Review: EndoFEMM Heating Pad

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Photo courtesy of Pelvic Pain Solutions

Oh man.  If you know me, you know I love my heating pads.  I have an electric one by my bed, a microwaveable one for when I’m watching TV, another microwaveable one for work, and even those ones you stick on your clothes for discreet heat.

Well, in April I received an email from Babette, the President of Pelvic Pain Solutions (and fellow EndoSister), offering me a free sample of their EndoFEMM heating pads (you can see them here).  If I liked it, I agreed I’d share about my experiences.  First off, I thought “free sample” meant I’d be getting like a 3″x3″ square of it so I can take it for a test drive; nope – it was the entire EndoFEMM heating pad in all it’s “Paris Girl” glory!  So, here I am today…which means I obviously liked it.

It’s a strap-on kind of heating pad that I can wear around the house, hands-free, and have a lovely, heavy weight and pleasant pressure on my pelvis, as well as constant heat!  I microwave it for a minute or two, but ALSO have the option of cold therapy (brrrrrrr, I hate the cold).

First impressions?  My husband said I looked like a sumo wrestler, so in good humor I stomped around the house in my best sumo pose.  BUT I cannot sing the praises of the EndoFEMM enough – it’s large enough to cover ALL of my painful pelvic area, even my mons!  I absolutely looove the heat and pressure on my hips.  And if my lower back is giving trouble, I just shift it around so the heat is on my backside.  A word of warning, though: it’s HOT – and when you fasten something HOT to your body…you get HOT!  So you may want to wait a minute before strapping this bad boy to your belly, or check to see if the heat is okay…

I love it.  It’s now my favorite heating pad and I absolutely want to buy the travel size one to keep at work.

So, on April 22, 2017, I started my period.  My EndoFEMM arrived juuuuuust in the nick of time.  Granted it doesn’t take away my pain and Endo symptoms…but it does ease them.  Heat has always been a comfort.  And now I have hands-free heat, comfort, weight, and pressure.  Like a purring cat on my lap.

Next, on May 20, 2017, I started my period again.  And happily reached for my EndoFEMM.  Again, I was met with warm, heavy, comforting goodness.  And HANDS-FREE! I think that’s my favorite part.  I just wear my heating pad around the house and can still do things like…pet the cat, reach for the remote, carry a glass of wine from the kitchen to the couch…ha.  I love it.  The heat lasts for about a half an hour before I nuke it again for 60 seconds. And I never realized just how much I needed the heat on my hips and mons…it’s incredible.  An all-encompassing gigantic heating pad.

Anyway, I blab!  I ramble!!  Just know that this girl loves this heating pad!  And thank you to Babette for turning me on to them!  Now if my crazy review has led you to their webpage, clicking that little “Buy Now” button, I absolutely insist you update me on your thoughts in my Comments section below.  Do you love it as much as I do?

Endometriosis: Excision vs Ablation

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Detail,”The Endo-Graphic” by Sarah Soward. http://sarahsoward.com/projects/endometriosis.php

So, you may be reading this because you have a surgery pending, or you’ve had surgery and want to know if it was the “right” one.  Well, when it comes to Endometriosis, there are typically two ways of dealing with the lesions that I’ve read of. If there’s more, share with me, please!  Whichever way your surgeon opens you up : laparotomy or laparoscopy, robotic-assisted or not – your surgeon will still need to decide how best to handle the lesions he or she finds within your body.

  1.  Excision – removing the entire lesion by cutting a margin of healthy flesh around the lesion – see the graphic above, scooping the healthy soil around the flower to get the roots, and then some.
  2. Ablation – destroying the lesion by burning the surface away.  Like freezing off a mole or wart, but burning away the Endo.  The graphic above with the flamethrower may leave the roots of the lesion, and unhealthy Endometriosis tissue, behind…

Is one better than the other?  That’s purely a matter of opinion, but the popular opinion is, “yes!”  There are countless studies that agree.  But why?

Ablation only affects the surface of the lesion by destroying the tissue.  It may leave unseen portions of the disease beneath the surface, which may allow for speedy recurrence of Endometriosis growth and symptoms.  Ablation may also cause further scar tissue to develop – you are literally burning or melting the lesion away.  Other names for ablation may include cauterization, vaporization, and fulgeration.  Terms for some of the tools that may be used during ablation can be electrosurgical devices, thermocoagulation devices, lasers, a harmonic scalpel, helium or argon plasma therapy, and the cavitron ultrasonic surgical aspirator (CUSA).

Excision (sometimes called resection) removes the entire lesion, as well as a healthy bit of flesh around the lesion.  The surgeon hopes to remove all traces of that particular lesion, in the attempt to make recurrence more difficult.  The more lesions that can be excised, the better chances you may have at a longer symptom-free life.  Tools can be cold, hard cutting tools such as scissors or even lasers (but…but…heat energy – burning!?!) – nope, lasers are often used for excision surgeries to cut around the lesions and harvest it out whole.

You may be interested to go back, grab a copy of your operation report, and compare these tools and techniques.  What exactly DID your surgeon do?  Or you can use this information to better ask questions of your doctor prior to a pending surgery.

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Imagine an avocado (mmmmm avocadoooo) – you slice that bad boy open, remove the pit, and discover a bit of browning on the surface.  Nasty bruises and icky…But, there’s plenty of good avocado still to be enjoyed.  If you only scraped off the surface of that brown spot, you’d likely still have MORE brown spot beneath it – that rotten little bruise extends deeper into the avocado flesh (delicious green flesh).  You’d want to take a spoon and scoop out the brown spot in it’s entirety, and enjoy the fresh avocado that you have remaining.

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Also, think of an iceberg.  The tip is only visible above the surface of the water, but the iceberg can extend for quite a long while beneath the waves.  Endometriosis lesions do the same.  Who knows what’s lurking beneath the surface.  And if the entire iceberg – um, Endometriosis lesion – isn’t removed, it may resurface.

Studies have shown that women who undergo excision surgery of Endometriosis lesions have less painful periods, less painful bowel movements, and chronic pelvic pain than women who underwent ablation.  Studies also indicate that painful sex levels remain about the same for both excision and ablation surgeries.

Women who undergo ablation surgery for Endometriosis have a 40-60% chance of recurrence, sometimes within months of surgery.  In contrast, 75-85% of women who undergo excision surgery claim long-term relief.    I personally have undergone two excision surgeries, within two years of each other.  Some of my Endometriosis was in similar areas of my body as my first surgery, but some was found in new locations…My surgeon opted instead of excising (or even ablating) a lesion on my diaphragm, to leave it there for safety’s sake – nobody wants a perforated diaphragm! Excision surgery may not be ideal in every situation – and a skilled surgeon will be able to know when, and when not, to cut.   Even then, it may not work and you still may be slated for a future surgery.  The only guarantee with this illness: there is no guarantee.

In the end, it’s not all about the type of surgery or the tools used – it boils down to the skill level of the surgeon and their method of dealing with Endometriosis.  How competent are they? Do they do excision or ablation?  How often do they perform excision surgeries?  What’s their recurrence rate among patients?  Ask questions! Get answers!  Be comfortable and confident with your surgeon’s skills.

And, as always – there is no cure for Endometriosis.  We may get relief from medication, supplements, lifestyle changes, or even surgeries, but there is always, always, the chance for recurrence.  Listen to your body.  And don’t be afraid to head back in for another consultation…

I’d like to extend a special Thank You to Sarah Soward, a local artist and EndoSister who granted me permission to use a detail of her Endo-Graphic as our cover photo for today.  To view the entire image and all of the information contained there, please visit her site.   You can also view and purchase her other artwork here.

Resources:

Center for Endometriosis Care

Diamond Women’s Center

Endometriosis Australia

Endometriosis Foundation of America

EndoSupport.com

Eric Daiter, M.D.

Nezhat.org

Sarah Soward

The Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology – (Unedited Manuscript; April 2017) Laparoscopic Excision Versus Ablation for Endometriosis-Associated Pain – Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Vital Health Institute

~ 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

Possible relief from painful sex or penetration? Vuva Magnetic Dilators.

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Vuva-whata-what?

I found these little pink … things … back in October 2016 when I was experience A LOT of pain with sexual intercourse.  I mean, a lot.  I was desperate.  After reading the reviews on how many women who use Vuva Magnetic Dilators had relief from painful sex, I was hooked.  But…I also couldn’t afford to purchase the kit.  And, let’s face it – I had my doubts about magnets in dilators (dildos?) helping me with anything.

So, I wrote the company.  Tara, the creator and founder, immediately wrote me back.  She, too, suffers from Endometriosis.  She also suffers from Vulvodynia and said her magnetic dilators helped her tremendously with her vaginal and pelvic pain, especially with sex!  AND – she offered to send me two dilators for free because she truly believed they would help and wanted to help women in pain.

She didn’t ask me to write this review.  I just wanted to.  And…again…I still had my doubts.

But before I get into my experience, I wanted to explain a little bit about my understanding of what the Vuva Dilators are and how they are supposed to work.

A dilator looks an awful lot like a sex toy you can buy anywhere.  BUT…a dilator is used for medicinal purposes and comes as a set of steadily increasing sizes/girths to help stretch the vaginal opening, or muscles inside the canal (no, I’m not good with scienc-y words).  This may sound painful, but you can get dilators that are *very* small, and work your way up to something that is more comfortable (or close to the size of your partner).  And it’s an incredibly slow and gradual process, stretching at your own pace, taking weeks to months. Vuva dilators are internally lined with Neodymium magnets, which supposedly help relax muscles and increase blood flow to the area.  You insert one of these bad boys for 20-30 minutes each day and that’s it.  There’s no stretching, no rubbing, no moving or wiggling around.  Just stick it in, watch a TV show while laying on the couch, and pull it on out. *voila*

For more information, check out their webpage, which has all kinds of info on why magnets are supposed to work and testimonials.  https://www.vuvatech.com/

Tara shared a study conducted by Physician Care Clinical Research comparing Vuva dilators to regular dilators.  From February 2015-December 2015, a clinical study of Vuva’s effectiveness was conducted on 12 women in Florida.  A year later, the final report was prepared.  The 17-page report outlines the study, which was a randomized, double blind, crossover study for vulva/vaginal pain.  The women had complained of ongoing vaginal/vulva pain for at least three months.  Four areas were covered during the study:  pain with tampon usage, pain of certain areas around the vagina via a cotton swab test, the way a woman felt emotionally about vaginal penetration, and sexual intercourse.

The study’s down and dirty after using Vuva magnetic dilators as instructed (well, my understanding):

  • 90% of the women reported a decrease in pain with tampon usage.  This figure is actually for women who used the Vuva Magnetic Dilators AAAANNNDD women who used the regular dilator (non-magnetic; placebo).  So, using a dilator may help women who experience tampon pain. BUT, for those who used the Vuva magnetic dilators, they experienced twice the amount of pain relief than with regular dilators.  Those who used the Vuva magnetic dilators experienced 30% less pain for the “tampon test.”
  • The cotton swab test was gently prodding a woman around her vulva with a cotton swab and recording the pain levels.  80% of the women reported a decrease in pain levels after using the Vuva magnetic dilators.  On average, 28% less pain!
  • Many women who experience vulva, vaginal, or pain with sex begin to fear the act of penetration itself.  All of the participants stated they had a higher sense of control and self-image.
  • Each woman also kept track of their sexual intercourse, as well as any pain associated with sex.  Unfortunately, half of the women didn’t have sex curing the length of the study.  But for the half that did, 80% of them had sex more often than before!

BUT what about me? Ready for TMI?

Before I started the Vuva magnetic dilators, sex was uber painful.  Don’t get me wrong – it can still be painful…but, we’d have sex, and it’d hurt 6-8 out of 10.  And I’d cramp for several hours (sometimes even into the next day) afterward.  Granted, I had my laparoscopic surgery on September 21, 2017 and was still healing by late October, BUT sex was uber painful and crampy long before that surgery.

Here’s a little tracker on my sex pain, Vuva usage, and my thoughts:

Oct. 16: had sex (me on top) and pain during sex was a 6 out of 10.  Afterward, my cramps were a 3-6 out of 10 and lasted for an hour and a half.

Oct. 29: had sex (me on top) and pain during sex was a 6 out of 10. No cramping.

Nov. 7: I began using IntiMD dilators (just a regular dilator).  Even with the largest dilator, I did not experience changes or anything.  Followed instructions and felt this program was not right for me.

