trauma can have an impact on you in a lot of different ways.

Natalie:

yeah.

Angelique:

And another, another thing too, it's like, and this is, I think my own story, but when you were pelvic floor muscles are tight because of whatever, right. We tightened our pelvic floor muscles. We're about to spring from danger, but if your pelvic floor muscles are tight because of a fibroid or a uterine condition or whatever, um, that can also kind of make you more susceptible to receiving these signals of like, Ooh, better gear up for flight. Like you're halfway there at all times. So I feel like anything that affects the pelvic floor is also going to affect a nice, soft, easy diaphragmatic breath. Um, so that can really address, um, or can impact, uh, your, your state of being in terms of stress and anxiety. You know, so, I mean, I would postulate that someone that has tight pelvic floor muscles is more likely to be heightened in to sympathetic nervous system state, and easier to get there than someone that has a healthy, relaxed pelvic floor.

Natalie:

I would agree with that fully. Yeah. And it's almost like the chicken or the egg, like, like do, is the pelvic floor tight because of something mechanical or something structural. And does that make you more anxious because you feel the tension in your pelvic floor, like subconsciously or is it tight because of past trauma and you know, like the book, the body holds the trauma or the body keeps the score. Sorry. Um, but your body does remember things and it's really smart. And so we have to learn how to work with that and recognize, oh, my pelvic floor is chronically tense. What can I do to kind of restore it back to balance or a more healthy state?

Angelique:

Yes. And, you know, and, and just, um, you know, like whatever, the reason for a tight pelvic floor and, and, you know, it, especially if it's trauma induced, but even if it's just a physical pattern that you have, that's like, Hey, I've got a giant fiber in there. Everything's going to tighten, um, you know, kind of getting away from any type of, of judgment. But like, just being aware, like I have this, you know, overstimulation of my nervous system because of this tightness, you know, it's just a signal that my nerves are getting, that my pelvic floor is tight and it might make me more reactive to things than I would have been.

Natalie:

Wow. That sounds so logical and reasonable. Not judging yourself and saying, oh my gosh, this is my fault because by pelvic floor is tight and I need to figure it out.

Angelique:

Yes. Yes. And then, um, you know, doing, doing things to just help counterbalance that a bit can just be really healing, um, and letting go of any judgment, you know, um, and, and kind of, what can I do to help myself, um, counteract this a little bit and, you know, Suze my nervous system. Um, that's, that's the approach that I'm taking with myself in my own, in my own self care.

Natalie:

I really liked that approach. I'll I'll try to integrate that as well into my own healing process.

Angelique:

Oh, well, I bet you already do in some ways it kinda sounds like you already are doing that to a certain extent. Um,

Natalie:

so the, oh, go ahead. Sorry.

Angelique:

oh no, you go ahead, Natalie.

Natalie:

going to say pain is discouraging. And a lot of people who experience pelvic pain are discouraged because it's, it's a very important part of your life and a very important area of your body. And that's where life comes from. Right? And that's where, you know, all the Chinese medicine, like that's our life force area, that's our fire. And if we have pain in that area, then it kind of put, it puts a damper on our whole outlook for life. And that might be a little woo, but I think it's very true. And however you acknowledge that or simile that into your life, um, there's some truth there for everybody.

Angelique:

Yes. And it's so personal too, you know, and I love that you're sharing that. Um, because I think it can really be very deeply meaningful on so many levels, you know, not only just the biological neurological type response that just happens, but also on all of our feelings and stories, you know, because like, if you have pelvic pain and you're, you know, not able to enjoy things or you're kind of limited by this pain, that's a huge blow emotionally. And, um, there's just so much to that.

Natalie:

man. I feel like we could talk for hours about this.

Angelique:

I know. I

Natalie:

Oh, okay. I have to ask you, what is your number one piece of advice for our listeners? What do you want everyone to know.

Angelique:

Um,

Natalie:

It's a hard one.

