The Diary Of A Kenyan Endo Warrior: The Game-Changer: The Day I Couldn’t Walk Anymore

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Dear Diary,

By the time I was 17 years old, I was pretty much used to painful and dramatic periods. I had somewhat accepted it as my lot. What else could I do? In those days I seldom heard of anyone going to hospital for painful periods. We resulted to be being amateur pharmacists. In retrospect that was SHEER. FOLLY!

All was well-ish until the day pain paralyzed me in the heart of Nairobi city while on Moi Avenue near a stall selling jewelry. That was scary. My body was overcome by such a sharp pain on the left side of my abdomen. I couldn’t walk and could hardly breathe. I felt hot, a warmth covered my body. I was scared yet I had to put on my brave face on, because the city center is not a place to show your fear when you can’t move.

I inched towards the jewelry stall and sat. God bless the woman who helped me with a seat. She tried to ask me what was going on but I was as clueless as she was. My abdomen was hot and I was balancing tears. Minutes felt like hours as I waited for the wave to pass. When it finally did, I got a matatu and went to school. By this time I was already late for my class. I walked as fast as I could to the school clinic and met the ever patient Dr. Jack. He believed me, he didn’t look at me like I was crazy.

He gave me a place to rest and then treated me for a bad Urinary Tract Infection. After a course of antibiotics, painkillers and urine alkalizer, the pain subsided; only for a few days.

Till next time,

Blessings,

Ess

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The Diary of A Kenyan Endo Warrior: I. Am. Tired!

 

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Dear Diary,

I doubt that it’s normal to wake up tired, spend the whole day tired and sleep tired. For so many years this was my normal. My first response to the question ‘how are you?’ was Tired. But there’s only so many times that you can answer tired, until the other person gets, well, tired, of hearing your response. That was the story of my life.

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What I was more tired of, was being sick and in pain. Being sick is a draining process. It literally sucks out the life out of you, and the desire to live. When you have been in pain day after day, you want to cry. I vividly remember crying to God, praying that He would take the pain away. I was fed up of watching my life slip between my fingers. How badly I wanted to live life fully, but my body wouldn’t let me.

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It was more than just physical exhaustion; more like an all round exhaustion. When I found The Spoon Theory  by Christine Miserandino I was besides myself. Finally, someone had put into words what I had been struggling to say for a long time. Her description of Spoonies perfectly described me. “Spoonies are people that live with chronic illness; theoretically measuring personal daily abilities much as one would measure the proper amount of spoons needed for an event or occasion… sometimes having an abundance, other times coming up short.”

I was tired but I realized that I needed more grace,strength and spoons.

To the Spoonie struggling to express her exhaustion, you are not alone.

Blessings,

Ess

5 Things To Do Before You Start An Endo Diet

A few years after I was diagnosed with Endometriosis, I found the Endo diet. It was nice to look at, but it was so much work. it meant giving up all that I knew, and so I started it for a short while, then I quickly fell off the bandwagon because I had not taken certain things into consideration.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen many women asking about the diet, and I thought I’d share some tips that I’ve learned over the years.

First off, IT WORKS! For the Endo warrior wondering if changing your diet makes a difference, well, it does, It may not reduce the pain completely but it makes you feel so much better.

5 things to do before starting an Endo Diet

 

Before you start the diet, I’d encourage you to:

1) Read about the diet

Do your research about the diet and internalize why you need to reduce the intake of certain foods. Understand the hormonal balance that you are trying to attain using food. When you begin to view food as medicine, it changes your thought process when you are serving food on your plate.

2) Know what you are dealing with

Endometriosis cannot be treated in isolation. Look back at your medical history and identify any food allergies and take them into consideration. What is good for one woman may not be great for you. If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Ulcers, be sure to avoid any trigger foods that may seem healthy.

3) Make a plan

What they should tell you is that eating clean is not easy, Nah! It isn’t. It takes hard work, planning and self control. The food you are supposed to avoid is so easily accessible. Wheat products, taste and smell so good. They are affordable too, well in the short run.

If you want to be successful, you need to plan your meals in advance. Anticipate hunger. Find restaurants that serve foods that you can eat and enjoy. Look for locally accessible food substitutes. The ingredients that you read about online, may be costly. Remember that food is medicine.

Make your food exciting, eating clean doesn’t have to mean eating boring food.

4) Keep a food and feeling diary

The first couple of days, it is easy to get discouraged especially because you feel horrible being off wheat, dairy, soy and caffeine ( they are the popular ones).

Keep a food diary that allows you to write what you eat and how feel physically and emotionally each day. Remember that you may see results immediately, but you shouldn’t write it off until you’ve tried it for 2 months.

5) Love on yourself

Enjoy the journey. Invest in yourself, speak kind words to yourself. The battle is won in the mind, so you can’t expect to succeed in the eating department if you constantly belittle and doubt yourself. Love yourself for who you are and where you are at. View the diet change as something you are doing for yourself, not necessarily because the doctor or friend suggested it.

Some days we fall off, but we have to get back up. If food has been a crutch, try and find a new activity to do.

All in all, I wish you the very best. If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email via yellowendoflower@gmail.com

Blessings,

Ess

5 Things To Do Before You Start An Endo Diet

A few years after I was diagnosed with Endometriosis, I found the Endo diet. It was nice to look at, but it was so much work. it meant giving up all that I knew, and so I started it for a short while, then I quickly fell off the bandwagon because I had not taken certain things into consideration.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen many women asking about the diet, and I thought I’d share some tips that I’ve learned over the years.

First off, IT WORKS! For the Endo warrior wondering if changing your diet makes a difference, well, it does, It may not reduce the pain completely but it makes you feel so much better.

5 things to do before starting an Endo Diet

Before you start the diet, I’d encourage you to:

1) Read about the diet

Do your research about the diet and internalize why you need to reduce the intake of certain foods. Understand the hormonal balance that you are trying to attain using food. When you begin to view food as medicine, it changes your thought process when you are serving food on your plate.

2) Know what you are dealing with

Endometriosis cannot be treated in isolation. Look back at your medical history and identify any food allergies and take them into consideration. What is good for one woman may not be great for you. If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Ulcers, be sure to avoid any trigger foods that may seem healthy.

3) Make a plan

What they should tell you is that eating clean is not easy, Nah! It isn’t. It takes hard work, planning and self control. The food you are supposed to avoid is so easily accessible. Wheat products, taste and smell so good. They are affordable too, well in the short run.

If you want to be successful, you need to plan your meals in advance. Anticipate hunger. Find restaurants that serve foods that you can eat and enjoy. Look for locally accessible food substitutes. The ingredients that you read about online, may be costly. Remember that food is medicine.

Make your food exciting, eating clean doesn’t have to mean eating boring food.

4) Keep a food and feeling diary

The first couple of days, it is easy to get discouraged especially because you feel horrible being off wheat, dairy, soy and caffeine ( they are the popular ones).

Keep a food diary that allows you to write what you eat and how feel physically and emotionally each day. Remember that you may see results immediately, but you shouldn’t write it off until you’ve tried it for 2 months.

5) Love on yourself

Enjoy the journey. Invest in yourself, speak kind words to yourself. The battle is won in the mind, so you can’t expect to succeed in the eating department if you constantly belittle and doubt yourself. Love yourself for who you are and where you are at. View the diet change as something you are doing for yourself, not necessarily because the doctor or friend suggested it.

Some days we fall off, but we have to get back up. If food has been a crutch, try and find a new activity to do.

All in all, I wish you the very best. If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email via yellowendoflower@gmail.com

Blessings,

Ess

5 Ways You Can Support An EndoWarrior

Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women. This means, if you know 10 women, you know Endometriosis.

#BREASTCANCERAWARENESSSseptember 1, 2020

The fact that it’s an invisible disease makes it difficult for women to get diagnosis and for people to relate with her and the pain. Because of the nature of the disease, and the societal norms, women find it hard to speak about Endo and even reach out for help.

It is more than just a woman’s disease, it affects the society as a whole. Women, daughters and sisters are affected. Fathers, husbands and brothers too.

5 Ways Tolove on an ENDOWARRIOR

Here are a few ways that you can support a woman who has Endometriosis:

  1. Believe Her

When she says that she is in pain, believe her. When she struggles to get out of bed, believe her. When she is too inflamed and bloated to fit in her normal clothes, and takes very long to get ready, believe her. When she says sex hurts too much, believe her. When she says she’d love to meet up but she just can’t, believe her. When she says she is on the verge of giving up hope, believe her.

Believe her. Believe her. Believe her.

The best form of love and understanding stems from a place of believing without a shadow of doubt that she is in pain and not pretending.

This understanding will help you be sensitive when you ask her questions and comment on her daily struggle.

2. Listen to Her

Hear her out, don’t dismiss her pain. Listen to her dreams, her fears, her jokes and her heart. Listen to her words and also to her actions; gently encourage her when she sinks into the valley of sadness.

3. Do Your Research

Take a personal interest in the condition and seek to be knowledgeable. There is a lot of valuable information on the internet. Read up about Endo, go onto forums and ask questions. Read the leaflets that come with the medicine that she is on. Research on

4. Be Present

Let her know that you are in this together. Go for the consultations together. Take an interest in her daily routine, encourage her to do things that help her. If she goes on the Endo diet, help her plan her meals. Join her in some of the meals.

5. Love her as she is

Don’t try to change her to be the woman you remember her being or the woman of your dreams. Love her as she is. Accept the challenges that she faces and help her work around them. Speak words of life and love.

Your support means a lot.

Blessings,

Ess

The Diary of A Kenyan Endo Warrior- The Warning Sign We Missed

Dear Diary,

Where there is smoke, there is a fire.

As a little girl, I had trouble with my bowel movements. I hated going to the toilet. When I felt the urge, I’d have balancing tears because I knew the pain and sheer discomfort that awaited me. My diet was fairly okay, and I tried to drink water and eat my pawpaw, but my poop wouldn’t move (pun intended). I was the preteen girl with chronic constipation, I was always tired and cranky. I envied anyone who could poop with pain and problems.

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When I hit puberty, things got worse. It was more like, out of the frying pan and into the fire. IT WAS HORRIBLE. Pooping during my periods was extremely uncomfortable. My tummy was very bloated and I felt a piercing pain as the poop moved through my intestines. Sometimes, I couldn’t walk, I would sweat, in pain, until it passed. Bowel movements became a serious prayer item. Around the same time, I experienced such discomfort when trying to pee. I’d go and sit on the loo but it just wouldn’t come out. I even thought I was stressed. I remember one time we went to climb Mount Kenya and I just couldn’t pee, other girls kept asking what’s taking so long, but it just couldn’t come out yet it hurt so much. After about 20 minutes of squat-waiting, I finally peed. My period came the following day, but I had no idea, then, that there was a connection between the pain and my menstrual cycle.

Little did I know, Endometriosis was nesting in my abdomen.

Love always,

Ess

 

The Diary Of A Kenyan Endo Warrior – My Struggle With Tampons

Dear Diary,

I’m still super excited about the pad dispensers, because I still can’t use tampons. Rather, I still choose not to use tampons. My struggle with tampons begun as a preteen. My mum told me that they were not for young girls, and told me that they could make me sick. Toxic Shock Syndrome was described and I got scared. I envied the girls in school who swore by them. They did not have the pad problems, you know, having to change all the time, no odour ( remember the time Always had THAT scent?). They could swim!! Oh, THEY COULD SWIM! I on the other hand, used to sit on the sidelines watching, enviously.

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Deep within I knew that once I was an older, out of the nest, I would use tampons. When I got an opportunity to try, it went awfully wrong. I could feel it deep within. It was so uncomfortable. The next time my period rocked up when I was least prepared and a tampon was what was available. That has to be the longest night of my life. That was discomfort 101. As if the discomfort was not enough, the flow seeped through. That day, I decided that tampons were not for me.

My biggest question has always been, where do the clots go? Where?? The flow is usually 80% clots, so the tampon definitely is not the most practical tool. Let’s not forget, how inflamed, tender and uncomfortable the pelvic cavity feels at that time. A tampon seems like a tool of the enemy at that time.

A few years ago, I detoxed and felt a newness and relief I had not felt in a long time. As I weaned off different chemicals, I saw a relationship between what I put into my body and how I feel. My reservation with tampons is that I don’t know exactly what I am putting in. My research has shown me, that I need to care about such things. It may seem silly to some, but pain free days are indeed, slices of heaven. They are not to be trivialized. One of the articles I read reinforced my resolve to watch what I put in.

I meet girls who love pads and others who love tampons, periods are personal, and every one has their experience. My advice to both is, do your research well and then choose what is most comfortable for you.

Love always,

Ess

 

The Pad Dispensers Are Here

When people talk about their period cycles, I thank God that I now have a cycle. Meaning, it is now somewhat predictable. Previously, it was more like a period doodle, yup, something out of a toddler’s workbook. I  was somewhere in between a 21 day and 37 day cycle doodle. So I seldom knew when my period was coming. I was caught unawares more than once, hah, Auntie Flo had a way of checking in when I’d just left the house. Perfect timing. Not. When Auntie Flo comes when you are not prepared, you become innovative, as you wait to find a pad. It’s most irritating when it’s easier to find a condom, than a pad in the ladies bathroom.

PAD DISPENSERS ARE HERE

You can imagine my sheer joy when I heard about Inteco Kenya and their pad dispensers. It was music to my ears.

Meet Ms. Munira Twahir, the beauty and brains behind Inteco Kenya.

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Her Story
I was 9 when I started periods and I was told not to touch boys. That was the end of my orientation into womanhood. The last 14 years has been on my own research and exploration which without guidance can be very risky territory to navigate.
Periods need to be demystified. It needs to be talked about so that girls do not feel as though it is a hindrance or a burden. The fact is womanhood should be celebrated. I have noticed there is a clash in wanting to speak about it and cultural norms. What can you or should you tell a 9 year old about sex and reproduction? Yet, they have started their periods and they are at risk of so many things because of this. I read a recent study that some girls have no association with having periods and pregnancy. This is an extreme case but, many girls transition into womanhood alone.
Inteco Kenya
Inteco Kenya aims to alleviate menstruation  related stress and anxiety by providing women a comfortable, accessible and flexible purchase of single sanitary pads. But, we are much more than that. We want to work with partners, individuals, corporations and institutions that share our passion, to celebrate women. Menstruation should not be a burden or a curse. It should not be a hindrance in the girl child education. It should not be a reason to go into seclusion every month.
We have a Sexual reproductive health programme. It’s aim is to give girls information about their body without judgement. Our curriculum covers reproduction, Menstruation, Sex, Risks, Contraception and boys. In each of these topics we have a technical teaching and the emotional side.
We usually have a conversation with the girls in the school to assess their level of knowledge and curiosity. Some schools we have been to are very conversant with menstruation health management but not with STD/STIs and vice versa. This is done as a casual conversation between the facilitator and the girls. The ratio of facilitator to girls is 1:40
Next we come back and get the numerical data of the conversations we had. This is for our statistics and research. It will form our base line.
We then use the two research methods to write a report on the particular school which we will share with the administration. This report will guide us on how to structure our classes and sessions.
The machine is part of the programme. We sell the pads at 10 shillings. The pads are not our own we are more than happy to partner with companies that are in line with our cause to supply their pads to our demographics. In a school, we only need the space in the lavatories.

You can get in touch with her here.

Blessings,

Ess

One In Ten Women

 

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Women are strong, resilient, gentle, powerful, and beautiful. They are powerhouses. Women deserve to be celebrated and appreciated. They don’t hear how great they are everyday, but they are the stars of our society.

One in ten women suffer from Endometriosis, yet we don’t talk about it. 176 million women are estimated to suffer from Endometriosis. If all of those women were to form a country, it would be the seventh largest country in the world.~@Endowarriors, #Endofacts

The most common symptoms of Endometriosis are:

  • Pain, especially excessive menstrual cramps which may be found in abdomen or lower back
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Abnormal or heavy menstrual flow
  • Infertility
  • fatigue
  • Painful urination during menstrual periods
  • Painful bowel movements during menstrual period
  • Other gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and/or nausea

(information courtesy of reguardingwomen.)

Endometriosis is more than just a painful period. It is a pain that disrupts your entire life. Some women describe it as being stabbed from the inside. Pain is not normal. It needs to be discussed openly and early diagnosis needs to promoted.

endo-stop the pain

Let’s talk about Endometriosis, and encourage women to seek medical advice.

Happy  women’s day!

 

Blessings,

Ess

The Diary Of A Kenyan Endo Warrior: When It Rains, It Pours and Sometimes Overflows

Dear Diary,

My periods, while in high school, started off innocently, like the morning dew, I was relieved to finally be a woman. And then someone opened the tap and they poured and overflowed.

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The number of times that I soiled my clothes and sheets are too many to count. It was the usual, so I hated having to sleep out or stay out late on those days. I remember when we set out to climb Mount Kenya, I prayed to God to save me the agony of having my period on the Mountain. Back then I didn’t know about the pill to postpone my period. So I used another method, I avoided all the girls who were currently on their periods. I didn’t want anyone inspiring my periods to come while on the mountain. Poor girls, had to endure periods without showering. But, I think at that altitude your body is a little kinder to you. Well, I hope it is.

Once we got down from the Mountain, and into the hotel, my periods came. My pink trousers, that I loved, were now a hot mess, a bloody mess. The pain I felt was out of this world. I couldn’t stay to celebrate our victory, i just went to curl in bed. My uterus was punishing me for taking it to high altitude. It was a long night. The flow seeped through my protective sheet, and I was stressed.just-dying

Somebody needs to make pads for Endo warriors. A super long, super absorbent and super comfortable pad. I tried wearing two pads, before, but yo! that was extremely uncomfortable, I got a skin irritation from the pad materials, so I was left torn between heavy flow and irritation. They make for a horrible combination.

I tried adding cotton but that too was uncomfortable. Tampons are a story for another day.

Why are there only 8 pads in one packet? How many is one supposed to use in a day so that they are enough for the cycle? For me to be comfortable each month, I need between  two and three packets. Now, I’m able to buy as many as I’d like, but back then, being a teenager whose flow was out of this world, that was difficult.

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Why don’t suppliers keep their supply regular? It is soo frustrating when you finally find a pad that works for you and then it’s out of stock, or better still, a bootleg version floods the market and now you have to choose another brand and pray your way through your periods. Because your poor bum is so sore.

I’d love to see a pad company, tailor make a pad for girls with Endo. A brand that understands that when it rains, it pours and definitely overflows. One that understands that clots are real and we’d like a cotton top sheet, one that doesn’t irritate our bums. All for the same price, because Endo is already costly enough.

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Love always,

Ess