And suddenly, just like that, it’s Friday already!
Today’s quote is for my fellow Warriors. This one, right here, is for YOU:
“Even in times of trauma, we try to maintain a sense of normality until we no longer can. That, my friends, is called surviving. Not healing. We never become whole again … we are survivors. If you are here today… you are a survivor. But those of us who have made it thru hell and are still standing? We bare a different name: warriors.”
― Lori Goodwin
Remember how strong you are. How far you’ve come. How much you’ve endured. But, most importantly, understand that you are flanked by your fellow Warriors, standing side by side, hand in hand. You are not alone in this fight.
Maintain strength, even in the scary moments. And, if you need it, reach out for the Warrior beside you. ❤
Blogs I Updated This Week:
Bladder & Endometriosis: added a 2019 study of a woman who complained of menstrual cramps, painful urination, and an inability to hold her pee in. Guess where they found Endo? Yep, I know it’s rare, but it happens.
Endometriosis & the Bowel: added a 2019 study of a 35-year-old woman who had complaints of abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and cyclical rectal bleeding. They thought she had a possible carcinoma inside her guts, but it turned out to be (you guessed it), Endometriosis.
Endometriosis & the Lungs: added a 2019 study of a 37-year-old woman who ended up having Endometriosis inside her lungs along the pleura lining. Her surgeons were able to successfully excise the lesions and she was sypmtom-free nearly three years later.
One of our local EndoSisters had a brilliant suggestion: have EndoWarriors describe, in physical terms, what their Endometriosis pain and symptoms feel like and share the responses with the world!
If you’d like to let the world know, please fill out this form below. Your email address, if you provide it, will remain confidential and shared with no one! (If you can’t get the form to work, contact me). And scroll down to read how other people describe their Endometriosis.
And here’s what we’ve received. Check back often for more entries!
So, over the past two months, I’ve been experiencing some bleeding when I poo. I’ve taken several first aid and civilian medical classes, so I knew it wasn’t anything to worry about: the color and texture was well within the “don’t freak out” range.
I noted these incidents on my food & symptom journal and booked an appointment with my PCP to discuss and get a possible referral to my PoopChute doctor.
Although I blog about poo and guts and all kinds of other lovely and taboo things, going into the doctor’s office to actually have them examine my bunghole is not my idea of good time. It’s even more horrific than having to buy pads or tampons when there’s only male cashiers…although I finally grew out of that trauma in my 30s.
Butt, I mean but, sometimes you just have to go to a professional and have them stick their finger in your but, I mean butt.
After a lengthy discussion of my symptoms, my diet, my fiber and water intake, and (lack of) exercise, there was the dreaded visual inspection and internal exam. Nothing abnormal was seen or felt, and I received the referral to my colo-rectal surgeon with the suspicion of tiny hemorrhoids or a possible recurrent fissure. And my PCP, Lauren Campagna, is freakin’ amazing and always makes me feel at ease.
A few weeks later (aka this past Wednesday), I repeated the process with my colo-rectal surgeon, Dr. Matthew Schultzel. I feared I was wasting his time. He did major surgeries, like my bowel resection. And here I was asking him to examine my bleeding arse. He assured me that this was a huge part of his practice and that I wasn’t wasting his time.
We talked about my symptoms and diet, he examined my incisions and pushed on my guts to check on my post-op healing, and then we got down to the real nitty-gritty.
He slipped on a headlamp, I assumed the position, and it truly wasn’t as uncomfortable as I’d imagined. First was the finger exam, followed by the clear duck-bill lookin’ device that taunted me from the exam room table (I later learned it’s called a proctoscope!). Again, it wasn’t too uncomfortable. It was awkward, but there wasn’t any pain. And Dr. Schultzel’s constant reassurances and jokes made the awkwardness far less than it could have been.
Lo and behold, I’m an overachiever: I have three various-sized hemorrhoids inside my guts. THREE! And a tiny skin tag, likely the remnants of a prior hemorrhoid.
The plan? There’s an in-office technique known as band ligation.