Nov. 10: Used my Vuva Magnetic Dilator for the first time!  No pain or discomfort.  Felt warm and full/fluffy (…down “there”) after 20 minutes of use…in a good way, like having soaked in a hot bath.  Magnet magic? Maybe.  Began to use regularly (every day or every other day).

Nov. 11: Had sex (six hours after using dilator, that weird sideways spoony-sex).  Sex pain was a 2 out of 10, cramping was a 1 out of 10 and only lasted an hour.

Nov. 17: Had sex (sideways spoony-sex).  Sex pain was a 1 out of 10, cramping was a 3 out of 10 and lasted a few hours.

Dec. 1: Had sex (sideways spoony-sex and me on my stomach).  Sex pain was ZERO!!!!  Cramping was a 2 out of 10, and lasted about 30 minutes.

Dec. 3: Had sex (sideways spoony-sex and me on my stomach).  Sex pain was a 1 out of 10, cramping was a 2 out of 10 and lasted about an hour.

Dec. 4: Had sex (me on top, my laying on my stomach, and doggy style).  Sex pain was a 3 out of 10, cramping was a 2 out of 10, lasting about 30 minutes.

Dec. 14: Had sex (sideways spoony-sex).  Sex pain and afterward cramping were a ZERO! Oh my god.

Dec. 22: Had sex (sideways spoony-sex).  Sex pain and afterward cramping were a ZERO! Again!!

Dec. 24: Had sex (me on top).  Sex pain and afterward cramping were a ZERO!!!

Then I took a break from using my Vuva dilators due to the holidays…bad idea:

Jan. 4: Had sex (doggy style).  Sex pain was a 7 out of 10, cramping was a 3 out of 10, lasting about 30 minutes.  Vowed to renew Vuva usage!!  We’ve also since realized that doggy is just too deep for my nifty anatomy (I have a septated canal and two cervix) so we stick to less-penetrative positions now.

Jan. 19: Had sex (standing, from behind).  Sex pain and cramping were a zero!

Jan. 29: Had sex (standing, from behind).  Sex pain and cramping were a zero!

Feb. 23: Had sex (standing, from behind).  Sex pain and cramping were a zero!

March 7: Had sex (missionary, and sideways spoony-sex).  Sex pain was a 3 out of 10 and cramping was a 3 out of 10, which lasted into the next morning.  I had to take a Tylenol PM due to the pain.  It was also the day after my period ended, so things may have still been tender.

March 12: Had sex (me on top).  Sex pain was a zero, but cramping afterward was a 2 out of 10, which lasted about an hour.

**

That’s the extent of my tracking our sexual encounters and pain. We went from having sex maybe once every month or two to multiple times per month!  I felt like I was getting the “old me” back!  I was far more confident, less scared (although still a bit scared…), and very grateful.  And I even instigated several of our sexual encounters.  Woohoo!

Whether it was the magnets in the Vuva dilators, or the placebo affect making me feel better, or having recovered more fully from my September surgery (but remember, I did have this pain prior to surgery), or whatever – I’m grateful.

I must be honest – I haven’t used my Vuva dilators since March because life has been hectic and I haven’t set aside 20-30 minutes of my day.  I’ve been experiencing minimal pain with sex once more, and very minimal cramping.  But guess what?  After typing up my log today, it has renewed by desire to pick the program back up.

I am so grateful to Tara for the products.  And her support and encouragement.  If her products can help other women have less pain, I think that’s wonderful!  If you’d like to look deeper into Vuva Magnetic Dilators, the idea behind them, the instructions, the testimonials, or even purchase a set yourself, please check out https://www.vuvatech.com/

 

 

 

Dungeons & Dragons & Donuts : how RPG games may help with (fill in the blank)

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

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.

Toni wanted to tie in Endometriosis awareness into our day of tabletop fun, and she created these wonderfully whimsical and informative Endo character sheets!  We didn’t use these in our game, although they were inspired by D&D, but they were placed out for people to read and learn and enjoy! And, c’mon, they’re adorable!

The Endometriosis Monsters

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The EndoWarriors

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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!

Jan. 15, 2017

It all begins…

Five friends are sitting around a table in a pub.  Bartholomew, the halfling monk; Eru the high elf wizard; Mew of Death, the drow elf rogue; Morgana, the human druid; and Aria, the tiefling warlock.  And just how did these five come to know each other?

A tricky thing about some elves: they’re a little difficult to tell which is male and which is female – an androgynous race.  So, forgive me if I switch between he and she and she and he…because sometimes even I can’t tell.  Eru, still an adolescent female of 150 years old, met Mew, who is now 315 years old, through an act of roguish deceit.  Mew, wearing his stolen signet ring, introduced herself to Eru as the Earl of Duque, another noble-born.  And the two had remained friends ever since, even after learning of Mew’s deception.

Mew and Aria are both members of the Zhentarim and knew each other from their private gatherings and mercenary assignments.

Bartholomew and Morgana both seek to protect the common folk.  United in their personal beliefs, they bonded over their common goal and travelled together.

As our band of friends were marveling over how they’ve come together over a pint or two of ale they were approached by Gundren Rockseeker with an easy and rewarding job.  He’ll ride ahead, but the five follow and deliver this cart full of goods to the city of Phandalin.  The band agreed, with visions of adventure, wanderlust, and money, money…MONEY!

Shortly into their trek along the trail to Phandalin, our adventurers run across two bloated and dead horses in the road, obviously killed in some sort of robbery.  Arrows jutted out of the carcasses and the saddlebags were ransacked and empty.  Mew searched the horses and packs for any belongings.  Morgana began picking berries along the trail, stowing them away in her pockets.  Eru repeatedly poked the dead horses with her wand and stole one of the empty bags.  Bartholomew was eating his first lunch of the day.  And Aria was making a small bag to hold her magical bits and pieces she’d collect along the journey.

Suddenly, four goblins emerged from the woods, surrounding the group.  SURPRISE!  Mew struck the first goblin down with her dual wielding, shortsword and dagger, in one smooth sweep of his blades.  They don’t call them the Mew of Death for nothing!  Morgana promptly whipped the second goblin to death. No mercy from the druid!  Eru, excited to put her spells to good use, produced an acid bubble…which merely *popped* on it’s way to it’s target…and she immediately knelt down and wept.  Her preppy and spoiled upbringing did not prepare her well for disappointment.  Bartholomew flung two darts toward his target, and they whizzed right by.  Aria, casting Eldritch Blast, sent a crackling beam of energy toward a goblin, who promptly dodged.  Amidst the scurry, Bartholomew was slashed by a goblin, but remained on his feet to fight.  Morgana cracked her thornwhip once more, but it simply snapped in the air, catching Bartholomew’s cheek in the process.  Eru hurled a fire bolt at another goblin, burning him to a crisp and a smoldering pile of bone.

There was only one goblin left…Bartholomew, with all his halfling stature, lunged and grappled the goblin to the ground, and tied him up.  A captive!  He had no desire to see this goblin die at their hands – always seeing the good in others, he wished peace among them.  Aria, being the intimidating hellspawn that she was, successfully interrogated the little goblin – who spilled his guts to our little party:  the goblins were following the orders of King Grol by kidnapping Gundren Rockseeker and his escort and they may have been at the nearby Craigmaw Hideout, or further northeast at Craigmaw Castle.  Learning all they could from this minion, Mew took great pleasure in killing him.

The friends looted the dead goblins, taking weapons, armor, and shields.  Bartholomew celebrated their victory by devouring a second lunch.  [Out of Character moment: Enjoy the Cupcake o’Victory!  We survived our first attack!]

Our group of friends had a decision to make:  did they continue on toward Phandalin and simply sell the wares of Gunder’s cart (which only had some mining equipment and meager provisions) or did they attempt to rescue their acquaintance from the goblins?  Seeing as they wouldn’t be paid for their trouble if their benefactor wasn’t alive…the obvious choice was onward to Craigmaw Hideout.  Bartholomew used a healing potion from his pack and the group was on their way.

Armed with the detailed layout of the trail, including traps and pitfalls, our adventurers found themselves at the entrance of the Hideout – but still had to cross a river to get to the cave.  While discussing how best to traverse the river, including having Morgana transform into a giant turtle, arrows zipped at eastern shore.  Two goblins, hidden by the briar thorns, appeared and attacked!  Mew was struck with an arrow, but was able to retaliate, shooting the same goblin that struck her.  Bartholomew shot at the goblins with one of their stolen bows, but missed.  Aria was oblivious and still talking about the turtle-transformation.   Eru summoned an acid bubble and flung it toward the remaining goblin – only to have it burst on one of Aria’s horns.  Morgana attacked with her whip, and missed.  The goblin retaliated and poor Bartholomew was struck again.  Aria cast Eldritch Blast and killed one of the two goblins. Mew dispatched another arrow, sending it straight into the last goblin, obliterating it.

Whew.  Now that the threat had passed, our adventurers still needed to cross the river in order to get into the cave.  Morgana did, in fact, shift into a gigantic turtle, everyone climbed aboard her shell, and she ferried them across the river.  While crossing, Bartholomew caught three fish.  Shifting back into human form along the new shore, they again ransacked the dead goblins for more armor and weapons.  It was decided a little reconnaissance would be necessary – so Morgana was asked once more to shift into an animal. This time: a bat…and she disappeared into the darkness.  What she saw…well sonor-saw…nobody knew.  Her party waited for her outside the cave.  Bartholomew shoved some briar thorns into his pack.  Aria gnabbed a newt from the river, mumbling something about eyes, as she shoved it into her pack.

Morgana returned from her recon mission, shifted back into human form, and told of all she’d learned:  a cavern with three chained wolves, and a small fissure leading off somewhere; the river continued inside the cave, originating out of two small pools and a waterfall she named “Sweaty Butt Valley” and “Butt Falls” for the glorious shape of the pools and falls; a winding tunnel that led to a cavern with boxes and a treasure chest; a bridge 20’ above the cave floor which crossed the river and to a set of carved stairs – she didn’t explore further up that tunnel because of the unmistakable reek of goblins and cooking.  She didn’t want to become their next meal – stinking goblins eat anything, including bats!

A plan was formed…Bartholomew had wished for a less-fatal plan, but the group overruled him.

Mew whipped a goblin disguise out of his bag (a rogue and her tricks!) and he donned the armor of one of the previously slain goblins.  Aria tore out her herbalist kit and poisoned the three fish he had procured earlier.  Armed with his wits, climbing gear, and the three poisoned fish, Mew entered the cave.  The wolves, smelling and seeing one of their Masters (or is that Mew-sters?), eagerly devoured the tasty fish…and promptly died.  She squeezed into the fissure, which turned out to be a trash chute with rotting filth at the bottom, and employed his pitons and skillfully climbed up the 30’ chute, peering into the cavern above.  Just as Morgana relayed, there were boxes of what may have been provisions…but lo and behold, there were also three goblins and a wolf on the other side of the smoldering coals beneath his ledge.  Mew overheard two of the goblins bickering about the third goblin, whom they called Klarg.  Mew descended the trash chute and returned to her friends to report.  Morgana and Aria slipped inside the cavern and skinned the wolves, even butchering some of the meat for a later meal.

The party decided to split up – Mew and Aria would climb back up the trash chute.  Mew, still disguised as a goblin, would attempt to persuade the two smaller goblins to join forces, overthrowing Klarg in a mutinous attack.  Morgana, Bartholomew, and Eru would traverse around the tunnels, waiting at the entrance of the cavern in case Mew and Aris should fail and need back-up.  Bartholomew, the peace-loving monk that he was, fully approved of this plan.  Diplomacy, empathy, tact!  But…plans don’t always work out…

Mew got halfway up the chute before losing her footing and falling and getting knocked unconscious.  Aria quickly healed Mew and attempted to climb the chute herself, but couldn’t even manage the first leg.

Meanwhile, Bartholomew, Morgana, and Eru edged their way through the dark cave.  Eru, with her elvin genes, could see in the darkness and led the group.  She spotted a goblin guard on the bridge above their heads…and quietly snuck beneath him.  Bartholomew followed suit, sneaking under the bridge.  Morgana, though, tripped in the darkness, alerting the goblin guard who signaled to other goblins – goblins who were positioned at Butt Falls and they smashed out the support beams holding up the dam to one of the pools of Sweaty Butt Valley.  Water filled the cavern, rushed down the tunnel, and swept our three adventurers out the cave. Aria and Mew heard the shouts, the rush of water, and turned just in time to see their friends pass by their cavern entrance. The water lapped at the ledge of the trash chute, but did not affect Mew and Aria…which is good because Aria couldn’t swim!

