When It Floods – Endometriosis & Heavy Flow

Big girls wear diapers too.


My girls talk a lot about diapers, my little one is potty training herself. No, really, she woke up one day thia6 week and declared that she was a big girl who didn’t need to wear diapers.  So she graduated to knickers when we are home, this isn’t without accidents and a love-hate relationship with the potty. But, the bottom line remains, diapers are for little girls.


One of the things that I loathed about my periods was that I always received the el-nino version, complete with hail stones, also known as the clots. It was heavy, messy and destructive. It had me longing to stay indoors, to stay tucked in bed, except, it stormed in bed too, and sheets aren’t woven to absorb the red sea. 


I’ve legit thrown away some garments before. I made the grande error of washing off – more like, attempting to wash off – a blood stain with hot water. It bonded. The red carved a home in the threads and refused to leave. I’ve been terribly embarrassed by my periods. Had my self esteem plummet during my periods. I couldn’t trust my uterus not to let me down. The flow sometimes felt like a breast-milk let down, urgent, forceful and absolutely beyond my control. 


I’ve layered and improvised to try to contain the flow. I’ve set reminders to wake up and turn during the night, because the pad just wasn’t loyal. Even layering the pads was not effective in holding back the red sea.

An endo-sister recently shared with me that the one thing she wished that she knew is that adult diapers were an option. 
I never thought of them as an option, in fact, I always considered maternity pads the next best thing. I think it’s a brilliant idea. A lifesaver, and self esteem redeemer.


Big girls wear diapers too. 

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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.

 

A Conversation About Menstruation – MHDay2018

When we take away the shame that surrounds menstruation, girls and women will truly be able to walk in freedom.

Being born with a uterus should not be a disadvantage. Being born with a uterus should not stagnate your dreams. Being born with a uterus should not make you spend time away from school or work every month.

To commemorate Menstrual Hygiene day 2018, We For She organized an event at Ronald Ngala Primary School in Mombasa.

It was nice to see boys and girls eager to learn more about menstrual hygiene. A conversation about menstruation is one that we need to have with people of both genders. Menstruation is not optional, menstrual hygiene and health education should be prioritized.

I was invited to speak about menstrual health education and endometriosis. It was good to create awareness about endometriosis even to preteens. I urged the stakeholders present to offer comprehensive menstrual health education to the girls, including stressing the importance of understanding your hormonal functions and how to decipher your periods.

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The Mombasa County Women Representative Hon Asha Mohamed took the microphone and shared her journey with Endometriosis. Her vulnerability and willingness to share her journey was beautiful. We may be one in ten women, but we are more than just a statistic. We are mothers, sisters, wives, cousins, and friends to many other men and women. Our voices matter.

I applaud you Hon Asha Mohamed. Thank you for standing with us and for amplifying our voice.

Tina Leslie of Freeedom4girls shared about period poverty. The reusable menstrual products are a great alternative for girls and women who miss school and work because of lack of sanitary products. Also, these products are environmentally friendly.

The theme of this year’s Menstrual Hygiene days was #NoMoreLimits. Here’s to girls and women achieving their dreams and living their lives to the fullest.

 

 

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

31 Days of Endo ~ Lyndsay

Day 23 🙂

I am catching up slowly! I hope you’ve had a great Endo awareness month so far.

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Today we highlight Lyndsay’s story as she shares her journey with Thoracic Endometriosis. Lyndsay shared her story with Lisa on Bloomin’ Uterus in January this year.

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Lyndsay was 32 years old when she was diagnosed with Endometriosis.  Now 37, she lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her beautiful family and wants to share her Endo Journey with us.  Lyndsay is one of the rare EndoSisters whose lungs are affected by the disease!

Lyndsay’s Journey: I always had painful periods as a teenager, and into my twenties. I didn’t really think anything of it at the time.

At age 26, I was in a car accident where I was the passenger. The SUV rolled a few times as the driver had swerved to avoid a deer. We climbed out of the windshield, appearing unharmed. Paramedics checked us out and said we looked fine. I followed up with my doctor since I still felt off a day later, but she also said I seemed fine.

