Hemorrhoids. Be. Gone – 8 Home Remedies for Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids. The pain in the butt that no one ever wants to have.

Courtesy of Endo, I was acquainted with hemorrhoids at a tender age. I didn’t know what it was, but it seemed like the lesser evil compared to being backed up, thanks to chronic constipation. The bowel issues began before I was 10, and by the time I started my periods, Things Were Bad! During my periods, I would battle, cramps, heavy flow, and bleeding hemorrhoids. Just thinking about the pain gives me chills. Some months I wasn’t quite sure where the bleeding was coming from. It was a messy affair.

Over the years, things have gotten better. Here are some home remedies that I have tried and have worked:

1. Hydrate

Drink enough water, at least 6-8 glasses of water a day. The liquid will help to soften the stool.

2. Eat more fiber

Eat fiber-rich foods such as fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. The fiber will help to soften the stool. Reduce the intake of foods that trigger and worsen constipation.

3. Don’t push too hard

Avoid bearing down excessively when passing stool. It may put too much pressure on your veins.

4. Don’t postpone the urge to go

When you feel like using the bathroom, use the bathroom. The longer you wait, the stool will become dehydrated.

5. Don’t sit too long

Avoid spending to much time perched on the toilet seat. Reading on the toilet may cause more harm than good by straining your veins.

6. Keep the anus clean and dry

Avoid using things that can irritate the skin such as soap and wipes with alcohol. Wash the anus with water and pat dry. Wear loose, breathable materials.

7. Get moving

Adapt exercise into your lifestyle, it can help to ease the pressure on the veins. Also, losing excessive weight may take some pressure off the veins.

8. Use a step stool

Place a step stool infront of the toilet and step on it as you sit. Elevating your legs into a squat like position may help you pass stool with some ease.

There are topical creams available over-the-counter. However, if the pain, discomfort, and bleeding persists, please see a doctor.

Here’s to hemorrhoid and constipation free days.

 

 

 

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#31 Days Of Endo ~ Trish Barasa (Part 2)

You can read the first part of Trish’s story here.

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Cyclically, there have been instances of extreme hypoglycemia which I mostly just conclude is endometriosis related as it correlates with my cycle to the T. There have been instances when the hypoglycemia has left me perilously faint in public. Nowadays I carry a glucose tab to fix this emergency should it occur at the wrong time and place. On the flip side, this is another of my indications that my flow is here and this may last through the cycle. This is often accompanied by cravings for sugary or oily foods. 

 

I am currently not sexually active, but back then when I was, endometriosis would affect my sex life because of dyspareunia- or what the layman refers to as painful sex. In the past I was fortunate to have a long time medical boyfriend who understood this and was supportive- adjusting accordingly. It is hard to explain the same to other men making me shy off sexual activity and relationships altogether.

 

Now I understand why the psychologist was called on board on the material day when hell broke loose for me. It is never normal. The brain suffers a blow – nasty headaches and general malaise are proof. Mood swings and irritability have characterized my persona for a long time though I have learned to manage my emotions. Remember this is also a side effect of the medication. At some point before my surgery, endometriosis symptoms were adverse and due to my ignorance, the tracking of these symptoms was poor so all I remember of my past cycles is the pain. All I knew was long painful periods. I was unaware of the association with other conditions. But after my surgery, the awakening began, I started understanding endometriosis. In addition to the enlightenment, a long remission followed the surgery. 

 

The Side Effects

 

The burden of drug side-effects and drug dependency is heavy with endometriosis. Sometimes I am not sure what is harder to deal with, the endometriosis or the side effects of the treatment plans. Every drug that is consumed has a side effect, a cost-benefit analysis needs to be done.  Archetypally, I have in addition to this suffered dependency to pain medications that have CNS action. It is not strange to find me conjuring non-existing symptoms to get that strong painkiller that gives a high and a calming sedating effect. I may as well have used surgery medication in the process. On the other end are drugs whose side effects are harmful, affecting other bodily functions, systems, and organs. 

