A scene of cubicles - in the centermost cubicle, a woman sits in front of her computer, clutching her stomach that has pain lines emanating from it.

How to Deal with Flare-Ups at Work

I’m sure it’s happened to all of us at some stage. You’re at work. Your period is not due in a long while so you think you’re safe. But no: endometriosis has different ideas. You can feel the tell-tale sign of a flare-up. You start sweating. Fire begins to roar in your lower belly, and not the good kind. Your insides feel like they are trying to rip you apart while at the same time squeezing you to death. You can barely breathe from the pain and there’s no way you can tell your boss you’re ill because he won’t understand endometriosis. What do you do?

The horror of endo flares

This is literally my nightmare. Endometriosis flare-ups are horrible at the best of times, but at least at home, you can curl up in bed, dose yourself with painkillers, and apply a heating pad to your belly. It’s a bit more difficult at work. Or is it?

Unless you have a job that requires you to stand and walk all the time, there are things you can do to help you get through a flare-up at work. This may require a bit of pre-planning for the event of a flare-up, so this article isn’t as useful if you’re in the middle of a flare-up at work. But you can arm yourself with knowledge and be better prepared for the next one. Because we all know there will be a next one.

My tips for getting through a flare

So here are my go-to tips:

Keep a heating pad at work. I find a bean bag that can be heated in the microwave invaluable. Within seconds, I can heat it up, mould it around my belly, and have some relief from the intense cramps. If you don’t have a microwave, you can still use those sports heat pads which use your own body temperature to heat up. Not quite as effective, but better than nothing.

Keep a large scarf or even a small blanket at work. I find keeping myself warm during a flare-up significantly decreases the pain and discomfort I experience and no one has ever batted an eye at me pulling a blanket over my legs and stomach.

This might be an obvious one, but keep pain killers at work or in your handbag. You never know when you may need them and as long as you can function on your painkillers, take a few as soon as you can feel the flare-up come on. You may be able to ward off the worst of the pain.

Talk to your colleagues. Endometriosis isn’t an easy subject to talk about (because ew: periods!), but life will be so much easier when your colleagues can help you get through a flare-up. They can maybe heat your heat pad for you or get you a hot drink. Even if they are just sympathetic and leave you to work on less arduous tasks during the flare-up.

Working through a flare-up is agony - literally and mentally. But hopefully, these tips can help you get through it. Share your own tips on how you manage working through a flare-up below in the comments.

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