You would think being diagnosed with a borderline mucinous ovarian tumour at just 20, would have been the push I needed to get healthy, but it wasn’t.
The way I coped with stress, anxiety and emotions was to restrict my eating and up my exercise. The diagnosis, subsequent surgeries and frequent testing was too much for me to process and deal with. Instead I used the trusted bury my head in the sand and get on with it method. I spend the entire summer of 2007/08 having surgery and recovering and just two weeks after my second surgery I went back to University as if nothing had happened. I didn’t tell people, I remember walking into my first day looking around thinking, you guys have no idea what’s just happened to me, as far as you know I had a beautiful relaxing summer break. Part of me liked that but part of me wanted people to know, I guess deep down I knew I needed to talk about it, to deal with it but I just didn’t know how.
So on I went pretending everything was ok and continuing to disregard my health.
It wasn’t until my regular 3 monthly checks that involved ultrasounds and blood tests that the sonographer noted I had polycystic ovaries. I didn’t know what this meant but having heard the term before I knew it was something to further investigate. So on I went to an endocrinologist where I was diagnosed with PCOS and insulin resistance. This was the firs step to my new healthier life. I started learning about low GI eating, about how important it was to view food as fuel and nourishment rather than good and bad, reward and punishment.
Now I would be lying if I said it was just onward and upward from here but it was the start I needed to further educate myself and reroute my thinking.
It is widely known that getting pregnant with PCOS can be difficult, getting pregnant with PCOS and insulin resistance a little more difficult, getting pregnant with PCOS, insulin resistance and only one functioning ovary - well lets say its bordering on pretty bloody challenging.
Amazingly I fell pregnant very quickly but almost as quickly as I fell pregnant I miscarried. I was devastated and had all of those terrible thoughts going around my head as to whether I would ever be able to get pregnant and carry a baby. I started researching, looking into anything and everything that could potentially be a risk to a successful pregnancy. I cut out all artificial sweeteners and tried to go as natural as possible with my food choices.
Low and behold I was blessed with my daughter. It wasn’t an easy pregnancy, my body definitely needed some healing help after she was born and that’s when I really came across clean eating. I felt so good with clean eating, there were so many options, so many healthier alternatives to the foods I loved that used to have so much guilt surrounding them. It was no longer an all or nothing mentality. I could quite literally have my cake and eat it too!
This became the foundation of our family eating; low GI and as natural and unprocessed as possible. I started enjoying cooking, enjoying finding new ways to make my old favourites healthier. I felt happier, healthier, freer. My moods were stable, my self-awareness, self-esteem and emotional honesty were all coming back to a steady state.
So it may seem dramatic to say getting sick saved my life but I don’t think so. I am a firm believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason. It has helped me through some dark times and it has helped me to be optimistic and stay level headed in challenging situations. You see had I not had my ovarian tumour I wouldn’t have had the testing that led to my PCOS and insulin resistance diagnosis. Had it not been for that who knows when I would have cottoned on to the fact that the way I was eating was surely doing some very serious damage to my body. Not only physically but emotionally and mentally. If it wasn’t for all of these things that led to the changes I made who knows when and if I would have been able to get pregnant. Having your PCOS under control is paramount to falling pregnant and carrying a baby, if you don’t even know you have it then how can you have it under control?
It is all of these things, these medical ‘misfortunes’ that have allowed me to become a mother and this has most certainly been the most amazing and profound change in my life.
Everything about me is better since becoming a mother, ok except maybe my sleep, I was definitely getting a bit more of that before kids!
I am so grateful for the way my life has unfolded and played out so far. Everything that has happened has played an important part in helping to form who I am today and why I do things the way that I do.
The way we eat has been further impacted by my children’s allergies and thank goodness I was already so well equipped to accommodate the necessary changes to provide alternatives to their allergies. Had I not already been on such a wholesome and healthy eating path I imagine it would have been much harder to adjust to these changes.