Tag Archives: Surgery

My “Surgi-versary”

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

One year after my surgery saga, I’m healthy and feeling incredibly blessed.  At the same time, I’ve felt emotional as I recall where I was this time last year.  I met and worked with some amazing health practitioners and business owners, who helped me through this ordeal.  So, to celebrate my “surgi-versary,” I planned to visit each of my “health heroes” to personally thank them for the specific ways that they contributed to my surgical outcome and overall well-being.  Although I was unable to connect with everyone, today’s results were very encouraging…

IMG_7615My first stop was The Center for True Harmony Wellness & Medicine.  Here, I expressed my heartfelt appreciation to Christine Brass-Jones DO OB/GYN and Dr. Denise Grobe ND.  Dr. Brass-Jones referred me to the right gynecological oncologist to perform my surgery.  She listened carefully to my concerns and persevered with me, as I weighed my options, trusted my gut, and moved forward in this process.  Dr. Grobe gave me some excellent advice on how to prepare my body for surgery and how to manage my recovery in different case scenarios.  In addition, she had the insight to have me take a cancer gene test.  Both of these ladies were caring, supportive, proactive, and informative.  Women empowering other women…YES!!!

IMG_7617Next, I went to Pomegranate Cafe for a friend’s birthday lunch, and to express my gratitude to owner Cassie Tolman.  Before and after my surgery, Cassie and the “Pom” staff were my “anti-inflammatory allies.”  They kept the Abundance Juice flowing, with plenty of lemon, ginger, and turmeric, along with a whole lotta healthy food options.  Their team always serves with smiles and promotes positivity.  LOVE THEM!!!

IMG_7618IMG_7620You didn’t think I’d leave out my lunch, did you?!?  Today, I celebrated with an Abundance Juice (naturally) and Mermaid Salad.  YUM!!!

IMG_7622Finally, I stopped by Desert Sage Herbs to thank Brittney for an herbal consultation that had me armed and ready for my surgical procedure and healing process.  The teas, tonics, and essential oils that she custom-blended for me, along with her compassion and concern, were a tremendous help.  Today, Andrea graciously accepted my sentiments on Brittney’s behalf…and re-filled my french lavender oil.  Mission accomplished!!!

Do you personally, and specifically, thank those who have helped you overcome life challenges?

Encourage others, and be encouraged!

XOXO

Let It Go: Highlights from 2014

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)

Me in my master bedroom on Mother's Day 2014.

Me in my master bedroom on Mother’s Day 2014.

As this year comes to an end, and I look ahead to 2015, I can’t help but reflect on all that has happened. Although I booked more jobs than ever in 2014, my biggest moment of the year was my cancer scare and the major surgery that followed. My faith and fortitude were tested in ways that I never expected. I am so grateful to God, my family, friends,  colleagues, and health practitioners, who saw me through this scary ordeal. I blogged about my experience here.

At church, last Sunday, my minister preached a sermon titled “Let It Go,” and encouraged us to deal with any unresolved issues from this year. After service, I told him that I planned to contact the first Gynecological Oncologist (GYN-ONC #1) that I consulted with during my health crisis. My intention was to contact his office earlier; but I wasn’t ready to “go there” emotionally. I am happy and relieved to report that I spoke with GYN-ONC #1’s nurse yesterday, then spoke with their Nurse Manager today. I informed them of the outcome of my situation, and the surgical approach that was taken by GYN-ONC #2. In addition, I took the opportunity to point out some of the circumstances around my consultation with them that were off-putting to me, in hopes that they might improve their services. I was humble, vulnerable, yet forthright in delivering my message.  I had great conversations with both nurses, and felt that my feedback was well-received.  I felt so free!

I am so relieved and excited to ring in the new year, having dealt with one of the biggest burdens on my heart from 2014.  Whatever unresolved issues that you may have from this year, I hope and pray that you are able to “Let It Go,” and start fresh in 2015.

I wish you a safe, healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!

Holistically Healthy in the Hospital

Hospital Symbol

As I mentioned before, I am a total germaphobe, who feels incredibly uncomfortable in hospitals.  So, when I had to have surgery, I was forced to get over it for the duration of my procedure and overnight stay.  *Shudders*

Here are 8 things that I did to stay holistically healthy in the hospital:

1.  Probiotics:  I used ReNew Life’s Ultimate Flora Critical Care variety ahead of time to boost my immune system.

2.  Arnica:  Before my surgery date, I took some homeopathic pellets for their anti-inflammatory benefits.

3.  Shoe covers:  You know the disposable ones that are worn in hospitals?  Well, yours truly asked for a pair to use so that my “special socks” wouldn’t touch the hospital floors…Ewww!

