Crab Walk To The Horizon – Menstrual Health At The Coast

Kadzo, sits at the beach watching the waves rise and crush at her feet. The crabs walk to the distant left, and a part of her wishes that she could follow them to the ends of the horizon. A few weeks ago, she had a death scare. Or at least she thought it was, initially. She woke up to a mattress filled with blood, and upon further investigation, she realized that it was her blood. Her heart raced, as she wondered what was happening. Why it looked like she was bleeding to death in her bed.

Her mother, a fisherwoman, came from fishing and called Kadzo to wash the fish as she always did, but Kadzo would not move. Gravity and the flow of blood fastened her to her bed. After numerous threats, and exasperation from repeating herself while standing in the hot sun, Kadzo’s mother ventured into the house to find out what had gotten into her daughter and made her disobedient overnight.

She found Kadzo crying silently and staring at the blood on the sheets. She let out a little shriek, as this was not how she had expected her day to go when she rose before sunrise. Her baby, Kadzo, was now a woman. She was at a loss of words and didn’t know where to start, as she’d never broached the topic of ‘hedhi’ as she called it with her daughter.

Kadzo’s eyes locked with her mums, and she saw a sadness that was palpable, an image of her mama’s heart breaking. Kadzo’s mum got on her knees and embraced her daughter. Tears flowed down her cheeks as she looked for the words to explain what had just happened.

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Menstruation is nothing to celebrate in the village. It is seen as a flaw in nature, as a result periods are only discussed on a need to know basis. Facts and myths are weaved together in the pep talk. Once a girl reaches her menarche, everything changes, and she is viewed as a woman, old enough to be married and bear children. For the girls, it is beginning of the end of their dreams.

Communal beliefs about menstruation dictate how girls and women view themselves and are viewed by others when they are menstruating. The common narrative is that a woman is unclean and therefore unable to go on with life as usual.

65% of girls and women in Kenya do not have access to menstrual hygiene products, this means that they are forced to improvise and use materials such as newspaper, old rags, and mattresses. Some girls and women are forced to have transactional sex so that they can buy sanitary towels. Psychologically, their self-esteem and confidence are affected. Even though they have hygiene products, they may be scared of soiling themselves. Economically, they may lose income if they are unable to go to work due to pain, cultural taboos or lack of products.

Factual information is sparse, this is because there is no comprehensive menstrual health education offered to girls and women. Menstrual health education helps girls and women to understand their bodies, know more about the disposable and safe reusable products, know the warning signs to look out for and learn period hacks.

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Navigating your Menstrual Health Journey in The Workplace

Have you ever begged a toilet to fill up quickly so that you could flush it, and walk out before people start to question your potty-time?

I have, and it sucks. I have often found myself begging, pleading with the toilet to zap everything in one sweep. A faulty toilet can make a woman on the rag cry in a public bathroom.

A few years ago, I worked in a place that women had to carry their used sanitary products home. There was no provision for sanitary waste management. I wasn’t the only female employee, but I quickly realized that is the way things were and there was little that we could do to change it. With men at the helm, our needs were overlooked, and we didn’t stand up for ourselves. I chose to visit a nearby mall every time I needed to use the bathroom.

Menstruation is still a taboo topic in many places. With conditions that are far from ideal, it is no wonder that some women struggle to feel on top of their game during that time of the month. From sanitary products being inaccessible for some, to the lack of clean toilets and waste management, to the societal normalization of pain, it makes a simple bodily function seem like a life sentence.

Over the weekend, I hosted a support group meeting where we discussed menstrual health and the workplace. It was a refreshing, informative and interesting conversation. Some of the things we covered are lazy toilets, sanitary waste management services, normalization of pain, sick-offs, embarrassing moments, performance during your cycle, PMS, dismissal, disclosing invisible illness, the financial strain, gaps in your CV due to illness, and the role of insurance companies. Rosemary Akeya, the founder of HRM Connections, shared with us her knowledge and practical tips of surviving in the workplace as an endo warrior.

We have a long way to in achieving menstrual equity, but we can be the change that we desperately want to see. Let’s talk about menstrual health and shun the stigma around it.

#periodpositive

Invitation To Partner

I could talk about periods all day long. What used to make me cringe and uncomfortable is now what make I have chosen to spend this season of my life talking about and training on.

I trained a group of ladies from Moi University a few days ago, and I loved it! There are way too many assumptions about menstrual health. The stigma surrounding menstrual health means that the lies have become truths, and there is no avenue to ask questions or to seek clarifications.