 

I became a hypertensive at the age of 27 years for various reasons (I have an autoimmune disorder) but the endometriosis compounded the situation. I am now on two drugs to manage the high blood pressure: a beta blocker and an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACE). Remember these too have side effects. The ACE has left me with a chronic cough whose treatment is best with syrup containing codeine which is very addictive. I also suffer from drug-induced peptic ulcers from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory used to manage inflammation and pain from endometriosis. To counter their effect I have to take the NSAIDs with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to protect my stomach from further irritation by reducing stomach gas production. Only God knows the long-term effect. Common short-term effects are constipation worsening my endo triggered constipation. Regular antibiotics used to treat the occasional infections makes me susceptible to yeast infection as it alters the normal flora in my system. I always have an antifungal at hand should the situation move to yeast infection. I am mentally depleted and fatigued 24-7; it takes a lot of internal push to get going but the energy levels are mostly so low and fatigue always looms.

 

Progressively I have learned to live with endometriosis. I doubt I can properly weigh any of these symptoms as better or worse. I treat myself more often than not as it saves me time spent in the ER and money paid in for consultation as I am in between jobs and do not have a medical cover.

 

Through the Endometriosis Foundation of Kenya Whatsapp group, I have met fellow women, young and old alike, some with shared backgrounds all affected by endometriosis. I interact with and encounter women suffering similar and disparate forms of the condition. I get encouraged and encourage fellow sisters, I inspire and get inspired, I get tips and share tips.  I get first-hand experiences from others and I’m able to compare services and treatment plans. We share doctor’s experiences. We also have endometriosis experts who walk us through the maze of the condition as different situations arise. I have learned new concepts. One of the greatest lessons I have learned from the group is about the importance of diet in managing endometriosis; the foods that boost endometrial tissue growth both inside and outside the uterus cavity and those that suppress this estrogen-dependent activity. From this group, I am now proudly off milk and dairy products and have more daunting tasks through diets and exercises which I am confident I shall achieve. 

 

The biggest challenge I have experienced is access to specialized health care while in between jobs. Dealing with flares, monitoring progress, accessing treatment and lifestyle changes all come at a cost and this can take a toll on anyone whether or not one has a proper medical plan. But like any other terminal condition, the dangers of catastrophic expenditure are rife for women living with endometriosis, and especially those not gainfully employed or struggling to eke a living. Secondly, drug addiction requires close monitoring, proper management of treatment and rehabilitation. On infertility, I am not affected but the reality is with us.

 

Anatomically, my coccyx (the tailbone of the spine) was also not spared, and this has adversely affected my back and childbearing process in one way or the other. I cannot sit for long, and though rare inflammation of the coccyx and neuralgia causes unbearable pain requiring hospitalization and physiotherapy. 

 

Fortunately for me, I have been blessed with two children. I had my first child early in my life and was able to conceive and deliver my second child after the endo-surgery. The pregnancy was however closely monitored. 

 

Finally is the challenge of adhesions from the surgeries. I am counting about 5 surgeries in addition to a caesarian section and an appendectomy I’ve had. The scarring affects organs manifesting through pain, organ effect and bodily functions. I must say that I have in the recent past enjoyed being in remission, however,  the situation is gradually deteriorating and reverting to previous critical stages. I will soon be require to go for a review.

 

I would commit a travesty of justice if I concluded my story without identifying policy gaps in the management of endometriosis.

 

    i)  Make specialized care for endometriosis affordable and accessible
    ii) Research widely on management of endometriosis and treatment. Remember many organs are eventually affected and the condition is debilitating.
    iii) Research on genetic predisposition and association with other autoimmune disorders.
    iv) Funding of research and building the capacity through partnership with research institutes and medical institutions.
    v) Proper categorization of endometriosis as a debilitating condition requiring specialized care to avoid misdiagnosis and resultant deteriorating.
    vi) Aggressively research on estrogen specific to the Kenyan woman.
    vii) Regulate reasonable adjustment at work place to accommodate endometriosis patients during a flare and long term therapy that my affect their ability to carry out normal duties and redeployment to a more accommodative position.
    viii) Separate disability leave from sick leave
    ix) Early diagnosis can help prevent infertility from untreated endometriosis.
    x) Health workers should be trained in new guidelines and protocol in the management of endometriosis.
      You can connect with Trish on

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    Trish, thank you for sharing your heart and your life with us. I pray that you will find grace for each day and that you will touch the hem of the garment and find your healing. You are a warrior, you have taught us a lot through your story.
    Here’s to good health and many days filled with energy and contentment.