4.  Humor:  My situation was no laughing matter; however, I managed to share a few laughs with my team before surgery.  This helped me to stay positive, as I faced some of my greatest fears.

5.  Human touch:  I needed it when I woke up dazed, confused, and panicked about my surgical outcome.  I repeatedly asked my husband to kiss my forehead, and his presence and touch calmed and comforted me.  Before he was brought to my bedside, I tried to ask a nurse to do this; but I couldn’t get the words out…LOL!!!

6.  Aromatherapy:  “Calming” essential oil blend + diffuser + “Nighty Night” spritzer from Desert Sage Herbs = “Best Smelling Room on the Floor,” as voted by my nurses.  *Takes a bow*

7.  Called for clean-up:  I had to call 3 times, to be exact (Why???).  I insisted on having our bathroom cleaned after my roommate’s husband spent the night and used our facilities…multiple times…REALLY?!?!

8.  BYOF:  Despite being pressured to consume the hospital fare, I politely declined and had my husband bring me food and drinks from a local Whole Foods Market.  I requested coconut water; fresh green juice with lemon, ginger, jicama, and turmeric; seaweed snacks; raw kale salad; and vegetable soup.  The nourishment from the coconut water, green juice, and seaweed snacks alone brought my body back to life and set me on a course for early discharge.  Hallelujah!

What would you do to stay holistically healthy in a conventional hospital environment?

Have a happy, safe, and fun holiday weekend!

XOXO

 

 

 

 

Sage Advice

IMG_4330In preparation for my surgery, and to create a healing oasis at home, I went to Desert Sage Herbs.  Brittney Sounart and her mother, Vicki Greener, opened this holistic center in 1999; and have provided me and my family with healing help for the past 9 years.  They offer classes, holistic health services, and a retail shop.  It feels like home, and it smells soooo good inside!

IMG_4266One week prior to my surgery, I scheduled an herbal consultation with Brittney.  During this time, I shared the details of my situation, and told her that I wanted to purchase some products to help me heal quickly and completely after my procedure.  We laughed, cried (Well, I did.), hugged, and re-grouped, as we developed a plan together.  The plan was as follows:  to support healing of my tissues after surgery, while supporting my adrenals and nervous system; liver detoxification; lymphatic and immune system support.  Once our plan was in place, Brittney proceeded to custom-blend all sorts of goodies for me…

IMG_4160Brittney suggested that I take arnica, before and after surgery, for its anti-inflammatory properties.  She also created an herbal “Healing Tea” (nettle leaf, holy basil, linden flower, calendula flower, red raspberry leaf, slippery elm bark, and horsetail) for me.  In addition, she concocted a “Healing Tonic” (gotu kola, milk thistle, milky oats, cleavers, horse chestnut, echinacea root, and ginger root).  And, since I love smoothies, Brittney whipped up a “Smoothie Powder” (ashwagandha root, shatavari root, maca root, and spirulina) too.  YAHTZEE!!!

Brittney Sounart, Clinical Herbalist at Desert Sage Herbs.

Brittney Sounart, Clinical Herbalist at Desert Sage Herbs.

I am all about aromatherapy.  So, Brittney suggested their “Nighty-Night” spritzer for use at home, in the hospital, or on the go.   She also whipped-up a “Calming” essential oil blend of lavender, clary sage, and bergamot.  I place 10-12 drops on the pad of my new aromatherapy diffuser, plug it into an outlet, and the results are “spa-like.”  I love my diffuser so much that when I found out that there was a smaller version for cars, I pounced!  Don’t judge me…

IMG_4166Honestly, I could have gone crazy and done a LOT more damage.  But I decided to be good and to stay focused on what was absolutely necessary to get me through my surgery and healing process.  I believe that the items that I purchased have helped me tremendously.

IMG_4285I am so grateful to Brittney for her caring heart and expertise.  LOVE HER!!!

Desert Sage Herbs is located at 1728 N Alma School Rd, Chandler, AZ 85224.

Pssst…Don’t trip!…They ship!!!  😉

Have a wonderful weekend!

XOXO

 

My Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods

IMG_4230

When faced with ovarian cysts and the possibility of cancer, I sprung into action and tightened up my “food game.”  Mind you, no one advised me to do this.  However, I consider diet to be an important aspect of my health and well-being.  (Is it me, or does it seem like diet is always the LAST thing to be addressed in the wake of a health issue in our society?)  Personally, I am 14 years into my holistic health journey, and it was one of the FIRST things that crossed my mind when my recent health drama unfolded.  I decided to be proactive with my food choices to ensure that my body was in the best possible condition to deal with whatever was going on inside of me.  A little inflammation in the body can indicate a healing response, and that’s okay.  But too much inflammation could indicate, or contribute to, a chronic problem, and lead to disease.  That said, here are some anti-inflammatory foods (in no particular order) that I have been consuming with conviction:

1.  Green Tea:  Heralded as one of the world’s healthiest beverages, it has been used medicinally for thousands of years.  This flavonoid-packed drink is often touted for its anti-aging, brain-boosting, and cancer-fighting capabilities.  I’ll drink to that!

