Dungeons & Dragons & Donuts logo from 1-15-17 game

(Now, Mom…I know you’re reading this. Don’t freak out!)

If you’ve been following our adventures for a while, you’ll notice this new format. Scroll to the bottom for the summaries and links to each of our sessions…

One of our local EndoSisters, Toni, had a brilliant idea to get the gals together for a little bit of roleplaying fun.  She had read that roleplaying could be beneficial to people who suffer from pain or in need of a happy-boost – and besides we wanted to get together for some good laughs and R&R.  I thought it was a great idea, and off she went, planning our adventurous day together!

We teamed up with Linda Dami of Donut Panic, who let us use her comfy couches and tables for the afternoon.  We also had access to delicious vegan donuts and gluten-free vegan cupcakes. Thank you, Linda!

“But, Lisa,” you ask, “what does roleplaying games have to do with this?”  Aaaah, I’m glad you asked! Well, let me tell you what I’ve learned:

There’s a man out there named Charlie Brown.  He suffers from major depression and anxiety, as well as borderline personality disorder.  He says gaming saved his life, and it continues to, every day.  He pushes passed his anxiety, goes out, meets with friends and strangers – finds himself encouraging the shy to break out of their shell.  And he says, “Often its better than medication of traditional therapy . It heals, and bonds, and fills in those cracks.  The world for a bit is a little more tolerable. I know this because I can move back into it .”  Tabletop gaming has helped Charlie.  You can read his amazing story by clicking on the link in “Resources” below.

Some therapists out there are actually having their patients play Dungeons & Dragons as the therapy session.  They say it helps with social anxiety, problem solving, communication, building friendships, and empathy.  Gaming may also boost happiness and reduce stress!  I can tell you that I, personally, felt uplifted and refreshed after our game on Sunday.  Well, all of the players mentioned that they all really had a great time and couldn’t wait to get together again.  It gets you out of the house, lifts your spirits, gives you something else to think about…

An article in Psychology Today pointed out that D&D (as well as other tabletop RPG games) bring people together, boost imagination and creative thinking, encourages improvisation and quick-thinking.  It may very well be a confidence booster.

It really was a feel-good day for us.  It raises Charlie Brown’s spirits and social ability.  It helps patients progress through issues.

When you suffer through (fill in the blank), a feel-good day with friends may be just what you need.  Even if it’s not D&D or RPG games, I encourage you to go out and find that “feel good” activity that gets you out of your present situation and into something…enjoyable. Boost those Happiness Chemicals in your brain.

Six of us gathered at Donut Panic on Sunday – none of us have played before, but we were all eager and willing to learn!  No judgments (well…Morgana was a judgmental Druid…), no expectations, and all ears (is that an Elf joke?).   We had our DM, and we each received character sheets, introduced our characters, and our journey began.

The best part of sitting around the table with these guys and gals was interacting, thinking together, creative problem solving, laughing, and just letting go of our present situations to immerse ourselves for a few hours in this story we all helped create together.  I was glad to see people still honor their bodies during the four-hour game: standing breaks when sitting became too much, pee breaks, getting more water to drink, etc.  We also had a seemingly endless supply of cupcakes and donuts!

The next day we were all a bit tired and our DM is more so because of all the work they put into the campaign, learning the rules, and keeping us on track.  Everyone worked together as we ran across questions of operation and procedure, and it truly was a team effort.  And, thank you Toni for putting this all together!! It was incredible!

If you’d like to see photographs of our little maiden campaign, here you go!  And if you’d like to read our little Adventure as it played out, our story will follow at the end of the photographs…although it will likely be meaningless and not hilarious to you since you weren’t there. HA!  But we all had SO much fun!

Adventure Ahead!

(if you would like to comment on these documents as you read them, each link has given you permission to do so…unless someone is crude or crass or just a horrible human being and ruins the “comment” option for everyone…)

Chapter 1 (1/15/17): It all begins. Meet our adventurers as they accept their first quest…and come across their first obstacles!

Chapter 2 (2/26/17): Three words: Sweaty Butt Falls. Oh, and meet Therkahn!

Chapter 3 (3/12/17): Our adventurers investigate the Red Brand hideout and run across several baddies while they’re there.