“Like rubber bands on a pig’s balls?” I asked.
“Exactly,” he laughed, and said he usually reserves that example for his Texan patients. Score one for growin’ up in Arizona!
So, I go in on July 31st for the fist of my three banding procedures. He’ll be slipping a tiny rubber band around the base of one of my three stowaways..and in several days it will just fall off. I’ll bleed or spot for a bit. Then 4-6 weeks later, repeat the process. Then repeat it once more! BUT his office is currently checking on the latex-content of the bands since I have an allergy…hopefully there’s an alternative if one is needed.
I most certainly don’t strain when I poo. Everything just kind of falls out easily since my surgery. And I drink A LOT of water all day, as well as take a fiber supplement every morning. So why do I have hemorrhoids? And three?? He let me know that it’s not uncommon for the body to go through weird changes after a bowel resection. I’ll take that theory!
So if you ever find yourself poo’ing and finding blood on your toilet paper: please contact your doctor. There are MANY different causes for bloody stool. And it should never be taken lightly.
That being said: it’s poop. And poop is embarrassing. And nobody wants to talk about it. But, as a friend of mine said to put my mind at ease, “Remember that your doctor purposely spent years and years and many thousands of dollars for the honor of looking up your bunghole. Whatever happens, it’s his privilege to experience!” So, talk to your doctor!!
I’d love to hear about your experiences! Feel like giving me a little insight into your poopchute? Have you had fissures or hemorrhoids before? How’d it go? Do you use something like the Squatty Potty? Or what’s your favorite fiber or stools softener? Share with the class 🙂
A good friend of mine announced the other day that she was planning on giving up all meat and dairy for the next 30 days. You don’t have to have Endo to give up these things and feel the benefits!
I hopped on her bandwagon. I mean, I’d previously given up *most* red meat and dairy…but I have my weaknesses with bison, bacon, pork, cheeeeeeeeese, whipped cream, butter…
We are on Day Three today. and I must say it’s been fun. Hard, but fun.
Day One was a doozy: some of my EndoSisters and I went to dinner at a local favorite: Buckboard’s BBQ. Meat. And Cheese. My usual: pork belly sliders and a side of some of the best mac&cheese you’ll ever taste. I resisted and opted instead for the veggie burger. And oh, man, I’ve never been offered so many mac&cheese balls in my life. And I have chicken, fish, corndogs, fishsticks, and pork chops in the freezer just begging to be eaten. I’m not even gonna talk about the bacon…
It’s also led me to do a bunch of research on how to make sure I get adequate protein, especially since my body still can’t process beans, and I avoid soy like it’s death. A challenge, but totally do-able.
And it’s been fun sharing our meals with each other and discussing creative ways that we’ve avoided meat and dairy. Oh the discoveries! Endo or no Endo, these are two good things to try to give up and see how your body handles the change
27 days to go; we can do this! Which leads to today’s quote:
“Embrace each challenge in your life as an opportunity for self-transformation.”
― Bernie Siegel
What about you? What challenges are you facing? You CAN do it, too. Whatever it may be. And you most certainly are not facing them alone. We’re all right here with you.
A new study about Endometriosis is out regarding the modern treatment of the disease. This includes birth control, progestins/anti-progestins, GnRH agonists, aromatase inhibitors, danazol, NSAIDs, surgery, and alternative treatments. It identifies the pros and cons of each.
The study closes with this beautiful phrase:
“The pharmaceutical or surgical treatment require an individual approach and deliberated informed consent of the patient. Pharmacological treatment is only symptomatic, not cytoreductive, therefore, to remove endometriosis lesions, surgery should be performed.”
It’s uplifting to see a study bluntly state that medications only treat the symptoms, NOT the disease itself, and the Endo lesions need to be removed. AND that each case of Endometriosis must be reviewed on an individual level.
“Deliberated informed consent of the patient” means (to me) as having a fully-informed patient who is made well-aware of the pros and cons of each choice, the side effects, risks, and potential outcomes; as well as having performed their own research before agreeing to the treatment.
