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5 Things You'll Understand If You Have Endometriosis

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I have endometriosis. I’ve written about it openly for some time now and just this summer I had the honor of sharing my story along with some other incredible women for a Women’s Health article. It sparked the urge to share more and to create more awareness, because my journey has been hard and having endometriosis for me is a daily struggle. I’ve had my ovaries and uterus removed which has put me in early menopause. I wake up in pain and go to sleep in pain. It’s completely altered my entire life, certain plans I’ve had, dreams, everything — but I also believe I am strong enough to carry the burden, and I’ve been lucky enough to find ways to change those plans into new ones. There are millions of other women who are walking this same path right alongside me, and together, we got this.

1. Heat

I never knew I’d crave heat so much. Heat is one of the amazing things that keeps me going. I have a heating pad that I use daily, and it’s got this amazing fur cover on it so it makes me feel like I’m snuggling a cat. Funnily enough, I usually also attract my cats when I use it.

Also, when it’s 90+ degrees outside and you’re sitting in a bath filled with water as hot as you can handle it, you might have endometriosis (said in my best Jeff Foxworthy voice). But don’t worry — the feeling you get when your muscles relax in the warm water may make you forget about how much you’re profusely sweating.

2. Yoga Pants

Oh, sweet yoga pants, life without you would just not be the same. I wear yoga pants nearly every single day, and it’s not just because I’m too lazy to put on jeans, it’s because those suckers are C-O-M-F-Y. They don’t push on your stomach (which already hurts) and they’re stretchy for the occasional bloating (more on that later). I like to add a pair of men’s Hanes sweatpants into the mix sometimes when I’m at home, just to spice things up. But, yoga pants have now become socially acceptable to wear in public, so I’ll be milking that for as long as possible.

3. Bloating

Nope I’m not pregnant, I’m just incredibly bloated. Abdominal bloating is a common side effect of endometriosis. It’s like bloating and endometriosis made an evil pact to make women feel as unattractive as possible. “Hey, she’s in pain — why not puff her up like the blueberry in ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,’ that oughta knock her down a peg or two.” 

4. “Period” Comments

When having a conversation about endometriosis with someone who has endometriosis, please do not mutter the words “Oh, I have bad periods, too.” This is sure to cause the person you’re speaking with to collapse in on themselves like a dying star and cause an emotional response similar to that of a black hole. If you’re unfamiliar with black holes, NASA has a great article right there.

5. Pain Management

Trying to find the right way to manage your pain is like going on a string of really, really bad dates. You begin super optimistic that they might be the right fit, but in most cases, they aren’t — and you have to try again and again. Surgeries, pain medications, treatments, therapies — these are all things us gals with endo are fluent in. We attempt all of these to try and lessen the pain, not eliminate it, because in the back of our minds, we’ll always know there isn’t a cure, not yet.

My pain radiates. It starts off quiet and low in my abdomen and then gets louder, more sharp, more twisting, pulling, until it’s completely taken over. It’s like someone has ahold of my insides and they’re slowly wrapping them in barbed wire like you’d wrap a Christmas tree in lights. It’s the worst kind of pain I’ve experienced (and I delivered a 9-pound baby).

Endometriosis has the power to pull you into a dark place where you feel completely helpless. Don’t let it. When you’re living in the darkness you never have the chance to truly see the light. And although on most days it’s hard, keep going. 176 million women worldwide have endometriosis, and together, by spreading awareness, we can fight back.

Follow this journey on Kendall Rayburn.

Originally published: September 9, 2016
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