Second-hand Sustainability

Recently there has been a movement or an understanding that if you buy something second-hand, that it is inherently sustainable or ethical. It’s actually a lot more complicated than that. I am here to shed a little more light onto this complex topic.
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I think one of the most crucial things I would love everyone to understand is that we need to limit the amount of clothing and accessories that we purchase. Just because there is a sale or an opportunity to go and buy things, does not mean that we need to be buying things. We need to decrease the number of things we buy and stop chasing after trendy items. Instead, we need to invest in high-quality timeless items that will remain stylish and intact for decades to come. When it comes to shopping, it needs to be done in moderation and it needs to be well thought out. We need to stop our over-consumptive lifestyles and adhere to a more responsible and environmentally-friendly approach.

Last year I decided to make a pact with myself to never purchase another item of clothing that was composed from synthetic fibres. Included in this pact were these rules: think about the item before I choose to buy it – this includes thinking about if it goes with a lot of other things I already own, if it truly fits well, and if I would actually wear it a lot. This resulted in me being able to cut down on unnecessary purchases, and to build a wardrobe consisting mostly of natural fibres and high-quality garments. Now, in no way am I claiming to be perfect either. I still have garments that are composed from synthetic materials which I had purchased years ago – I am slowly replacing them with more sustainable options, which will be discussed later on in this post.

There is no doubt that buying items second-hand or thrifting is more sustainable than buying new. Thrifting or buying something second-hand is a better option because additional resources are not being used to produce the item, as it has already been created. Giving an item a second life is important. It is also important to know that you can shop at thrift or consignment stores, however shopping at local vintage shops or participating in local clothing swaps is also incredibly important.

However, let’s examine the meaning behind sustainability. Sustainability is the process in which the exploitation of resources, among many other things, is in harmony with and enhances the current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations. Sustainability operates on the precept that we need to meet present demands without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The only way in which sustainability can occur, is through healthy ecosystems and environments. Healthy ecosystems and environments can only endure, develop or recover with reduced negative human impact.

Let’s break this down: if a thrifted item is truly sustainable, it must be made of natural materials, it must be high-quality and it must be able to be machine washed/hand washed.


Natural Materials
Whenever clothing that is made from man-made materials or synthetic materials is washed, they release plastic microfibres into the waterways. These synthetic materials include polyester, nylon, elastane, lycra, polyamide, viscose, spandex and acrylic, to name a few. These plastic microfibres pass through filters and sewage treatment plants, and pollute rivers, lakes and oceans. These synthetic or plastic fibres will never decompose.

Now, plastic pollution is not just an aesthetic issue; plastic has the ability to negatively change ecosystems. Also, over 60% of plastic pollution is from plastic microfibres from clothing, and microfibres are responsible for over 85% of shoreline pollution. Plastic microfibres, alongside other plastic waste, is composed of chemicals that significantly increase concentrations of endocrine disrupting chemicals in the environment (I discussed a little about endocrine disrupting chemicals here). Plastics also have the ability to attract and absorb harmful chemicals, bacteria and persistent pollutants, and when plastic pollution is smaller, the surface area increases and allows it to absorb even more chemicals and bacteria – making plastic microfibres an incredibly devastating pollutant.

Ingestion of microfibre plastic by humans and animals is now virtually unavoidable. What has to be understood about plastic microfibres is because of their size, they are able to enter into the food chain in very early stages and in every stage thereafter. Zooplankton are ingesting plastic microfibres as they mistake them for food, so plastics are continuing to maintain their presence throughout the entire food chain. Sea creatures do not even have to eat chunks of plastic to be affected, as they are continually processing ocean water containing toxic leachates through their gills, stomachs and other membranes. Higher trophic level organisms are exposed to highly enriched concentrations of contaminants due to bioaccumulation. You might be thinking “well I don’t consume sea food, so I don’t have to worry about this”, and this is problematic thinking for multiple reasons. First, you need to consume water to live. Most water that we drink is contaminated with plastic microfibres that are invisible to the naked eye – and no, drinking bottled water is not any safer. Also, more than 3.5 billion other people depend on the ocean for their primary source of food, therefore consuming toxic waste through the consumption of sea creatures. If you aren’t swayed or dismayed enough by the harmful effect on humans, plastic pollution annually kills more than 100,000 marine mammals plus millions of birds and fish.
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It is time we take responsibility for our actions and accept that man-made materials are devastating and harmful. Plastic contamination does not only harm ecosystems and animals, but it also directly harms those who are responsible for it, create it and consume the products made from it.