Battered and bruised and bleeding, Bartholomew, Morgana, and Eru caught their breath and rested along the rivershore.  While they recovered, Mew successfully climbed the trash chute and waited at the top for Aria to join her. Aria tried a second time to ascend, got halfway up, and fell 15’, landing once more on the cave floor.

Recovered from their “swim,” Bartholomew had come up with a great plan.  Eru, armed with her darkvision, crept back into the cave and snuck her way around the corner of the tunnel.  She aimed at the guard on the bridge and cast magic missile…into the darkness…and all three magical darts struck the goblin, flinging his dead body over the rope bridge, falling 20’ to the cavern floor below.  She regrouped with her friends outside the cave.

Aria tried once more to climb the trash chute.  She got halfway up the chute when her tiny little T-Rex (that’s Tiefling-Rex) arms couldn’t hold on and she tumbled to the floor, yet again.  Not discouraged, she tried again and finally joined Mew at the top. By this time, Eru, Bartholomew, and Morgana decided they’d join their friends up top, rather than risk the unknown amount of goblins waiting in the mists of Butt Falls.  Eru attempted to climb up, and failed miserably, hitting her head on the way down.  Morgana and Bartholomew both made it to the top in their first try.  Eru tried again, and managed to climb to the top, even with her head wound…which Morgana quickly healed with her Healer’s Kit.

Mew, still disguised as a smelly goblin (moreso now from his extended stay in the trash chute), called one of the goblin’s over to the smoldering fire.  He persuaded the goblin of her goblin-heritage and asked it to bring it’s friend over.  So Goblin #1 walked away, and returned with Goblin #2.  All the while, Klarg and Klarg’s wolf stomped around the cave, shouting something about making the cave great again.  The goblins introduced themselves as Edgar and Horrace, and explained how unhappy they’d been with Klarg’s behavior and politics of late.  Mew, in all his charismatic ways, laid out the plan:  they would all band together and overtake Klarg, split his loot, and live their lives as they wanted to!  It wasn’t long before Edgar and Horrace unsheathed their swords and the mutiny began!

Edgar charged at the unsuspecting Klarg wielding his sword high, swung…and missed!  Morgana followed through, but missed – luckily, she had a dagger at the ready and flung it through the air, striking Clark and doing some damage.  Aria placed a hex on Klarg and simultaneously attacked the wolf with Eldritch Blast and struck it.  Unphased, Klarg struck at Bartholomew and rendered him unconscious.  Unable to immediately help the monk, the party continued their attacks.  Horrace lunged toward Klarg, but Klarg dodged the attack.  Eru once again launched an acid bubble, but Klarg dodged (nimble goblin!).  Mew focused her attention on the wolf, stabbing it DEAD – on his face, even!  Edgar struck at Klarg, but missed (yet again).  Morgana attacked, but missed.  Aria’s hex lifted and she, too, failed to strike Klarg.  Horrace, the mutinous goblin, swung at Klarg and dealt the final blow.  Klarg fell, dead, on the cavern floor.  With no time to think, Edgar and Horrace turned on our band of friends – they weren’t going to split this loot!  Eru launched a firebolt at Horrace, rendering him to ash.  Mew shanked Edgar, doing some damage.  Morgana attempted, but missed – and instead turned her attention to Bartholomew, whom she roused from slumber.  Aria attacked Edgar, missed, and hexed him.  Now awake, Bartholomew shook off the veil of sleep and furiously attacked Edgar, killing him.

The adventurers, victorious, studied the room around them.  To many, all they saw were boxes – but the trained eye of Mew, the thievish rogue, spotted the rusted treasure chest among the crates of provisions.  He picked the lock and *voila* our heroes were rewarded.  No one saw Mew and she slipped the jade frog into her pocket.  The frog with the golden eyes was worth 40 gold pieces, easily.  The party split the 600 copper pieces and 110 silver pieces amongst themselves and Morgana was gifted with the two health potions found within the chest.

Exhausted from the fight, our adventurers took a rest among the crates and bounty.  The scents and sounds of the dank cave echoed off the walls.  Darkness lay ahead.  As did unknown numbers of goblins, the fate of Gundren Rockseeker and his escort, and endless adventure.

Pause…(game resumed 2/26/17)

Rested from their battle, the party decides to head deeper into the cave north toward Butt Falls.  As they round a corner, they see two goblins playing near the water.  Mew (while still disguised as a stinking goblin) draws her crossbow, fires, and strikes one of the oblivious goblins in the head.  It falls with a splash into the water.  The second goblin charges at Mew with its shortsword drawn, slashing across his chest – and she falls unconscious against the cave wall in a slump, bleeding profusely.  Eru hurls a fire bolt at the goblin, but it whizzes past the goblin and is snuffed out by the Falls.  Morgana steps protectively over Mew’s body, drawing her scimitar and attacking the goblin, but it ducks – *whoosh*.  She counters with her dagger, but the goblin again avoids her attack, jumping backward.  Aria’s reaches deep within her Inner Soul and emits a crackling burst of energy, casting Eldritch Blast toward the goblin.  It didn’t stand a chance, withers, and dies. Just as the party was going to focus on Mew’s wounds, a swirl of light from around the corner of Butt Falls surprises the Adventurers.  “WHAT?!?”

Bartholomew decides to investigate and rushes toward Butt Falls, rounding the corner.  He sees a goblin and a dwarf in combat!  He drew his shortbow, let his arrow loose, and killed the goblin!  Bartholomew had made his first kill!! (Insert celebratory dance here.)  He and the dwarf meet…cautiously at first.  The dwarf introduces itself (should this be its-Electric-Boogaloo-ness, or is it too early?) as Therkahn Battlebeard, a cleric, but it’s difficult to tell if this dwarf is male or female…we still don’t know.

Aria dresses Mew’s wounds and he awakens.  Therkahn offers to help, fully healing Mew with his cleric-skills, while solidifying a sense of friendship and trust with the party.  Bartholomew busied himself looting the body of his kill – he kept 3 rounded pebbles, tattered leather, and a fish skeleton, but gave one copper piece each to Aria and Mew.  Morgana fished the second body out of the water and gained four copper pieces, giving the tattered leather she found to Aria to later craft a pouch.  Remembering the earlier misfortune with the flooding of the cave, Morgana destroyed the remaining dam which held back Butt Falls’ collected pool.  It rushed harmlessly beneath them.

Backtracking up the cavern, the Adventurers found the bridge which allowed them to cross to the other side of the chasm.  Each of them clanked and creaked and stepped loudly as they crossed, curving around into a small cavern with a dimly-lit fire, which appeared to be hastily snuffed out.  The party pushed themselves flat up against the cave wall and could hear evidence of enemies ahead (or overhead?), lying in wait.  Morgana, hidden in the darkness, but confined by the close-quarters, awkwardly changed into the extra goblin costume and stepped forward with Mew around the corner and up the stairs.  The two “goblins” were greeted by six goblins waiting on the ledge, poised to strike.  Mew convinces some of the goblins that he’s just their for the food and could smell it throughout the cave, and three of them head down the ledge to tend to the meal.

The larger goblin, however, (dressed in chainmail, I might add) calls her out and assumes a battle stance.  Morgana unfurls her thornwhip, cracking and flicking it toward one of the goblins before her – it strikes, the tail of the whip wrapped around the goblin’s arm, and when she pulls back, the thorns gouge through the flesh, nearly dismembering its left arm.  Without hesitation, Mew lunges at the chainmailed goblin with her shortsword, but is deflected by his scimitar.  Seeing an opening in the parry, Mew jabs with his dagger, nicking the goblin’s unprotected armpit.  Meanwhile, Eru rushes into the throng of goblins around the campfire and casts Thunderwave, filling the air with a loud boom which forcefully flung two goblins into the adjacent cavern wall – breaking one’s neck and the other just slumped dead on the cavern floor.  The third goblin hurled through the air and landed hard on the stairway above, it’s leg obviously twisted and broken – all it did was scream out in pain, whimper, and sway in a useless lump.  Therkahn cast Sacred Flame at the stairs, but the goblin writhed in pain and coincidentally evaded the falling fire.  Bartholomew charged up the stairs and slashed at a goblin with his shortsword, cutting it across the abdomen.  Aria followed behind, and cast Eldritch Blast, but unfortunately Bartholomew stood in her way and she had to adjust her aim to not strike him and she missed the goblins completely.

The armored goblin suddenly announced their surrender and Morgana insisted they all get on their knees (well, except for that pathetic writhing goblin on the stairs) and disarm.  Bartholomew orders the goblins to strip naked and, of course, they complied.  Behind the kneeling gobins, the Adventurers see the unconscious body of Sildar Hallwinter, the traveling companion of Gundren Rockseeker.  Morgana knelt beside Sildar, arousing him from his slumber.  Mew rummaged through the belongings of the chainmailed goblin and found 3 gold teeth, which she kept for himself, along with the chainmail armor after asking each member of the party, in turn, if they wanted it.  She gave the 15 silver pieces to Morgana in an uncharacteristic display of generosity. That near death experience must have temporarily addled his sense of self.

Therkahn asked Sildar where Gundren was, since he wasn’t found within the cave.  Sildar recounted his tale of how they were ambushed on the road and taken by the goblins.  Gundren and he were looking for Wave Echo Cave, a long-rumored magical and mystical cave filled with treasures which was destroyed long ago.  Once captured, two bugbears hauled Gundren off to an unknown location…

Eru vanished down the ledge to loot the two bodies by the fire.  She kept two wooden dice for herself and gave two copper pieces each to the members of the party, including the newly-added Therkahn.  The goblins were ordered to carry supplies from the cave to the wagon waiting at the entrance, and as everyone disappeared across the bridge, Mew lingered behind.  The cries of the wounded goblin on the stairs wafted across the chasm, until suddenly – silence…and Mew of Death joined the rest of her friends across the bridge, a smile creased his lips, back to her Drow self again.  The unclad goblins were ordered to load up all of the crates from Klarg’s cavern onto the wagon, too.  Once fully loaded and the cave plundered, the party debated on what to do with the goblins.  Mew, of course, wanted to kill them.  Bartholomew wanted to bring them along as sherpas.  Eru wanted nothing to do with the filthy beasts.

So, it was decided they would be released.  Bartholomew, enamored with the smallest goblin, handed him the fish skeleton saying, “Thank you.”  Bewildered, the goblin shyly accepted the gift, but having no pocket or pouch to put it in just stood there, holding it awkwardly.  Therkahn fed each of the goblins from his rations, Bartholomew also paid the unwilling and unclad sherpas 3 copper pieces each and gave them back the previously-looted goblin attire, and Mew, the lying man that she was, stated he supported Bartholomew’s kind gesture…

Sildar stated he was with the Lord’s Alliance and there would be a reward for his rescue and safe return to Phandalin.  And since our travelers were going to Phandalin to deliver Gundren’s goods and seek a reward for the Lionshield Coster supplies, they agreed to travel together.  Upon arrival in Phandalin, Sildar paid for the entire party to stay at the Stone Hill Inn, and each member retreated to his or her respective room to soak off the day’s adventure.

Clean and refreshed, everyone (well, except Sildar) reconvened downstairs in the pub.  Bartholomew and Therkahn bonded over ale and religion.  Mew braided Eru’s wet hair beside the hearth.  Aria worked in the corner crafting her spell bag.  Morgana sprung for a gallon of ale to share with her friends.

Mew and Therkahn both spotted the beauty that was the Innkeeper’s wife, exchanged a few heated words over who got to seduce her…but Mew allowed Therkan the honor.  Therkahn sidled up to the Innkeeper’s wife, ordered a mug of ale, claiming it was on Sildar’s tab…which it WASN’T, but earned himself a free beer regardless!

Aria sidled up to an old weaver, Frida, and learned a few useful tips and tricks about weaving.  She then wove enchanted  friendship bracelets, giving one to each of her companions!

Morgana befriended Pip, the 8-year-old son of the Innkeeper.  Pip told her about a tunnel he and his friend found near Tresendar Manor – she gave him a copper piece for his tale.  Meanwhile, Therkahn was still flirting with the Innkeeper’s wife and learned about Daran Edermath, a retired adventurer who now owned an apple orchard in town.

Mew and Eru spotted a dusty miner and they enticed him into conversation: he mines up north, mostly iron, for the Lionshield Coster.  He warned the two that if they intended to head up north to beware of orcs along the Triboar Trail.  Eru asked if he knew anything about the Wave Echo Cave and he thought it may be in the northeastern mountains, but wasn’t sure.  Mew, charming vixen that he was, encouraged the miner to buy she and Eru a beer…which, of course, he could not resist.

