Adhesion Prevention

taffy

You may have heard of adhesions and know what havoc they can cause. Have no idea what I’m talking about?  Read more about adhesions here.

Today an article hit my inbox about adhesion prevention, published in 2015.  You can read the article here:

http://www.mst.ru/publications/eng/oxiplexAP/Choi_A%20Sticky_subject.pdf

I found it very interesting.  Of course, it doesn’t yield any answers, but it does discuss ideas and the need for further research and testing.  AND it gives me something to discuss with my surgeon should I ever need to go back under the knife.

Knowledge is power. ❤

Two Years Ago Today

test

June 30, 2014…a day that changed my life.

I went in for a cystectomy to remove a possible dermoid cyst from my left ovary.  The surgery was only supposed to last 1.5 hours.  Four hours later, I emerged from under the knife…

And received my Endometriosis diagnosis.  My life hasn’t been the same since.  And I couldn’t be more grateful for it.

My doctor (who is also my surgeon) removed as much of the Endo as he could, but it remains on my liver and diaphragm.  I’ve undergone Lupron Depot injections and am now on a continuous birth control pill.  I’ve changed my lifestyle and diet.  And am managing my pain.

More importantly, I’ve personally met hundreds of women who share this condition and connected with even more online.  I have learned about an illness I’ve had since puberty, have embraced the fact that I wasn’t weak or crazy, and learned that I am not alone.

I started blogging a few months after my diagnosis, a way that I could learn more about our condition and share what I’ve found with others.  It’s been therapeutic for me.  I designed a logo to help me cope with the ugliness within my body, which morphed into buttons.  I’ve also started a local support group here in San Diego.  What started with two people now has over 50 in our San Diego Facebook group.  Our monthly meetings have anywhere between 3-20 people showing up.  I’ve organized an annual awareness walk and we have raised over $3,700 for the Endometriosis Foundation of America since 2014.  And I’ve started a library, sharing my collection of Endometriosis books around the world.   So many people ask me how they can start something in their area, and I tell them : just start something.  I’m amazed at how this happened.

Two years ago today truly changed my life.  And I wouldn’t be here without the support of my friends, family, physician, and fellow EndoWarriors. Thank you.

I will endure.  I will flourish.  And I am still beautiful.

Pelvic Pain and Chiropractic Care Workshop

pp

UPDATE JULY 7, 2016: The workshop has been cancelled and will be rescheduled at a future date.  Apologies.

Element Wellness Center reached out to our little support group to see if we’d be interested in having Dr. Ryan Hummel host a workshop on how chiropractic care may help with pelvic pain.  One of his staff members used to suffer horrible pelvic pain due to her Endometriosis.  She sought treatment and feels so much better.  She is so passionate about how it changed her life that she started working there.

So, we’ve accepted their invitation.  They’re promising to discuss the science behind how chiropractic care may help alleviate pelvic pain.

If you’re in the Southern California area and would like to join the workshop, it’s going to be Saturday, July 9, 2016, in San Diego.

More information and free registration can be found here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pelvic-pain-talk-tickets-26186381171

A little personal note: we are not endorsing Dr. Hummel’s practice or claims.  We are simply sharing a resource that may assist you.

~Lisa; Bloomin’ Uterus

Feel Good Fridays

england-fog-1386758057AgG

It’s Friday!  And today’s quote is about moving on.  Steve Maraboli once said,

“Don’t let the agony, regret, or fog of yesterday blind you to the fact that each new day carries with it a plethora of opportunities to move your life into the right direction.”

Bogged down with something?  Try to let it go.  Step out and onward.

Tarnished silver?

Okay…so this isn’t an Endometriosis-related post, but something wonderful has happened and I need to share it with the world.

I woke up this morning feeling less-than-pretty.  I was bloated, exhausted from a fitful sleep, and feeling a bit crampy.  So what do I do? I went in search of some earrings to help make me feel pretty.