Chapter 4 (6/11/17): A game of Badweather, a talking rat, a talking parrot, and plenty of potions to guzzle. And, may we have the great pleasure of introducing you to Jimbo’s Band?!?!

Chapter 5 (7/16/17): The hunt for Glasstaff continues, as does the quest to locate the mysterious Wave Echo Cave. Drow, ghouls, and Eldran…

Chapter 6 (8/13/17): Introducing Drakon!

Chapter 7 (9/17/17): Bartholomew is drinking strange random potions. Drow, Drider, and Dwarves, oh my!!!

Chapter 8 (10/22/17): Still deep inside Wave Echo Cave, the party continues to explore. And we learn what happened to poor ol’ Eldran…and Bartholomew gets crafty with a staff and hairy zombie head.

Chapter 9 (11/19/17): Journeying out and away from Phandalin toward adventure and glory! We meet Scrum and Hamun.

Chapter 10 (12/17/17): The SpiderBarry song is everywhere!!! Agatha and her comb…fail. Moonbeams from Morgana! And an infamous automatic banana peeler!

Chapter 11 (1/14/18): The adventurers arrive at Cragmaw Castle! Scrum is still drunk off his ass. The AvonBarry calleth. Eru and Dirt become “friends.” And Barry induces vomiting.

Chapter 12 (2/11/18): More adventures through the halls of Cragmaw Castle with Lizard Morgana. We meet King Grol…and a mighty battle ensues!

Chapter 13 (3/18/18): All hail King Dirt! Pub shenanigans and City guards are called. Monte is born. And our friends fight a troll.

Chapter 14 (4/8/18): BUNNIES!!!!!!!!!! Morgana and Mew look for some drunken trouble. Everyone attends a masquerade ball, including a food-flingin’ monkey! And something sinister is afoot!

Chapter 15 (5/20/18): Teds and his buns! And we meet Gub, who likes to have allllll the fuuuun! Morgana searches for more drunken mischief. And our friends make a deal with Krim Breakhandle…and go hunting for a special javelin. (Enter the Medusa!)

Chapter 16 (6/24/18): Some not-so-great work by a cut-rate cleric. And some very bad decisions lead to a very, very bad predicament.

Chapter 17 (7/22/18): Prisoners. Bathrooms. Alligators. And did I mention…some rather clever plumbing?

Chapter 18 (8/4/18): Our adventurers face a tribunal for their actions…and compensation must be made! Research on Eru’s mark leads to some disturbing news.

Chapter 19 (9/16/18): Meet Brinn…and lots of bunnies and forest exploration with a monstrous encounter.

Chapter 20 (10/21/18): They continue to make their way to the old dwarven mines in search of the foundry and mithril cube. Will Brinn lead them safely through the forest? What awaits them inside the mines? And what of that new mark on Eru’s wrist?

Chapter 21 (11/18/18): The battle continues through the mines on their way to the mithril cube. Fresh out of a fight, our adventurers find themselves slammed into another one…with no rest! Will they survive? Will they find the cube in time? Will Bartholomew’s stomach ever stop rumbling?

Chapter 22 (12/16/18): Still stuck in the dwarven mines in search of the mithril cube that will save their hands, what mayhem will they find this session? Orcs, ogres, dwarves, traps? For sure. Death? Destruction? The mithril cube?!? READ ON!

Chapter 23 (1/20/19 – coming soon):

Chapter 24 (2/23/19 – pending):

Chapter 25 (3/9/19 – pending):

Chapter 26 (4/13/19 – stay tuned):

Feel Good Fridays

Ripples of a pond

March 22nd already! Endo Awareness Month is almost over. But that doesn’t mean we have to stop spreading awareness!

Mother Theresa said it best:

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” 
― Mother Teresa

Never feel like you have no worth, no affect on others, or no power. You do. You absolutely do.

I hope you have a beautiful weekend. Love, Lisa

Blogs I Updated This Week:

Free Webinar with Dr. Aykut Bayrak – the Endometriosis Family Support Center posted the video of the webinar, in case you couldn’t watch it live.

