Body Beyond Image
The Blog.jpg

The Blog

I'm here to share my story and experiences with you woman to woman. I am not a doctor or therapist. Some of the posts are just my advice and/or what I was taught through the Psychology of Eating's Certification program. 


 

 

Welcome to the Blog!

I'm here to share my story and experiences with you, woman to woman. I am not a doctor or therapist. Some of the posts are just my advice and/or what I was taught through the Psychology of Eating's Certification program. A lot of them are every day experiences.

If you have a similar story or experience with food and body I'd love to hear! Comments and emails are welcome about whatever you feel like sharing. 

 
Hi I'm Heather McAlister! I am a fighter, a survivor, and a mother. All of these things in my life have led me on a great journey to becoming the woman I am today.

Hi I'm Heather McAlister! I am a fighter, a survivor, and a mother. All of these things in my life have led me on a great journey to becoming the woman I am today.


Appreciating Deep Scars

 

About three weeks ago I had surgery on my lower abdomen and I thought I would write about how surgery and the scars that come with it can cause some insecurities, but that's not how I felt after my surgery. I had some expectations that it would be physically hard before I went through with it, but there were some things that I was not expecting after.

This has literally been the longest three weeks of my life. They have mainly been so long because I wasn't allowed to drive for two weeks. That alone was hard for me because I felt like my freedom had been taken away from me leaving me feeling trapped alone at home with my thoughts. Now I understand why my grandfather was so upset when he was told he could no longer drive his car. Your freedom completely gets thrown out the door. 

Back to the surgery and why I had to have it. I have known that I've had a fibroid attached to my uterus for a little over five years, and I was told when they found it that it could have been there longer because of its size. It has caused so many hormonal and physical issues and has only gotten bigger as the years have gone by. 

If you've never heard of a fibroid, it is a noncancerous muscle mass (or tumor) that can grow outside the uterus, inside the uterine walls, or even on the inside of the uterus. Mine was on the outside attached to a step growing off of my uterus. That always weirded me out! 

I found out I had one when I was pregnant when I went to my first ultrasound back in 2012. They had told me that it should have been found when I had my yearly pelvic exams. I actually went to the doctor every six months because I had a lot of lady issues when I was younger so, it naturally upset me that this could have been discovered earlier. My symptoms should have also raised suspicion that something was going on, but no one ever caught on I guess. 

At this point, there was nothing I could do because I was pregnant. I was told that fibroids feed off of estrogen naturally causing it to grow larger since I was pregnant, but that I had nothing to worry about. And my pregnancy was fine besides some side pains where my fibroid was and the placenta was abnormally shaped. No one ever said it, but I think that my son's death partially had something to do with the fact that I was pregnant and had a large fibroid dangling from my uterus.

Fast forward to a year after I had my son and his passing. I started having physical issues with my fibroid. I knew that it was sitting on my bladder, no one needed to point that out. I constantly had to pee and I would get up several times in the night to relieve myself. I also had issues with the other. I did not poop every day, sometimes longer! I didn't know until my pre-op appointment with the surgeon that it was also pressing on my colon. Explained soooo much!

These bathroom issues only grew worse every year. I even got to where I was having some physical pains and when it was that time of the month I would swell and couldn't fit into my pants. I always like to try holistic forms of healing first, but I think Freddie the fibroid was to the point of no return. 

Now coming back to the present. I had just quit my job in April and was determined to have a year to try out my hand at starting my own business, as well as getting my health back on track. So, I found a doctor that specializes in surgically removing fibroids. I went in thinking I could just have the more non-invasive surgery done, but I was devastated when she told me that it was too large for that surgery and that she would have to cut me open. 

I couldn't believe it, this is not what I wanted to have done! I immediately started crying and left the office feeling scared and like I had failed myself for not doing something sooner. I cried and frantically tried to find other ways that I could shrink my fibroid but again, I knew that it was at a point where that wasn't going to happen. 

I didn't schedule the surgery right away because I felt so upset about it, but I didn't understand why I was so devastated by having this surgery. I would tell myself that it's the same as having a C-Section and women do it all the time with no issues. But I realized when I thought about it, that's why it bothered me so much. 

When I was at the hospital in labor with my son, everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. The moment I got there I got a feeling that this wasn't going to happen, that I would not be able to be a mother. His heart rate was very low the entire time I was in labor, but everyone said, "It's fine." The fact that the placenta was flat and misshapen or that I had a fibroid was never looked at by the nurses, and it felt like, not even the doctor.