But…much to my dismay, they had tarnished.  Like…a lot.  Who cares.  I wore them all day anyway.

image

I was going to stop at a jeweler on my way home, but figured I’d save some money and see how I can untarnish silver at home…Google to the rescue!

image

image

Take a bowl or a dish.  Line it with aluminum foil, shiney side up.  Add 3-4 tablespoons of regular salt (we only had sea salt).  Bring some water ALMOSTto a boil and pour it into the dish.  Let the salt dissolve for a few seconds.  Plop in the tarnished jewelry. Wait 3 minutes (inhale over the bowl…sort of smells like eggs!!!).  Retrieve the jewelry with a spoon and gently rinse in warm water.  Dry with a soft cloth.

And…
PRESTO! It worked! They’re like brand new!

image

So, I’m a little excited.  And just wanted to share with you in case you’re mourning over a pair of tarnished earrings.  And if a little pretty thing makes you feel better during the day, wear your pretty little thing. 😀

Chronic pain affects your brain

brain

So a lot of people with Endometriosis suffer from chronic pain…hell, a lot of people without Endometriosis suffer from chronic pain.  There are theories and studies out there that suggest chronic pain affects memory, cognitive function, and mental health.  Not only does Endometriosis present painful symptoms, but it’s also incurable.  And there are many women who do not get any symptom relief from any of the treatments available.  You can see where this may cause some “mental health” issues.  Here’s some interesting tidbits on how pain affects brain activity and function.

What is gray matter all about?  It maintains memory, sight, hearing, emotions, speech, impulse control, and executive functions (reasoning, problem solving, cognitive functions, etc.).  Gray matter volume naturally decreases with age.  So…it happens naturally.  Chronic pain may just spur it along a bit more.  Studies have indicated that children who suffer from chronic pain have a greater loss of gray matter volume when they are adults.

A study published in January of 2016 found that women with chronic pelvic pain may suffer from hyperalgesia (a heightened sense of pain), as well as a decrease in gray matter in pain-processing areas of the brain…a change of brain chemistry.  Several published studies also found that chronic pain affects the brain and disrupts cognitive function, especially memory.  A 1997 study found that people who suffer from chronic pain may exhibit post-concussive symptoms, such as disturbed sleep, fatigue, irritability, forgetfulness, and difficulties paying attention, focusing, and thinking. None of the people in the 1997 study suffered from a head injury.

Complain a lot about brain fog?  Trouble remembering things? Not feeling yourself?  Well, perhaps this explains why…

In 2015, the Endometriosis Foundation of America invited Sawsan As-Sanie to speak at their Sixth Annual Medical Conference.  She confirms findings that women who suffer from chronic pain have decreased gray matter volume in the areas of the brain that process those pain responses.  These women also exhibited altered brain chemistry and function.

Suffering with chronic pain may also, understandably, affect your choices to do certain things.  A May 2016 study found that women with Endometriosis and severe pelvic pain “may display a tendency to avoid new potentially risky situations…to experience pessimistic worries, fear, and inhibition…and to perceive themselves as unable to manage problems and obstacles which are considered as caused by external circumstances…”  The more severe the pain, the higher the harm avoidance and “lower the self-directedness.” It also found that women with severe pelvic pain were more fatigued, which may be the body’s response to pain, rather than a symptom of the Endometriosis.  This fatigue-response may also lead to depression and increased stress.

What?  English, Lisa, English!  I interpret this as saying some women with chronic pain and Endometriosis find themselves more tired, less motivated, and scared to do things for fear of making their pain worse.  Sound familiar?  I’d also like to add in an inability to get off the couch or out of bed…or off of the floor…to do things.  There’s a reason why we cancel social calls, dates, dinners, parties, call in sick to work, etc.  Is it because we’re wimps or pussies? No.  It’s because we’re in severe pain.