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It was a little over a year later, I was working out at the gym and had a strange stomach pain. It got worse as the night went on, and I ended up in the hospital. I waited for almost 8 hours before I saw someone in the ER (my vitals were normal, so I was not deemed to be a priority). When they finally were able to check me out, they did an X-ray to see what could be causing my issues. It turned out my diaphragm had ripped open, and my organs had pushed up into my chest cavity, and partially collapsed my right lung. They asked if I had been kicked by a horse (I hadn’t) or if I’d been in a car accident. I told them I had over a year ago.

My issue puzzled the ER, and they sent me into surgery with 3 different surgeons – a general surgeon, a thoracic surgeon, and an ob/gyn. My surgery took over 8 hours and we learned a lot.

  1. It appeared that my liver had a strange ring around it and they said it was likely that during the car accident, the liver was pushed up through my diaphragm and remained wedged in there for over a year. (Note that during that year, my periods were more painful than I’d ever experienced);
  2. The car accident had left one of my Fallopian tubes crushed;
  3. I had endometriosis in my uterus / abdomen;
  4. The liver being shoved into my chest also damaged my right lung leaving it 10% collapsed for over a year.

I came out of surgery with a chest tube on the right side. After a few days in the hospital, they removed my chest tube and sent me home. My chest filled up with blood after I was sent home, and I had a series of visits where they would drain liters of bloody liquid from my chest.

Eventually, I had another surgery on the right side and a chest tube put in to clear up the issue. I spent weeks in the hospital and eventually, they sent me home with a portable chest tube device (it has some German name that I can’t recall). The home health nurse that came to check in on my lung issue/chest tube device wasn’t properly cleaning her tools she used to remove the fluid from the device, and after a week at home, I ended up with a pretty serious infection along the chest tube site.  I was hospitalized again, and after a few more weeks of treatment, and gradually removing the chest tube, I had stabilized.

Fast forward 2 years. In this time, I got married and was pregnant with my first baby. The pregnancy seemed to be going well until I hit about 20-22 weeks. I was gaining weight normally, growing the way I should be growing, etc until about week 22. I started to plateau. I also had a nasty cough and started to lose weight. I consulted my ob/gyn (I switched to the practice that was involved in my surgery since I thought they knew the most about my medical history). When I voiced concerns about my weight loss, I was told by one of the female docs in the practice that “you are the type of person who doesn’t like to gain weight”…. I told her she was wrong and I was trying to eat the best food for the baby and at this point was drinking ensure to gain weight. She dismissed my concerns.

Things got worse as my pregnancy went on. I lost more and more weight, got short of breath very easily, and after almost going into labor early, was placed on bed rest for a few weeks until I demanded to be seen to check in the baby (the practice was very dismissive of my concerns – at this point, I was puking, had diarrhea, and looked very emaciated). I demanded to have an ultrasound to be sure the baby was okay. I went into the office and was immediately shipped off to labor and delivery to have my baby. Once I was dilated 9-10cm, pushing out the baby wasn’t so bad. I had a horrible cough, but actually, my coughing/gagging helped my body to push my son out of my body. He was born in about an hour and was a 5lb 2oz healthy baby boy and I was so happy.

I felt off physically after I gave birth, but was assured that it was normal to feel that way. I would talk and lose my breath for like a full minute. After persistently asking to have someone help me with my cough/ breathing issue, (they tried to send me home telling me I was fine), a doctor in another department saw my history, knew I’d had collapsed lungs before, and ordered a CT scan. So after my 3 wonderful days with my baby, I was told my lung had fully collapsed on the right side and that I’d need to go into surgery to repair it. I was devastated that I wouldn’t get to spend every minute with my new baby but knew I had to fix my lung. I had the lung repaired, had 2 chest tubes, and was in the hospital a little over a week.

Going home was such a great feeling so that I could reunite with my newborn. The cause of the lung collapse was still unknown at this point, but the guess was something related to the childbirth had irritated it. They estimated that if I got pregnant again, there would only be a 15% chance this would happen again.

Fast forward 2.5 years, I was on vacation and it happened to be a period week. I took Seasonique at the time which allowed for only 4 periods a year which I requested due to how painful they were. I was coughing and I coughed up blood. I started googling “coughing up blood on your period” and for the first time saw an article about how some people had endometriosis in their chest cavities and could cough up blood during their period.