Even with excision, though, there’s always a possibly of recurrence or new growths. And not all physicians are skilled enough to recognize each lesion. Not to mention many surgeons still practice ablation (the burning away of the lesion, leaving rooted tissue to regrow).
Welcome to an EndoWarrior’s very frustrating pursuit for competent medical care.
I encourage you to read the study for yourself and share it.
Today’s quote goes to all you supporters out there: whether you’re a caregiver, a friend, family, loved one, stranger…Thank you! And not just thanks from me…but thanks from anyone you’ve ever supported!
“Just being there for someone can sometimes bring hope when all seems hopeless.“
Dave G. Llewelyn
If someone needs you, and you can do it, be there for them. In any capacity.
Written by Heidi Baurmann, Speaking on behalf of all of our Bloomin’ Uterus sisters.
It is with a heavy heart that I announce one of our own has lost their battle with Endometriosis. Kristen Lynn Cavanaugh will always be a part of our Bloomin’ Uterus Sisterhood.
Kristen found me on Facebook in March during Endometriosis Awareness month. In the little time I knew her, it was obvious what a strong advocate she was for us all, sharing her story openly with the community & supporting chronic illness sufferers.
On Wednesday, June 27th, I was devastated to hear the news that Kristen had lost her life due to medication complications (the medications are listed at the end of this blog entry). It feels so unjust to loose a sister this way. Kristen’s friends and family are focusing their energy on spreading awareness in hopes to help others who are suffering in pain.
In loving words, her mother writes, “Kristen had a passion for helping those with chronic illnesses, and through her small business of health care products, she reached many women who suffer with endometriosis and fibromyalgia.“ Here is the link to her obituary. https://horancares.com/obits/kristen-cavanaugh/
Her dear friend opened up to me about her great sense of humor & expressed that what she “loved about her was how selfless she was. She quit a 6 figure job at DISNEY, to make boxes for each endosister. She carefully thought of each item while adding them to the boxes. She had such a big heart.”
Her family is asking for donations to the Endometriosis Foundation in her name. (There is a section where you can state who you are donating for.) http://www.endofound.org
Here are the links to her Instagram endo page as well as her personal page, if you would like to say some words on her behalf. @witsendocornerapothecary @forkristenforeverago
Kristen will always be remembered in our hearts as a woman who fought hard & gave back. I hope you are looking down at all of this love and smiling. We send love to her family & all those who are feeling her loss.
Update: July 9, 2019: Suzie, Kristen’s mother, has given us permission to share the medications that Kristen was prescribed, which may have contributed to her death. We are sharing this information with you to implore you to verify with your physicians (and do your own research) regarding any potential drug side effects or interactions.
On June 24, 2019, Kristen was prescribed Dilaudid, Valium, Xanax, and Ambien. Suzie wants to stress to you that these medications, if taken together, can cause respiratory distress. Kristen and her family were not made aware of this danger. She would like to remind each of us that, “combining those meds is very dangerous.”
If you’re worried about your multiple over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, and/or herbal supplements having potential risks (or even death) when taken together, please talk to your doctor. And you can check out drug interactions on this amazing database.
Friends of mine, Raul and Yuliya Montes, have started a small company creating and selling natural bath and beauty products (and a few other things!). I’ve purchased and fallen in love with several of their items and wanted to sit down and pick their brains for a few minutes and share the news about Special Flower Oil, Co.
…pssssst…they make CBD oil bath bombs…
Looking for all-natural bath bombs, soaps, lip balms, and more? Read up a bit on who these guys are, what they make, and then go peruse their wares!
Lisa: Special Flower Oil, Co.? That’s a great name! How’d you come to be?
Yuliya: We have this inside joke between the both of us that we’re a bit “special” two peas in a pod and all, and we came up with this saying “You’re my ‘special’ flower,” when one of is being a little on the – well… less than intelligent side. We always knew we wanted to own our own business, and at the same time wanted to do something that we both enjoy that benefited other people that we could do together – so one day while taking a shower together, we noticed how many ingredients were on some of the items – and we decided to work on something more natural.