That same study suggests that, “endometriosis patients with chronic pelvic pain who are high in harm avoidance and low in self-directedness represent an at risk population for physical and psychological suffering. Due to high harm avoidance, these women are more likely to be constantly worried and perhaps focused on their pain sensations, with increased fear and anticipation of disability, which may cause significant limitations to normal activities. Low self-directedness involves low self-efficacy, such that these women may perceive themselves as unable to manage the disease and its symptoms. Pessimistic worries, hypervigilance toward pain, fear, and hopelessness may not only influence pain perception, but also hinder the effectiveness of therapy by affecting women’s responses to treatment.”  The authors hope that their study leads to further research about treating the mental challenges of Endometriosis.   Albeit a small study consisting of 133 Italian women, it’s a stepping-off point for the need for broader research in this area.

A 2015 study linked chronic pain and stress with decreasing the volume of the Hippocampus, which is also linked to depression.  Stress causes inflammation, which, in turn, weakens the immune system, which may cause pain to flare-up, which continues to alter the brain’s chemistry and deteriorate gray matter volume.  The study also states that chronic pain affects cognitive function, which we discussed above.  It’s a snowball…

A 2017 study stated that even in a “resting state,” the brain may reserve a certain amount of activity for dealing with pain and pain-related issues, which may effect cognitive and emotional function.

Ways to Increase Gray Matter Volume

You may be reading this freaking out screaming, “My brain is shrinking?”  Don’t fret.  A 2010 study offers hope for your squishy-bits-of-gray.  The authors followed-up with patients who had surgery and were now pain free (theirs was hip-related chronic pain; not Endometriosis).  Once pain free, their gray matter volume began to increase.  The authors theorize that gray matter decrease is partially reversible with pain management.  It can bounce back!

Worried about your possibly shrinking brain?  There are several ways you can increase your gray matter volume:

  • exercise
  • yoga
  • meditation
  • physical activity
  • social interaction
  • nutritional diet
  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • constantly learn and train
  • playing action video games (oddly enough)

Now what?

The one thing I read over and over again in these studies was an underlying call to reduce your pain as best you can. Whether this be through stretching, meditation, or even medication – try to reduce the pain to be able to try to reduce the affects on your brain.

Seek support of friends, families, loved ones, others going through the same experience, or even professional help.  Biofeedback treatments, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy have been shown to alleviate pain levels, as well as lessen depressive symptoms.  A 2015 study about the benefits of psychological treatment for chronic pain concludes their study with one phrase, “Patients will benefit!”

Take positive steps to increasing your gray matter.  Look up “brain teaser” or “brain trainer” games.  Even try to find games that help you strengthen your memory.  There are several webpages online that offer these games for free.

I’ve grown up all my life hearing alcohol and drugs kill brain cells, but nobody has ever mentioned pain damaging the brain.  Do what you can to help your body in any way you can…

** Updated February 16, 2017 **

 

Resources:

About Memory –  Gray Matter

Albuquerque Journal (Article; Nov. 2014) – Study: Heavy Pot Smoking Shrinks Gray Matter

Endometriosis Foundation of America (Transcript, 2015) – Sawsan (Suzie) As-Sanie – Pain Mechanisms in Endometriosis: Understanding the Neurobioligy of Chronic Pain to Enhance Patient Care

European Journal of Pain (Abstract, 2017) – Brain Changes Associated with Cognitive and Emotional Factors in Chronic Pain: A Systematic Review

Expertscape

HealthBeat Brain Drain: Foods that Boost Your White and Gray Matter

Hormones Matter Chronic Pain, Your Brain, and Yoga

Human Reproduction (Abstract; May 2016) – Personality in Women with Endometriosis: Temperament and Character Dimensions and Pelvic Pain

Human Reproduction Update (Article; Sept. 2014) – Central Changes Associated with Chronic Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis

Inner Light Publishers How to Increase Gray Matter in the Brain

ScienceDirect (Abstract; June 2008) – Chronic Pain May Change the Structure of the Brain

ScienceDirect (Abstract; June 2015) – The Hippocampus and TNF: Common Links Between Chronic Pain and Depression