Online Research Study: Endometriosis – Emotional & Social Effects

Endometriosis Study for Emotional Issues

I’ve learned of a new study that we EndoWarriors can all pitch in to help. A few students at
Cairnmillar Institute in Melbourne, Australia are working on a study regarding the psychological and social impact of Endometriosis in women 18 years old and older.

This survey should take around 25 minutes to complete.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the study authors by email . They’d be happy to answer any questions or provide additional information. And again, if you’d like to answer a few questions, they’d LOVE your participation and help.

Feel Good Fridays

Blood red full moon

Another week is over. March is half-way through! How are you doing? Good, I hope. Do let me know in the comments below.

Today’s quote is inspired by my week of ups and downs. I’ve been a moody beast, that’s for sure. Lo and behold, my period snuck up on me…I had skipped February and had no clue when I would start this month. Yesterday…I started yesterday 😉 Which explains the nearly week-long ordeal of insane, extreme emotions.

“It takes a lot of time, focus and energy to realize the enormity of being the ocean with your very own tide every month. However, by honoring the demands of bleeding, our blood gives something in return. The crazed bitch from irritation hell recedes. In her place arises a side of ourselves with whom we may not—at first—be comfortable. She is a vulnerable, highly perceptive genius who can ponder a given issue and take her world by storm. When we’re quiet and bleeding, we stumble upon the solutions to dilemmas that’ve been bugging us all month. Inspiration hits and moments of epiphany rumba ‘across de tundra of our senses. In this mode of existence one does not feel antipathy towards a bodily ritual so profoundly and routinely reinforces our cuntpower.” 
― Inga Muscio, Cunt: A Declaration of Independence

Embrace your inner You-ness. In all it’s (irritated) glory. I know we gals tend to be on our period in groups. If you’re riding the crimson wave with me today, hold your head up high and know it’ll be over soon. Then…THEN…we get to do it again in 25-30 days!!!

Have a glorious weekend and be well. Love, Lisa.

To a Good Friend of Mine…

Handwritten note: Dear Marixsa, I'll be seeing you soon! xoxo Lisa

Tomorrow is The Big Day! Am I worried? Yes. Will I admit it? No. Well, I guess I just did.

I know this day was long in the making. And you nor I are happy to see it come to fruition…

But may this next surgery bring you lasting relief, you brave and strong EndoWarrior.

And may you know you’re in my thoughts. Always.

From one stalker to another: I adore you.

PS – enjoy your bowel prep…

PPS – No need to keep me posted with how you’re doing; you know I’ll already know. Ignore that creaking floorboard at night. Or that heavy breathing in your ear while you sleep. No, you didn’t misplace that hair tie…I have it safe in my pocket for you.

Feel Good Fridays

Back of a woman showing her shoulders and neck line

Man, these past two weeks at work have been exhausting. Purely exhausting. It’s been tense, we’re short-staffed at the moment, and it’s full of deadlines. And also getting ready for our upcoming March Endo events is equally poopy-outty. I’m sleeping at night, but don’t feel rested when I wake up.

I’m wiped.

I’m excited about March 16th and March 30th. So, no regrets. But it’s important to realize that when you’ve stretched yourself too thin or have too much on your plate that you MUST focus on some sort of proper rest and relaxation.

Make some “Me” time. Set down everything else. Breathe. Let it all fall away.

So, if you’re like me today and you’ve just reached a point of pure exhaustion, let’s do this together:

“Relaxing the shoulders is vital for relaxation in general. However, owing to the effects of gravity, relaxation is problematic unless we let the shoulders remain in their natural place. Let the shoulders drop, or settle in harmony with gravity, into their most comfortable position. It isn’t too difficult to do this for a moment, but to sustain this condition unconsciously in our lives is another matter. We raise our shoulders unnaturally when we lean on a desk or hold the telephone between our shoulders and ears, when we are shocked by a loud noise, and who knows how many other times throughout the day. And the unsettling of the shoulders doesn’t have to be large to produce anxiety, stiff necks, and headaches. Just slightly raising them will create tension, and this tension throws the nervous system out of balance.

