Breanna Rose on Endometriosis
This week is interesting, in that as founder of OHH, I’m the one in the interviewee seat. My journey with endometriosis and holistic healing have both led me to this space, for which I am unbelievable grateful. This is my ever unfolding story.
What was your childhood like? I grew up in a typical midwestern suburb called Eagan, Minnesota. My parents were (and are) married, my brother and I didn’t really fight (except for a few times on the tennis court), and our neighborhood was full of kids my age. We played capture the flag, filmed homemade infomercials, had mini me American Girl dolls, and could absolutely hear the ice cream truck coming from more than a block away.
I was the kind of kid who followed the rules, did what was expected, and got really good grades. There are five capricorns in my birth chart, after all. ;) But I was also extremely sensitive, something I thought was wrong and tried to hide. In fact, until the age of 27(ish), I unknowingly lived with high functioning anxiety. I say high functioning because I could shove those emotions way the hell down and get shit done.
I’m skipping a lot, but how do you sum up such a large part of your life? There were road trips with family (I’ve driven across Montana at least four times), cards around the dinner table, twelve years of piano lessons (my best outlet), weeks spent with Grandma Bea, probably a thousand boxes of macaroni and cheese, only one school dance (prom, with my now husband Michael), friendships rocked to their core, and so much more. As life goes, you grow and explore, especially while young.
My upbringing was certainly sheltered and privileged. But it was also strong and solid, a safe haven for me as I explored what it felt like to live in this complicated little world.
“at its best, it felt like i ate too much for lunch. at its worst, it felt as though someone had stabbed me through the abdomen and set everything on fire. and i think i’m still downplaying it.”
How did you discover that you had endometriosis? I went on birth control when I was 17 years old because of painful cramps. My doctor told me that if I went on the pill, I’d be fine. It wasn’t until 10 years later, at the age of 27, that I decided to come off because 1) could the pill be playing a part in my anxiety? and 2) did I really want to be on the same medication for 10 years? Either way, I wanted to find out.
And so I came off, and for one month, nothing changed. What happened next was a slow unfolding of symptoms. First, there was cystic acne. Tons of it. Then, I realized how abnormally long my cycles were (60+ days). Next, fatigue. And finally, pain. So much pain. Most women are taught from a young age that getting your period is annoying. That there’ll be general discomfort, mood swings, etc. etc. So for awhile, I thought this was par for the course. But my anxiety was better(ish), so I figured I’d take one for team Bre and just deal with it.
About one year in, I had my annual physical and brought all of this up with my doctor. She told me that I was probably just anovulatory, and that I should go back on the pill to avoid cramping. She also hinted at infertility, telling me that when the time came for kids, there were other drugs I could take to make it happen. This felt … counterintuitive, on a very deep and personal level. And so I did what any good millennial would do, and consulted the internet. PCOS was my first guess, endometriosis my second. I started listening to podcasts and in particular, found Jessica Murnane’s show to be both helpful and educational. I learned how difficult it is to get diagnosed with endometriosis (10 years on average!). And that technically, doctors don’t know unless they perform a laparoscopic surgery revealing specific endometrial tissue.
I chose to say off the pill, wanting to get to the root cause. And finally, after advocating for myself, was granted an ultrasound wherein they discovered two endometrioma cysts. This was enough for a specialist to diagnose me, and a surgery for removal to be scheduled. In the four(ish) month wait before surgery, my pain got insanely worse and occurred more often. At its best, it felt like I ate too much for lunch. At its worst, it felt as though someone had stabbed me through the abdomen AND set everything on fire. And I think I’m still downplaying it. There was no pattern, and this alone made it difficult to do anything. So I started planning my life around endo, not wanting to be away from home “just in case.” It was the deepest pain and the darkest days of my life, most of which I kept secret from those around me, not wanting to make anyone feel uncomfortable.
On the day before surgery, I woke up in an unusual amount of pain. I got myself downstairs and warmed up a heating pad while lying in fetal position on the kitchen floor. I don’t remember getting myself to the couch, but I did. All I could do was breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. And when the pain didn’t subside, I called my parents, as my husband was stranded in an airport because of a blizzard. The second my mom walked through the door, it’s almost as if my body knew it could let go. Sheer pain radiated from the center of my body and spread. Panicked, my mom called 911 as I collapsed on the bathroom floor. I would later learn this pain to be an ovarian torsion, which occurs when an ovary twists around the ligaments that hold it in place. And yes, it f*cking hurts as much (or more) as you’d think.
I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, where I had emergency surgery. They removed a cyst the size of a grapefruit, but weren’t able to save the ovary and fallopian tube it was attached to. I have another cyst on my right ovary, but there wasn’t enough time to remove it.
Upon waking, I was told that I had “stage four” and that endometriosis is “incurable.” I’ll never forget my doctor’s face, grim as can be. I was afraid and annoyed and so incredibly frustrated. Which was, the beginning of a rebirth.
