Featured Inspirational Woman Guest Post – Jackie Atkinson
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had painful periods and I grew up thinking it was normal. It wasn’t til I was 25 and had to have a laparoscopy to remove a large cyst that I discovered I suffered from endometriosis. My first lap was in 2005. Fast forward to 2008, I married my best friend and we wanted to start a family of our own. Sounds easy, right? Not so much. We have struggled to conceive for 7 years – undergoing various fertility treatments, me having a second laparoscopy to burn off endometriosis, 8 IUIs, hundreds of blood draws and shots, 2 IVFs and 1 miscarriage.
Following my miscarriage, I fell into a deep depression. I truly hated life and my body. I was so sick all the time and very overweight. I knew something had to change in my life. It was in the spring of 2014 when a fellow EndoSister, Meredith Gersten, reached out to me and asked me to join a group focused on health and fitness. I accepted because I knew I needed it. This is where my journey really took a turn. I began to eat healthier – eliminating soy, gluten and dairy from my diet. I added in a daily dose of Shakeology and exercise to my life. At first, I hated the exercise – I was woefully out of shape – but after about 5 weeks, I fell in love with it as I began to lose weight and feel better. It was at this point I decided this was how I was going to overcome my endometriosis and infertility. (Yes, there is no cure for endometriosis, but I knew I could manage my pain and symptoms with these changes.) I signed on to be a BeachBody Coach – the same as the EndoSister who had reached out to me, in order that I might be able to help others while I moved along my journey, and also so I could stay accountable to my own journey.
It has now been over a year since I began my journey, and along the way I have improved all aspects of my life. I have lost 40 lbs, I have energy, I am happy and I laugh a lot. I have more wonderful friends. I help others every day. I underwent a second IVF during this journey, but it did not work out. Instead of falling back in to a depression, I came back out fighting – determined to still overcome somehow! I dove back in to my workouts and healthy eating. I kept helping others. I enjoyed time with my family.
And I also found my way to a wonderful Endometriosis Excision surgeon – Dr. Martin Robbins in Maine. With the help of another amazing EndoSister, Casey Berna, I contacted Dr. Robbins and began the process of setting up surgery with him. I instantly felt this was the path I was meant to head down. My surgery was set for April 10, 2015. My husband, stepson and I travelled to Portland, Maine all the way from West Virginia, via car. It was a very long trip, but worth every moment.
On the day of my surgery, I was under anesthesia for around 8 hours while Dr. Robbins performed numerous procedures on me – excising endometriosis from so many places in my body, removing my appendix, removing fibroids and smoothing my uterus, suspending my ovaries and performing a presacral neurectomy. After surgery, I was able to go back to my hotel and rest. The next day, I was up and walking – I went to the beach and out to lunch. I felt wonderful, even though I was in some post-surgery pain and tired. Dr. Robbins reviewed my surgery with me and showed me photos of my endometriosis. He commented that I most likely now had an 80% chance of conceiving on my own!! In my wildest dreams I could never believe that!
So I came home, and healed from surgery for 6 weeks – with zero endometriosis pain and adding in gentle exercise here and there. I started my first cycle since surgery on May 9, 2015 and I was amazed. I had never had a cycle with absolutely zero pain! It was wonderful. Dr. Robbins’ words were always in the back of my mind, so my husband and I decided that we would try to conceive naturally for the first time in forever, never really thinking it would work so soon. But guess what? I AM PREGNANT! Naturally – for the first time ever! I feel overjoyed and blessed! All my hard work for a year has paid off in the best way! I’ve overcome my endometriosis pain AND I have overcome my infertility! Never give up on your dreams!
Jackie and I met at the Worldwide March for Endometriosis in Washington DC as a bunch of us gathered for breakfast. I was, and continue to be, captured by her infectious positivity. I couldn’t be more excited to share her story, and to hear that she is expecting! A BIG CONGRATS!!! xoxo
You can follow Jackie here!! —>
Instagram – @FitInfertile