Raul: It pretty much started with this weird rocking side to side, that kind of evolved over time. Our company name is literally our way of making fun of ourselves and each other, even though people outside, likely think that it has to do with the oils we use and such. As far as the start – we woke up one morning thinking, “wouldn’t it be nice to quit our day jobs do something we enjoy more?” Well, we haven’t quite quit our day jobs, but we’re doing what we enjoy.
Lisa: What do you feel sets you apart from the endless stream of competition out there?
Yuliya: We do hours of research over every single ingredient that we use, we refuse to take shortcuts. We believe that we need to be producing a product that we, ourselves would use before selling it to others, and having integrity in the ingredients that we use.
Raul: I think it’s unique that you’ve got a small business co-owned by a married couple, one being a woman, one being an OIF war vet. My background is in combat medicine, and in that I’ve discovered that improvised treatments and at times alternative treatments can have huge impacts on quality of life. Aromatherapy in and of itself isn’t just about chakra crystals and weird blessings, there’s some solid science behind it, including cognitive improvement in Alzheimer’s patients who have used rosemary, lemon, lavender and orange.
Lisa: As a person who suffers from a painful chronic illness that is often influenced by chemicals, parabens, and hormones, I appreciate your dedication to pure and body-safe ingredients in your products. I see you guys use organic and locally-sourced ingredients. Why is that important to you?
Yuliya: Back in 2013, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s – an autoimmune disorder that attacks and destroys the thyroid, and because of it I will be on supplemental thyroid hormone for the rest of my life. The more I did research, the more I found that body care products are ridden with harsh, endocrine-disruptive chemicals, affecting the body – and being a woman, I was using these chemicals all over my body. I threw out a lot of my stuff and began seeking out items that were natural or organic – but these are expensive, so I decided to make my own. I mean, with the skin being the body’s largest organ, and it absorbs a lot (up to 64% of contaminants from water alone), it’s easy to see that what we use on our skin ends up in our bodies – often in our blood streams and lymphatic systems, and it seems like the majority of mainstream body care products contain a horrible cocktail of carcinogenic chemicals, allergens, and irritants. Knowing who makes our ingredients, knowing how they are sourced, and using them ourselves first, always ensures that we’re creating the perfect product.
Raul: I completely echo everything Yuliya said. I think that knowing where an ingredient is from, how it’s sourced, and having a relationship with the ingredient producer is important. Case in point, our Goat Milk, Honey, and Oats soap uses organic goat milk and oats, and raw honey from a local beekeeper, who also happens to be a fellow combat medic. Up to that point I’d never had fresh raw honey – and my god does it taste amazing. These are just glimpses into the items that we’re using in our soaps and bath bombs. I want people to feel as good about the product and the way it’s made as they do while they use the product.
Lisa: A lot of our readers suffer from chronic pain. I see that you have “hemp isolate” bath bombs; can you tell us a little bit about what that means…and how your bath bombs may help someone in pain?
Raul: CBD. It’s CBD plain and simple. I’ll be really honest – its really hard to sell items online that contain them, regardless of the farm bill passing. As such I wanted to make sure it was something that if someone said, “oh what is hemp isolate powder,” that they could type it in and the first thing they would see is CBD. We’re covering ourselves while trying to afford a completely legal and THC free item to those who need it.
don’t entirely know how CBD works yet, they think that it interacts with
receptors in the brain and immune system. Moreover, it helps as an
anti-inflammatory as well as can help those who suffer with chronic pain, and
associated insomnia without adverse side effects. Now – when its combined with
other anti-inflammatory and pain relief oils such as lavender, yarrow,
eucalyptus, and chamomile – and of course Epsom salts, it creates a beautiful
pain relief cocktail that you can literally just envelop yourself in. I’ve also
got some CBD soap curing right now that I whipped up earlier today using the
goat milk oats and honey base. I’m excited to use it!
Yuliya: CBD is nature’s way of affording us a pain relief option that doesn’t involve using drugs, while being able to indulge in the experience. Imagine it, you pour a hot bath, enjoying the hot steam – you toss in one of the bombs and soak for a half an hour, letting your skin absorb these pain relief oils and CBD… Oh you’re ready for painless sleep.