When do we raise the shoulders in daily life? What are we feeling at that moment and leading up to that moment? Remembering that the body reflects the mind, and that the raising of the shoulders not only creates tension but also is a physical manifestation of psychological tension itself, what are the roots of this tension? Bringing the mind into the moment, let’s observe ourselves in a state free of preconceived ideas or beliefs. Don’t guess at these questions. Observe yourself in relationship to others and the universe” 
― H.E. Davey, Japanese Yoga: The Way of Dynamic Meditation

It isn’t much. But it’s a little. An easy, non-time consuming, quick way to take a moment, draw a breath, and relax those shoulders.

That’s one step. The rest we’ll find time to relax a step at a time. Sometimes we cannot control our outer-stressors. And deadlines must be met. But today? Today I can do this.

Breathe. And drop my shoulders.

I hope you have a beautiful weekend. And find some time to just relllllaaaaax.

Much love to you. Lisa.

Free Webinar: Discussion with Dr. Aykut Bayrak

Flyer from Endometriosis Family Support Group for Dr. Aykut Bayrak's webinar on March 20, 2019

The Endometriosis Family Support Group hosted a free webinar on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at 4:00pm (PST) featuring a discussion with Dr. Aykut Bayrak with LA IVF. He discussed Endometriosis diagnosis and treatment options.  If interested, please e-mail Megan at megan@RMCcharity.org to register.  If you cannot attend on March 20th, we will share the recording once we receive the link.

If you missed the live broadcast, here’s the recording!

Spread the Word!

Man yelling into megaphone

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month!

What IS Endometriosis? Insane growths inside the body that cause pain and scar tissue. Nobody knows the cause. There is no cure. There is no easy test to diagnose it. There is no easy pill to swallow for treatment. And most doctors don’t understand it or follow the gold standard for treatment: well-trained excision surgery.

It can be debilitatingly painful. It can grow on organs all over the body. It can pull those organs out of place or weave them together. Many women have it in their lungs and suffer collapsed lungs every month because of it. It can affect nerves like the sciatic or pudendal nerve, or others. It can cause bowel obstructions, renal blockages, digestion problems, infertility, and more. And that doesn’t even cover the emotional effects of this illness. Suicide is not uncommon in our community.

And what works treatment-wise for one person may not work for the next. It is an Individual disease. Hand-tailored to each person who suffers with it. Each treatment course and response is as individual a journey as our diagnoses.

This illness doesn’t discriminate for age, race, or sex. Mostly women have it, but there are rare cases of men developing Endometriosis. It’s estimated 176 million worldwide have it. That’s 1 in 10. And it can take many years, or even a few decades, before a diagnosis is obtained.

Learn the symptoms. Be aware. Listen. And don’t be afraid to talk about it. With anyone.

Pain Journal: February 2019

Summary of Lisa Howard's pain journal from February 2019

February has ended! And I’m tickled pink with my body’s progress. I’ve learned that I had to distinguish between discomfort and pain…Why? Because it’s not all pain anymore.

Discomfort, to me, means it can pass quickly, or doesn’t warrant a pain pill. It’s not debilitating. It’s like an annoyance or inconvenience.

Pain, on the other hand, strips me of my focus, causes me alarm, roots me to my place, takes away my abilities, causes me to cry out, or curl into a little ball.

I also didn’t need any form of pain killers in February (I know you’re screaming with excitement and clapping your hands as you read this, Mom) – and I skipped my period. Okay, body. What are you up to?

If you’re curious in my progress as February progressed, here are my notes on my diet, symptoms, and pain/discomfort levels and locations.

And if you’re curious and following the progress of my bowels…here’s my poop chart!!!

Being able to compare my poopy chart to my pain tracker has been a godsend! I realize the days that I have pain are usually spurred by my diet choices the day before. And the two days I didn’t poop? One was by choice! I was staying with friends in a tiny hotel room and didn’t want to stink the place up – but my pride caused a painful poop-episode the next day. The second episode of No-Poop? I had pooped SO VERY MUCH the day before that I think my body needed a whole day to recharge! Ha! Diarrhea is usually also a cause of my over-eating. So, little by little, these little visual aids are going to help me reel in my newly-discovered dietary limitations and habits. I can’t believe I’m pooping one to five times a day. That’s unheard of for the Before-Bowel-Resection me. It’s my life now, though.

February was a good month. And I’m looking forward to tracking March!