“i now have a daily protocol that i follow and over time, have watched every single symptom of endo fade away. so much so that i no longer personally identity with the dis-ease.”
What healing modalities have been the most helpful for you? So many. But first, some back story. The first two weeks post surgery were routine. I was sore and drugged up, with a lineup of tv shows that kept me entertained. The opioids made me nauseous, and after a week, I decided to stop taking everything cold turkey, figuring I could handle any amount of pain. Turns out, I could. And I was finally able to down food (an entire pizza) for what felt like the first time in forever, too. The part that got me, though, was my inability to move around. My husband and I would go for walks, but I’d only make it one house over before I had to sit down and rest.
At this point, for lack of a better word, I was rage-y. So much so that I googled “how to release negative emotions” and stumbled upon an article by Amy B. Scher. She spoke about energy healing and EFT (tapping) and things I had never really heard about. But she had YouTube videos showing how to do it, so I followed along, intuitively swapping the words she was saying with my own. Releasing releasing releasing.
The next day, I walked for two miles straight. I repeat, TWO. MILES. A big difference from having to rest every minute or so just the day prior. It was then that everything changed, opening me up completely to a world of holistic healing.
Besides EFT, I resurrected my yoga and meditation ritual, practicing as often as I could. I got serious about eating real, whole food (vegetarian and gluten / dairy / refined sugar / soy free) and decreased stress by cutting back on work by 50%. I also got into Human Design, bought a Tarot deck, started learning astrology, journaled, and in general, experienced a much needed return to self.
Eight months after surgery, I was introduced to a technique called MFT (morphogenic field technique). Through muscle testing, my practitioner was able to identify what health problems were weakening my energetic field, potentially expressing as endometriosis. And for me, that was poor blood flow, parasites, and toxic levels of heavy metals (lead). Knowing this, she was then able to muscle test me again to identity nutritional, herbal, and homeopathic remedies that would strengthen my energetic field.
I now have a daily protocol that I follow and over time, have watched every single symptom of endo fade away. So much so that I no longer personally identity with the dis-ease.
photo by emily alexander
“just 2 years ago, i was eating pop tarts and easily working 40+ hours a week. now, i’m an entirely different person in every single way. how i eat, how i breathe, how i sleep, how i communicate. it’s all different.”
Are there any challenges that you have experienced? Endometriosis, for the most part, is an invisible illness. I could have been more open about what I was going through, but was more or less too exhausted to figure out a way to properly communicate my experience. So … I didn’t. And because of this, my friends and family truly did not know what I was going through. It was incredibly isolating.
Since then, it’s been difficult at times to work through so much change in a short amount of time. Just 2 years ago, I was eating pop tarts and easily working 40+ hours a week. Now, I’m an entirely different person in every single way. How I eat, how I breathe, how I sleep, how I communicate. It’s all different. And I’m still integrating this new way of being into my everyday life, which requires a little more patience than perhaps I currently have. ;)
How can the people in your life best support you during and beyond healing? The five love languages come to mind for this: words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch. Everyone is different, but I’m an acts of services kind of person. If someone made me a meal I could actually eat or picked up around the house when I couldn’t get off the couch, I just about lost it in thanks.
If you know someone who prefers physical touch or quality time, a hug, or even a Netflix marathon, could be the very best offering. And for words of affirmation or gifts, an unexpected note could put the biggest smile on their face. Anything to remind them they’re not alone … that’s exactly where you start.
“my life’s purpose is to show others that healing is possible.”
How are you feeling these days? While my story is still unfolding, I’m happy to report that I feel so (so) good. And more than anything, I’m thankful that endometriosis came into my life. Because without it, I wouldn’t have woken up. I wouldn’t have known what it feels like to follow your heart and lean in to your truest self. My life’s purpose is to show others that healing is possible. It’s why I created Our Healing House and it’s why I continue to share my story. And for that, I am so unbelievably grateful.
Everything that I would recommend can be found on the OHH resources page. It’s an in-depth list of the tools that I have and continue to use throughout my journey of healing. For resources that are endo specific, I would recommend:
Know Your Endo. Jessica Murnane has created a wonderful community for endometriosis awareness. The “ask a doctor” page is great.
For detoxing your home of toxic products, especially those that come in contact with your body, I suggest reading “Skin Cleanse” by Adina Grigore. I don’t wear much makeup, but when I do, I use Root. For skin care, Primally Pure (especially their deodorant!). And for cleaning products, I usually use vinegar and water, or anything by Seventh Generation.
Minimalist Baker, Loveleaf Co., Love & Lemons, The First Mess, and One Part Plant taught me how to eat real, whole food. The anti-inflammatory “diet” is widely suggested for endo, and for good reason. But like anything, I always suggest finding what feels right for your body.
For pain management, give orgonites a try. We’ll have an interview about them soon, but for now, know that I put one in my pocket at all times and it 100% has helped combat any minimal flair up.
You can read the interview about MFT that accompanies Bre’s story right here.