Another thing about man-made materials or synthetic materials is that they were created through an industrial manufacturing process which uses fossil fuels (a non-renewable resource). I have been very troubled whenever I see a product that is made from recycled plastic, or manmade materials, and is labeled as a sustainable product… this is what is referred to as “greenwashing” a product. Clothing made from recycled plastic releases even more plastic microfibres than non-recycled materials. As you read above, there is absolutely nothing sustainable about man-made fibres or materials, especially when they have to be washed. Therefore, in reflecting upon the definition of sustainability, garments composed of synthetic fibres do not even come close to passing as a sustainable purchase.

So, what are safe materials that are made from natural sources and will not release plastic microfibres? Here are a few of them. I must add that each material in this list is more sustainable than synthetics, but there is no material that is completely sustainable, either in the way it is grown or raised or in the way it is produced into a fibre. Choosing natural materials is a decision that will have less negative impacts on ourselves and on the environment both when it is being worn and when it will eventually have to be disposed of (after having being carefully cared for and donated of course). So, here are some natural plant and animal derived fibres – please note that many of the animal derived fibres listed here can be attained, either by brushing or shaving, with no harm to the animal. The leather options are sustainable if the leather is a byproduct of the food industry and is dyed using vegetable dyes instead of the traditional toxic dye process.
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Better Quality
One of the most important things to understand when thrifting or buying something second-hand is that if it is not high-quality, it is not worth it. Also, if you cannot repair it, restore it, or reimagine it, it probably isn’t worth it either. Focusing on the quality of the item is the most important aspect when shopping. This leads me to fast fashion brands or cheap big label brands. Most clothing produced as a by-product of fast fashion is cheap – both in material and make. Therefore if you purchase a fast fashion brand second hand, it will probably not last as long as a better quality garment would. This will probably lead to the garment having a shorter lifespan, requiring you to replace it relatively soon after purchasing. Therefore this second-hand purchase may end up in the trash quicker and result in even more consumption – which is quite unsustainable.

Also, some big label brands produce poor-quality garments and then slap their logo on it, and in the end you’re basically just paying to wear the logo. Always pay attention to the material the garment is made out of and the quality of the item before purchasing. Don’t let brand names sway you.
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Also, another troublesome factor about buying fast fashion brands or unsustainable big label brands second-hand is if someone likes what you are wearing and sees or asks for the brand name, it no longer matters that you purchased it second hand, as you are basically advertising for the brand and giving it positive exposure. This usually leads to the person who asked, believing that you support that brand, going to the store themselves and purchasing that unsustainable brand, brand new. I think the most important thing here is to take a moment while thrifting, pull out your phone and quickly search “is this brand sustainable” and give yourself the time to find out if your second-hand clothing is sustainable & guilt-free. Just because something is being purchased second-hand, does not magically erase or revert the unsustainable or unethical practices used to make it.

Another critical factor to consider is that many of the most unsustainable and unethical practices of fast fashion brands is that they use slave labour to manufacture the items. A way around this tricky situation is to avoid fast fashion brands as they will probably not last, the quality will be poor and it will encourage the purchasing of new fast fashion garments. Also, very importantly, avoiding the purchase of these items will decrease the demand for them which will certainly decrease the need for the slave labour that is required to manufacture these items for the cheap price they are retailed for.