Lisa: If someone doesn’t want a “hemp isolate” bath bomb, do you offer them the option?
Raul: Of course, we understand that CBD is still considered one of those edgy, experimental type of products – because of that we have the same bath bombs and soaps completely hemp free.
Yuliya: All of our products are customizable. If you see an item of ours that has hemp, and you want a hemp free version, just reach out – we’re more than happy to make custom products.
Lisa: I’ve gone through numerous pain management and stress-reduction workshops over the past five years and I’ve learned that sometimes to help reduce symptoms and pain, we need to try to calm our nervous system. Take a moment. Breathe. Meditate. There’s a great connection between pain and a heightened sense of “FUCK, EVERYTHING HURTS (and I wanna die!)”. That being said, I know you make scent roll-ons. I’m partial to the “Palomar Skyline” blend as I find it very soothing, calming, and the scent jettisons my mind up into the mountains. Are your essential oil roll-ons intended to aid in relaxation and calming techniques? Or just smell good? How can your customers better use your roll-ons to help calm and de-stress, both physically and mentally?
Yuliya: Absolutely, I deal with constant anxiety. I’m currently testing an experimental mixture that I’ve named “Natural Xanax,” Which I use pretty regularly to reduce my overall stress levels. Our oils are designed to both smell nice (and not overpowering) while helping the customer come off the proverbial edge. They also work amazingly while meditating. Our goal here was to help the customer find peace in the moment.
Raul: I’ve got some that I’ve made just to act as a cologne, such as the GWOT Christmas, but by in large the scent oils are designed to help center someone. Dealing with PTSD, I’ve learned that sometimes a couple of dabs of the Palomar Skyline can help pull me out of a moment – whether its dealing with chronic pain due to spinal compression (or a recent shoulder surgery), or dealing with the existential hell my mind likes to throw me into. I always recommend using the oils on pulse points – or if you so choose, diffuse them, close your eyes, and focus on the smells. As odd as it sounds, I personally practice a verbalization of what I “see” when I close my eyes and focus on the scent. It really helps to pull me out of the mind-storm and places me on a mountain, in a lavender field, or in an orange grove…
Lisa: Do any of your roll-ons have pain-relieving capabilities? My Mum buys me an essential oil spray that does the trick for acute pain. And a friend of mine gifted me with a roll-on that also helps with surface pains.
Yuliya: Yes! Like Raul said, certain oils have pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties. Rolling or dabbing them on the skin can help with pain and inflammation in addition to the calming nature of each one of the oils.
Lisa: I’ve read your soaps use goat milk and locally-sourced honey. Why is that better than ingredients that may be found in other soaps (handmade or otherwise)? Sell me on their magic!
Raul: Goat milk alone is an amazing item. It contains Alpha Hydroxy Acids that help to unbind dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, giving a more rejuvenated look, vitamin A, which has been proven to reduce lines and wrinkles, cream – which keeps the skin moist (especially during those winter months) and minerals like selenium, which has been praised in recent years for its ability to prevent skin cancer.
Then honey helps to
balance the skin’s natural bacteria, helping to reduce the appearance of acne,
as well as speeds up the healing process of the skin.
Combined they can help with eczema, psoriasis, and even candida overgrowths on the skin.
Lisa: I’ve never made soap before and imagine it’s much like making Jell-o: throw everything in a bowl and *tada* I have soap in a few hours. I know that can’t be true. So… how what all goes into creating a handmade bar of soap? Help me appreciate the process and effort, please.
Raul: Soap can be a real pain in the ass to be honest. It starts off with research and figuring out what items I want to use to make a soap – for example, if I want to make a beautiful swirly soap, I need to use canola oil, keep out the shea butter, and make sure my fragrances and essential oils aren’t going to accelerate the saponification. The next part is selecting my fats – which are oddly enough, often the same oils we use for cooking – coconut, canola, sustainable palm, olive, and the like – melting them down and mixing lye (yes lye) with either distilled water or goat milk (which has to be frozen to avoid curdling). Once lye mixes with a liquid, it creates a lye solution which is the basis for *all* true natural soaps.