2.  Garlic:  Hhhhhhhow do you like your gaaaaaaarlic, dahhhhhhhling???  I like mine sauteed with veggies; pressed and added to salads; sliced and eaten raw with hummus and crackers.  It’s a pungent, yet powerful, healing food.

3.  Ginger:  In addition to being an “upset tummy tamer,” this spicy root increases circulation.  When I order a “Green Giant” juice at my local Whole Foods Market, I add this to it.  Cheers!

4.  Turmeric:  Used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb, this member of the ginger family is what makes curries yellow.  I have been adding fresh turmeric to my green juices, such as the “Abundance” at Pomegranate Cafe.  And although I feel that fresh is best, I sprinkle the powder on my cooked kale and quinoa.

5.  Kale:  It’s the alpha and omega of dark, leafy greens, in my opinion.  I enjoy mine in salads, blended into smoothies, cooked with quinoa, and I love it in chip form.  All hail kale!

6.  Spinach:  One of my other go-to greens, it’s rich in vitamins and minerals.  I use it in my green smoothies, as a base for many salad recipes, and enjoy it sauteed with garlic.  Mmm!

7.  Other Cruciferous Vegetables:  These vitamin, mineral, and fiber-rich foods can help fight cancer as well.  In addition to kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts are my personal faves.  They’re great in salads, and as side dishes.  Yes, please, and thank you!

8.  Almonds:  Rich in fiber, calcium, and vitamin E, I snack on these during the day.  Furthermore, I use almond milk in my smoothies, pour it on cereal, and drink it straight.  Aaaaah!

9.  Pineapple:  This tropical treat is loaded with vitamin C and bromelain.  For me, it’s a staple smoothie ingredient.  However, recently, I’ve been topping homemade pizzas with it.  Pssst…try it!

10.  Berries:  Gotta love these antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory gems!  I use them to make smoothies, and eat them by themselves.  When I mix them with a little So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk Yogurt, it helps to curb my desire for more decadent desserts.  Yum!

While my anti-inflammatory food consumption did not eliminate my cysts (I wish!), I do believe that it has boosted my immune system, nourished my body from the inside out, and helped tremendously with my healing process.

What are your favorite anti-inflammatory foods?

 

 

 

My Surgery Saga

IMG_3948

Sorry for the lack of posts lately.  This year, I have been busy working, traveling, and taking care of my family, which is great.  However, over the past 2 months, I’ve had to deal with some medical issues as well.  Now that I’m on the other side of the situation, I have LOTS to share.  This is the first of a series of posts in which I will talk about my experience.  I sincerely hope that it helps others.

THE DISCOVERY:

On March 18th, just hours after I successfully completed a commercial shoot, discomfort on the right side of my pelvic area turned into drama overnight.  I was writhing in bed in EXCRUCIATING pain.  Attributing it to something “female-related,” I took some anti-inflammatory homeopathic drops (the only thing that I could find in my house) to relieve the pain, then drifted off to sleep.  The next morning, I felt better; but my husband (who was out of town on business at the time) insisted that I see a doctor.

I went to see my OB-GYN, who takes an integrative approach to medicine at her wellness center for women.  A pelvic exam and urine test didn’t reveal anything, so she sent me to a nearby lab for an ultrasound.  The result?  OVARIAN CYSTS!  So, she sent me back to the same lab for an MRI.  The MRI revealed large, abnormal, complex masses on each ovary with solid components that were not easily identifiable.  Although the MRI Tech thought that they were dermoid cysts, the Head of Radiology was concerned that the solid components might be malignant.  Due to the need to rule out cancer, I was referred to a Gynecological Oncologist (GYN-ONC) for a second opinion.

DUE DILIGENCE:

GYN-ONC #1 –  I went to a prominent cancer center and met with a nice, young doctor for a second opinion.  His take?  He  doubted that I had “old lady ovarian cancer.”  However, since there was a concern that the masses might be malignant, he recommended going in laparoscopically, removing both of my ovaries for biopsy, including tubes and lymph nodes, and he could take out my uterus, if I wanted him to.  WHAAAT?!?!  I was shocked, scared, and very upset to hear this.  It sounded sooooo extreme to me.  Do we have to cut down the whole tree?  Can we just take a leaf???  He explained that ovaries can’t be biopsied like other parts of the body, and that this approach would help to ensure that no cancer cells would be spread, if there were any.  Needless to say, I left the appointment feeling completely overwhelmed.