I called my thoracic surgeon to tell this to him. We discussed options for a bit and his suggestion was basically, “if you want another baby, I’d try to get pregnant soon and then I’d get on a birth control pill and not ever take the blanks, but also consult with an ob/gyn”.

A few months later (thankfully) I got pregnant, and actually made it through most of this pregnancy without issue, however, I also went into labor early with this one and gave birth to a baby girl. I did dilate up to 9cm and while they were getting ready to deliver, they noticed she was breech, and I had to be quickly sent into surgery to do a c-section to deliver her. During surgery, my ob/gyn noticed a lot of strange weblike tissue in my abdomen. He cut it all out for me, and sent some to be biopsied. It wasn’t determined to have some endometrial implants on it. My daughter was healthy, but tiny. She was 4lbs 15oz, and while we were all sent home from the hospital together, when she went in for her first doctor visit the next morning, her body temp was too low and she had to be admitted to children’s. My husband took her since I was recovering from my c-section and the same night, I ended up in the ER with chest pain. It turned out both sides of my chest filled up with blood.

My surgeon surmised that if I did have endometriosis in my chest cavity (he thought it traveled there after my car accident), that the surge of hormones during delivery most likely caused the crazy bleeding. He suggested a lot of walking (20 min 3 times a day) could help keep my lungs expanded and push out the fluid. After a few weeks of that, my lungs were back to normal. My daughter also was out of the hospital after 5 days. She just had to gain some weight to be able to hold her body temperature. She and I were both home recovering together.

About 7 months later, I had some severe stomach pains and ended up in the ER. They diagnosed me with stomach ulcers. After a few weeks on antacids, I ended up back in the hospital with a collapsed right lung. After 2 failed pigtail catheter attempts, I ended up with 2 collapsed lungs. I had the pleurodesis done on the right and had 2 chest tubes placed on that side and 1 on the left. The pleurodesis is a procedure which irritates the chest wall to make it sticky so that the lung will adhere to the chest wall and not be able to collapse. The left side healed quickly (relatively) but the right side did not. Pleurodesis didn’t work evenly. Another chest tube placement was tried to get the doxycycline into different areas on the chest wall to try to get the lung to stick. It stuck in a strange web-like formation leaving a few pockets of space. One pocket was a part of the lung that still had an air leak.

I was in and out of the hospital over a 6 month period including a 6-week hospital stay and an 8-week hospital stay. I went home for a few weeks with a chest tube unit (the large one that wouldn’t allow for infection). Finally, they decided to remove the chest tube even though leak remained. The lung was stable even though the hole was still there. I was stable with the web-like right lung for 3 years.

Fast forward to daylight savings time one year … I had been taking birth control pills without the blanks for a few years without issue. I forgot this year to adjust the time I take my pill. I have an alarm on my phone that goes off at 9pm every day. Well a few weeks later, my lung collapsed. It happened just after Thanksgiving. My doctor allowed me to wait out the holidays with my family and come in January to get a chest tube. I was thankful to spend Christmas at home since I had missed Christmas the year my daughter was born. He tried just the small pigtail catheter in January. It worked temporarily, but I had another collapse in March and opted to do the pleurodesis on the left side. It seemed to work and expected to be the more permanent solution.

I made it until October before having another issue. It seemed as though the very bottom of the lung had come “unglued”. After this repair, I went to consult with Cleveland Clinic in their Pulmonary Medicine Department and also talked to the Head of Thoracic Surgery. They both said that they had nothing new to offer, but confirmed the steps my doctors had taken were what they would have thought to do. In their 20 years at the Hospital, they had only seen 1 other case similar to mine. They explained to me that I most likely had microscopic endometrial implants in my chest cavity. The implants bubble up during a period and then the bubbles pop when the hormone is no longer present. They suggested consulting more with an ob/gyn but also said that once I hit menopause the issue would go away.