SpringerLink (Abstract; July 2015) – Psychological Interventions for the Management of Chronic Pain: a Review of Current Evidence

Taylor & Francis Online (Abstract; 1997) – ‘Postconcussive’ Symptoms in Persons with Chronic Pain

The Journal of Neuroscience (Article; Nov. 2009) – Brain Gray Matter Decrease in Chronic Pain is the Consequence and Not the Cause of Pain

The Journal of Neuroscience (Article; Feb. 2008) – Beyond Feeling: Chronic Pain Hurts the Brain, Disrupting the Default-Mode Network Dynamics

The Journal of Pain (Abstract; Jan. 2016) – Functional Connectivity is Associated with Altered Brain Chemistry in Women with Endometriosis-Associated Chronic Pelvic Pain

The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain (Abstract; April 2015) – Effect of Environment on the Long-Term Consequences of Chronic Pain

I’d again like to thank Gary for granting me access to several of these full studies for review.  If you’d like to read any of the studies in their entirety and I’ve only listed an abstract, drop me a note.

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa

Share your Story : Nurah

Nurah

Nurah was 10 when she got my first period and right away knew something was wrong. She lives in Nairobi, Kenya and shares her story with us today.

Nurah’s Journey:  You can read Part 1 of Nurah’s journey on her blog, here:  nurahpalesa.wordpress.com/2016/06/16/period-pains-endometriosis/

Words of Advice for Us: Talk about it. Don’t be quiet. Collect all the info you have & keep getting. Make a scrapbook for your daughters & sons to give their daughters (I got endo from my grandad’s mom) Just talk about it.

If you would like to contact Nurah, you can follow her blog, Nurah Palesa.

I want to send a special Thank You out to Nurah for sharing her story with us today.  And thank you for your powerful words and spreading awareness of this disease with your own blog.  You truly are a Warrior, Sister, and friend.

downloadAnd if YOU would like to share your story, you can do so by clicking here.  The best part about this disease is the strong network of love and support from our fellow EndoSisters, and our friends and family, too.

Yours, Lisa.

Feel Good Friday!

damaged-tree-2632_960_720

In light of the impending heat wave, today’s quote has to do with fire, which ties into my strong EndoWarriors.

Dan Groat once said:

“If the forest has a day of fire and the heat of the flames does not consume a special tree, it will still be changed; charred, but still standing.”

We’ve all been changed by our diagnosis in one way or another.  Some find solace in knowing they’re not crazy; others embrace that they’re not alone.  We can stand, together.

Share Your Story : Nicole

20160611_190518

 

Nicole was diagnosed with Endometriosis when she was 28 but, like so many of us, had been dealing with the pain since puberty.  And she, too, learned that “I was no longer just a whiner with PMS.”  She’s a fellow blogger and has written about her journey and wants to share it with us today.

Nicole’s Journey:  My story goes back nearly 30 years, so…it’s kind of long. 🙂

Here’s part one: http://entertainingmess.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/before-endometriosis-diagnosis/

And here’s part two: https://entertainingmess.wordpress.com/2016/06/16/after-endometriosis-diagnosis/

Words of Advice for Us: There is a wealth of information available regarding methods for coping with endometriosis, but not all of it is helpful to all women. In my experience, doctors tend to go with the tools they know — pills and scalpels. Take charge of your treatment. Read everything you can get your hands on. Keep trying different things. Don’t give up. You deserve better than this.

The Last Word: Tell your story. Endometriosis is far too common to be such a well-kept secret.

If you would like to contact Nicole, you can email her at nmb1974@gmail.com or follow her blog, An Entertaining Mess.

I want to send a special Thank You out to Nicole for sharing her story with us today.  And thank you for your powerful words of encouragement.  You truly are a Warrior, Sister, and friend.

downloadAnd if YOU would like to share your story, you can do so by clicking here.  The best part about this disease is the strong network of love and support from our fellow EndoSisters, and our friends and family, too.

Yours, Lisa.