Let me restate this:
all real soap is made with lye – anything without it is a detergent and not a
soap. Yes! Real Soap is made with lye. You might wonder where the lye is on the
ingredients list of your favorite soap – “saponified oils of –“ or sodium
followed by cocoate, palmate, palm kernelate, tallowate, or olivate. Soap
makers know that people are afraid of the word “lye.” None remains in the
The lye is then blended with the oil, it begins something called “trace.” Trace is the point in soapmaking where the oils and lye have emulsified and the lye begins saponifying. Once this happens the lye and oil molecules combine and are chemically changed into soap and glycerin. From this point it’s put into a mold for a few hours or days, then cut, and left to cure for four weeks.
Lisa: What’s been your favorite product to make?
Yuliya: Soap! Always soap. There are endless possibilities – from scent combinations to oil combinations. Each one of our handcrafted small batches is completely beautifully unique in its own right, and it should be, because it reflects us as people.
Raul: Soap. It might be a pain in the ass, but it’s totally a relaxing activity for me, and I can design each bar as meticulously as I want to. I can’t draw. I can’t paint, so this is my art.
Lisa: Have you had any mad scientist concoction failures with any products yet? Tell us a funny story…
Yuliya: My first round of lip balm. It was horrible! It was rock hard. Completely solid. We ended up scrapping the whole batch because I was being stingy with oils. It was like trying to rub a candle on your lips.
Raul: My first round of bath bombs. Oh God, they were horrible. I’m not even sure where they went wrong… well the worse part was – I’d made two batches – the first was great, and we had gotten our first order when we’d opened the Etsy. Guess which ones got sent? Yeah… as soon as I realized, I contacted the customer (who thankfully hadn’t used it yet) and sent out another set of bath bombs free of charge. I mean, we saved the day, but it felt really dumb.
Lisa: Any sneak peeks at items you’re working on that aren’t released yet?
Yuliya: Massage candles, therapeutic body butters, tinted and flavored lip balms, face masks, and beard balm for the guys.
Raul: A few more soaps. I want to have seven main “flagship” soaps, and run a special “soap maker’s” batch once every month or so – which will just be a few of our “left-field” ideas thrown into action
Lisa: Do you take custom requests?
Not only do we take customer requests, we look forward to it!
Lisa: Anything else you’d like to add?
Our goal is to give back to the communities. We like working with 503s and other small businesses. We also have wholesale options (we make it, you sell it as your own).
A li’l more about Special Flower Co.:
Early in 2019, we were discussing the prospect of having a wedding reception, and began discussing what kind of party favors we would use. Initially we settled on bath items, like soaps, bath bombs, and scrubs, but after looking, we felt like nothing really fit the people who had always been there for us. There were plenty of quality goods out there, but none that were uniquely “us.”
That’s where Special
Flower Oil Co. began.
uniqueness are what make an item special. It’s the time taken to make a unique
item that isn’t mass produced and misleadingly called “handcrafted.”
It’s about the time and effort we take to perfect our art, whether that be the
scent in a bath bomb, the particular composition of a soap, or the one on one
focus on customer service.
We are Special Flower
Raul and Yuliya
NOT JUST ANOTHER “HANDMADE” BATH PRODUCT
Our products utilize top of the line organic, fair trade compliant, rain forest safe oils. Moreover, we source local products from goat milk to honey, as often as we can, utilizing veteran owned businesses where available. We also source our herbs from local, organic, pesticide free gardens – because you deserve to feel as good about a product’s background, as you do when you use the product.
You can find Special Flower Oil, Co. on the interwebs:
I want to extend a huge thank you to Yuliya and Raul for not only creating some amazing products, but for being the exceptional human beings that they are…and for taking the time to give us a sneak-peak into their lives and business. We wish you continued success in all endeavors!
*I was not compensated for this interview. It’s just something I wanted to do for them…and you.