The next day, when I reviewed the details of this appointment with my OB-GYN, I expressed my concern and desire to get another opinion from someone more seasoned.  She agreed, and referred me to GYN-ONC #2, who she knew and respected.  After a couple of attempts, I managed to schedule a consultation with him (details below).

OB-GYN #2 – While waiting for my appointment with GYN-ONC #2, my husband’s Integrative Specialist referred me to another holistic OB-GYN for her perspective on my situation.  Like my OB-GYN, she lamented that she could not perform the laparoscopic procedure, due to the concern about cancer, and that I needed to work with an oncologist.  Although she doubted that I had cancer, she advised me that if anything malignant was found, “everything goes.”  *GULP*  Before I left her office, and without any prompting, she also referred me to GYN-ONC #2 for a second oncology opinion.  I felt reassured that I was doing the right thing, and confident that I was getting closer to finding the right person to help me.

GYN-ONC #2 – After 2 solid referrals, plus a glowing review from a friend, I was eager to meet with this doctor.  He reviewed my case, highlighted the positive aspects of my situation, gave us statistical information to help put things into perspective, listed in detail all of the possibilities of what the masses could be, expressed doubt that I had cancer, and proposed a more conservative, “organ preserving” approach to my surgery.  He recommended removing the right ovary and tube, having them biopsied, and using that as a benchmark to determine what to do with my left ovary.  And he suggested that my husband and I provide him with a “surgical algorithm,” which would help him to honor our wishes, based on his and the Pathologist’s findings during my procedure.  In my opinion, it was a more holistically-friendly, staged, respectful approach.

NATUROPATH – My OB-GYN has a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) on her staff.  I decided to consult with this ND about my options for hormone balancing, in case I ended up having a full hysterectomy.  She recommended some natural healing remedies that would help me before, during, and after surgery.  However, she felt that a specific hormone-balancing protocol was premature at this point.  Instead, she advised that we wait to see what my surgical outcome would be, then allow at least four weeks for the drugs to get out of my system and my body to find its “new normal.”  This made sense to me, and gave me peace of mind.

HERBALIST – After meeting with the ND, I rounded-out my holistic consultations with a visit to my herbalist.  LOVE HER!  The purpose of this appointment was to purchase some herbs and supplements to help me recover from surgery.  She provided me with some custom-blended concoctions to heal my body, which I will discuss in another post.  I stored most of these items at home for use when I returned, since I was not permitted to take them in the hospital.

THE DILEMMA:

As you can imagine, this has been a challenging time for me.  I have been blessed with good health my entire life.  I had one surgery, a tonsillectomy, when I was in college.  Since changing my diet and lifestyle, 14 years ago, I have enjoyed even better health and well-being than I had previously.  All of a sudden, within a 2-month time frame, I went from a commercial shoot to a cancer scare?!?!  And did I mention that my maternal grandmother had ovarian cancer…?  On one hand, I realized that her story did not have to become my story.  However, our close relationship and the reality of her demise had me freaking out.  Furthermore, I feel uncomfortable in hospitals, I’m a total germaphobe, and the whole idea of surgery, drugs, losing my “lady bits,” being catapulted into early menopause, and the like, seemed to go against my holistic habits.  I’m just sayin’…

THE DECISION:

My husband and I decided to work with GYN-ONC #2.  His experience, surgical approach, detailed analysis of my situation, compassion, and positive focus won us over.  He was, literally, an answer to my prayers.  So, we scheduled my surgery for May 7th (due to work and family commitments), drafted our “surgical algorithm,” and prayed persistently for the best possible outcome.  Although I made peace with having the procedure, not knowing the outcome in advance was scary, to say the least.  Still, I felt confident that I had found the right person for the job, who had my best interests at heart.

THE DETERMINATION:

My right ovary was taken over by a calcified fibroma, and was the same size as my uterus.  OUCH!  The left ovary had a dermoid cyst on it, which my doctor successfully removed.  EEEW!!  When I woke up in the surgery recovery area, my husband was brought to my bedside.  Here, he proudly informed me that I got the best of all possible scenarios:  No cancer, and I got to keep my left ovary and my uterus.  WHEW!!!

I am very grateful for my outcome, as it was an answer to the specific prayers of many.  After staying in the hospital overnight, I was discharged.   My healing process is going very well, and I look forward to sharing more related posts soon!

In the meantime, have a fun, safe, and healthy holiday weekend!

XOXO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: