Why I Keep A Period Diary

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Ever since I was a little girl , I always kept a diary. It was my outlet and a way of keeping a record of the little details of my life.  Unfortunately, I was not very detailed about my periods and their patterns, so when I needed this information, it was nowhere to be found. I answered the doctor with a lot of ‘Umm, I can’t quite remember’ and blank looks with several breaks in between as I tried to run up and down the corridors of my memory trying to remember key details. I am sure that there are many ‘little’ important details that I left out during these consultations.

After many years of trying (and failing) to recall from memory I finally discovered the Period Diary app and it literally changed my life. I was finally able to document my period journey daily, and a couple of months later I begun to recognize patterns in my cycle.

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I quickly realized that my menstrual cycle is not just about the day(s) that I shed the lining  of my uterus. It is about what I experience through the whole cycle, my emotions, diet , ovulation. It is the vaginal discharge all through, the color and texture of the actual shedding. Keeping a period diary has helped me to be more in control of my body, as I know what it’s triggers are and what to anticipate at different times. I am definitely more prepared for the occasional pain, PMS symptoms and actual periods.

Keeping a diary has helped me to see the cause and effect of different things that I’ve tried. For instance, when I detoxed and started taking an Apple Cider Vinegar elixir every morning the inflammation and pain during my cycle significantly reduced. I also figured out that the monthly headaches were reducing over the months, so I was definitely doing something right.

I recommend keeping a period diary to all women, both young and old, whether you have complications or not. It helps you to understand your body, it’s functions and your emotions.

Mothers with teenage daughters, I urge you to ask your girls to keep a period diary as soon as they start their periods. After every couple of months, sit down and review it with them. Talk about the patterns that you both recognize. Many girls don’t know what a normal period is. They often just take their periods as they are,  persevere, until they are adults and realize that something was wrong all along.

There are several period diary apps that you can choose from on the Play store. This is the one that has worked best for me.

If you opt to keep a physical diary, these are some of the details to record:

start-of-periodend-of-periodduration-of-periodsymptoms-physical-symptoms-including-pain-and-discharge-cravings-moodssupplements-medication-or-birth-control-you-are-takingother-notes

 

Blessings,

Ess

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#TheKenyanEndoStory : Nurah Palesa

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The first Kenyan Endo warrior sharing her story with us is Nurah Palesa. Hers is a story of pain, despair, strength, courage and hope.

Before I turned 10, the year that pain became the filter to which I would see life, I was eagerly awaiting my periods. I looked forward to it like a boy would await his ceremonial rites of passage. I wanted to see the drops of blood on my underwear and have a crazy happy dance celebrating my new life as a woman.

 

I am Queen Nurah, and at the age of 25 I have lived with Endometriosis for 15 years now. I run on happiness. There is no one thing that makes me happy, a combination of the things that pull my heart strings is how I live. As for my profession, let’s just say that I am a Storyteller and Poet.

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Where it all begun

 

The pain begun immediately I started my periods. I was sitting in the back of the class, talking as usual and ignoring what the teacher was writing on the board. Then my insides were attacking me. It felt like someone had run a knife across my abdomen over and over again. I shakily put up my hand and asked if I could go to the bathroom.

When I got into the cubicle, something told me to check my underwear and hoorah I had blood. But I couldn’t do the crazy happy dance, not with the pain that I was feeling.

I remember going to one of the “nice” female teachers and telling her I got my period and that I was in intense pain. She was nice, she showed me how to put a pad on and for the pain she said that it was normal and hot water would help. “Normal? Are you crazy, I feel like I’m dying!” I thought to myself as I gave her a look that showed I thought she was crazy.

Maybe two hours later, I don’t exactly remember, my mother was called because now I was wailing and “causing a scene”. Hehehe, causing a scene.

At the end of the day my mom gave me Syndol. Yep Syndol. That confirmed my suspicion that the pain I had was not normal and for the next 7 days I suffered.

 

Managing the pain

For 13 years I was subjected to excruciating pain before my periods, during my periods and 3 days after my periods. In total I was in pain 15 days out of the month.

I ended up having a cocktail of painkillers in my bags. Here is the list with what I started to what I take now:

  • Syndol (4-6 pills in an hour/day)
  • Betapyn (5-6)
  • Postan (10)
  • Brufen (10)
  • Buscopan (10-12)
  • Buscopan plus (it would land in my stomach and I would throw up immediately)
  • iBoprufen (40 mg 6, 80mg 7-8)
  • Vykadin (6)
  • And now I’m on tramadol 100mg and when the pain gets really bad I go for the shot.

And while I was on these pain meds I sometimes found that mixing them would help. And when I say help, I mean level the pain to a degree that I could function and not snap at people.

The pain haze of life is amazing. It changes how you look at everything and how you react. Physical pain makes life 300 times worse. Well for me. Someone else could be different.

I had the worst mood swings, had a short fuse and basically I would just want to cry and be alone most of the time. I am generally a nice, gentle happy Queen, but you don’t want to make me mad when I am in pain.

Oh wait, did I forgot to mention that I would get high off the pain meds… lol aaaand that I was a heavy alcohol drinker. For 7 good years.

The combination of alcohol and a cocktail of pain meds made the pain bearable.

I remember when I joined uni and my girlfriends would watch me pack my clutch bag with tampons and meds (3 strips of 10 so basically 30 pills) and they would ask if I was ok. Little did they know that I would have gone through 2 of the strips by midnight.

I would literally get high just to escape the pain.

When I was 22, fresh out of rehab (because others thought that alcohol was the problem) the pain kicked up a notch.

 

Finally, I got a diagnosis

 

Lower back pain and shoulder pain had kicked in, and I needed to know that there was a name for what I was going through. I went to see a gynaecologist and he diagnosed me with Endometriosis. I thought that finally I can get rid of the pain for good now that it’s an actual disease.

I went online and decided to learn all I could about my condition. That’s the type of person I am, I read and research on topics that are of interest to me. So I did what I do best; gather intel.

I found out that foods (which I had always known, I’m very strict with what I eat.) contributed to the pain levels and there was a diet I could start.

Eh….that diet did not work. In fact I ended up increasing my pain and losing even more weight.As for the endo diet, which is vegetarian I really tried… My body just didn’t accept it.. And recently I discovered that diets don’t work for everyone,  our blood types play a big role in the foods we need and as an O+ I need meat.. (Sticking to white)
So again I run around for another year looking for a solution and I found one. Or so I thought.

I went through a Laparoscopy where The Gynaecologist lasered the extra endometrium tissue that covered my ovaries and fallopian tubes and he put a Mirena Coil so that my fertility wouldn’t be compromised. (I had stage 4 of Endo at this point)

 

Relief at last

 

For the first time in 13 years I had no pain.

I loved my life; a zeal for it (which I still have) was born. You know when someone tells you to live life to the fullest and do what you want to do and wave your hands in the air like you don’t care?? Lol, yeah I did that for 3 good months before the pain came back.

 

Back to reality

 

As I write this I have the worst headache ever and my back and shoulders have decided to kick into level 400. The last two days have been brutal because I am ovulating and I can feel the damn egg travelling.

I could change my diet again or find some radical something that will help “ease or get rid of” the pain, maybe even look at the spiritual aspects of it, but my reality is that I am meant to have this pain. I’m just supposed to rise above it and live life to the fullest and that’s not an easy task.

Yoga helps me. And meditation. And maybe some teas here and there. Lemon, ginger and honey is amazing. I generally try and avoid junk and fast foods and sodas… Been on a general healthy diet from the word go.. My moms always been conscious about food.

 

Endo and Family

 

My family is very open with each other; my mom and sister also have endo and my brother was told early on about our periods.
The extended family is a whole different story. I like avoiding them as they disturb my positive energy fields.

I would love a whole football team of children lol.. 

Endo is genetic, my mom and I traced it back to her grandmother(Her dads mom)  so for me it doesn’t really matter if I have a daughter or son,  I’m going to have to tell them asap about endo.. And what they can do from the word go.

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Parting Shot

 

To my queens and princesses I agree it is soo not fair that we endure this pain.

Search for your solutions and remedies. Don’t let anyone stop you. 

However do not forget to live life to the fullest. Do what makes you happy; love yourself and play in the rain.

Oh and please be kind to your sister queen/princess.

Seriously, we women can be brutal to each other and it’s about time we stopped.

The black rose is my favourite flower.

You can check out Nurah’s blog here.

Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Thank you Nurah for sharing your story with us. You are a star!! ❤

If you would like to be featured in #TheKenyanEndoStory, please send an email to yellowendoflower@gmail.com and I will be in touch.

Blessings,

Ess

 

#TheKenyanEndoStory

When I was diagnosed with Endometriosis, I only knew one other woman with Endo and she was not willing to talk about her journey because of the stigma she had received. I was alone; I felt like an anomaly. My journey with Endo was very lonely and depressing. There are many times that I was almost consumed by these feelings. Suicide crossed my mind a couple of times. By God’s grace, I made it through.

As I researched about Endometriosis a few years back, I realized that there were many stories from the UK and USA but very few, if any, from Kenya. A few years later, I found other women in Kenya who were fighting Endometriosis; I was encouraged and wished I’d heard these stories of pain, strength and courage earlier.

 

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A couple of months ago, I had a dream to share stories of women suffering from Endometriosis in Kenya. I wanted the world at large and the people of Kenya to know that:

*If you know ten women, you know Endometriosis. It affects one in ten women.

*Endometriosis does not fit in a box, it is vast and multi-faceted. It attacks different organs, so every woman’s experience in unique.

*Endometriosis doesn’t have a trademark look. Many women are suffering yet they look normal. Behind their smiles are souls that carry pain unknown.

*Information is power. The more we talk about Endometriosis the more women we empower and together we decrease the stigma.

*We need policies that support women with Endometriosis in Kenya

*Specialized healthcare needs to be more affordable and accessible. Getting a diagnosis in Kenya is like buying a parcel of land.

Several months later,

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a new segment on this blog #TheKenyanEndoStory. yellowendoflower.wordpress.com.

It will feature stories of pain, hope, courage and strength to encourage women in Kenya and around the world. The first story goes live in a few minutes.
If you would like to be featured in ‘Her Endo Story’ #TheKenyanEndoStory, please send an me an email via yellowendoflower@gmail.com and I will be in touch.

Blessings,

Ess

 

The Other Side of Endometriosis

Happy new month (:

For several years, I have spent time and money dealing with the symptoms of endometriosis. There have been countless doctor visits, lots of pills swallowed, scary surgeries. I mean, any surgery is scary, lots of anxiety, insomniac nights and worry.

However, when it comes to dealing with the root cause, I shy away. All of a sudden, I am too busy, or suddenly, some things seem to private; yet I have seen countless of doctors trying to decide what was wrong with my privates. The irony.

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A couple of weeks ago, I decided to go on an emotional journey, one of trying to figure out what triggered Endometriosis symptoms. This has been perhaps one of the hardest journeys I have ever been on. It makes the countless visits to the gynecologist , even the scary surgeries, seem like nothing.

Here I have had to get real with myself. Accept that I have been hurt, in fact, I am still hurting and what do you know, it is okay. It is not too late to receive healing. It is not too late to work through these emotions. Walking down this road of emotions can easily ruin my day, because I never quite know what I will find. I am so used to keeping up face that I almost forgot what I really look and feel like, without all the plastic ‘I am doing great’ smiles.

For years, I would gnash my teeth as I slept. If you ask anyone in my home of origin, they will tell you that Bruxism was synonymous to me. I was sometimes too embarrassed to go sleep out of the house because people would hear my not so musical tunes; worse still, they would judge me. Yet contrary to popular belief it was not something I had control over.

After I got married in 2012, it stopped after a couple of months. Oh thank God, it stopped. I finally felt safe. There were days I would wail myself to sleep, trying to sort out my emotions, but it looks like those tears cleansed me of anxiety. Now I don’t gnash my teeth anymore, I am sure my husband is so relieved.

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So maybe other Endo symptoms are a lot like Bruxism. You don’t have much control over them when you experience them. But, if you are willing to make a few changes in your lifestyle here and there, the severity might reduce.

Maybe we need to deal with Endometriosis from the inside out. Get healing from the inside out.

I was awaken, when I have joined EndoPositive™ International, and over there it was brought to my attention that endometriosis is a psychosomatic disease. I thought then, psycho what? I realized, we live in the world, where we will so much easier accept pills, surgeries over work on ourselves! Only when I realized, how serious it could get, if I continue to overlook my unconscious mind, I finally woke up! And I am glad I did!

Today, I continue working towards the self love, forgiveness and self awareness. Perhaps you could give it a try. You will be surprised how many things you will find out. If you feel, you are not ready, consider

I originally posted this article on EndoPositive™ International’s website in September ’15 under the title ‘What if you have been looking at Endometriosis all wrong’. My journey has been difficult, refreshing and healing all at the same time. I am still a work in progress, not where I was when I originally penned down this article. My health is at a better place.

 

Have you considered that there could be more to Endo than meets the eye? How has your journey been?

‘Big Sis’

 

I Wasn’t A Hypochondriac Afterall

I almost hugged the doctor the day he have me a diagnosis. I couldn’t pronounce ‘Endometriosis’, and I barely knew anything about it, but it was a diagnosis, and it somewhat explained the pain I’d been feeling. Also, in retrospect, I don’t think that the Doctor would have appreciated the hugs as much as I would have.

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After years of being labelled a hypochondriac and sickly child, it was so refreshing to hear someone finally give a name to the condition I’d been facing. Granted that no one likes to hear they are sick or get a diagnosis they can’t pronounce, but after years of crying in fetal position in pain, getting a diagnosis was music to my ears.

I felt validated , like someone understood me and my pain. I didn’t understand the intricate details, but I understood this:

a) someone believed me

b) the pain was not all in my head

c) we could try to manage it

I had been trying to tell the world for six years that periods this painful were not normal. I struggled with feelings of guilt and depression when getting out of bed seemed like a task too big for me.

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Invisible illness is sometimes very difficult to diagnose. It’s possible to get several misdiagnosis especially when the symptoms are similar to other illnesses.

When the doctor mentioned surgery, I was just like ‘bring it on!!!’. My fear of going under the knife was less than my fear of living in this pain. If this surgery could help, then I wanted it, I needed it stat. Prior to this, I had a surgery that I didn’t need and got an inconclusive diagnosis because the Endometriosis symptoms had manifested in my bladder.

I wasn’t a hypochondriac after all.

Have you been labelled a hypochondriac? Don’t give up on looking for a diagnosis.

‘Big Sis’

I Was Labelled A Hypochondriac

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“It’s all in your head!” is a phrase I heard one too many times. Looking back, I somewhat see where these people were coming from. I mean the symptoms I was experiencing were just all over the place-painful periods, severe bloating, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, recurrent urinary tract infections, backaches, the list is quite long. I was constantly in pain. My period had turned into a monster. Rearing it’s head at every point of my cycle. It wasn’t really a cycle, the length kept changing every month. While most of my girlfriends bragged about being regular, I was as irregular as it got. Anywhere from 24-37 days. So much for being able to predict when I’d be rolling.

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I saw several doctors but they weren’t quite sure what was wrong with me. In fact I became a regular at the clinics, the doctors could almost predict what I was going to complain about. They’d heard it all. There is something about hospital waiting rooms that makes you feel sicker than you actually are.

The most deflating moment is when the doc would say “I can’t seem to find anything wrong with you.” One even went ahead to add, “I think you are imagining the pain. It’s all in your head.” In addition to the swollen belly and physical pain, I left his office, with medicine he wasn’t  sure I needed and dampened spirits. Most times I would just go home and cry. I was that girl crying in the lift, not because I had received a diagnosis, but because the professional was trying to make me believe that I had brought the pain upon myself. How I hoped I could just wish it away, or sleep and it would all be over.

 

all in your head

My journey taught me to trust my inner voice. To keep searching for an answer; a diagnosis. To never give up on myself, even though others dismissed me. Tough times show us who we really are, we find reserves of strength we knew nothing about.

Have you been labelled a hypochondriac? Have you given up looking for a diagnosis?

In part 2 I will talk about the day I got vindicated; when I finally received a diagnosis. It was the beginning of a difficult chapter, but it was far much better than not knowing what was wrong with me.

‘Big sis’

 

How I Became A Rookie Pharmacist

Up until a couple of years ago, I was a self-proclaimed, self-medicating, rookie pharmacist.

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Let me explain how it came about. A few months into my period, I started experiencing painful cramps. Every time I brought up the issue, I was told that the pain was normal. Though deep within me, I knew that pain that intense was everything but normal. In fact, I had monthly visit to the high school nurse, where I could predict the order of the day. She would quickly draw a picture of my uterus, explain that it was shedding its lining and hand me two Paracetamols as she sent me back to class.

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The emergency room was not very helpful initially, a painful period is not on the top of the ’emergency conditions’ list. I  remember ever so vividly rushing to hospital because of painful periods but being kept waiting for over two hours because it ‘wasn’t an emergency enough’. That is until my blood pressure would spike and the doctors would wonder how I was walking with all that pain.

To avoid the inconvenience of the hospital, I would self medicate when the pain would get intense. The method was simple: I would mix up all the remaining stock that I had. One Buscopan Plus, One Ponstan , One…. you get the drift. I was self prescribing a cocktail that left me in a happy place; read: pain free, albeit for a few hours. Then I would need a repeat dosage.

My poor body. What I didn’t know then was that this cocktail could have adverse effects on my health. I was young and foolish, I didn’t bother to read the pamphlets. I thought  I was being a good steward of my time, studying for exams instead of reading pamphlets in font 2 [ I understand that they are trying to fit a lot of information on a small piece of paper, BUT, how does that font size motivate the target audience to read it?]

Also, I foolishly believed that I wouldn’t have any allergic reactions, I always prayed that I fell in the percentage that did not display any reaction to the drug. The desire to be pain free overshadowed every form of good sense in me. I was desperate, I needed relief; ever so urgently.