Bartholomew befriended a farmer, Narth, in the pub and learned about Sister Garaele’s recent distraught return from the woods.  Narth is also is a friend of Daran.  Bartholomew, gracious man that he is, bought an ale for Narth – and subtly asked for some free crops in return.  He was…denied!  Mew joined them and asked the farmer about the weather conditions up north and learned that some heavier clothing may be in order.

Sildar appeared at the foot of the stairs, pulling out a purse and paid the party members 50 gold pieces for their efforts, which they split 8 gold pieces per person.  Since there were two pieces left, Mew suggested a group cash purse, affectionately called “The Kitty.”  Since nobody trusted Mew to tend the purse, it was given to Bartholomew for safe keeping.  Exhausted and sated with ale, the Adventurers retired to their rooms.

Bright and early, Bartholomew decided to go shopping!  He entered Barthen’s Provisions with the intent to buy food for his party, including fixins for breakfast burritos, and sell Gundren’s supplies.  Mew was already awake and shadowed Bartholomew, watched him step into the shop, but a few seconds later he turned around and exited the shop, the shopkeeper shouting, “Um, okay…come back soon!” – Bartholomew headed back toward the Inn, scratching his balding head.  He promptly woke the rest of the party to join him.  Aria was livid that he hadn’t already procured and prepared breakfast.

The party all returned to Barthen’s Provisions.  Aria took charge of negotiations while Barthen inspected Gundren’s crates.  Barthen had made a deal with Gundren to pay 10 gold pieces to five people…but Aria pushed for 15 gold pieces for 6 people.  Barthen countered with 10 gold pieces for five people, plus the wagon and “burro fixins – whatever those are.”  Aria was relentless and Barthen finally caved, paying 15 gold pieces for each party member having delivered Gundren’s supplies.  Aria sweetened the deal by giving Barthen a petrified eye of newt.  Eru purchased new robes and changed in the back room out of her  filthy trash-chute covered robes. Therkahn bought rations to replace the ones he’d gifted to the goblins yesterday.  She(Electric Boogaloo?) also purchased a miner’s pick and a blanket.  Aria bought a grappling hook.  Bartholomew bought a blanket, playing cards, and lamp oil.  Then he stood in the center of the widest aisle juggling the three pebbles he had looted from the goblins previously.  Mew decided to go and sell her  chainmail at the Lionshield Coster – Bartholomew tagged along.

Mew held the goblin-crafted chainmail up to the Lionshield Coster shopkeeper for inspection, hoping to get at least 20 gold pieces.  The shopkeeper scoffed, offering 10 for the poorly-crafted armor.  She only intended to melt it down to make it into a far superior armor.  Bartholomew kicked up the charm and talked her up to 12 gold pieces.  Mew still wanted more – and Bartholomew threatened the shopkeeper with a “secret order” that Mew belonged to, as well as spreading a bad reputation among the order about the shop.  The owner crumbled beneath the threat, offering 17 gold pieces for the chainmail.  Mew took the 17 gold pieces and offered Bartholomew one piece for his silver tongue.  And, yet again, he negotiated the split to a 50/50 split of 8 gold pieces, plus one to The Kitty.  They exited the shop.

Therkahn, Eru, Morgana, and Aria meet up with Bartholomew and Mew in the street.  They’d come to collect their reward for securing and delivering the Lionshield goods safely.  They stepped inside the shop while Bartholomew stayed outside and Mew slunk back in, ducking behind a barrel to eavesdrop…little did they know the shopkeeper was already in a foul mood from the transaction just a few moments before and from being roughed up by the Redbrand Ruffians earlier.  Aria performed some quick magic tricks to try to lighten the mood, but it didn’t really work.  The shopkeeper offered 50 gold pieces for the entire booty.  Aria tried to offer some protection to the shopkeeper from a “secret guild,” for six gold pieces, but the shopkeeper grunted mentioned that Halia may be in cahoots with the Zhentarim.  Of course, Aria’s ears perked up…she’d have to remember to tell Mew later…Therkahn tried to namedrop the Lord’s Alliance, but that noble name didn’t sway the shopkeeper on her price.  The Earl of Duque (Mew in disguise) stepped into the shop, waving his nobility around to haggle a better price…and failed.  Finally the group took the 50 gold pieces, split it six ways and put the remaining two pieces in The Kitty.

Aria nudged Mew aside and whispered about their Halia being a member of their Order.  They begged off to “go shopping” and split from their friends.

Therkahn, Morgana, and Eru decided to find Sister Garaele to inquire about her observed state of distress the other night.  Upon reaching the Sister’s house, they were told she was praying at the Shrine of Luck, and they headed over.  They found Sister Garaele, who informed them that she wasn’t attacked the other night, but simply fell and tripped in the woods, tearing her robes.  Therkahn didn’t believe her one second and Morgana pressed her a bit further and learned that she had actually been looking for a spellbook.  A ghost named Agatha supposedly knew more about the whereabouts of said book and could be found about a day away northeast of the Triboar Trail at an old house near the ruins of Conyberry.  Eru was truly interested in finding this spellbook and learning its secrets with Sister Garaele.  The Sister gave Eru a silver comb she had found near the ruins and thought it may belong to the ghost, but wasn’t sure what good it would do.  Therkahn, interested in something far greater than spells, asked, “What’s in it for us?”  The Sister stated if the party were able to return with the spellbook, she would give them several healing potions.  Of course, our three Adventurers needed to confer with the rest of their party before committing, and headed off to find Mew and Aria.

Mew and Aria had found Halia’s house and knocked on the door.  When she answered, they both immediately offered the secret handshake of the Zhentarim.  Mew asked about the tunnel she had learned about from Pip at the Inn…and Halia stated it was the hideout of the Redbrands!  She had been thinking of having the Redbrands leader, Glasstaff, assassinated and stage a coup.  She insisted, however, that as many of Glasstaff’s minions as possible be spared; and, in true Zhentarim fashion, she equated each Redbrand’s life to money.  Halia offered to pay 50 gold pieces to each Zhentarim member if the assassination attempt were accepted.  Mew and Aria agreed…intent on forging Zhentarim documents for the rest of the party to reap ALL THE MONEY!

Around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, all of the party members met up again with Sildar in town.  He let them know that his good friend was missing, and was last seen near the Manor, but since it was getting late, the party decided to wait until tomorrow to help Sildar find his friend.

Instead, the Adventurers went to the apple orchard to talk to Daran.  Therkahn started the introductions and learned that Daran was a member of the Order of the Gauntlet, and they shared tales of grand adventure.  Daran had long-since retired to the life of an apple farmer and mumbled tales between bites of a juicy apple that that orcs could be killed with a blade and the bodies of trolls needed to be burned.  He also told tales of some trouble at the Old Owl Well and that the undead have been reported chasing off prospectors.  He mumbled a few other things beneath his breath, apple crunches between words, and offered the party a bushel of apples.  They thanked Daran and headed back to the Inn to meet up with Sildar to decide what they would do tomorrow:

Search for Sildar’s friend?  Hunt Agatha the ghost and the mysterious spellbook?  Stage a coup?  Investigate the rumors of the undead?  Tomorrow will come soon enough…

PAUSED…game resumed 3/12/17

Our party awakes, alas, to no breakfast burritos.  Morgana makes empanadas for the Journey, Mew purchases ball bearings before heading out, Aria and Eru watch the sun rise from the town green.  The rest of the party join them and Mew passes out counterfeit Zhentarim membership cards to everyone.  They all decide to go explore Tresendar Manor.  They meet up with Sildar along the way.

Trensendar Manor appears before them, castle-like ruins with a wooden doorway, broken windows, everything appearing ransacked and long forgotten.  A quick investigation of the perimeter, however, reveals otherwise: footprints!

Eru casts “Detect Magic” and Therkahn locates a suspicious bush which hides a cellar door and appears to lead to a lit basement.  Mew stealthily creeps within the shadows down the stairs, and gently pushes a wooden door with no knob or keyhole.  He cracks it open, peering through, and notices a large chamber with downward stairs.  These lead to a large room with a cistern within it.  The party joins her.

Eru’s spidey senses *ahem, I mean Detect Magic* begin to tingle, and lead her to investigate the cistern further.  Therkahn, Morgana, and Aria flank either side of Eru.  She sees approximately 8’ down into the water an object which appears to be a satchel.  So she dives into the water and cuts the rope holding the satchel to the cistern floor.  Resurfacing, a door to the left suddenly swings open and three men step into the room, swords drawn.  

Morgana threatens to melt their bones, but all they do is laugh at her and continue to advance.  She cracks her whip at one, but he ducks out of the way, swinging his broadsword and slicing across her abdomen and chest.  Bartholomew jumps across the room to negotiate the misunderstanding, mentions this was a really nice house, and also slips in that the party is associated with the Zhentarim. (Mew groans.)  

He stands there, unaffected, and aggressively yells, “This is Redbrand territory!”  

Aria casts Eldritch Blast at the man who injured Morgana, but it flies over his head.  Therkahn moves down the stairs, casting cure wounds on Morgana.  Eru climbs out of the cistern, attempts to cast fire bolt, but all it does is sizzle and steam.  Mew loads his crossbow, letting a bolt loose at one of their attackers: it hits him in the left shoulder, but he is still able to swing his sword.  

One man attacks Bartholomew, but he is able to block them with his palm.  Morgana is struck during the parry, but it’s just a flesh wound.  Another turns his sword on Eru, but his blade is simply caught in her dripping wet robes.  Morgana returns the attack with her whip and dagger, slicing him through the abdomen, blood dripping from his lips.  Therkan deflects a blow with his hammer, smashing away the sword. Morgana also takes another slice from an enemy.  Bartholomew charges, swinging a vial of lamp oil, flinging it in the men’s direction.  It shatters and two men are covered in oil.  

Bartholomew yells, “Light ‘em up!” as he reached over and slapped both men across their stunned faces.  

Without hesitation, Aria grabs a nearby burning lantern and throws it in their direction, but it flies safely over their heads.  Therkahn attacks the unoiled man with his axe, but only the hilt of the axe makes contact, striking him in the head, rendering him unconscious.  

Eru is able to hypnotize one of the attackers, and all he can do is stand there and drool.  Mew reaches for another lantern to threaten one of the oil-laden men, but it has no effect.  He throws the lantern instead, but it misses, sputtering out at his feet.  Sildar joins the battle, FINALLY, advancing into the fray…but does nothing.  One of the oily men slashes out at Bartholomew and Morgana, but his grip is too slick and he misses.  Drooly man is still drooly.  Morgana unfurls her whip and dagger, missing with her whip, but sinking her dagger deep into one.  He is gravely wounded, but still alive.  Bartholomew grabs his tinder box and strikes out, and the poor oiled men scream as they burst into flames.  Aria knocks the remaining man unconscious, and Mew ties him up.  

Eru takes this moment of peace to look into the satchel retrieved from the cistern.  It is a waterproof pack which contains a healing potion, an invisibility potion, 50 gold pieces, and traveling clothes.  Aria takes the clothes and healing potion, Therkahn takes the potion of invisibility.  Eru receives 16 gold pieces and the waterproof satchel, everyone else receives 8 gold pieces, leaving 2 for the Kitty.  After searching the defeated men, Aria, Mew, and Bartholomew each procure Redbrand cloaks.   

Our party members take a short rest.  

Therkahn investigates the stonework of the manor, which looks to be about 100 years old and Dwarven.  Mew continues to loot the fallen men, finding 28 silver pieces, 12 gold pieces, 15 electrum pieces, and 2 garnets.  Aria and Mew each took a garnet… and Mew really wants all of the money to himself, but she decides to split it with the party.  Each member takes 4 silver pieces (plus 4 to the Kitty), 2 gold pieces, and 2 electrum pieces (plus 3 to the Kitty).  Eru investigates the walls, but finds nothing out of the ordinary.  Mew takes a shot at it and finds a stone out of place… which reveals a hidden wall.

Mew wakes and interrogates one of the Redbrands.  He does not recognize the name of Sildar’s missing friend, but does reveal there were about 10 other Redbrands on the premises.  He gags the Redbrands, and the party stepped through the secret doorway into a large cavern.  Mew takes the lead and heads alone toward casks at the end of the room (mmmm Beeeer).  She is distracted by an OOoooooOOh Shiny at the bottom of a crevasse to his left and suddenly hears a voice in her head, “Have you brought me food?”  