Machine washable / hand washable Garments
First of all, dry cleaning is expensive. You spend money on the actual garment itself, then you have to pay to have it cleaned as well. Second, dry cleaning involves chemicals which are dangerous to our health and the health of the environment. The chemicals used in dry cleaning have even been classified as carcinogenic, and severely toxic to fish, marine life and plants. Some cities may have “green” dry cleaners, but it might be best to avoid purchasing items that need to be dry cleaned, if possible.
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This being said, it is actually quite possible to hand wash some garments that have “dry clean only” on their label, just ensure that you do your research on the proper technique before thrifting so you can save yourself money and the environment in the long run. Usually only wool, silk, cotton and linen can be washed at home and garments composed of suede, leather, or fur should be taken to a dry cleaner. Washing at home usually includes placing your garment into a laundry bag (use a cotton pillow case if you do not have one), and washing with a mild natural detergent and cold water.


Proper Washing Techniques
I am sure that even if you stop purchasing all clothing that is made from synthetic fibres right now, you will still have some items in your closet made from synthetics. Until you can afford to replace those items with more high-quality & sustainable items, here are some tips and tricks about proper washing techniques.

It is actually unnecessary to wash some of your clothing after only one wear. Items like jeans, cardigans, sweaters, and more, can be worn 2-5 times before being washed. When it is finally time to wash items composed of synthetic fibres, fill up your washing machine to ensure there is less friction between clothing. Make sure to only wash them for a short duration, on a low rev cycle, on a cold water setting. Another factor that helps to cut down on unwanted friction is to make the switch to liquid laundry soap – my favourite is being able to bring a reusable container to bulk stores and fill up with liquid laundry soap (to cut that plastic pollution even more)! Also, always throw dryer lint into the trash and never down the drain. There are even new products emerging to help control the amount of microfibres being lost into the waterways like GuppyFriend! I am going to purchase one and let you all know what I think, either in an upcoming blog or Instagram post. Of course, the takeaway should always be to avoid cheaply-made fast fashion clothes altogether and opt for natural fibres, as plastic fibres will never biodegrade, breakdown, or go away.
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So the next time you are purchasing clothing, keep in mind that a single purchase can have a worldwide impact, and it is up to you if it is a negative or positive impact. We all need to change in order to sustain the only world we have to live in. Consumers have the greatest impact and whether we choose to spend our money on sustainable second-hand goodies, or on new brands that are working hard to be as sustainable and ethical as possible, we will be able to get the message across that we are over the age of plastic pollution and that action is needed now!

Tiara

Honey Honey

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These photos have such warm tones, however the weather was was not warm in the slightest (typical Saskatchewan). I really love this outfit, one of my favourite things about this outfit is how the items are all composed from natural materials (except the tights, which I have been gently washing and reusing for over 4 years now). It is one thing to shop secondhand, but it is only sustainable if the clothing you are thrifting is high-quality and composed of natural materials. This is because man-made materials create plastic microfibres when washed – which is one of the most devastating pollutants in our waterways today. It is time to take responsibility for our actions and to start making our purchases more sustainable.
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Turtleneck: French Connection (thrifted from Stasia Boutique ) / Blazer: Ann Taylor (thrifted) / Skirt: The Leather Ranch (thrifted) / Shoes: Last Shoes / Purse: 33rd Street Market / Sunglasses: vintage Ralph Lauren (thrifted) / Belt: vintage / Necklace: Hazlewood Vintage /


Tiara

Beige Aesthetic

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I cannot believe that it is September already and that I start university again in 2 days. I am looking forward to fall & I hope that we are able to get some fall weather this year in Saskatchewan instead of going straight into winter again.
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shirt: Aritzia  / jeans: Cache Creek (thrifted) / jacket: The Hot Like (thrifted) / shoes: Converse / bracelet: Michelle Ross / jewelry: vintage / sunglasses: Vogue / bag: Nordisen  /
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Tiara

DIY Gummies

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I have been diagnosed with IBS, leaky gut & possible candida overgrowth & SIBO for several years now, alongside stage 4 Endometriosis. The healing process has been beyond difficult. I have made very few advances, despite multiple specialist appointments. In fact, it feels like no matter how I approach this situation that I always encounter setbacks instead.

