A New Decade, New Beginnings
I’ve heard so many friends bemoaning the fact that they are turning thirty, “getting old”, in their minds. When I turned thirty this year my husband teased me about it and the fact that I seem to be needing my glasses a little more often. I laugh it off and tell anyone who will listen that I think being thirty is great! I really do. Being where I am as I start this new decade is light years from where I was just a few years ago.
I met my husband when I was twenty one, there’s a good fifteen years between us, and that works for us. We share a love of history and actually met at a historical reenactment. I didn’t know it at the time but I was starting to experience the symptoms of a condition that would totally and completely change my life. I had always been a bit of a tomboy, I rode horses, bikes and was extremely active. At the time I met my husband I was facing the fact that college sports injury had changed my path in life, a career in an active profession might not be an option anymore. I knew that I had to find a new path and my husband has always encouraged to me in this. It was about a year before our wedding that I started experiencing problems. I had been volunteering at a local rescue stable and, after a riding lesson I had taken, I came down with what I thought was a stomach bug, but this bug lasted a week.
After several trips to the doctor and one colonoscopy(an experience I wish I had never had) I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Great, lots of people have IBS, it’s manageable, I’ll just avoid a few foods and take a medication…..not a big deal. Was I ever wrong!!! The symptoms continued to get worse and worse. Just a few months after our wedding I was hospitalized. I was now twenty four. I couldn’t keep anything in, my insides were cramping so badly that the doctors originally thought I had appendicitis and after that a miscarriage(neither was the case). Five days were spent in the hospital, hooked up to fluids while they tried and failed to figure out what was going on. That was when my Mom dropped a bombshell. She looked at the doctor and asked “Could it be endometriosis? I was diagnosed with it after my last pregnancy and it seems to mirror her symptoms”. I was floored. I had only ever heard the word “endometriosis” whispered between grown women when I was a child. It was a ‘woman’s problem’ that no one ever talked about much. The woman afflicted with this condition was to be pitied, but I had no idea why.
Treatment of endometriosis is still vague. For me there was no “official” diagnosis, not right away at least.. I was put on birth control and told to take them consistently, ignoring the little placebo pills. The idea was to suppress my menstrual cycle to control the hormones that are believed to trigger endometriosis. This was about as effective as the medications for IBS had been. For a few more years we tried different medications and I continued to get worse. I was unable to eat anything other than white foods (bananas, chicken, pasta, pancakes, etc) so I had to take a lot of supplements. By this point I could hardly stand the pain. IBS attacks where happening every week. I finally put my foot down and demanded a surgery to officially diagnose and hopefully remove the endometriosis. We were finally making progress!!
I had my first surgery in 2008. I woke up after only to be informed that they had performed the surgery, saw that I did indeed have endometriosis but hadn’t bothered to remove it because, and I quote, “The surgeon who was supposed to perform the removal didn’t show up.” WHAAAT??? I was floored. They had put me through a very painful abdominal surgery simply to ‘take a look around’??? They told me that scar tissue caused by the endometriosis had attached my bowel to my abdominal wall….this was the major source of my pain and IBS attacks. The fact that they had completed the surgery without detaching that scar tissue demoralized me. My pain only got worse. By this time I could hardly walk the dog without running for the bath room. I was loosing weight without trying, in fact I was close to 108 lbs at this point. I could hardly bear to sit in the car for more than a half hour. I looked sick and the people who had once doubted that this wasn’t all in my head began to comment on it. Finally, in 2009, less than a year after my first surgery, my primary care physician found out that the surgery hadn’t been completed the first time. After an explosion of anger that I have never seen from him before or since he contacted an endometriosis specialist and a second surgery, extremely successful this time, happened within the month. It was AMAZING!! I could tell the difference immediately, although it took years (three to be precise) for my body to adjust and feel like it actually belonged to me again.
How did what I call my ‘downtime’ change me? Since I was not physically capable of holding down a job I used the time to educate myself. I got a certificate in Interior Decorating, I watched movies I hadn’t ever seen, read magazines I used to bypass. As a child I had loved fashion and pretty clothes, but my parents being very religious, discouraged me from exploring clothing that was fashionable, preferring a more modest style. My husband calls it “gunny sacks masquerading as oversized t-shits, baggy skirts and dresses that belong on a granny.” Or, in my words, the epitome of frumpy. I began to explore fashion, both historical and modern. My former love began to resurface a little bit at a time. It wasn’t that I had forgotten about fashion, it was more that I didn’t think it applied to me, it was out of reach, something that looked great on others but wasn‘t something I could participate in. I taught myself to sew clothing and found that I had a talent for it. I also began to start the process of changing my look. I started with my hair, it had always be long with ragged ends and flat as a pancake. I experimented with bangs and highlights and have finally found a stylist that knows what to do with it! I discovered what styles of clothing I liked and am finally beginning to figure out how to really put together an outfit. Fashion, lifestyle and the search for beauty in world around me have become my passion. I am a shutter bug, taking pictures, mostly of architecture, landscapes and intriguing scenes.
Now, as I enter my 30s, I am a new woman. I am wiser, I am stronger, I am happier and I have a different outlook on life. Before I was scared, not knowing which way to go. Now I know where I want to go and who I want to be. I am exhilarated to be 30!! I can finally start a career, I know what I want to go to school for. I can actually consider having children now. I don’t know where my thirties are going to take me, but I am so very excited to find out!!
Becky Kinney is from Central Pennsylvania and is passionate about raising awareness for Endometriosis. She aspires to become a personal stylist one day, but is currently making hand sewn historical clothing for re-enactors. Living in Great Britain as child fostered a deep love of that country and Europe in general. She loves to travel and does not get to do so often enough. Her Chocolate Lab, Ike, is one of her favorite ‘people’ and his antics never cease to amuse. She has just begun a blog: http//insearchoflovely.blogspot.com, a lifestyle blog talking about fashion, food, interior design and the beauty to be found in everyday life. She has dreams of one day attending Drexel University’s Fashion Program.