A Day In My Endometriosis Life
The other day, a friend wondered what it must be like to live with endometriosis. She was complaining about her own pain, and told me how she'd thought: “I just don’t know how Jess deals with his daily”. What shocked me wasn’t that she was being understanding of my own situation - she generally is super supportive. What surprised me is how little I think about that. I simply get on with my life, yet my daily routine is quite different compared to those who live disease-free.
My days generally start very slowly. I wake up with the speed of a sloth, crashing into everything on the way to the kitchen, where I feed my dog. He’s lucky his meals aren’t complicated otherwise he would end up with a bizarre early morning concoction.
Options for at-home pain relief
Every morning is a surprise
Some days start with a flare-up of lower back pain. On others, it's a slow burn, a mild constant discomfort around my lower abdomen. Some mornings I wake up completely soaked (thanks, night sweats!) so I jump in the shower pretty much immediately. I add my bedsheets to the laundry load.
As I cleanse my skin, I check for acne, and maybe apply some salicylic acid. I then look at my calendar, to see whether I need to call my doctor to schedule an appointment, follow up on some tests, or get more medication prescribed.
At 11 am my alarm goes off, and take my progesterone. At around that time I wonder if today is the day I will be able to pass on coffee. Caffeine can increase endometriosis pain, inflammation1 and aggravate the IBS-like symptoms many patients experience. Since I didn’t feel any benefits from quitting caffeine, I allow myself one cup a day. Yet because of the links between caffeine and estrogen2, I limit my allowance and try to have "rest days" every so often. If I've been awake for a few hours and my lids are still heavy and my brain fuzzy, then it's a yes to coffee.
Lunchtime is where it starts to get fun... not really
Since going on a plant-based, anti-inflammatory diet to manage my symptoms, there are no processed foods I can quickly microwave or loaves of bread I can furiously devour. So every feeding time involves a long hard stare at my box of vegetables and plenty of heavy sighing. I normally reach for some gluten-free cereal.
My energy levels abandon me completely around late afternoon, and it’s around that time that I will feel a migraine coming on. My dog will nudge me to take him on his third walk of the day. During this outing, if I overdo it, I get the familiar tug from my right ovary. I make a mental note of telling my doctor about this, it's happening way too often. Back home, I wonder whether the pain requires strong medication, or if my TENS could do the trick. I'm running low on codeine, so I plug in my little wonder-gadget and rest for a little.
I know it’s time for bed when my restless leg kicks in fiercely
When my limbs hurt, only lying down will work. I dream of buying a weighted blanket to deal with these painful symptoms, but then wonder whether sleeping under one will make me feel trapped or claustrophobic. I reach for my CBD oil, my hot water bottle, and try to find a comfortable sleeping position. Before going to sleep, I treat myself to an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The show's silly fun and empowering stories remind me of my own resilience. It brings a smile to my face. I fall asleep.
Suddenly, I wake up and it’s 3 am, my lower back is killing me and the migraine has gone nowhere. Oh, and the ovary pain? Still with me. All is normal, all is good, in my endometriosis life.
Have you ever experienced one or more of these side effects from your hormone therapy?