Today I am writing this while in the Hospital less than a month from that conversation in Cleveland. My insurance changed my birth control brand to a generic. It had the same active ingredients, so I thought it would be okay. I had break through bleeding, and a week later the left lung collapsed. I had pigtail catheter chest tube installed on the left to suck out the air and allow the hole to heal. I am having my doctor write a prescription that requires me to remain on my current brand of birth control to prevent this from happening. It was encouraging to hear everyone’s stories, and if you can actually make it all the way through my crazy saga, I hope it’s helpful.

Words of Advice:  If you are treating a lung endo issue with birth control, be careful about switching brands and remember to adjust for daylight savings time. Be strong and hang in there. It helps to take it just 1 day at a time and remember every day out of the hospital is a good one.

The Last Word: It’s comforting in a way to know that others have the same issue as me. Every time I tell my story to people, they look so horrified and have never heard of lungs collapsing due to endometriosis. I am happy to have a community of others with crazy endo issues.

If you wish to contact Lyndsay, you can email her here.

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Thank you for sharing your story, Lyndsay. We are praying that a cure for Endo is found soon. May God’s grace and strength be sufficient for you as you battle endo and balance being a mum and wife. Here’s to happy, pain-free days ahead.

Auntie Flo’s Words of Wisdom

Auntie Flo’ gave me a dose of common sense earlier this year. As she ended her TEN-day visit, which was much longer than she was welcome, she said, ‘Ess, I am the tip of the iceberg. I’m just here to show you what’s going on within.’

I was upset! First, you overstay your welcome, which is very expensive by the way. I didn’t know that many pads could be used in a month, then you want to get all ‘Snippets from a wise lady’ on me. Puh-lease.

But there is something about truth. It sinks into the deepest part of your soul unless you suffocate it with a blanket of ‘What-do-you-think-you-are-doing-here?’. I tried to use this blanket, but truth kicked like a baby in utero after the mama has had a cold sweet drink. I could just see the kicks all over, to boot, my soul, in the depths of my belly, was playing ‘Moves Like Jagger’ and I had to stop and listen to the music. It wasn’t a coincidence.

After you’ve bled for 10 days you sober up. Whatever stupor of denial you were in ends with immediate effect. And then you begin to process the words that were said.

Zen Function Wellness puts it really well, ‘Your period is like a report card, either reporting that you have fantastic hormonal balance, a nourished and well functioning system with easy, smooth, predictable periods, or that you may have a deeper health issue resulting in a not-so-great report card with irregularity, cramps, pain, nausea, severely erratic moods.

Knowing your cycle is actually a wonderful tool that women get to have to help keep track of their health status, a monthly report on if they should pay a bit more attention to their health and their bodies.’

The thing that I liked about report cards in school is that there was always room for improvement. In Class 3 I aced my Math test and the teacher wrote, ‘ Good job! The sky is the limit.’ Then, I was over the moon. Now I know that I should always strive for better. For well-balanced hormones, for smooth skin instead of fewer pimples, for a regular, pain-free period.

As I reviewed my period that month, I knew that I was failing. Auntie Flo’s extended visit was my body’s way of telling me that something was not right. That I needed to pay attention to my internal environment and make necessary changes. I am still recovering from that bad month, it affected my whole cycle by adding an extra day to my regular cycle, which is one day too long. But, I am working on getting my body back to normal.

This week I am doing a period audit, going over my period diary and plotting graphs to see the cycle from another perspective. When you zoom out, you see the bigger picture.

Have you done your period audit for the year? Here are some questions that can answer to get the conversation going,

How has your cycle been this year? Regular or Irregular? Painful?

What has your body been trying to tell you?

What changes are you making to boost your health?

If you would like to know what to look out for in your cycle, how to keep a period diary and chart the patterns, keep it locked here. My book ‘Bloom – A practical guide for your period journey’ is out this week. I am extremely excited to equip and empower more girls and women to track their periods and begin to decipher what their bodies are trying to tell them.

Happy Blooming!

 

 

 

The Kenyan Endo Story: Reshma Maru

It’s difficult to tell the battle a woman is fighting by looking at her. Endo is an invisible force, it is tiny and mighty. It attacks from the inside out, Endo pain is something that all girls would love to live without.

There is a resilience, a fire in her eyes, a desire to win that Reshma has that lets you know that she is determined to beat Endo.