 

#31 Days Of Endo ~ Trish Barasa (Part 1)

Day 7 🙂

Oh, that our voices will be heard. We hope that policymakers, health care providers and the society at large will hear our cry and help us.

Endometriosis is real! It is as real as the air that we breathe. Trish Barasa gives us a glimpse of her life as an Endowarrior. The highs, lows, and oh-my-goodness-not-this-too.

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Trish is a strong and deliberate warrior. She is fighting much more than Endometriosis.

My name is Teresa Barasa, and I am an endo- survivor, and warrior. My friends call me Trish. I am 37 years old and a loving mother of 2 children. I am a socio-economist by profession currently a public policy scholar at the Strathmore business graduate school. I am a free spirit who finds gratification in serving humanity and impacting lives around me. It gives me a deep sense of satisfaction knowing that I have in my limited human capacity uplifted a soul and lit another’s candle. I smile at the slightest ray of light and break into laughter in sparks. Conversely, a dying candle saddens me, whether my own or another’s. Darkness leaves me desolate and impotent.

 

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I had an early menarche, judging from my classmates, relatives, and playmates. I vividly recount of the events: I had just turned 12, and this particular evening was the eve of my uncle’s wedding. Relatives from upcountry had convened in our house for the event. To my awe and dismay, I woke up soaked in blood. My morning was wrecked. All the home science lessons on menstruation vanished into thin air in my current reality- and so my day began. As fate would have it, I continued to stain myself at the wedding bringing my predicament to the attention of female relatives who took it up to clean me up and improvised a pad for me with cotton wool. They wittingly introduced me to the birds and the bees story. It never stopped flowing for a whole week staining all through – I tied a sweater around my waist to conceal stains.

 

From the word go it was staining and painful. And it has never disappointed since – only I became better with time in treating the pain using non-steroidal-anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and had access to better pads. A quarter a century later, my cycle can best be described as shorter than the typical ‘moon phase’ of 28 days, sometimes as short as 2 weeks with a heavy flow that on various occasion stretches to 14 days. A friend jokingly refers to this phenomenon as the ‘long rains’. I must confess I sometimes can relate to the bleeding lady who touched the hem of Christ’s garment. Strangely, this is my normal for I know no better, when it comes to my menstrual cycle.

At the age of 25, an acute attack of gastritis brought me to the verge of a mental breakdown from excruciating pain, prompting me to crawl to the Nairobi hospital ER. I brought everything to a standstill. I was in a lot of pain and I refused for anyone to touch me even the doctors who should be treating me. I was eventually sedated and admitted for extreme abdominal pain. A team of doctors was setup to attend to me who included a Gastroenterologist, GP, Gynecologist and Psychologist for reasons that I was manifesting mental symptoms. I had had several painful abdomen moments before but this one had literally run off with the red line. On evaluation, I was diagnosed with peptic ulcers from an endoscopy and a pelvic scan report showing tissue in the pouch of Douglas (POD). The findings from the pelvic scan led to a scheduled laparoscopy. The gynecologist, a renowned specialist in the female reproductive system explained the need for what he referred to as a non-invasive surgery for the diagnosis of a condition he had clinically diagnosed me for – endometriosis. My first encounter with a condition that has since redefined my life. Procedurally, I had surgery. This was followed by a biopsy which proved that the tissue excised from the POD and deposits from the region near my rectum was indeed endometrial tissue. 