I have found that adhering to a very strict diet has been one of the only things that has helped, even though it is very difficult and time consuming. I used to feel like I was going to puke every single day and my intestines ached so severely that my mobility was negatively impacted. This was occurring even after I eliminated all gluten and dairy from my diet. So, I decided to pay for a Food Sensitivity and Reaction Blood Test that measured the amount of antibodies my body made per individual food (aka which foods were causing more inflammation in my body). The list was very long, I was restricted to a few vegetables, even fewer fruits, coconut & meat.

I have now been following that strict anti-inflammatory diet for almost 3 years. I do feel better, I don’t feel like I have to puke at all anymore, however my intestines are still quite sick. This summer, I have been trying to introduce more items into my diet that will help them heal. Grass fed & pasture raised gelatin is one of the things I have introduced. Gelatin (as long as it is grass fed and pasture raised) is good for your intestinal health as well as your joints, hair & skin.
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I decided to try making my own gummies with gelatin because it is a very easy way to introduce more gelatin into my diet (in a very delicious way). Here is how I make my own gut-healing gummies:


DIY BLUEBERRY & LEMON GUMMIES
AIP/Paleo/Autoimmune diet approved
(discovered on the Primal Palate)

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup fresh organic lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh organic blueberries
  • 4 tbsp grass fed & pasture raised gelatin

Instructions

  1. add the lemon juice and the blueberries into a sauce pan over medium heat
  2. stir often and cook until the lemon juice is steaming and the blueberries are plump and have turned the juice dark purple
  3. remove from the stovetop and let cool for a few moments
  4. add into blender and blend until smooth
  5. add in 4 tbsp of gelatin into the blender and blend again
  6. pour into a glass and use a food pipette to fill the molds OR pour into a flat glass container and set in the fridge (either 1 large container or multiple small ones)
  7. after about 1-2 hours, remove the gummies from the molds OR cut them out of the glass container and put them into a glass container to store them in the fridge

DIY STRAWBERRY COCONUT GUMMIES
AIP/Paleo/Autoimmune diet approved
my own recipe

Ingredients 

  • 1 can of organic coconut milk (with no fillers)
  • ~1/2 cup organic strawberries (cut in halves)
  • 5 tbsp grass fed & pasture raised gelatin

Instructions

  1. add the coconut milk & strawberries into a sauce pan over medium heat
  2. stir often and cook until the coconut milk is bubbling slightly and the strawberries are soft
  3. remove from the stovetop and let cool for a few moments
  4. add into blender and blend until smooth
  5. add in 5 tbsp of gelatin into the blender and blend again
  6. pour into a glass and use a food pipette to fill the molds OR pour into a flat glass container and set in the fridge (either 1 large container or multiple small ones)
  7. after about 1-2 hours, remove the gummies from the molds OR cut them out of the glass container and put them into a glass container to store them in the fridge

These are then good for about 3-4 days in the fridge (trust me, they do not last that long).
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These gummies make an excellent snack, just ensure they stay cool (keep them on an icepack if you are removing them from the fridge) as they will melt if exposed to heat. I am now eating them with every meal in place of dessert – they are just so delicious. My favourite are the coconut strawberry gummies! I bought my molds off of amazon & ensured they were food-grade safe silicone, 100% BPA-free, FDA approved and that they came with pipettes/droppers!
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Hope you love these as much as I do!

