First off this is a tough blog for me to write. I have been wanting to do it for a while and have not posted anything in a while because this is the post that I knew I wanted to post next. I have drafted about 1o of these in the past few months and this specific one has taken me about a week to pump out but here it is!
Here is the deal, I have endo and I started getting sick way before I was even diagnosed. I don’t talk about the details, plenty of people know that I have it because it does affect my life but only a very few select people know what is actually going on with me and they are the people who won’t view me as weak, not capable, and don’t give me a lot of sympathy, they are the people who encourage me to get after it and keep kicking the worlds ass. I don’t mind a little sympathy every now and again but to be honest I don’t like getting it, I want people to understand the issues I deal with but also just simply encourage me.
This post is being written for all of the ladies (and/or their partners) who are feeling lost, scared, and not sure what the hell is going on with them. In this post you will hear my story, hopefully some solutions, and also hear how endo has become one of the best things to ever happen to me! When I was first diagnosed I was really scared and alone, it has taken me a while to get where I am, mentally and physically. It has been an adventurous road with a lot of pot holes. I just dont let the set backs hold me back, and where it has gotten me is much further than I ever imagined.
I was 20 when I was diagnosed but I was 16 when it started to get in the way of my life. Because of my age and the fact that I was “fit” no one thought anything was wrong with me. It took me passing out while running for the millionth time to have a physicians assistant point out that I might be dealing with these issues. A few months later it turns out she was right. Stage 4 endo….everywhere. Ok, so what do I do now? I hit the internet and searched high and low. It seemed like nothing was out there except some support groups. I tried joining a couple and I HATED IT. I got on there and everyone was talking about how miserable they were and how horrible their lives were. Before I knew it I was thinking the same way. Granted, it is awesome to go and bitch and moan about how shitty it can be but I started to realize that no one was empowering each other, everyone was miserable and the other people in the groups weren’t helping give solutions and empowering their fellow endosisters. I left all of the groups and since then I have wanted to start up empowerment groups where ladies can come together and share what has worked and what has not. They can talk about their fears and hear stories from everyone else so they don’t feel alone but not spend their time getting even more depressed about what life has handed them. Someday I will build that group, I guess this could be step numero uno.
I have tried so many different things to try and calm everything down and to make my life more manageable and I have found some great things but I am not going to lie, I still reach for the percocet for a chunk of a week and wrap my whole body in as many heating pads as I can find. But my life in between those days is WAY BETTER and for now, I WILL TAKE IT!
So I am sure you are wondering why the heck I would say that this has been one of the best things to happen to me…believe me, there are some days where I ask the same question of myself.
Here is the deal, it fucking suuuucked when I was at my sickest, I had no idea what was wrong with me. I couldn’t eat with out throwing up I had to get very creative in finding ways to allow myself to consume one piece of chicken. I would pass out running and I had to give up my passion, soccer. I mean the list just goes on and on. But now I know what is wrong with me. I took the time after finally finding out to study my body and what felt good and bad. What made my body react poorly and what would cause random flare ups. I am in my mid twenties and I know my body better than almost anyone I know. Basically I am a rock star at know what is going to be good for me and what is going to be bad for me. I have this awesome opportunity to hold myself 100% accountable and not blame some disease for making me sick. I know I have it but I have learned how to manage it by being willing to listen to my body and not use the pain and sickness as an excuse to be unhealthy. IT HAS TAKEN TIME and it was HARD… it still is so effing hard but you know what, I do it! I still have a ways to go and always will. Six out of ten days are still hard for me to have enough energy to get up out of bed and get going. But I want to live life. I want to feel alive everyday, I want to see the world and my life in it as this amazing and and exciting adventure, so I get out of bed.
Ok, jeeeeeeeez, enough about me. Lets talk about what has worked for me!
Go ahead and walk into a naturopaths office and tell them you have endo…watch the bill go up! I totally am a believer in natural medicine and naturopaths. Love them. I have seen a lot of them and they toss me so many vitamins and I am sure they work well but I am a little erratic and don’t always remember to take them. Plus if your on synthetic hormones they will counteract a lot the vitamins and supplements.
So here is what I take to make sure I am at least doing something right (everything is natural and bought at a legit source):
- Vitamin B Complex (complex is really important)
- Vitamin D – helps with immune support, energy, boney health, and mood enhancement.
- Fish Oil – helps with inflammation, healthy cell production, and immune support (among a million other things)
- Flax Oil HIGHEST LIGNAN - helps with reproductive issues and the lignans actually help remove excess bile
- L-Tryptophan (at night on the weekends) this helps me get a really good nights rest and not wake up in pain it also ensures a good nights sleep. Like I said, somedays I struggle to get out of bed and have horrible nights of sleep so on the weekends I try and build up some sleeping ‘stores’. Tryptophan has been known to help with depression or mood disorders so it keeps me happy.
- Ginseng (love it) Great for energy levels and getting your day started right!
Exercise (my fave subject)
Being an ex-athlete getting to peak sickness (I hate using that word but I cant think of anything else) was really hard on me mentally. Since my second surgery it has taken years to get to the point where I can go six days a week and not hurt too bad. Staying consistent (at least three days a week to start) has been the biggest game changer for me. Doing something even when you are achy is worth it. Now, don’t push it on the BAD days just chill with your fave heating pad and some fun TV shows!