What needed to happen that night was an emergency C-Section because everything, the fibroid, his heart rate dropping, and several other things all factored into cutting off his oxygen supply (which I found out later). But what did they do? Pumped me with more medication that made his heart rate drop even lower, even making mine drop, and letting me labor for twelve hours. He never had a chance. 

I realized I was angry that I had to have this surgery that could have been done to save my son's life and now they wanted to do it on me to take something out that wasn't my son. It doesn't make much sense, but even though there was this gross mass on my uterus, I felt I needed to protect it (my uterus that is). I didn't want anyone to touch it because why the hell do they care now and they didn't then. It was all psychological, and understandable because that night was very traumatic for me. 

I took some time to acknowledge why I was so upset about it and had to tell myself it's in the past and I need to focus on why I'm getting it removed. Because it's causing me physical issues and I don't ever want to be pregnant with this or any other fibroid again. So, I calmed down a bit. I also had to prepare myself for what I knew would happen in the hospital. 

Since I lost my son, I can't always go to the doctors' office or a hospital without having a panic attack. I never know when they are going to occur. I still have them five years after losing my baby. I had one when I went to see my sister at the hospital after she had her twins this year. I was so excited and wanted to be there for her and her husband that it never once crossed my mind when I walked through those doors. I was in her room for five minutes and it took me back to that night. I lost it. I was so embarrassed but luckily, I have a very supportive and loving family that cried with me. Even my sister. 

But when I had my surgery that never happened, at least not how I was expecting it would. Oh, I had a panic attack alright. I had several, but it was because when they would give me meds it would make my blood pressure drop and slow my breathing. With that and the fact that my abdomen was swollen, I felt I couldn't catch my breath. The moment I woke up, I panicked and the nurses' responses were less than sympathetic. When I got home from the hospital I had another panic attack.

I have always had issues with anxiety, but have been able to control when I felt an attack come on. I realized that now I have no control over when an attack happens and it scared me because this is not something that I wanted to lose control of in public. I'm mean I'll be honest, I even get embarrassed when I have a panic attack in front of my family. 

Then, almost a week after my surgery it hit me. I woke up one morning and felt a feeling I haven't felt in years, I felt depressed. Not just a little sad because I couldn't do anything after being cut open, I was in a dark place. It took me back to a time when I was at a low point and didn't know how to get out. It wasn't like when I lost my son, but it had been so long since I had been depressed and it was so abrupt that it really surprised me. I don't even know how to explain it either except that it's just like a panic attack in that you have absolutely no control over it. 

I have no idea if this is a normal occurrence after surgery, no one tells you what's going to happen after, not even if it's something normal. But even if someone had told me it was "normal," it wouldn't have changed the fact that I felt very alone.

Though I'm still working through this low point, I have realized some things going on with me that I did not realize before. The anxiety has made it known that it is not just something that I can control on my own and I will need to address that, but there is something else I have realized about myself, that is about who I am today. 

Going through the surgery and this spout of depression I've realized that everything that I've been through up to this point has taught me to not ignore when I do need to take action. When I lost my son that was for sure when I was at my lowest, I had hit rock bottom. But I could have done a few things that were heavy on my mind at the time. I could have stayed in that low place hating the world and how horrible it is, I could have just ended my life (which I briefly considered), or I could still live, be happy and choose to make myself a better person. 

I, of course, chose the third option and as sad as it may seem I truly believe that was my son's legacy, to make me a better person and to be there for others. I had always been a sad person before stuck in a cycle of "bad luck" and blaming it on the world. When I decided to work on who I wanted to be in this life, I had nothing to lose, I had already lost it all.

I was forced to face the things that hurt me the most in order to be able to move past them. And because I faced them head is what lead me to have love and respect for myself, something that I had never had for myself before. It is possible to get through the shittiest of things life throws at you, but you have to be willing to allow yourself to love yourself through it. 

Because of all the hard shit, I am able to love myself by sitting back and not ignoring but listening to what issue is making itself known, even if I don't understand it. This is why I have chosen the path that I have, to help women understand that they have what they need inside of them to get through whatever shit life has thrown at them. 

Yes, I would rather have had my baby boy here with me, but even though he isn't here doesn't mean he hasn't taught me anything. I've learned so much from him and he's shown me who I truly am and who I'm meant to be.

I know this has been a long post and I hope I haven't lost you in my story here. But what I'm trying to tell you with all of this is that instead of looking at our hard times or our low points as horrible things, we should look at them as opportunities to learn from and grow through. Life is not meant to be easy in any way! Life is constantly teaching us and making us stronger humans so that we can live better lives and help others to live better lives. At least that's what what I believe. That's what life has shown me to be true.