Tiara

Life in Plastic, it’s not so Fantastic

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As you all probably already know, I despise plastic. I keep looking for alternatives to everyday items that are commonly made of plastic. I lucked out when I came across these Oh My Woodness sunglasses (such a cute brandname too). These frames are made from wood & came packaged in a completely recyclable/reusable heavy duty cardboard slide box. I decided to pair them with this fun floral summer outfit.
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shirt: Vintage M Collection (thrifted) / pants: Aritzia / sunglasses: Smart Buy Sunglasses / purse: Viahera / shoes: thrifted vintage / necklace: Hillberg & Berk / bracelet: Paris Jewellers /
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sunglasses received from Smart Buy Glasses, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

– Tiara

Sustainability & Wildlife

With being an environmentalist and striving to live a more sustainable lifestyle, I wondered if there were any organizations that exist in Saskatoon which focus on sustainability or the environment. I just completed my fourth year in Renewable Resource Management at the University of Saskatchewan and I am working towards completing a soil science minor and a certificate in sustainability. Being aware of some local organizations that support these values is important to me. Luckily, I was able to meet with two women that run very different, but important charities here in Saskatoon.

Since I started my blog in September of 2013, I have given myself the freedom to present my interests and passions creatively and freely. One of my initial passions was sustainability and caring for the environment. Each year, I researched more, I learned more and challenged the modern way of life, which led to changing my way of life based on what I was learning about sustainability. I have changed multiple ways that I live my life and I keep making changes each month. Slowly but surely, I am working towards living a sustainable life.
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Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with Allyson from the Saskatchewan Environmental Society. The Saskatchewan Environmental Society (SES) is a non-profit, registered charity located in Saskatoon. They work on projects all across Saskatchewan. The SES concentrates on sustainable energy and climate solutions, water protection, resource conservation, biodiversity preservation and the reduction of toxic substances. Pretty badass, am I right? The goals that this society is working towards are vitally important and their focus on education is crucial. They even have a helpful page called Stuff I Can Do, which outlines some options of how to live more sustainably at home and at work. Their site is packed with useful information and can help aid you in your own personal research, as they provide many scientific publications for you to read. I was very excited to learn about the SES and I am very interested in the work they do.

I also had time to visit with Jan from the Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation Center here in Saskatoon. Animals take precedence over people here, that’s for sure. They provide treatment services that are needed to rehabilitate small birds and mammals. This includes providing a safe place for the injured or orphaned animals to mend until they are returned to their natural habitat (if possible).
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Both of these organizations are charities, which rely mostly on volunteer work. If you want to support either of these charities, they would greatly appreciate it. One of my favourite quotes is by Anna Lappe: “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”

– Tiara

Living with Endometriosis (part two)

On Thursday November 2nd, 2017 I went into surgery to have a Laparoscopy to remove multiple cysts, endometriomas (chocolate cysts) and scar tissue which resulted from severe stage 4 Endometriosis. This has been a difficult time in my life. I decided to write about my disease, with the hope that I can provide an informative read for those who might also have the same disease or know someone with it. I hope that it can help others to feel more informed about the procedure so they can mentally prepare more than I was able to. Part one can be found here.


THE WEEK BEFORE SURGERY

The week before my surgery date, I went to my doctor to fill out a pre-op form. There was no prep for this surgery, except I was suppose to stop eating and drinking at midnight before my surgery. I also had to make sure not to take any ibuprofen or supplements with willow/salix a week before surgery, as they are blood thinners. I had no idea what to expect or how to mentally prepare for this procedure.


HOW TO PREP FOR SURGERY  

  • remove all nail polish.
  • remove all jewelry and piercings.
  • go makeup free to the hospital
  • wear loose and baggy clothing to the hospital, ensure no high-waisted items are worn (very low-rise underwear and sweat pants).
  • buy cough candies (as your throat will hurt and get dry after surgery due to the tube they insert down your throat and the last thing you want is to have to cough after surgery).
  • ensure that you have lots of pads on hand (you cannot use tampons for a month afterward – nor will you want to. I recommend Natracare).
  • buy a laxative, as the medication and surgery will make it really difficult to go to the bathroom after, I recommend RestoraLAX as it is really gentle.
  • have lots of food around that is gentle on your stomach and high in liquids (soup, applesauce, smoothies, etc).
  • practice with the person who will be taking care of you how to help you in and out of bed – they should put their arm behind your back to lower you slowly with all your weight on their arm and then they should put their arm out when you want to get up so you can use your arm strength only to pull yourself up and then they will have to help you lift and lower your legs – basically find something that works for the both of you that requires no abdomen muscles. (If the surgery is just a searching procedure you probably will not need this level of help, however after having an invasive surgery I definitely needed someone to help me in and out of bed for 2 weeks after surgery).
  • have a bag full of stuff you’ll need, like a phone charger, soup, etc. ready for the day of surgery.