In some communities, girls are having sex soon after their menarche because the boys believe that sexual intercourse can cure cramps. Parents, religious insitutions and schools’s voices are faint compared to the uproar of their peers.

Sex is not a cure for for menstrual cramps. Pregnancy may provide temporary relief, but I believe that teenage pregnancy should not be a band-aid for underlying problems. Pregnancy and motherhood may come with other challenges.reach out and give someone a great big hug!.png

There is a great need out there. To some, this may just seem like just another period campaign, but it is more than just a period talk. It is the demolishing of myths, it is teaching of life-changing truths, it is the restoration of dreams and hopes, it is unveiling the – often-marred- beauty of being a woman. It is showing another side of the rose, while hoping to take away the memories of the prick of the thorn.

There are several opportunities that are coming up to train, inspire and mentor girls, and the truth is that I cannot do it alone.

If you would like to get to know more about the training sessions and how you can help to change a girl’s life, please send me an email via yellowendoflower@gmail.com.

 

Let’s Talk About Periods

I had a beautiful period last month.

It was a nice shade of red, bright, alive, a good summary that my hormone levels are getting better. It was a shade that I never saw in my teenage years. It made me happy, reminded me of how jolly my little one gets when she sees Elmo. Speaking of Sesame Street, a friend told me that she calls her period ‘Elmo’ and that my friends, is how I have closed the Furchester hotel in my mind.

It flowed like a stream, which is a relief since my period has always felt like the ocean on a bad day, like trying to kayak on choppy waters in a raging storm. I told hubby how good it looked, let’s just say that was not what he was expecting me to say. I have talked about periods for a long time, but this was a different narrative.

I love talking about periods. It is one of the topics I could give a talk on without prior preparation. Talking about periods is important. If I knew that my period should be bright red and runny as a teenage girl, I would probably have gone to a hospital sooner. Instead, I suffered in shame. I was horrified by the size of the clots, and the dark purple color was really nothing to write home about.

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We need to talk about periods openly and regularly. Too many girls and women are suffering in silence. So many dreams are unrealized because of menstrual health-related conditions and lack of supplies.

Monday 28th May is MH day 2018, the theme this year is #NoMoreLimits. If you are in Mombasa and you would like to meet up and have a conversation about menstrual health, please drop me a line via yellowendoflower@gmail.com

Please speak up, share your story, initiate a menstrual health and hygiene conversation with women and girls around you. Let them know that being born with a uterus should not be a disadvantage. We can all achieve our dreams.

#NoMoreLimits

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.

 

 

 

Bloom

“It is well” is at the tail end of things that I like to hear in times of turmoil. It is a phrase that I heard in the gusts of pain and wondered how anyone could conclude that what felt like a near death experience was something to talk about on a positive note.

10 years ago as I writhed in pain, it was not well. My body was not well, my mind was not well, and, I was not well. Everything hurt; passing urine, bowel movements, ovulating and menstruating were all accompanied by pain. I hated the journey, and I didn’t have good things to say about life. I was drowning on dry land. A few months later, I began my journey to get a diagnosis, which changed my life even more. Endometriosis is a silent, seemingly subtle thief, that lurks in the night at first, and then becomes brash as it matures and steals unashamedly in broad daylight. The pain that I had been battling over the years was all linked to the painful and heavy periods but I had no idea.

Pain is a very good teacher, thankfully we do not all have to attend its classes, especially if we have other people to teach us. My experience through pain and life change bore a desire to teach what I wish I knew as a teenage girl. One year ago, I decided to put the lessons into a book.

Bloom is here

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I am stoked that it is a reality, Bloom is a product of tears, surgeries, questions, countless medications, and a desire to be the change that I want to see.

Bloom is your practical guide for your period journey. It describes how a normal period should look and feel like, it explores the sanitary product options, healthy practices that every female should employ and teaches girls and women how to keep a period diary, the different factors that they should look out for and it includes a one year period diary.

Keeping a period diary over the last couple of years has revolutionized my life. I am now more self-aware, able to identify patterns in my cycle, and kinder to myself, there is a kindness that stems from understanding. I am able to hear my body whisper before it forces me to lay down and listen to the opera of its screams.

Bloom is Ksh 500/=, to purchase it in Nairobi please contact Rosemary via 0731224223. To purchase in Mombasa please contact me via 0746622833 or yellowendoflower@gmail.com.

When you look at a rose from the top, it is difficult to see the thorns beneath the blossomed petals. Sometimes the exterior appearances make people doubt the pain, but just like the sting of the thorn is very real so is the invisible pain that has somehow been branded as normal.

Through the years I have learned to bloom despite the thorns.