 

This marked the beginning of my journey of living with endometriosis. First was the diagnostic surgery that also doubled up as a remedy for endometriosis through ablation of endometrial tissue that was visible. I was thereafter presented with treatment options that were mainly hormonal for the suppression of estrogen.

 

There is no cure for endometriosis, at least not yet. But there is a choice of treatment plans that different doctors will propose depending on the severity of your endometriosis, affected organs, and expectations to alleviate or improve the situation. For me, the pain was unbearable and the effect on my rectum, bladder and related systems was inexplicable. The thing about endometriosis is the deposits that are wrongly placed will respond to the follicular and luteal phase and shed off in their misplaced locations just like the endometrial tissue in the uterine cavity: these as responsible hormones fluctuate along with the menstrual cycle. The result is a host of abnormalities, mainly inflammation, pain, and infections. 

 

I have suffered menstrual symptoms (painful cramps, long menses, short cycles, bleeding and spotting in between periods), urinary symptoms (urinary tract infections, painful urination, and incontinence), digestive symptoms (bloating, constipation and diarrhea), pelvic inflammatory diseases, severe migraines, musculoskeletal symptoms, and chronic fatigue. For these, the doctor proposed treatment through the hormonal implant Zoladex for 6 months. Zoladex is a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (GnRH) which is used in the management of endometriosis by both alleviating pains and reducing endometrial tissue. Zoladex acts by suppressing the production of estrogen thereby reducing the formation of the endometrial lesions consequently the pain. Zoladex implants are given through injections that are administered one in a month. Besides Zoladex, I have used Depo-Provera for a year, combined oral contraceptives and other related medications to suppress estrogen.

 

To date, I still contend that Zoladex treatment is but a necessary evil. I say this because I suffered the drug’s worst side-effects. For 6 months, High blood pressure, headaches, hot flashes, mood changes, low libido, breast tenderness, constipation, nausea, insomnia and vaginal dryness became the order of the day. As I counted down the 6 injections, my day to day abilities were suffering the side effects. Note, endometriosis in its very nature affects every other part of your system; these effects are compounded by the medication used to manage pain, bleeding, and to treat the infection or improve the digestive processes. 

 

Pelvic pain is a common symptom but many others may occur depending on the site of the deposits. The pelvic pain sometimes can be as a result of inflammation processes consequently infections from the endometrial abnormalities. I am said to have a retroverted uterus. Not sure if this is endo- related but it exerts pressure on organs in my pelvis.  

 

With deposits occurring at the POD and spread within the rectal and bladder region, my pelvic pain was accompanied by constipation and urinary problems. When hardest hit by constipation, I have found myself starving myself so that I don’t have anything to excrete because defecation is a nightmare. As gross as this may sound, constipation can be so severe resulting in heavy bleeding that needs a pad to the rectum and time to heal. As a subsequent to constipation is diarrhea leaving one depleted and dehydrated. In addition, is bloating arising from the digestive abnormalities which can be very painful. Right next to the rectum is the bladder which is equally affected on a regular basis mainly through urinary tract infections (UTI). From experience, I can almost predict a UTI even before it develops.

 

Against every dolorimeter of pain, against every end of the road, against every recurring symptom, again every escalating situation has been a blow on my mental status. Perhaps dead brain cells. Dealing with ovarian cysts is another hurdle every woman with endometriosis has to navigate. I have personally had an operation from torsion and still have to deal with the menacing cysts which affect the flow, pain, and infection.

 

You can read part 2 of Trish’s story here.

Trish, I pray that you will find strength for each new day and healing. May you touch the hem of the garment.

Tattletale

My body is not very good at keeping secrets. I had a conversation with a friend recently about water consumption. She said that she doesn’t drink water everyday yet her skin is so smooth and supple. I was astonished. If I don’t drink at least two liters of water everyday you will see it on my lips and face.

My body is such a tattletale.

I’ve stopped viewing this as a bad thing and I am making it work out for my good. I use my face as a yard stick to see how well I am doing in the hydration and nutrition department.

