As an endo-warrior, you learn to read signs and symptoms of pain as it encroaches from a distance. At first it might be difficult but as you ‘get used’ to the seasons of this debilitating disease and understand your body, you can monitor and pinpoint the triggers that bring about your pain. The symptoms of this ailment are as vast and different as the number of women it affects. And for each woman, the pain triggers and intensity differ from the next warrior. But a few may be common with a larger group although each woman is her own best physician – you have to try out what works best for you. And when you get it, stay by it. So what are these triggers that cut across?
Stress & Anxiety
Stress and anxiety top the list of pain triggers. I realize stress is inevitable in the world we live in today. However, it is not so much how we can avoid stress, because that is almost impossible to do, but the issue is how to contain it to manageable levels. Stress is virtually everywhere. It is at work with the pressure of deadlines, in schools with the emphasis on performance, at home with balancing relationships, on the road, in the mall…….everywhere.
Endometriosis brings a lot of anxiety in the lives of the warrior and her loved ones. There is financial anxiety due to the high cost of treatment, there is anxiety when faced with different decision on the course of treatment and especially when hospitalization and surgery are involved, there is a lot of anxiety if there is infertility looming in the shadows, there is anxiety of what tomorrow holds and what the consequences would mean for your loved ones – the list is endless but we keep soldiering on. These numerous issues causing anxiety coupled with the daily stresses everyone else is going through can and will usually take a toll on an endo-warrior. So how do we avoid succumbing to stress?
Well, for starters we must remind ourselves of the power we hold within us. Our minds are powerful instruments and can determine our success or failure in anything we aspire for. Attitude makes a big difference to our outlook on life and circumstances and determines how well we respond to outside forces. Every moment in your life, you have two choices to make with what is thrown your way – either to use it against yourself or for your own good. For instance, I have days when the pain is completely unbearable. A while back I would beat myself up for being such a ‘failure’ – for succumbing to pain and being unproductive. But I realized that even if I got up and struggled through a task, it was really counterproductive. Neither was I accomplishing much on the task nor was I doing my body any justice. So now I have learnt to love me better – if it is beyond bearable, take a break, rest, sleep. And amazingly after the nap, if the pain has subsided, I could sit up and read a book or laugh away a comedy. The choice is in our hands….okay, head.
The other way to deal with stress is to ensure that we have a good support network. Have people who are close to you understand your symptoms and what you require of them in your lowest moments. Be open about what works for you and let them give you the necessary support and love during these moments. And in your pain free moments, remember to reciprocate, give of your time and love to them.
You could also create regimens that ensure life’s stresses do not take a toll on your body, your health and mind. Get rituals that relax you and rejuvenate you leaving you feeling fresh and new. You could take a mini vacation – one that needs no elaborate travel plans, it could be by curling up with a good book, going to the spa, taking time off from everyone at your favourite eatery or nature park or simply just soaking yourself in the tub at home with a few scented candles.
Look for things that bring you laughter and joy. Have a drink out with friends, go dancing or listen to your favourite music. Go to church or meditate on the word of God in a secluded quiet time – you know yourself best so get doing that which reminds you that life isn’t that serous after all.
When the rest of the world says they are on diet and eating healthy, we do not necessarily concur. Other peoples healthy might be our poison. For example most people will leave out the white bread and go for the healthier ‘whole meal’ one. While this is great for them it is nowhere near healthy for us. Anything filled with gluten just begs the pain to sprint back at you.
Endo-warriors must avoid anything in this categories of food – red meat (unless it is from free range animals), gluten, dairy products, coffee, alcohol and soya among others. The issue on diet is wide and I cannot claim authority to cover it conclusively. For more information click the link below for a comprehensive endometriosis diet. http://www.endo-resolved.com/diet.html
Lack of Exercise
Exercise is important for everybody but more crucial for anyone with a chronic condition. Our bodies were made for movement and actually crave it. Exercise strengthens our heart, joints and prevents diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. With chronic illneses you must also avoid excessive weight as this tends to complicate your issues further. Although most people prefer vigorous and intense exercises, endo-warriors are advised to engage in regular but less strenuous exercises, and for shorter periods of time.
Just like everyone has a different pain trigger, we are all attracted to different types of exercise. It is advisable to go with the one that you most enjoy so that you look forward to doing it and get disciplined at doing it regularly. I love to dance to good music and even if I might not go clubbing I will walk to it or dance away in my bedroom till am dripping of sweat.
For more information on why exercise is important for you please follow the following link. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389
A lot of the medication that is used to regress the growth and spread of endometriosis has adverse side effects on our bodies. Besides the temporary ones such as nausea, weight fluctuation, migraines among others, some of the medication eats away on your calcium levels and bone density and if used over a long period could lead to osteoporosis. Intake of calcium supplements and foods rich in calcium is aided by sunshine and vitamin D.
For the longest time, I did not comprehend why I needed to take a shower just to warm, actually burn my knees and joints. They felt cold and had a numb pain until I got into a hot shower and I felt relieved. That is when I realized that my body was craving Vitamin D and sunshine because of the depletion in calcium after long years of being on the endometriosis treatment.
Get some sunshine girls, it feels great and it help build your bones.
I might not have exhausted all the triggers on this article. Please share what I might have missed out in the comments below and how you have been able to counter the particular trigger.
As always, looking forward to hearing from you.