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Reshma Maru is a 27-year-old who works in procurement for a furniture store. She graciously shared her story with us.

What makes me smile is a face of a child-the innocence they show and so pure at heart. If there is something I can smile about, it is fantasizing about how I can hold my own child and just hold them close to me.

 

I started my periods at the tender age of 11. I would hear girls in schools saying that it is like a disease where if one touched a girl who had her periods it would spread, so I kept it hush from friends and even my mother. Being the only girl brought up in an Indian family I didn’t have someone to confide in, the day that my mother found the bed sheets stained she was furious that I did not tell her I had started my periods. In the Indian culture it is important to tell your mother so that she can explain to you that when you are on your periods you do not go to the temple or touch someone who is going. So many myths came together with this.

 

I went through years of painful periods that would last 7-8 days. Panadol was my best friend and without it I would not last any of the days, I just knew that ahhh its periods they are always supposed to be painful, so it is normal.

 

The pain got worse when I was 24 years old. I would have the normal painful period but the pain would continue even after the periods were over. So two weeks down the line I was like ‘This cannot be period pain, it must be something I have eaten.’ I went to a general doctor and explained all my symptoms to him, and he said that it sounds like amoeba. He took a stool sample and said that he found traces of amoeba and that was a sigh of relief as I knew there are medicines to get rid of them. I was on medication and a few days after ovulation I was pain free.

 

The next month came and I got painful periods and the same pain after the periods. This time I ignored it and took antibiotics for two weeks and voila I was back to normal. I just thought to myself that since the previous periods were painful I may have a less painful one next month. Come next month the pain was worse. I would get hot flashes, nausea, lack of appetite, and pain all over my abdomen especially my left side.

 

Since I had a medical cover at work I decided to go see a gyno and just get things checked out as it may be a small issue and besides since I wasn’t for it why not. I got advise from fellow workmates on which gyno to go see since they were using the same. The gyno advised I do a blood test and a scan so that she could have a clear view of what was causing the pain. When she saw the scan report she looked at me and said you have been diagnosed with Endometriosis. At first I was like ‘Huh? that is a long name to even pronounce let alone spell.’

 

I took the prescribed medication and decided to google the sickness she had talked about. After the research, I concluded that it was a common disease so may be the Vissane that she had prescribed would cure it as the box read specially for Endometriosis. I took it for 6 months as I went for regular checks with the gyno and I was really really happy. Vissane suppresses your periods, so no periods = no pain for me.

 

I was three months away from my wedding and pleaded to the gyno for me to continue the medication until my wedding and honey moon were over. She agreed and said that I should get a baby and all these problems should disappear. I was happy that I was pain free, able to work, plan my wedding, run around here and there.

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I actually ditched the contraceptives when I started gaining weight and getting very emotional almost every day. I started going to the gym to lose weight but after 3 sessions max and I could hardly keep up. I was always tired, my feet always hurt, my shoulders felt like someone was sitting on them, I would cry for no reason over the tinniest things. My husband would be like, ‘What is the matter be strong,’ and I would just look at him and just cry and cry.

 

This time time when my periods came, the pain killers did not work at all. I could feel the pain like I was being stabbed on my left side but nothing was working. I even went to work in all that pain just waiting for the painkiller to kick in and may be get distracted from the pain while working but nothing worked. I rushed to my gyno and pleaded she does something about the pain. She injected me with stronger painkillers but nothing changed. All helpless I now asked her, “Please just tell me anything else we can do because I don’t think I will last a day like this.” If I saw a knife that day I would have stabbed myself just to remove whatever it was causing the pain as I knew exactly where it was.

 

She advised that I be admitted right away for a Laparoscopic surgery. Without knowing the details I was ready to go through it just to pass through this hell. In the evening as I was prepping myself for surgery, I started thinking ‘What is this I have agreed to do?’ but I prayed all will be well and went for it. A surgery that was to take 2 hours ended up taking 4 hours. I came out of surgery with a numb tummy and no pain I was like ‘Wow! I like this feeling.’