THE DAY OF SURGERY

The day of my surgery, I had to be at admitting at 8:00am. I was given my own bed in a room with someone else awaiting surgery that day as well. I was given a dress and a robe to change into – no bra or underwear allowed. Ask the nurse assigned to your room to provide you with a container or a bag to place items that need to be with you up until the surgery if needed (like eyeglasses). I had blood-work taken, then I laid in bed until 11:45am, when I was finally called for my surgery. I was so tired and hungry that this wait passed slowly, I recommend bringing a book or some form of entertainment. I was walked into a room right outside of the operation room where I had multiple professionals come and talk to me and ask if I had any questions. The whole time I was trying to suppress my emotions and rising anxiety as they explained the procedure and the risks associated with it. I had to sign some forms then I was walked into the operating room.

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  • SURGERY PROCEDURE

At this point, they removed my glasses so everything gets a little foggy (literally). I had about 8 people in the operating room to assist the surgeon with the procedure. I had an IV inserted then an oxygen mask placed over my nose and mouth. Everyone was very friendly and helped to make me feel as comfortable as I could possibly feel. They covered me in a heated blanket and then I was out.

For this next part, I am summarizing the operative procedure report that I received after surgery – just a warning, it gets pretty graphic.

After I was given a general anesthetic, I was positioned properly, sanitized and compression stockings were put on my legs. A catheter was inserted into my bladder and a speculum was placed into the vagina as the cervix was grasped with a tenaculum, then the cervix was dilated. A uterine manipulator was then inserted through the cervix and into the uterus. Then they inflated my uterus and lower abdomen with gas. 4 incisions were made, one in my bellybutton, 2 on my left side and one on my right side. The smaller incisions were about 5mm large, and the bellybutton incision was about an inch long. From here the surgeon inserted a camera and the tools they needed to manipulate the organs and remove the disease.

First the surgeon mobilized my bowels out of my pelvis, which helped to examine the organs. Here it was noticed that I had bilateral endometriomas and extensive adhesions tethering my ovaries to my pelvic sidewalls. My ovaries were observed to each be bigger than my uterus due to the endometriosis wrapped around them. My ovaries were mobilized and drained large amounts of endometriosis fluid which they suctioned out. Two ovarian cystectomies were performed. My cysts (that ranged from 6cm in size and smaller) were pierced and excised. The surgeon continued to cut out all of the endometriosis that tethered my organs to each other and my pelvic wall. Then very thick and nodular endometriosis was removed off of my bladder and ureters by blunt and sharp dissection. The surgeon then removed lots of endometriosis off of ligaments, internal cavities and made multiple other dissections to try and access and remove everywhere that the disease had spread. The surgeon had to use coagulation and Interceed in many areas due to the extensive amount of material that was removed. There is about 2 more pages detailing the rest of the procedures that were performed, however this is because I had a very severe case of endometriosis – so I will skip them. Then, the surgeon found a 2cm nodular cyst on my right bowel that she had to leave because it will require another surgery and a diverting colostomy, however she was able to remove the rest of my disease. Normal surgeries are 1 hour long, however mine was about 3 hours.