 

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I am now reformed. I get a proper prescription from a certified professional and religiously read the medicine pamphlets; in fact, I get very irritated when I’m sold a few tablets in an envelope without a pamphlet. I could be slowly poisoning myself for all I know. I read on the internet and make an informed decision when I take medicine and know what to look out for in terms of allergic reactions.

Are you a rookie pharmacist? Do you take time to read medicine pamphlets? Have you experienced any allergic reactions to the cocktail of meds?

‘Big Sis’

 

My Period Is A Part Of My Life

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After weeks of waiting and wondering how the first monthly sighting would be, my period finally came. They were not what I expected. On one hand I expected to feel different, I felt different in a gross kind of way, not a,’I am now a woman’ kind of way. On the other hand, I knew this was IT. The beginning of the end of my innocence. Remember my introduction to periods conversation? I felt as though a part of me was dying. Seeing blood supported this line of thought. I had been conditioned to believe that, seeing blood meant you should rush to a hospital immediately; yet, now I expected to sit tight and wait for it to pass.

whats a periodMy first period was weird. The theory had not prepared me for the practical. I wasn’t prepared me for the sensation, duration, color, flow or the pain. I had to acquaint myself with adhesive matters, because as women, we all know, that in matters pads, the glue matters. And wings too. You are only bothered by the quality of chicken wings, until you wear a pad without wings and have to walk around with your thighs touching each other on purpose. Then, you appreciate the genius behind pads with wings.

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NOTHING prepared me for the leaks, stubborn stains got a whole new meaning. To wash with hot water or cold water? that was the question of the week. Incase, you are wondering, cold water any day.

Periods are and can be beautiful.

For the longest time, I just never thought of them like that. The truth is, I didn’t quite understand them. I thought I did, but beyond the ‘monthly shedding of my uterus wall’ I was as clueless as they come. I didn’t understand what was really happening in my body, the hormones et al, and how genetics, the food I ate, the chemicals I exposed myself to could play a part in all; after all, it was just the ‘monthly shedding of my uterus wall’. I’ll talk more about this in my next post.

What was your first period like? Did it live up to your expectations, if you had any?

‘Big Sis’

The Big Sister Also Needs A Big Sister

Hello !

My name is Ess and I like to talk about periods. Yup, you read right. I wasn’t always like this but life happened. I’ll explain what life did or didn’t do to me in the next couple of posts but first, let’s reminisce on my first conversation about periods. I was a shy girl, who thought periods were gross, actually disgusting and dirty, and such an inconvenience. To my defense, my first conversation about periods wasn’t all rosy. Unless we choose to dwell on the fact that roses are red [pun intended].

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I was about eight or nine years old, when a cousin and the house help at the time decided to prepare me ‘womanhood’ as they called it. Well, I was told that soon my body was going to change and I would have to change the way that I carried myself. No more playing with boys. Blood was going to become a monthly sighting and it was disgusting. How encouraging right? Then I was shown a pad, and asked if I knew what it was, all I said is that I had seen an ad on t.v. Well, it was now introduced to me as  ‘mkate’/bread. I have no idea why food was brought into this conversation. I was told they were not exactly for display hence the shopkeeper wraps them in a newspaper. That wrapped up my period class and I was released into womanhood, well, whenever it would strike.

I left knowing life was about to get hard and yucky, my periods were enroute and my days of fun were about to end. The realities of life that I was not looking forward to.

Subsequent conversations about periods in my home science class were filled with giggles and awkwardness. The basics were covered but still, I was left somewhat unprepared for  what was yet to come.

I’ve had my periods for well over ten years, and they have changed over the years; I’ve experienced the good, bad and ugly sides of periods. As I have walked this confusing journey, trying to understand my periods and the things and drama that they’ve come with, there are so many times that I have asked God why I didn’t have a big sister, to shed some light on what to expect and what to do when the unexpected happens. I am a big sister, but I too felt the need to have a big sister.

Many years later, through my journey of pain and confusion, I have found my feet ordered to this very place, to be the light that I did not have. Be the ‘big sister’ for those willing to listen and talk about periods openly.

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The truth is, I don’t have all the answers but I sure am a whole lot wiser than I was then. I have had to learn in my adulthood what a normal period looks like to enable me to identify an abnormal period.

That’s it!!! You can’t identify the abnormal symptoms if you don’t know what a normal period looks like.

I invite you to join me on this journey of demystifying periods, body loving and pursuing fullness of life and health.

I would love to hear from you, what was your first period conversation like? How has it shaped what you think about periods now?

‘Big Sis’