 

The pain started after I was out of hospital, I was constipated, healing from the surgery itself, dealing with a dry throat caused by the tube they insert down your throat during the surgery, extremely emotional and hating on those who didn’t come see me in hospital including a Best friend who I decided to let go of. I went back to the gyno for my report and to ask why the surgery took so long and she explained that I had a normal cyst and inside that there was now an endo cyst growing both being 5.5cm. These were on the left ovary therefore causing the excoriating pain. They were removed but since they were on my ovary the top tissues were removed as well so healing would take some time.

 

Post-surgery, I am still struggling to join this diet plan that endo patients are asked to follow but my work mates give me support and also join me in eating right. I do not want to lose a job or give up on life because of this. Believe me it is so hard, I lived for food and now I get told do not eat this or that. You think like where do I start looking for organic food and even when you do find some you are too weak to cook it for yourself.

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But believe me nothing is worth your health. The bills that you get with medication and surgery are more expensive than just eating right and taking care of yourself. I am now hearing of foods or herbal meds and I’m willing to give them a try.

 

This has really changed me in many ways – I am closer to God more than ever, thinking of him everyday – I am more positive and really willing to help someone else through this because NOTHING is possible without the support. When you are left alone your get negative thoughts play in. Even just listening to someone vent is good enough for me because we all at one point want to do that.

 

I always want to help and be there for anyone going through this as no one understands your pain like a fellow endo-sister. I believe this will be a thing of the past but this can only happen if we create awareness and research on what works or doesn’t work for each other.

 

What I always keep in mind that God gives the toughest battles to those he loves the most. Let’s not give up and always be there for someone whenever you can because time is short, let’s not run out of it!

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courtesy yesofcorza.com

My favorite flower is a black rose as it is unique and rare to find just like you!!

You can connect with Reshma on:

Facebook – www.facebook.com/reshma.maru

Instagram –https://www.instagram.com/drop.dead_diva/

Are you an Endowarrior living in Kenya?

Would you be interested in joining a community of women who support each other in this journey?

Do you suspect that you could have Endometriosis and are wondering where to start?

If you answered yes, please leave me a comment or send me an email via yellowendoflower@gmail.com and I will be in touch.

Despite the adversity and circumstances that surround us, we will still bloom and dazzle the world with our presence and beauty.

We are flowers; delicate, resilient and strong.

Prepping for Auntie Flo’

After many miserable months of barely surviving during my periods, I realized that I could make my experience better by preparing my body in advance. The little changes have had such a huge impact, incorporating certain foods into my diet a week before Ms. Flo’ checks in has proved to be beneficial and made certain symptoms one less thing to worry about.

Constipation, cramps, clots, bloating and migraines made me dread my periods, my only saving grace was that I had a long cycle which meant 11 periods a year, I was counting all the blessings I could think of.

The game changer for me was the migraines. I had found a way to live with the other symptoms but the migraine was the one that made having to stay home from work worse, I couldn’t read, think or sleep.

Here are a few of the things that I have since incorporated that are giving me some much-needed relief.

I’d love to know what is working for you, I am open to trying out new things, so please leave me a comment below.

Under Wraps

There were certain things that could not be discussed at the table. Menstruation was one of them. It was discussed in the shadows, amidst whispers. Truth seldom lurked in those shadows. That’s how I was convinced that painful periods were normal.

I suffered in silence. When I tried to speak up, I was told that it was normal. When the pain got excruciating, I was told that it was all in my head. It seemed my head had a circulatory system, an SGR that helped it move from the North of my body to the Equator, my waist.

The first time I set out to buy pads as a young girl, I walked praying that I would find the shopkeeper’s wife. It would be easier to ask her for Always. When I found the shopkeeper himself, I thought about going back home and coming back later, but I needed the pads urgently. I mustered all the courage I had within and asked for pads.

“Habari yako? Tafadhali nipe Always.” I said as I looked at the stock behind him.

“Mzuri. Oh! Unataka Always?” he asked with half a smile on his face as he connected the dots, I was finally menstruating, no longer a little girl.

“Ndio.” I answered as I looked at the ground. It was already an awkward conversation, we didn’t need eye contact to make it worse. He hurriedly picked a packet of Always with wings, wrapped it in a newspaper and then put in a black paper bag. I was embarrassed. This action spoke volumes to me, it said: periods were to be kept under wraps.