  • AFTER SURGERY

I remember waking up in recovery and getting asked how much pain I felt, on a scale from 1 to 10. It was definitely 10 but I said “6 or 7” because I knew that the amount of medication that they would give me would only make me feel worse later (more nauseous and groggy). I was in and out of it for a while. The next thing I remember is waking up back in the room, with the nurse giving me a cup of water. It was 4pm. My surgeon had left a handwritten note for me to read, which I greatly appreciated during that time. I slowly drank some water then fell asleep again. I woke up about an hour later and the nurse wanted me to try to pee. I cannot imagine what my face looked like as I looked up at her but I was horrified at the thought of having to move. I also knew I wasn’t going to be able to pee, however she was persistent. She put out her arm and I used my ARMS ONLY to get into a sitting position, which then she let me sit and told me to do some deep breathing. After 30 seconds, she helped me stand and I shuffled over to the toilet. I could not sit down due to the extreme pain so she had to lower me onto the toilet (at this point a burp just burst forth and she laughed and said that was normal and a good sign that my body was trying to expel the gas that was pumped into me). I could not pee, however there was a lot of blood. She gave me a pair of hospital underwear and a pad and helped me back to my bed.

The pain I felt after moving for the first time I will never forget. I have been through multiple surgeries in my life, and had to deal with severe endometriosis pain for 5 years, but never have I felt pain like that. I couldn’t help but cry out in pain after. It felt like someone was mixing my abdomen up with a knife then repeatedly stabbing it. This is the part I wish I could have mentally prepared for – I would suggest sitting down with yourself in front of a mirror a week or so before the surgery and just saying “I will be in extreme pain, but I will get through it, I will heal” or something… because that was hell. I laid still for some time and tried to eat some soup. Make sure that you only eat VERY LIGHT FOOD for the first 2-3 days after surgery. Lots of liquids and soup. This will ensure that you do not vomit and also will help to get your bowels moving again as well. At 8pm the nurse woke me up again and helped me to pee. I was finally able to pee, so I was sent home. The first few times you pee, you will feel a terrible burn – this is due to the catheter that was stuck up into the bladder. The drive home was painful (if you are the driver try to drive slow and avoid bumps). If you are helping someone who just had this surgery, please be gentle with them and be patient… I am going to say it again… patience is greatly appreciated during this time. 

I got all set up in my bed, I had about 6 or 7 stacked pillows so I could lay like I could in the hospital bed (you’re going to want to do this, as lying flat is not recommended for about 1-2 weeks after surgery). At 9pm I just laid there with tears falling down my face – I was having such a hard time processing everything, all the pain, all the fear and how much I felt like I couldn’t get through this. I stayed like that for about 3 hours, I think I was in shock and it was my body’s way of trying to cope.

Make sure while you are in a good state of mind that you (or someone else) writes down and organizes all of the times you need to take medication and the pain killers and set alarms ahead of time because you do not want to fall behind on taking them.

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WEEK 1 AFTER SURGERY 

Let me tell you, the entire week after my surgery was hell. It seemed like there was no improvements whatsoever as each day progressed. I want to reinstate the fact that I had a severe case and a lot of work done, so not everyone’s experience will be this bad. However, the take home points are:

  • do not sit up or lay down yourself, get someone to help you.
    • do not use your abs whatsoever, only use your arms to get you up and down.
  • When sitting up, or sitting in general, do not lean forward or crunch your stomach or hunch over in any way.
  • for the first week I only wore a nightgown and hospital underwear, so ensure that you have baggy t-shirts or a loose dress with loose underwear that you can wear for maximum comfort.
  • you will bleed for about a week after surgery, due to the uterine manipulator being inserted during surgery. As long as it is not very heavy, you do not need to worry (if you are filling a pad/hour go to your local emergency room).
  • While I slept, I would lay on my back and tuck my hands under my bum – just so there was no chance that while sleeping I would roll or that my arms would hit my incisions.
  • your body will try to get rid of all of the gas that was pumped into it, however it is way too painful to expel gas, so the only way you can help yourself is in-between napping, walk around for 5 minutes (I paced my living room) then I would sleep for a few hours and repeat. It helped to get the gas moving and it was easier to deal with when standing/walking.
    • speaking of gas, you will experience pain in your shoulders and shoulder blades, as that is trapped gas. Again, walking around very slowly is about all you should do during the first week – it will help.
  • take your medications on time.
  • Do not feel guilty about resting. Sleep as often and as much as you can. Lay around – as boring as it is. Do not push yourself – I got bored during week 2 after surgery and started to do things I should not have been doing and I herniated my bellybutton incision – a painful experience that I don’t want to happen to anyone.