Angelique:

Yeah. You know, I guess I, I w you know, I mean right now, and this is kind of true for me is self-acceptance and self-compassion, um, is probably one of the biggest things like, um, you know, I was always a person that would just push and push and push, and I never really hit the wall with that. I was always able to kind of bounce back, but I was, I really had these big, you know, Kinds of my life, where I was, I just pushed through things. It was super strong and I really built my identity around how much I can handle and being a rock for other people and just performing and then flopped down exhausted. But, but do it again the next day. Um, and I, you know, dealing with being a caregiver and working full time and, and having like different traumas in my life as I've aged. Um, I really acknowledged that like, Hey, I've got a limit and this is what it looks like. You know, I've kind of hit that wall. Um, and, um, and I I'm, I'm, I've been pretty successful at like letting go of judgment around that, you know, like I've hit the wall, I need rest, I need recovery. I need to set limits. Um, and I don't have to beat myself up for that. Um, And then, uh, I really try to, um, I love the idea of self-compassion where, you know, you can be like, Hey, you know, you can be your own best friend, you know, instead of beating myself up for not being perfect, which is something I've struggled with, I'm really accepting where I am and acknowledging myself for. Okay. You know, Hey, it's a little bit much right now and you need rest and that's okay. Um, so it helps me with the acceptance of where I am and, and, and I love the idea of self-compassion and there's a, there's a psychologist called Kristin Neff. She's a PhD. And she has a beautiful website called self-compassion dot org. And, um, and on her website, she has, um, a tab you can click, uh, called practices and she has anywhere from five minutes to 20 minutes on self-compassion practices. Um, as introducing that, being compassionate to yourself, um, it's kind of the new, um, self-esteem where like self-esteem is like, Hey, I'm great. I'm good. I'm worthy. I'm like, gosh, you better be better. You know, you're, you're good. But you know, step on it, lady, come on. Um, but self-compassion is all about like, oh, you know, things are perfect right now and that's okay. And you know, you, you have, you know, being, being this kind compassionate voice for yourself can really improve your wellbeing just in general.

Natalie:

And it's really how you're treating your own clients as you help the coach and as you teach them. And so it's just using that technique on yourself. right? I think a lot of us who are coaches, we have so much compassion for other people and no, it's okay. Like you did awesome on three squats, but that, those other two, you're just working on it. And then if it were me, I would be like, wow, you sucked at those.

Angelique:

right? Yes.

Natalie:

Yeah. It's kind of flipping the narrative a little bit and, and showing yourself that same compassion you use for that. That's awesome.

Angelique:

And there's such a, such a huge difference of like how we would treat or judge another person versus how we treat and judge ourselves. And, um, well, and I also told you about the positive intelligence, um, where, you know, so like if you have an inner critic that tells you, Hey, you lazy lump do the, all the things. Gosh, you only did 10 of the 50 things you had on your list today. You suck. Um, there's on the, on the positive intelligence. Website, there is a, a test and it's called the saboteurs quiz. And part of the, uh, positive intelligence program is to identify what saboteurs you have because your inner critic kind of has a personality or a tendency. And. And so they divide the common tendencies into archetypes of saboteurs. Um, one of them is a hypervigilant, um, sabotage war where like, you've gotta be on point at all times. And, um, in hyper arousal mode, um, or you're not doing your job. And that was kind of my biggest one was the hypervigilant. Um, but it's, it's a really fun tests that you can do. It's maybe 10 minutes of questions and then they email you your saboteurs report of what your, what you tested highest in. And I think that there are nine different saboteur archetypes that you can fall into, but. Most people will have a trigger, um, when they're displeased with themselves, that is, um, you know, has kind of a common threat too. It's like it's got a personality and, um, yeah. So recognizing those thoughts and then really calming yourself down to think, not with a sympathetic brain, but with the parasympathetic nervous system, um, lens can be, you know, deeply healing and then adding on self-compassion and deep breathing, um, can also be helpful.