Mew whispers back in her head, “Yes.”  

The voice in Mew’s head anxiously demands, “Food where?”  

So she responds, “In my pack….”  She spots a creature hiding behind a pillar across the bridge.

It pointed down into the crevassed and thought-speaks, “Throw food in.”  

To which Mew responded, “And what do I get out of this arrangement?”

And then the creature threatens to reveal Mew’s deepest secret–why she left the Underdark.  MEW DECIDES TO KILL HIM NOW!  Oblivious to the entire conversation, the party suddenly sees Mew draw his crossbow, loading a bolt and cocking.  The bolt flies across the crevasse, striking the pillar and the creature retreats into the darkness.  The rest of the party simply sees a blur disappear into the shadows.  

Bartholomew, Sildar, and Aria agree to stand watch in the hallway.  Therkahn, Morgana, and Eru go toward the casks of beer.  Mew looks further at the OoOoOoooh Shiny.  At the casks, Therkahn finds two hidden entrances:  a set of stairs disappearing into the depths, and a hallway.  Eru’s magic senses begin to tingle and the OoOOoh Shiney begin to glow.  The party all rush back to the edge of the crevasse, and all but Therkahn descend.  There, at the bottom of the crevasse, is a small chest, which is too heavy to carry out.  Within, are 160 silver pieces, 120 gold pieces, 5 malachite gems, 2 healing potions, a scroll of augery (divination), and a longsword with a silver scabbard, engraved, “Talon” with a bird of prey on the hilt.  

“Nice sword,” Therkahn remarks.  

Therkahn takes the scroll, Mew steals the sword and all of the malachite (giving one gem to Aria, which he hopes no one noticed), Morgana takes the 2 healing potions, and the party splits the funds: 26 silver pieces (plus 4 for the Kitty) and 20 gold pieces each.

Bartholomew, Sildar, and Aria are playing cards when Aria hears a noise coming from down the stairs.  She can’t make it out, but it sounds like a conversation.  Bartholomew and Sildar can’t make out the words, either.  The rest of the party joins them, but nobody can make it out.  Bartholomew and Aria step down the stairs and are met with two closed doors.  They can hear distinct voices behind one of the doors.  Bartholomew grabs the Redbrand cloak, slings it over his arm, and opens the door, stepping in saying, “Hey guys!  Going to town…want anything?”  He sees three bugbears (each wearing a Redbrands cloak) bullying a small goblin.  

They reply, “We don’t need anything,” so Bartholomew leaves the room, and heads back to the party. A bugbear slams the door behind him. Mew wants to sneak on by since this obviously isn’t the room they’re looking for, but no one else agrees.  

Morgana drinks a healing potion to top off her health and Eru borrows a cloak. Mew, begrudgingly accepts the upcoming circumstance and positions herself in the hallway beyond the door.  Eru and Aria step into the room with the 3 bugbears, stating they were to go pick up the loot.  A bugbear, disbelieving, heads out the door to confirm the orders only to be stabbed in the side as he tries to pass Mew.Mew stabs him in the side, again and again like a crazy Drow (MEWWWWW!). Aria slashes out and slits his throat, and the two drag him down the hallway out of sight and near Therkahn, who is guarding one of the bridges above the crevasse.

Eru points at the remaining bugbears and attempts to cast Sleep, but it fails and they all just stand there blinking at her.  Mew draws her shortsword and dagger, slashing at one of the bugbears, slicing his forearm with the sword, but the dagger just snaps against the leather.  Eru then casts Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, but it does nothing.  A bugbear grabs his morningstar, swinging it and smashing Eru up against the wall.  She lay, dying.  Morgana uses her whip and dagger against Eru’s attacker, the whip misses, but the dagger sinks in.  The second bugbear attacks Mew, who crumples against the wall, unconscious, sliding down next to Eru.  Bartholomew puts down his playing cards, puts on the cloak, and sits on the stairs.  He then stands up again, descends the stairs and stands in the doorway.  Therkahn appears in the doorway next to Bartholomew and casts Cure Wounds on Eru.  Aria casts Eldritch Blast, sapping one bugbear of all of his energy.  Aria steps into the room and give two healing potions to Mew, who quafs them down–finally conscious again.  Sildar runs into the hall, Mew runs OUT, and Eru casts Firebolt at a bugbear, but just singes him through his leather armor.  A bugbear swings his barbed morningstar at Aria, crushing her abs–she is bleeding, but appears okay.  

Morgana casts Thunderwave, proclaiming, “BOOM! Let’s do it!!”  

One bugbear is thrown against the wall, his mace crushing him in the face.  The goblin is thrown away (he apparently passed out earlier in fear).  The remaining bugbear attacks Morgana and misses due to the sheer force of the Thunderwave.  

Bartholomew enters the room and asks, “What’s all this ruckus?”  

The bugbear responds, “Help me kill this intruder!”  

Bartholomew steps behind the bugbear, silently draws his short sword, and thwacks him against the back of the head.  Aria follows through with her dagger, which glances off his leather.  Sildar attacks, swinging his scimitar but the bugbear knocks it aside.  Mew advances to the doorway (belly-aching the whole way about how no one listened to him), fires his crossbow from a safe distance, striking the bugbear once in the chest and a second bolt renders the bugbear into an unconscious heap.  

They tie him up and loot the bodies:  one bugbear yields 33 silver pieces, a jeweled eyepatch, and an iron key.  Mew takes the eyepatch, Morgana takes the key, and the party splits the silver (5 pieces each and 3 to the Kitty).  The other bugbear has 10 silver pieces, which they divide 1 silver each plus 4 to the Kitty.

Paused (Game resumed 6/11/17)

Everyone got into the room and closed the door behind them.  Mew kept an ear to the door, and having heard nothing, smacked the goblin awake, his eyes snapped open wide in fright.  Mew talked to him: his name was Droop and he was sent here by Black Spider, who works with Glasstaff), but he didn’t know where Black SPider was.  Bartholomew offered the party’s protection to the goblin from the cruel bugbears, and the goblin calmed down.  When asked who else was in the mansion, the goblin replied that there were four people playing games down the hall.

The tied up bugbear began to stir, but Mew promptly knocked him out again.  She hugs Droop, and squeezes him so tightly that he passed out once more.  And a party discussed their next move.

Morgana transformed into a green and yellow parrot, and she, Mew of Death, and Bartholomew walked down the hallway and entered the room (Mew and Bartholomew were still wearing their Redbrands cloaks).  Arian, Therkan, and Eru watched from the hall.  Once inside the room, they saw four human warriors playing some sort of dice game at a table covered in coins and trinkets – having interrupted, one of the warriors shouted, “Who are you?!”

Morgana repeated in her best parrot voice, “Who are you?”

Mew responded, “Black Spider sent us as support.”

Morgana squawked, “Support!”

The warrior invited them to pull up a chair asking, “Do you know how to play Badweather?”

Bartholomew said, “I haven’t wet the bed since I was three…”

Morgana chewed on the ends of Mew’s hair, so Mew casually raised her hood and sits at the table.  Bartholomew pulled up a chair.  They could both hear that the dice were weighted, but Mew still dropped two GP from the kitty onto the table.  They lost the first round.

Mew broke the ice asking where Glasstaff was, and the warriors pointed to a door on the opposite end of the room.  Mew dropped another two GP on the table, and the dice were rolled.  Mew won!  He pulled in 2 EP, 5 SP, and 3 GP.  Mew thanked the warriors for allowing her to win this round.  He placed the 3 GP back into the kitty, but she pocketed the rest of the coins in her purse.  She and Bartholomew, with Morgana on Mew’s shoulder, left the table and exited out the door toward Glasstaff, closing it behind them.

Meanwhile, Aria, Therkahn, and Eru were still stuck twiddling their thumbs in the hallway.  They had no disguises.  And they didn’t want to leave this location to wander along the mansion in case their friends needed them.  Therkahn mumbled something about being bored and Eru just sat there with a dumb look on her face.  She began to take a short rest in the hopes of recouping some of her spell casting abilities, which were exhausted in the last encounter.

Mew listened in the hallway’s adjacent doorway and heard faint bubbling and dripping sounds.  They opened the door and stepped inside and saw a laboratory of sorts with beakers, glasses, potions, bubbling concoctions, tomes, and parchments.  A large rate scurried around the floor.  Mew dropped some crumbs for the rat, who quickly nibbled them away.  Bartholomew investigated the flasks and vials and shoved them in his bag: a vial of mercury, another of an unknown black sludge, and one powdered nightshade.  To the group, it appeared someone had been researching a potion of invisibility.  

Morgana cast Detect Magic, but nothing stood out; although the rat faintly glowed.  She transformed from a parrot into a rat and struck up a conversation with the rat: “How’s it hangin’ in here, squeak squeak?” They talk about food, life in general, and the rat’s Master.  Mew gave the rat more food.  

Morgana asked, “Where’s the shiny stuff, squeak?”

The rat replied “Squeak squeak, the red guys have shiny.”

Meanwhile, in the far-off hallway, the three abandoned party members just sit there, picking their nails and teeth, with nothing to do but wait.

Morgana asked the rat where they could find his Master, and the rat pointed to another doorway which exited the room.  Morgana reverted back to her human form and Mew reached out to grab and strangle the rat, but missed as it scurried underneath the crack in the doorway.  Mew burst through the master’s doorway, which led to an empty bedchamber; no rat in sight.  Mew yells, “Are you alright, Sir?”  No response.  Morgana noticed a secret passage along the wall, as well as a letter on the desk.  She read it aloud, which reeked of conspiracy and treachery among the Lord’s Alliance, signed by the Black Spider.  Bartholomew yells, “Oh! It’s the Black Spider!!”  

Mew ran back through the door into the laboratory, continued on through the hallway into the room with the dice players.  He yelled, “Glasstaff is missing!!!” (nobody reacted) as she continued to run through the far door, into the hallway where the long-forgotten and neglected party members were napping.  Mew caught everyone up on what had transpired, and they head up the stairs toward the crevasse.

Bartholomew and Morgana heard footsteps and voices coming from down the hallway, most likely the concerned warriors from the dice game.  Morgana shifted into a bat and flew into the secret passage.  Bartholomew backed out of the bedchamber into the laboratory, and drank a light orange potion that he had hoped was a potion of invisibility.  It could have killed him.  Or worse…but he got lucky and although it wasn’t a potion of invisibility, he felt invigorated and much healthier.  He grabbed every bottle of liquid he could find and dropped them in his bag.  He opened the doorway to the hallway and simply waited for the men to arrive.

As Mew, Therkahn, Aria, and Eru continued their trek to the crevasse ,a bat flew overhead.  Therkahn poised to strike it down, but Mew stopped her just in time: she recognized it as Morgana.  

The four warriors found Bartholomew and confronted him about Glasstaff’s sudden disappearance.  He stated he was gone when he got here and didn’t know anything, and one of the warrior’s insisted he stick with them.  They hung out in the lab for a few minutes, searching for clues of Glasstaff’s whereabouts.

Reaching the bridge of the crevasse, Mew began to cross it, but it collapsed beneath her about halfway over.  He fell 20’ into the crevasse and at the bottom, healed himself with a potion.  Eru climbed down the side and joined Mew at the bottom.  Therkahn walked to the second bridge and crossed there.  Morgana simply flew across the chasm.  Mew and Eru climb up the opposite side and joined their friends at the top.

Back at the lab, the warriors and Bartholomew simply cannot figure out where Glasstaff went and decide they needed to wait for him.  They all wanted to go back and play more Badweather and invited Bartholomew, who declined with class and dignity, “I have to go to the bathroom.  I’ll join you later.”  They leave him alone, and he grabs a torch and ventures back into the bedchamber to look around.  He found a chest at the foot of the bed, opened it, and pocketed All The Things:  180 SP, 130 GP, silk pouch with 5 carnelia, 2 peridot, and 1 pearl.  Upon inspecting the room, there was nothing else of interest, so he stepped into the secret passage.  It led him right back to the rest of his party, who were now in a room filled with casks of ale.  When asked, Bartholomew said there was nothing further of interest in the bed chamber, but Morgana suspected otherwise.  A lying monk.