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WEEK 2 AFTER SURGERY 

After 10 or 11 days I ran out of morphine to take, and my body went through a withdrawal period for 3 days afterward. I was really scared that I had gotten an infection, however I monitored my actual temperature and it stayed at 36.8ºC. I felt very cold then very hot, very nauseous, had bad headaches and got very angry and short tempered – it took 3 days for that to wear off.

Two weeks after surgery is when I came off a lot of my medication and I felt a little more raw. The pain and the emotions were more noticeable. I started to feel very sad, abandoned and lonely. The friends and family I thought would reach out to me didn’t, and I felt utterly and completely forgotten. I would just lay in bed in pain and wish someone would talk to me – I was so miserable. I think that maybe some people did not realize what I was going through, so they did not understand – however if you know someone who is going through this surgery – please reach out to them and ask if you can get them anything, or hang out with them, or even call them. It will be greatly appreciated as this time is a very emotionally draining experience.


WEEK 3 AFTER SURGERY

Standing for long periods of time was very difficult and walking was a slow procedure. I tried going to class for the first time and I found sitting very difficult and uncomfortable – I would come home and lay in bed for the rest of the day as I was so exhausted from that minimal activity. I still felt pain and was still a little bloated/swollen. I was so exhausted during this period that I was not myself during the times I had to be out or in class – I was grumpy and irritable and had little patience. I was so uncomfortable and tired and had no motivation to be involved with anything at this point.


FIRST PERIOD AFTER SURGERY

The first time I got my period after surgery, I was so upset because for the first time I was starting to feel a tiny bit better – then my period knocked me out for a week. Expect a very heavy flow with lots of clots (TMI I know…but apparently it is normal). It was very painful, and the pain actually spread into my hips, thighs, abdomen and chest. The first 2 days I actually could not go to school. It lasted 9 days and I spent most of it lying in bed with a hot pack and extra-strength Tylenol.


3 MONTHS AFTER SURGERY

Here I am, writing this three months after my surgery. I am still insanely exhausted and my immune system is very low. My surgeon told me to expect waiting 5-6 months after surgery to get my energy levels back. I am finally able to move around more and wear jeans. I have started physical therapy twice a week because the surgeon and physical therapist discovered that after my surgery, my body went into shock and my organs went still and all of my surrounding muscles freaked out as well. I see two physical therapists each week, one who specializes in working with my uterus and pelvic floor health and another one who helps me with everything else (correcting my posture that I had adapted to feel less pain, learning how to properly use my muscles in the surrounding areas, and ensuring safe movement with my hernia). Physical therapy is a HUGE help – highly recommended (but expensive – so save up before surgery).

Every night I put some oil on my incisions and gently rub them – this is to make the scar tissue more malleable. I do the gentle exercises my physical therapists have told me to do each day and I try to sleep as much as I can. I still sometimes feel pain or an uncomfortable feeling in my abdomen, which is to be expected. School is difficult as my energy levels are still quite low, but I am managing. Each week I heal more, and each day I realize how proud I am of myself for getting through the most difficult thing I have gone through in my life.


CURRENT TREATMENT

The current “treatment” I am on is to take CYCLEN every single day until I reach menopausal age. Taking this pill every single day is suppose to stop me from getting periods ever again – however, instead I have been spotting every single day for the past month and a half. I also think this is the worst kind of “treatment” because women with Endometriosis have too much estrogen in their bodies and there is nothing being done too deal with this excess amount of estrogen. I am worried about this treatment – it troubles me daily. I will make sure to write up updated post if/when my treatment changes.


Here is the end of this very lengthy post – if you have made it to the end, thank you for taking your time to read this. It is my hope that awareness is spread about this disease and that a better treatment is found. Part one of this post can be found here.

– Tiara