One thing this amazing fitness model told me once was Just do SOMETHING. You might not be able to go for a long run but try and do something everyday…stretch, walk, foam roll, something anything. She deals with some crazy health shit and is so freaking fit and healthy (Look her up, Amanda Jarstad). It has been my most valuable advice from anyone during all of this. So simple…love it!
- Running – I love to run. In fact all of my soccer coaches struggled to punish me for being a pain in the ass (which I am) because running (laps, sprints, etc) was so awesome for me. Now, running is not so awesome for endo. Running on a treadmill or pavement can actually cause things to flare up, especially if you are carrying extra weight. The pounding is what causes a lot of problems. I suggest running on grass or a softer surface. Sometimes this all depends on where you are in your cycle, so listen to your body. On the flip side, running does help move a lot of toxins out of your body.
- Rowing – A friend suggested this to me. Give it a try, it is a whole body work out and feels great. Start out slow, set goals for yourself. A few mins hard a few extra mins slow…etc. It works up a good sweat which is super important for endo and give you a great work out.
- Weights – Well this subject can go on forever. First off, it does not make you bulky it trims you down and cuts away fat like crazy! If you have endo you should be lifting weights and HEAVY WEIGHTS. Here is why:
-Physically: It will cut away fat which will help with some cramping. It will make your body stronger and more prepared to deal with inflammation. It helps promote healthy blood flow (more muscle, better blood flow). It ups your metabolism which helps move toxins out of your body. I can keep going…
-Mentally: You get to throw heavy shit around and feel like a bad ass. Yes I might have just been in the fetal position a few days ago but shit look at you now squatting more than the boys… And yes that is a 4 pack on my endo ridden body (which you had to work 10 times harder than everyone for because of all the BS).
- Yoga – It helps a lot, I wont deny it. Read my “Why I hate Yoga” blog post.
- Pilates – This is great for core strength in general. It will help with your whole body alignment which will help with overall health which in turn will make life better for you.
- Cardio classes (kick boxing, zumba, powerlift, etc.) – Girl, if it makes you sweat and you need to do something this is an excellent place to start and continue with! Honestly it is not my gig but I highly recommend it, especially if fitness is new to you.
Basically be active, do something. You will need to be very patient! You will carry more water weight than the average girl and you will be dealing with more set backs than anyone so dont let it discourage you. Just be proud of every step you take. Ignore the scale because one day you will weigh five pounds heavier than the day before (I just lost 5lbs in one day…hahaha craziness).
I think I own two endometriosis cook books and have seen so many others. So I will not go into this subject too deeply other than what has worked for me.
LOTS OF PROTEIN – Yup get that meat in your body. I have purchased a quarter of grass fed hormone free cow. Protein helps your body heal especially after a long hard period. It is the unhealthy hormones and process that makes us sick. If you do not fuel your body properly it will never be able to try and heal itself and you will be back at square one because you are too weak to fight it off!
WATER WATER WATER -COFFEE, TEA, SODA, ICED TEA DO NOT COUNT. Drink clean fresh water daily. At least 60oz. For some of you that seems like a lot but its worth it. You will pee a lot but its worth it. You are pushing toxins out of your body and keeping your body hydrated. Go buy a cute bottle that you love and always sip on it. Dont chug it just sip through the day. You will notice a spike in energy, your skin will benefit, and your overall health will thank you!
Veggies, brown rice, fresh fruit. Avoid grains (sooo hard) and dairy (cheese is my weakness, nom nom). Caffeine really can make things worse (especially during a flare up, avoid it like the plague!)…
Try and eat CLEAN ( aka simple, the less ingredients the better) and just listen to what feels good in your body. Taste only lasts a few seconds but the pain can last a lot longer. Eating healthy will help over all symptoms.
This has worked for me. I found someone who specialized in womens health and has worked with endo patients before. It is really important that you are not educating any health care provider on endo, it is up to them to help you find some relief. It can be a cost but you will be surprised by how may insurance plans will cover it. If you have an FSA, HRA, or HSA and get a medical necessity note you can get it covered (I manage my company’s benefits so I know the whole world of benefits).
Being consistent with this is smart. I have seen the best relief at and around my cycle. If I go around two weeks before a couple times a week it helps me get through the inflammation, random cramps, and constant aching. On the day when all hell breaks loose, GO!!!! If you can get a ride to the appointment, believe me it will be worth it!
Just try to be as healthy as you can. Buy simple foods that are not packed full of artificial crap, STAY ACTIVE, and most importantly do not let this condition run your life! You will need to make changes but don’t let it spiral your life out of control. It can be really hard sometimes and believe me I get pissed when I am running or working out and my body collapses randomly out of nowhere. Or when I am sitting at work and ‘IT’ hits so I have to hopefully make it home in time before I am in so much pain that I cant push the gas peddle. I get angry, sad, pissed, annoyed…etc. But I have to remember what the good days feel like and how far I have come. My friends who see me for me and not some sick person are what get me through, they encourage me when I reach my little goals and tell me I am a bad ass (which is what I really want to be) and those days when I want to cry and lose it they hear me out and then tell me how much of a bad ass I am…haha.
Anyway, I WANT TO HELP YOU ALL OF YOU but I know there are different approaches for everyone and I don’t know everything. Some of you have this way worse than I do and some of you don’t. I don’t care, you are dealing with something that can effing suck the life out of you and I hope to help it not suck the life out of you! I hope this post helped you find some new techniques or inspiration. Please email me with your story or questions (email@example.com). KEEP FIGHTING LIKE THE BEAST YOU ARE!