Sensing no traps around a secret passage, Aria stepped in and the rest of the party followed her.  A small hallway led to another door, which revealed an armory containing 12 spears, 6 shortswords, 4 longswords, 6 crossbows, and 8 quivers with 20 bolts each.  Eru took a cloak and a longsword.  Therkahn took 2 cloaks, shoving one in her pack, a crossbow, a quiver, a spear, and a longsword.  Aria took a cloak, a crossbow, and a quiver.  Mew yelled down the hall that someone needed to grab him a quiver, which Eru did.  Morgana changed to her human form and grabbed one of the cleaner Redbrand cloaks.  Everyone put on their cloaks and proceeded down the hallway and through yet another door.  

A large room opened up, with three sealed coffins, each coffin had a skeleton leaning up against it, each armed with a longsword.  Not wanting to take any chances, Therkahn opened fire from the doorway, sending a bolt through the closest skeleton, which fell into a heap of bones.  She took down the remaining two skeletons with her crossbow.  All entered the room, but Mew, who watched cautiously from the doorway.  Bartholomew, Morgana, and Aria each open a coffin, finding bones and a signet ring.  They each take their respective rings.  Bartholomew also snagged a human fibula.  Therkan proceeded to smash the skeletons to dust.  Mew searched for traps near a door in the room; he found none, but heard faint sobbing from behind the door.  Therkahn double-checked for traps, and found nothing.  

Eru cracked the door open and peeked inside: a dungeon with two women and a boy.  Filthy clothes were strewn across the floor of the prison cells, and Mew rummaged through the rags.  Therkahn questioned the prisoners and learned they had been there for about a week.  Nobody seemed to be lying, so Morgana took the key she pilfered off of the bugbears earlier and freed the captives, insisting they remain in their cells and they’d return for them once they secured the mansion and it was safe.  

Departing the dungeon, the party made their way to the ornate double doors. Having opened the doors, they are met with a long, dusty hallway, void of any footprints.  Suspicious, Therkahn shot a bolt into the hallway, but nothing happened.  Morgana rolled a few ball bearings across the floor, and again, nothing happened.  Mew found evidence of shuffling footprints hugged close against the wall, and threw out more ball bearings.  Nothing.  Mew, Aria, and Eru ran into the hallway while Therkahn hugged the edge of the wall, shuffling across.  About halfway through the hall, the floor gave way beneath the three.  Mew leapt to safety before the floor completely collapsed, but Aria and Eru fell to the bottom, receiving some injuries.  They climbed out of the pit.  Morgana, still at the double doors, shifted once more into a bat and flew safely across the pit.  They found themselves back at the room with the cistern where this misadventure had begun.  But…the Redbrand hooligan they had left tied up was now gone.  Eru returned to the prison, gathering the two women and the boy, and the party led them safely out of the mansion.  Bartholomew gave the boy an apple, and the three fled back to their lives.  Our adventurers made their way to the forest.

Therkahn confronted Sildar about Black Spider’s letter and the corruption of the Lord’s Alliance.  Lord Iarno may very well have been Glasstaff, and the Alliance was more than likely corrupted in the highest levels.  Sildar suggested sending a letter to the Lord’s Alliance to warn them.  But who would be safe to receive the letter?  With no indication of where Glasstaff and the Redbrands went, and exhausted from the day, everyone took a nap, and awoke around midnight.  

Bartholomew, Mew, and Morgana (once more a parrot) decided to head to the Redbrand’s favorite bar back in town.  Therkahn, Aria, and Eru headed toward the “normal” bar in town.  Everyone wanted some ale…and answers.  Stepping into the Redbrand’s bar, nothing stood out as suspicious or awry.  Bartholomew and Mew received free ale at the bar and drink up.  Morgana sipped out of Mew’s tankard.  

Mew wandered up to a drunk Redbrand, “Hey…what does Glasstaff do for fun?”

*Hiccup* the Redbrand blinked and growled, “Nothing! He’s got a glass staff up his ass!”

Morgana squawks, “ASS! ASS!!”  She flew from Mew’s shoulder to Barry’s and began to drink out of his tankard.

Mew eyed the patrons of the bar and sauntered on over to the bartender.  

At the Stonehill Inn, Therkhan slammed back some ale, Aria looked around for any unusual characters, and Eru ate a late-night meal.  Therkahn asked the bartender if anything unusual happened, but alas, nothing more unusual than usual.  Aria asked fi the Black Spider meant anything.  Nope. When she asked about “Iarno” the bartender told her he had come in a few months ago for a few days.  He was short, bald, and wore robes.  Eru interrupted, ordered a bottle of hard liquor, and shared it with Therkahn and Aria.  SHOTS!

Mew had continued talking to the bartender and ordered a beer and bourbon.  When he asked the bartender if he’d heard any news of any ruckus with the Redbrands, she was told nothing more than their usual nuisance.  

Bartholomew learned that the Redbrands didn’t think highly of Glasstaff, but they always did what he said.  Upon learning this, Mew walked up to a tipsy Redbrand named Jimbo to sew some seeds of dissention:  “You should start your own band,” Mew said.  “You don’t need Glasstaff.”  “Make it Jimbo’s band…”

Jimbo’s eyes widened and he smiled, rubbing his scruffy chin.  He jumped out of his chair, grabbed five Redbrands and they ran out screaming they were gonna start Jimbo’s Band!  What?!  Mew went to another table.

Eru continued to drink at the bar while Therkhan grabbed her cloak and she and Aria left the Stonehill Inn, headed toward the Redbrand’s hangout.  On their way, they were passed by a gang of six drunk Redbrands screaming, “WE’RE GONNA START A BAND!!!!”  A musical ensemble…, “JIMBO’S BAND!!!!”

Mew, Bartholomew, Morgana (the parrot), Therkahn, and Aria hung out at the Redbrand’s bar.  Aria offered to buy the house a beer if anyone could tell htem where Glasstaff was, but nobody knew.  Mew, Aria, and Morgana (now in human form) left the bar and decided to wake Halia to break the bad news and to see if she could help.  The lights were off…so they left.

Eru heard a ruckus outside the Stonehill Inn.  Downing the  last of her ale, she went outside to investigate, following the sound of six howling men in the town square.  Jimbo’s Band!!  Banging pots, pans, and “singing.”  Mew wandered up next to Eru to enjoy the show, Morgana turned into an owl and watched from atop a branch.  Aria climbed a tree and napped on a sturdy branch.  Bartholomew and Therkahn passed out at the bar.  Morgana hooted herself to sleep.  One by one, the members of Jimbo’s band passed out…Eru climbed up the heap of snoring bodies and fell asleep herself.  None awoke to the sensation of Mew pilfering through their pockets.  She found 15 GP and left toward Stonehill Inn for the night.

Sunrise.  Everyone is hungover and they all wander to the Stonehill Inn.  Bartholomew and Therkhan ask the barmaid for a hangover cure…to which they drink and Therkhan vomits.  Once presentable, everyone ventured back to Halia’s house.

Mew greeted Halia at the door and asked if should could scry, mentioning there was a complication in killing Glasstaff.  She also explained it was presumed that Glasstaff had acquired an invisibility potion and eluded capture…or death.  Halia agreed to scry for a hefty fee, which was negotiated down by Aria offering her the signet ring.  Instead of 150GP, Halia agreed to 100GP.  Halia gathered her crystal ball, a bowl of water, and five rubies.  

“Do you have anything of Glasstaff’s?”, Halia asks.

Mew called for Bartholomew to produce one of the many things he grabbed from the lab.  Bartholomew produced a silver coin.  Morgana spied a great many coin in Bartholomew’s bag and demanded to know the truth of their procurement.  The coin was not personal enough, so Bartholomew handed over the notes from the lab, and was told they would be destroyed in the ritual.

Halia performed the scrying ritual and the party could see Glasstaff within the crystal ball, fleeing with 3 Redbrands through a hilly region.  Halia handed Mew a mirror containing the same image, advising it was only sustainable for one hour.  The party could not afford the Potion of Speed offered by Halia, which was 200GP.  Bartholomew produced his plethora of potions, asking if any of them were a Potion of Speed but they were all random potions.  None of which would help this journey.

Therkahn fretted over the Lord’s Alliance infiltration and their intentions with her People’s mines.

After discussing the region, the party agreed to head southeast toward the Sword Mountains.

(All Leveled Up!)

**PAUSE** – Resumed 7/16/17

Aria and Bartholomew decided to stay in Phandalin to research and talk to the locals as Mew, Eru, Morgana, and Therkahn pursued Glasstaff.  The party first purchased four horses (30GP, 6 from each party member, and 6 from the kitty) as well as tack (an additional 2 GP per member).  Therkahn searched for tracks leading out of the city, but failed.  But, based on the information provided from the scrying mirror, the party picked up the scent.  

About an hour into the ride, the mirror disappeared in a puff of smoke, but they were only about a mile away from the base of the Sword Mountains.  Therkhan dismounted and found broken twigs and crushed blades of grass.  She picked up the trail!  Another hour passed and the party noticed a trail leading up the barren mountain, spotting three figures ascending the mountainside.  Leaving the horses tied to some trees with a leaking waterskin dangling from the branches for the horses, the party began the hike upward.

Therkahn led the way, more knowledgeable about mountain and rocky terrain.  About 30 minutes pass, and they’re only about 300’ below Glasstaff and his two Redbrand guards.  Morgana transformed into a hawk and took to the skies.  Mew stealthily made his way up the rocky outcroppings, inching closer.  Therkahn and Eru continued the slow climb up, keeping pace with Glasstaff.  The three Redbrands appeared to be searching for something among the rocks while they continued to climb, oblivious to the presence of our party among them.  Mew continued to ascend quickly up the side of the mountain, passing Glasstaff and his party.  Unfortunately, she kicked some rocks on her way up, and quickly ducked behind a boulder.  Glasstaff and his two men now had their guard up and warily scoured the mountainside.

Morgana let out a might screech, causing the three Redbrands to look up, and she landed on a nearby rock to observe.  Mew’s cover was safe.  The three continued to search among the rocks, muttering.

Eru and Therkahn put on their Redbrand cloaks and Therkan waved enthusiastically at Mew.  “Stop waving…!,” Mew whispered and he stealthily moves closer to Glasstaff’s party.  Eru and Therkahn closed the gap as well.  Morgana launched once more to the heavens and circled above, watching.  Mew made his move and she leaned up against a boulder, arms crossed, directly in the line of sight of Glasstaff and his men.

“What are you doing here?” one of the guards asked.

“What does it look like I’m doing here?” Mew retorted.

“…Leaning up against a rock,” he replied.

Annoyed, Mew asked “Who’s in charge here?!”

“Him,” the guard simply pointed to Glasstaff.

“And who do you think pays him?” Mew chuckled.

“Hey!” the guard turned to Glasstaff, “Who pays you?”

Glasstaff growled, “That’s none of your business!!”

“Are…are you an Associate?” the guard asked Mew.

“Do I look like an Associate?” she asked.

Mew reached into his bag for a cloth and brought it to his face, wiped away a streak of flesh-colored make-up, and revealed her true skin: inky black drow flesh.  The two guards cowered slightly.

“…Yes, you do look like you might be…. What…what can I do for you?” Glasstaff asked.

Mew continued to only ask questions and learned the party was searching for a secret entrance to a cave, hidden among the rocks, but progress was slow and they knew the entrance was somewhere.  The captive dwarf with the map (being held up north) shared that intel.  Glasstaff and his guards had to leave Phandalin early due to “an annoyance” at their hideout.  

Meanwhile, Therkan and Eru continued to inch closer, undiscovered by the men.  Morgana, while flying high, found some rocks up the mountainside that didn’t share the same natural properties of the neighboring rocks.  She flew down to the anomaly and transformed back into her human form, watching below.

Mew suddenly aimed her crossbow at Glasstaff, growled “You failed your peer review”  and fired, the bolt pierced his stomach.  “KILL HER!,” he yelled at the guards.  Eru lunged forward to shank Glasstaff with her longsword, but his staff glowed a faint blue and he was enveloped by a shield.  Her sword bounced off.  Therkahn swung her warhammer, but thunked off Glasstaff’s shield, too.  Morgana shifted into a hawk and flew to the melee.  Mew let off another bolt at Glasstaff, which landed and split the first bolt, driving it deeper into his abdomen.  Blood poured from his lips.

One of the guards went to attack Eru with his broadsword, but Mew froze him in his tracks yelling, “STAND Down!  You work for me!!!”  He sheathed his sword.  

“Coward!!,” Glasstaff spatted, and his hands began to glow with fire. He launched a fireball at Mew, engulfing her in hungry flames.  As she burned, Eru cast Sleep at the melee and Glasstaff and one of the guards crumple into a heap on the ground.  The flames around Mew extinguished and the faint glow of his staff disappeared.  