My Body Is A Tattletale

It’s easy to forget to drink water when I am busy so I’ve had to be very intentional about it. I carry a bottle of water with me. I rarely drink soft drinks and have one cup of tea a day. If I’m thirsty I drink water. If I’m bored I drink water.

My body has in turn thanked me. I am not constipated ( can I hear a ‘hooray’ from all the Endo warriors?). I get less Urinary Tract Infections. My lips are not chapped and the acne on my face is clearing up, albeit a bit slowly. I feel like I could break into a song and dance as I think about just how far I’ve come. It’s truly a miracle.

I’m learning to celebrate my victories, regardless of their size. I may not be where I would like to be, But I am definitely not where I used to be.

Infusing my water with lemon has really helped. Lemon water helps with many of the side effects of Endometriosis such as cravings, nausea, indigestion, constipation, inflammation and allergies. It also helps to cleanse the liver.

I’m grateful that my body is a tattletale, it keeps me in check.

 

 

 

Listening To The Whispers

Conversation is food for the soul. Having insightful conversations refreshes me. I enjoy listening out for details, chiming in and processing the information later. It never occurred to me that my body would try and communicate with me at any one time. I used to saunter through life without a clue that the pain and symptoms were my body’s way of trying to get my attention.

Hormones are powerful little things, trust me, I have learned the hard way. Puberty humbled me enough to respecting these chemicals. From the acne that wouldn’t go away to the Endometriosis symptoms; my body was constantly trying to tell me that my hormones were imbalanced but I was too distracted to listen. I screeched to a stop in my passive tracks when I couldn’t walk because of the pain.

Pain is the body’s way of saying, ‘Help me!’. Excruciating pain has taught me that I need to listen to my body when it whispers before it screams and I can’t walk anymore.

2020 SummerPet Picnic!

Over the years I’ve discovered that it’s difficult to identify abnormal symptoms when you don’t have a baseline to work with. Finding the baseline takes time. One has to listen to their bodies daily and take note of the symptoms and emotions.

I’m kinder to my body now. I’ve chosen to be deliberate as I listen to her speak. I take note of the symptoms that I experience after eating food, experiencing stressful seasons, being on medication, and using beauty and cleaning products.

It has helped me feel more in control. I’m able to avoid pitfalls and the pain that results from bad diet and lifestyle decisions.  I have managed to be constipation free through watching my diet. After years of experiencing pain and discomfort, I can eat and have a bowel movement without tears and the help of softeners.

I have learned to pay attention to the whispers so that I won’t be paralyzed by the screams.

 

The Cheat Meal Is Just Not Worth The Pain

When I moved to Mombasa, there are two things that I absolutely enjoyed, going to the beach and eating the local cuisine. I just couldn’t get enough of the mitais, mahamris and biriani. My body on the other hand, was not too pleased. If anything, it was having a hard time processing the wheat, sugar and high amount of fat. My face looked like rocky terrain, it was screaming ‘You need to stop!’ but my taste buds were in a mini-heaven. And my taste buds were boss. So I kept struggling.

From a tender age I had bouts of constipation. This was made worse by the Endometriosis adhesion that were on my large intestine. When I moved to Mombasa, it got worse. My diet was perfect for constipation. So I would eat happily and then wail in the bathroom. Each and every day. In retrospect it seems like madness.

The Cheat Mealis Just NotWorth the Pain

Then one day, I had enough! I decided that though the mahamris and mitais were tasty, they were just not worth the pain I felt when I pooped or the pain during and after my periods.  Nothing was worth that pain and I needed to start saying ‘NO’ to my taste buds.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve had conversation with Endo warriors who told me that the food that they avoid (wheat and dairy)  is just not worth the pain that they feel when they eat them. They’ve both felt the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Is the cheat meal worth the pain that you feel? Is it worth the hours spent in the bathroom, praying, trusting and hoping that the pain will end? Is it worth the pain during and after the periods?

I’ve asked myself these questions and my resounding answer is NO!!

What has your food and pain journey been like?

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