Natalie:

Yeah, I'm going to do that test when we are done here

Angelique:

It's super fun. It's super fun. Yeah. And you know, for me, I've always been a little bit hypervigilant, but like when I have someone that's in my care and knowing that like, oh my gosh, you know, is there something go, you know, there's so many different things that can go wrong with somebody with spinal cord injury, you know, and my husband is a quadriplegic, so I've got to turn him and do his cares and he's got a catheter and all of this stuff, you know, and it's like, just, there's a lot to worry about. And it's, for me, it can be hard to relax or not jump to like, oh my gosh, you know, the worst thing has probably happened as opposed to like what, you know, what's likely, you know, what's what probably happened versus like, what are you afraid of? You know, what's the. Conclusion you jumped to is probably crazy, but it's more likely that this has happened, you know? Um, so yeah, it's definitely, but you know, I mean, I would say that through having the fibroids and, you know, the last three years since my husband's injury, um, have really taught me a lot. Um, you know, and you know, and this was like in my 50th decade or my fifth decade, you know, I mean, so it's like the, the, the learning and self-acceptance, it's a process, you know, the more that you can learn about why you're thinking the thoughts or having the behaviors what's behind those, you know, and what's in my power to change and being okay with like little steps, um, That's something I'm accepting more and more, you know, I'm so much different than I was in my twenties or in my teens, you know, it's, it's just, it's it's constant growth I think is really good.

Natalie:

I agree. Yeah. And I am an I'm just, I wanted to say, I am so proud of you for all of the work that you've put into your own self, taking care of yourself and figuring out your pelvic pain and your surgery and being an advocate for your own health, but at the same time, caring for your husband, that's just like, it's an incredible Testament to who you are as a person. And yeah, I'm just really proud of you and excited for you in the future.

Angelique:

Oh, thank you. I'm getting a little teary. Well, and I mean, and you have been wonderful, you know, I think that the conversation that we had when you had your surgery was just hugely impactful into, cause I was kind of feeling like, oh my gosh, you know, surgeries are not even open right now. How am I going to deal with this? You know? And, and your input was just really timely and really valuable. And it really steered me into the direction that I went, which I feel like was such a big success, you know? And, um, and then also the aftercare, you know, when not expecting like this total, like, Hey, I had my procedure and I'm perfectly healed. It's like, it's kind of still a journey. Um,

Natalie:

No.

Angelique:

you. That's so sweet, but yeah, you were very instrumental in that, Natalie. So I really, really appreciate it.

Natalie:

Well, that's my, that was my goal. I was just, you know, providing as much as much support as possible. I really think that I, I feel like I've been called to share my experience and to encourage other women in their journey. And so that's awesome. I'm so glad that you've had success and you're improving and getting better every day and just, it makes me very happy. So.

Angelique:

Oh

Natalie:

Um,

Angelique:

yeah, it's good to be on the other side of it,

Natalie:

Agreed.

Angelique:

but, but, but then it's still just like, I'm still not through it, you know, but yeah, it's a, yeah, it's a real journey. Um, and I feel really lucky to have been able to use resources and, and have the care that I needed.

Natalie:

Yeah. That's

Angelique:

Um, it has.

Natalie:

Yeah. Well, thank you so much for having this conversation with me today. I was looking forward to it and we went deep into all of the things.

Angelique:

Yeah, absolutely.

Natalie:

I'm so thankful to Angelica for sharing her story with all of us. I hope you were able to learn something new that you can apply to your own journey. If you are considering pelvic surgery and would like to talk through the process, please don't hesitate to reach out. Both of us are happy to chat. I'll put our contact information in the show notes for this episode. Please remember that what you hear on this podcast is not medical advice, but remember to always do your own research and talk to your healthcare provider before making important decisions about. If you found this podcast helpful, the greatest compliment is sharing it with a friend. Thanks so much for listening. I'll catch you next time.