“Kill Glasstaff!!” Mew commanded the awake guard.  

Therkahn stepped in front of him, “I’ll kill Flagstaff!!!!”  She held up her hammer to the heavens, and a blinding light pierced into Glasstaff.  He simply sunk a little deeper into a heap, never to awaken.

Morgana landed nearby and reverted to her human form.  

“Well, that was overly dramatic!” exclaimed Mew.

And the looting began.  Mew took Glasstaff’s glass staff for himself.  Eru snagged his cloak, which had a faint magical aura, as well as a bag of spell components. The party split 30 electrum pieces (equivalent to 15 gold pieces; 4 GP to each, plus 14 to the kitty, plus one extra to Mew for her theatrical performance).  Mew’s staff turned out to be the Staff of Defence and Eru’s cloak is the Robe of Shielding.  Eru put on the robe and it glowed faintly, then the effect disappeared.

Morgana looted the sleeping guard and found 3 gold pieces (which Mew promptly claimed) and weighted dice, which Morgana pocketed.  The awake guard, they learned, was named Eldan and he would accompany them while continuing to search for the cave entrance.  Morgana told everyone about the strange rocks she had seen further up the mountainside.  As they were about to leave, the sleeping guard began to stir.  Therkahn knocked him upside the head with her hammer, promptly putting him back to sleep.

Once at the strange rocks, they found an entrance to a dark tunnel.  Mew searched for traps and found none.  Eru cast Detect Magic while Mew performed the Dancing Lights Cantrip as she picked up some dirt and whispered, “Dance, torches, dance,” and torchlight appeared and floated around the party.  In they went.  

After walking a bit, they found an open cavern.  In the corner were bedrolls and supplies.  From a distance, Eru  noticed a faint magical glow coming from the bedrolls.  Therkahn pushed Eldran forward to go investigate the supplies and camp.  Mew gently asked him to investigate.  So he went, followed by floating torchlight, and yelled from across the cavern, “Um, there’s a dead dwarf.  There’s blood everywhere!”  

Everyone joined Eldran at the encampment.  There was flour, salt, meat, lanterns, lantern oil, and a shovel in the supplies.  Therkan snagged a lantern and oil.  Morgana took the shovel.  Mew pilfered the dwarf’s pockets, feeling around the contours of his bloated body.  Eru noticed his shoes were glowing with magic, so she worked them off of his bloated feet and slipped them on.  Everyone began to give her grief for her stinky dead-dwarf shoes.

The cavern also contained a very large pit, with a corner caved in.  There were two ropes leading down into the cavern.  As they walked to investigate, Eru’s shoes narrowed and formed snuggly around her feet.  “Hmmmm,” she mused.  

Therkahn again pushed Eldran to investigate the ropes and the pit.  He climbed down and yelled up, “There’s nothing down here.  But there’s *he pointed* a rope over there.”  

Everyone climbed down to join Eldran in the pit.  There were two passages: one accessible by rope and one accessible with a climb up the crumbled cavern wall.  Mew ordered he ascend the rope and investigate one of the two passages.  He disappeared into the darkness of the tunnel.  Two minutes go by with silence, then a piercing scream emanated through the cavern, followed by silence.  Everyone immediately decided they would take the second passage.

Eru climbed up the cliffside.  Therkahn followed, but fell.  Mew attempted to  climb up, but when she made it to the ledge at the top it crumbled and she fell.  Morgana climbed halfway up and fell, landing next to Mew.  Mew turned to face her, still on the ground, “…can’t…you…fly?”  

Eru pointed and laughed from the top of the ledge; Therkahn flipped her off. Mew remembered he had a rope.  Morgana turned into a bird, and flew to the top with Mew’s rope in her talons.  Once properly tied off, Mew and Therkahn climbed to the top of the ledge.  Resting, Therkahn and Morgana talked politics.  Eru asked Mew if she could still smell the stench of the shoes.  Mew sniffed, “Yep.”  

Looking beyond the passageway, they found themselves in a hallway with numerous passages.  There was no breeze, the air was flat and dead, but there was a roaring sound of crashing waves.  Eru listened and heard it coming from the right.  Therkahn grunted, “It’s why they call it Wave Echo Cave.”  

They all headed right, pursuing legends and stories.  As they walked, Eru became attuned into the magic of her stinky shoes: She was wearing Boots of Striding and Springing.

As they traveled through the passages, following the sound of the crashing waves, Therkahn analyzed the stone walls.  They were dwarven work, and the walls were smoothed by acid.  Mew continued to look for traps, but found none along the way.  Ascending some stairs, Mew extinguished the floating torchlight.  The elves adjusted easily to the darkness.  A cavern lay before them, random tables were placed about and a dozen skeletons littered the floor.  

“Hey, what’s in there?!?” Morgana asked.

“Shhh…,” Mew chided.  

Sounds of movement greeted them from the cavern.  And five creatures rose from the remains on the floor.

One immediately ran up to Eru, striking her with it’s claws, raking across her chest.  A persistent bitter cold raked through her torso, but her body resisted freezing still.  Mew loaded a bolt in her crossbow, and fired at one of the many creatures.  She missed.  She retreated to the darkness and shadows, blending as one with the nothing.  Therkahn cast Bless on the party, while also casting Healing Word on Mew.  A second creature runs up and sinks its claws into Therkahn, causing damage, but she, too, did not freeze.  Eru was attacked by a third creature, sustaining damage and she felt sluggish, nearly unable to move.  Another creature ran toward Morgana, and Eru cast Crown of Madness before it could reach her.  Alas, the creature was already mad, so the magical iron crown simply disappeared from his head.  Morgana flicked her thorn whip at it, cutting into its neck.  She followed through with her dagger, stabbing it in the gut.  One attacked Therkahn, but she smashed its hands away with her hammer. Mew loaded another bolt and fired, the bolt piercing into the spine of the creature; it crumbled to the ground, dead.  She ducked back into the shadows.  Therkahn cast Turn Undead, and one of the four remaining creatures ran away in terror through a doorway.  She then cast Spiritual Weapon, chanted into the darkness and a warhammer materialized, smashed into a nearby ghoul.  Another swiped at Eru, but she dodged the attack, swatting it aside with her longsword and cutting a claw off its hand and striking it in the calf on the downstroke.  It gimped away.  Eru reached out and grabbed a nearby ghoul, shocked it as lightning arced from her fingers.  It slowed down to a crawl.  A ghoul lunged to bite Morgana, but she unfurled her whip, closing its jaw tightly with the thorny weapon.  She yanked forward, causing the creature to bite off its own tongue, as she drove her dagger into its throat.  It collapsed, dead.  One creature reached out to claw Therkahn, but flailed and couldn’t make contact.  Mew shot a bolt at the flailing ghoul, and the boli pierced through the back of its head, the bolt protruded through the gaping, now dead, mouth of the creature.  Therkan attacked another creature, but missed, but followed through with spiritual weapon and crushed its back and neck with the magical warhammer.  With all creatures dispatched, or having fled, Therkahn cast Healing Word on Eru.  The party rummaged through the skeletal remains and found 10 GP, which they gave to Therkahn.  Mew stole a ring from one of the rotting bodies while nobody was watching.

Having investigated the room, Therkahn and Mew concluded that the last meals of the skeletons must have been poisoned.  And since the bones had been picked off their flesh, the poor souls very well may have been meals for the encountered ghouls who now lay dead beside them.  Once more, they resumed their journey following the echoing waves.

They found a cavern with a doorway and heard five distinct, gruff voices behind it.  Leaving the doorway alone, and remaining quiet, the party investigated the rest of the cavern.  A water-wheel powered a nearby forge.  There were 8-10 dead dwarven warriors, some still twitching.  Therkahn sensed an undead presence and noticed a green, floating skull inspecting the bodies of the fallen warriors.  

Our adventurers quietly retreated back to the meal hall.  Mew opted to take first watch while the rest of the party rested.  Eru and Therkahn nestled down amongst the skeletal remains on the floor and slept.  Morgana ventured back out of the cavern to the Sword Mountains, down the mountainside, and rested with the horses to wait for Aria and Bartholomew to join them.

**PAUSE**

 

***

Resources:

Geek & SundryDungeons & Dragons As Therapy

Health Fitness RevolutionTop 10 Health Benefits of Board Games

Psychology TodayDungeons & Dragons, 40 Years Old, Makes You a Better Person

Technology Advice4 Chemicals That Activate Happiness, and How to Gamify Them

View story at Medium.com

~ 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

A paper on the holistic treatment of Endometriosis

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The Ohlone Herbal Center published Whitney Staeb’s apprenticeship paper in October 2016 about the holistic treatment approaches of Endometriosis.  If you’d like to read the 16-page report in it’s entirety, please click here.

It discusses herbs and flower essences that may help ease inflammation and symptoms.  Although it does not discuss doses, it does talk about the supposed medicinal properties of each and combinations that may help during cycles.  If intrigued, read the paper and consult with your healthcare provider and an herbalist.

Diet and proper nutrition play a large role possibly controlling Endometriosis symptoms.  She identifies some “ideal foods” that may be incorporated into, and excluded from, your diet.

Lifestyle changes such as switching feminine hygiene products, exercising, taking warm baths, using heating pads, and practicing good self-care may also ease the physical and mental issues of Endometriosis.

I encourage you to read her paper yourself (click here).  See if any of it speaks to you.  And, again, please do your own research (look for the pros and cons of each listed suggestion) and speak with your healthcare provider before starting any new regimen.

Have you ever, or do you presently, take any of the herbs/supplements referenced in this paper?  Please share your experiences with us in the comments below. Your journey may help others!

Yours,

Lisa

Recap : Naturally Speaking, It’s Endo Event

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On March 5, 2016, an event was held in Toronto, Canada called “Naturally Speaking, It’s Endo.”  It was a workshop with several presenters on natural techniques that you could use to manage your Endometriosis symptoms and pain.  I asked Michelle, one of the organizers of the event, if she and her cohorts would answer a few questions for our blog, and they did!  Not only that, but they offers some amazing highlights from each of the speakers below.  They also offered some beautiful door prizes and a luncheon for the attendees.
This once again goes to show that you don’t have to be huge organization to prepare an event.  This was put together by two women; two very strong women with a vision! I always say it because it’s, true, but “Together, we can do great things!”
**

Who helped organize and plan the event?

It was basically myself with the help of our office manager, Elaina. We also had support from The Endometriosis Network Canada (TENC) to help promote the event, but the planning and organization was just Elaina and I.

How long had it been in the works? (If you can believe it, many EndoSisters ask me these two questions because they’d like to prepare events in their area, too, and it’s something that many people want to know)

I initially wanted to do this event last September and had started thinking about it in July. But since I was getting married in October, I felt I was being pulled in too many directions at that time. I contacted TENC to see if they were planning anything in March for endometriosis awareness month. When they said they didn’t have any plans I told them I was interested in planning an event about natural ways to manage endo symptoms. We often get asked by women about what options exist in natural healthcare if they don’t want to use medication, or if they are on medication, what options can provide complementary support. TENC said they would help us spread the word about the event, so I started planning the speakers and event content around late November to early December. I booked a venue in January and we started promoting the event right away. I have helped plan events before so I know in order for the event to be successful, you should give yourself at least 6 months to plan, organize and promote the event.

How many attendees did you have?

We had 12 attendees.

I see that you have 5 guest speakers, covering topics from nutrition, naturopathic medicine, chiropractic care, restorative exercise, and skin care/make-up. How did these topics tie-in to Endometriosis care, treatment, and support?

I wanted to give women a variety of options for treatments because each woman is going to have a different experience with endometriosis. In holistic medicine we believe that every person is a unique individual, and what works for one person with endo, may not work for another. So the speakers offered 5 different options that can be used separately, or in conjunction with each other. I also know that other illnesses/diseases can occur simultaneously with endometriosis, such as weak pelvic floor muscles. These five different perspectives encompass a treatment plan for the whole person because what we eat, the supplements we take, our breathing and posture, our exercise regime and what we put on our skin all affect endometriosis symptoms.

Were there highlights of each that you’d care to share? I know that feeling well, inside AND out, can dramatically help an EndoSister feel better about her condition.

I can share highlights from each presentation.