A painful diagnosis with Endometriosis got me talking about periods on any platform I could find. The pain of surgery and hormonal treatment eradicated the illusion of shame. I shared a bit of my story on my Vlog.

We need to talk about periods at the table, even from the mountaintops if we can. There are too many women suffering in silence, too many girls languishing alone, hating menstruation, yet it can be a beautiful thing.

As our girls are home from school, I encourage us to talk openly and freely about periods. Ask them about their periods the last couple of months and take steps to help them.

Let’s talk about periods over a cuppa.

Misunderstood

‘Who hurt you?’ I asked aloud, referring to my uterus. I was tired of her tantrums. She behaved like an old bitter woman, who was trying to hurt me and cramp my style. Her negative attitude was like a pregnant dark cloud in my bright blue sky. My positive attitude was like the blaring sunshine before it rains. The proverbial ‘Hii jua ni ya mvua.’

period-what-its-like-punch2

The mention of Eve’s name would make me cringe. I blamed her for my uterus’ monthly anger. Why did she have to listen to the serpent? Of all the trees in the garden, she chose the one that was forbidden. Curiosity killed the cat. Curiosity also harmed Eve and her descendants.

One day I woke up and called my uterus to a meeting. That morning, I blasted some worship music, wore the prettiest top I owned,  sprayed some nice smelling perfume, and read up on how to deal with a hurting individual. Then I prayed and I set out, well, more like set in, to have the discussion of the day.

I had decided that nobody, or uterus for that matter, was going to dull my sunshine.

“Hi Missy! ” I said in a high pitched voice.

“Hmmm!” she grunted

“First, I’d like to say sorry about all the mean things that I’ve said about you. I didn’t meant to make you upset.”

“Go on, I’m listening.” She responded. My sandwich approach seemed to be working. I was apologizing before stating my case.

“I’d like to call a truce. Help me to help you to help me.” I said, almost pleading.

“Y’know, you sound like a really nice person, when you are not talking badly about me. I think that I can help you, I’d like to give it a shot.” Uterus said as the smirk on her face turned into a gentle smile.

The voices in my head shouted “Hallelujah!”. I was excited that I was making some progress, but I needed her to tell me exactly how we could work together.

“What can I do to make your living conditions a bit better?” I asked.

“Thanks for asking.  This is going to be a long response, you better get a pen and a paper.” I quickly removed my notebook and pen, and put my phone on ringer. Nothing was going to disrupt my peace negotiation.

“What makes me most upset, Ess, is when you eat all that oily food, dairy and wheat and your stomach bloats all up in my business. It’s difficult to breathe with your intestines in my face. How would you feel if you had balloons constantly poking at your face? Huh?  Bananas make me happy, They relax my muscles, I’d like more of those. It wouldn’t hurt, if you’d drink some more water. Chill out on the alcohol and coffee.” Missy said then paused to catch her breath.

“Ess, Heat is bae. Snuggle up with hot water bottle, I’m cold. I want some love. Have a cuppa and warm me on the inside. I know you want to lie all day, but I need you to keep moving. Give me some endorphins. Boost your levels of fish oils and magnesium, those help me feel less cranky. Finally, if I cause you too much pain, please remember that it is not personal. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t enjoy losing a part of myself every month. If you are in a lot of pain, please pop a painkiller. If it feels as though I am screaming each month, or cutting you from the inside, do us both a favor and see a doctor. Lord knows we need all the help that we can get.”

“Oh Uterus, you had a lot on your chest. Thanks you sharing your thoughts and the tips. I will definitely take them into consideration. I want us to live in peace. I’m sorry you’ve been hurting so much all this time. Honestly, I thought you were just a grumpy old lady. But, it turns out that you are pretty cool. Let’s hug and make up.” I said as I stretched out my hands to embrace my fiend turned friend.

“Ess, I’d love to hug you but your intestines are all up in my space.”

“Oh! I’m sorry about that. I’ll work on the bloating. Now, let me eat a banana and make you happy.”

It turns out, I’d gotten it all wrong, Miss Uterus is not a bitter old woman, she’s just misunderstood.