From a nutrition perspective: the aim of the diet should be to help reduce inflammation to help reduce symptoms. The best way to do this is with a veggie centric diet which is dairy and gluten free, high in fibre and healthy fats, and low in carbohydrates. www.greystoneshealth.com

From the restorative movement: The way you move every day makes a big difference to your pelvic floor health. Walking more, sitting in chairs less, not wearing high heels, and not sucking in your stomach are all great ways to start caring for your pelvic floor. www.movementrevolution.ca

From a skincare perspective: what we put on our skin is directly absorbed into our body. Some ingredients used in skincare products are toxic and can mimic the estrogen hormone, so be an aware consumer and look for organic, natural options for skincare and makeup products. http://www.arbonne.com/pws/christiepawliw/tabs/home.aspx

From a naturopathic perspective: the very first thing that needs to be done to help reduce symptoms from endometriosis (even before looking at hormones) is to reduce inflammation and ensure a healthy gut ecology. Once this is done, the hormones will balance much easier, especially with incorporation of some mind/body work. Lastly, the Dutch hormone panel is a new test that provides a deeper look at the hormone balance in a person with endometriosis. www.greystoneshealth.com

From a chiropractic perspective: Deep breathing techniques will help to support the pelvic floor and core muscles. Your pelvic floor acts as a second diaphragm and when everything is working together, the nervous system is better supported and helps to reduce symptoms such as low back pain. www.backinbalanceclinic.ca

I also see that representatives from The Endometriosis Network Canada was present. Could you tell me more about that? What did they talk about? Any future events coming up? More support for local EndoSisters in that area?

Yes. I asked them to come and do a brief talk at the beginning of the event about what they do in case any women in attendance hadn’t heard of them before.

As of right now, we don’t have any future events planned. However, we do write blog articles for TENC and any other endo publications that are interested.

I know tickets were $20-30 and the price of admission included snacks, a make-up tutorial, and a chance to win door prizes. Where else did the funds go? I’m assuming overhead and payment for the guest speakers? Anything else?

The event was $20 and included admission, food and a chance to win door prizes. We initially tried offering a discounted rate so that it would encourage people to buy tickets ahead of time because we were offering food and needed a sense of numbers to prepare for. However, we weren’t selling a lot of tickets and were told that sometimes women with endo don’t know until the day before an event if they will feel well enough to attend. So we kept the price at $20. We wanted to keep the price low so it was affordable, but we needed a way to make back some of the money we paid for expenses. So essentially all the money we made from the event went to cover some of the overhead expenses, and we (meaning
Greystones Health) covered the rest.

If you could do anything differently, what would it be?

I don’t think so. We put a lot of effort into this event and were pleased with the result.

Any advice for EndoSisters reading this entry today?

In regards of event planning, be sure to give yourself lots of time to plan the event, and also consider the timing for the event. From my experience both planning and attending events, events held during the summer months usually have less people because people are busy outdoors enjoying the weather. When the weather is cooler, people are more likely to look for something to do.

In regards of a health perspective, my partner, Dr. Steyr has had success treating women with endo as a naturopathic doctor, whether it was managing symptoms or helping them prepare for pregnancy. I’ve heard many women say that they’ve run out of options to manage their endo symptoms, and so we want to give them a message of hope. There is always a way to better health, and it’s important to realize that this is a process which can take some time, but we’re here to help and support these women as they journey on their path to better health.

**
For more information on any of the participants involved in the workshop, please see the links below.
Greystones Health: A Toronto based natural healthcare team offering naturopathic medicine and nutrition counselling.  They also work with Back in Balance for chiropractic services.
Michelle Heighington: registered nutritionist.  Michelle is also able to meet with patients via Skype! If you’re interested, please reach out to her for more information.
Dr. Joseph Steyr: naturopathic doctor.  Dr. Steyre and Ms. Heighington offer a free initial consultation.  If interested, please reach out to their offices at info@greystoneshealth.com.
Dr. Lisa Clarke: chiropractor
Petra Fisher:restorative exercise specialist
Christie Pawliw: independent consultant for Arbonne International.  Christie is available by e-mail if you’d like more information about skincare.  Please feel free to contact her for more information.
The Endometriosis Network Canada: A volunteer-run, incorporated, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to facilitate & promote a patient-centred approach to managing endometriosis.

I want to thank Michelle, Elaina, Greystones Health, each of the presenters, and The Endometriosis Network Canada for taking the time to help spread the word about Endometriosis, other treatment options, and taking the time to respond to our questions.  Keep up the great work!

Yours,

Lisa

Keeping a Healthy Pooper to Help my Endo

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Here we go again!  Discussing taboo topics that nobody ever really wants to talk about.

You may remember a few months ago I met with a gastroenterologist to discuss my complaints of pain before, during, and after bowel movements.  Didn’t read it?  Check it out here.  Anyway, he referred me to a colorectal surgeon here in San Diego for some further testing.  A few months later and my insurance finally approved the appointment!  And *poof* my very first visit to a colorectal surgeon took place last week (nearly five months after my initial visit with my PCP to discuss these complaints)…

Again, we talked about my Endometriosis and my fear that it may be on my bowels due to my recently-returned issues with stabbing daggers and pain, constipation, and diarrhea.  He (and I) also agreed with the GI’s plan to ride out the symptoms as best I can until a second Endo excision surgery is (if needed) ever scheduled…we’d check out the bowels then rather than scheduling a potentially needless exploratory surgery.

Butt (haha see what I did there?) Dr. Worsey (the colorectal surgeon) wanted to examine my guts with a little camera, which is something I’ve never had done and wanted to  make sure I checked out fine.  Two enemas that morning before my appointment and now I’m in a very (dis)graceful pose on a mechanical table, my toosh up in the air 45 degrees and my face pointed toward the floor. Let me tell you : a flexible sigmoidoscopy is not a pleasant experience.  Not one bit and I took the rest of the day off of work due to the discomfort.

So, everything inside my bowel (up to the sigmoid colon) looks great.  The only thing he found wrong was an anal fissure.  Well now, that doesn’t sound good…It’s a tear in your bunghole or your bunghole canal.  “But how can a tiny little tear cause such severe pain throughout my pooping process,” I wondered.  Apparently, they can cause “severe pain during, and especially after, a bowel movement, lasting from several minutes to a few hours,” rectal bleeding, itching, and funky butt discharge…all of which I have had in the past.  And 10% of patients who visit colorectal surgeons for poopy pain end up having anal fissures.  So he gave me fierce instructions with a wagging finger to include more fiber in my diet and gave me a gallon-size ziploc baggy of sample packets of various fiber powder packets.  He also prescribed…medicated suppositories *oh joy* to help the fissure to heal.

So, since February 10, 2016, I’ve been drinking my powder fiber drink (easing it into my diet once a day per the instructions; will eventually up that dosage to three times per day) and using my nightly suppositories (he gave me a 12-day supply).   And guess what?

My gut still burns right before I have to poo…but that’s nice because it’s a kind of tell that I better get over there soon.  But since two days after my appointment and medication regimen, I haven’t felt the daggers/stabbing pain/glass tear through the length of my gut.  Or the excruciating stretching/tearing pain of my poop-hole, either.   My poops have been…quick, easy, and dare I jinx it…normal.  And every day…sometimes multiple times a day!  I used to go maybe once every 3 days…this is so much better!

But what does fiber have to do with helping my pain? And my Endo? And my peace of mind?  Well, besides smoothing out the transportation of my angry poos, it is believed that fiber may actually decrease excess levels of estrogen in the body by binding to it and pooping it out.  Why is that important?  Many physicians believe that Endometriosis is an estrogen-driven disease.  It’s also believed to do the same with toxins and the “bad things” in our guts.

I eat a lot of fruits, veggies, and beans in my diet.  I figured that was enough fiber for me…apparently not.

Looking for good fiber to include in your diet?  I went through the sample packets given to me by my colorectal surgeon (these included Metamucil and Konsyl).  Read the labels!  All of the sugar-free samples contained Aspartame.  And they also all contained psyllium, which may plug you up worse if you’re not drinking enough water.   Do your research and find the right one for you.  I take Maxi Health Fibermax once a day…I used to drink it with orange juice, until I realized how much sugar was in OJ.  Now I drink it with watered down V8 Harvest Vegetables.  And it gets me half my daily requirement of fiber, and I’d like to think I get the rest of it with my daily food : 1 serving of shredded wheat with berries, as well as snacking on fruits and veggies.

I’d like to believe that the anal fissure was causing my very painful bowel movements and that the addition of fiber and these medicated suppositories have helped immensely.  As of right now, I don’t have the painful poopy complaints that I’ve had of late.  So I’d like to believe the anal fissure was the sole cause of my crazy pain in my gut.  And that the fiber intake and healing suppositories will fix it.  Time will tell.  And anal fissures may recur at any time due to a hard or strainful poo…so if I keep up on my fiber regimen, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.  And if the symptoms return or worsen, I will advise my colorectal surgeon and we’ll go from there.  And feel comfortable that if I do go in for a second excision surgery, they’ll be taking an in-depth glance at the exterior of my bowels to make sure there aren’t any Endo implants.  I’ve now laid a foundational relationship with my PCP, my gyno, the gastroenterologist, and the colorectal surgeon.  They each understand my concerns and my Endometriosis diagnosis.  And each of these physicians have stated how much they enjoy working with each other, so I’m having fun building my Team. 🙂

I’ve spoken with several EndoSisters (who don’t know if they have Endo on their bowels or not) who have also complained of the same stabbing/knives/glass dragging through their gut pain, or painful poops.  I encourage you all to see your physician and get a referral to a specialist in the butt-area.  It may be Endo (or not), but it may be something else…possibly as simple as a lack of fiber in your diet or a tear on your butthole. (Sorry, just really trying to keep this lighthearted…rhymes with farted…hehe).

And, remember, “Some people are so positive, that when they slip in dog poop, they pirouette.” ~Josh Stern

*Have you had poopy gut pain and found out the cause?  Feel free to drop us a comment!  I’d love to hear what it was, if you fixed it, and how…*

Resources:

American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons – Anal fissure

Flo Living – Endometriosis symptoms and how to heal

Home Remedy – Diet remedy for Endoemetriosis

Livestrong – Good foods to eat when you have Endometriosis

Love to Know – Diet for Endometriosis

Medical News Today – Anal fissure : causes, symptoms, and treatment

Medicinenet.com – Anal fissure

Physicians’ Desk Reference – Endometriosis treatment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wurn Technique : Improve Infertility and Adhesion Pain?

clearpassageHave you heard of the Wurn Technique?  I hadn’t until a few weeks ago when I received an email from Clear Passage with links to a recently-published study showing the Wurn Technique can improve infertility issues, as well as reduce Endometriosis pain.  Are they claiming to cure Endometriosis?  Not at all.  But they are claiming their technique may help reduce your pain and may increases your chances of becoming pregnant.  So, curious as I was, I read up on it, asked questions, and now I present this information to you!

Personal Note: I am not endorsing Clear Passage or the claims made in these studies or their webpage.  I am simply pointing you, the curious reader, in a direction you may not have located otherwise.  Always, always, ALWAYS do your own research.  And choose a treatment that feels right for you.  If you have any questions about the Wurn Technique, please reach out to Clear Passage at info@clearpassage.com or 1 (352) 336-1433.  They will answer your questions and, if you so desire, schedule a phone consultation with one of their therapists (for free) to see if this is a viable treatment option for you.

Update 1/12/16 : If you’re located in the San Diego area, Clear Passage now has a San Diego location.  Click here for more information.

Clear Passage

Clear Passage was created by Belinda and Larry Wurn after Belinda was diagnosed and treated for cervical cancer in 1984.  After enduring surgery and radiation therapy, Belinda’s insides were scarred, creating a “frozen pelvis.”  Conventional medicine did little to ease her suffering, so she and Larry studied physical therapy techniques in the US and abroad and practiced the manual physical therapy they had been learning.  And, it was working!  They began developing their own methods and manual therapy techniques to ease her chronic pain, which ultimately became known as the Wurn Technique.

The Wurn Technique

The Wurn Technique involves 200 manual therapy techniques, each created to palpate the restricted areas of the body, freeing up adhesions and restoring the proper flow of the body.  It is generally a 5-day treatment comprising of 20 hours of bodywork.  Again and again, Clear Passage was able to “reverse infertility” for many women, freeing Fallopian tubes from scar tissue, and restoring their proper function.  Many women have praised Clear Passage and the Wurn Technique for the ability to conceive, and successfully deliver, a child.  All without surgery.

wurn rep
A representation of one of the hundreds of protocols employed by the Wurn Technique

KSAT12, a Texas-based news station, broadcast a story on August 19, 2015, about the Wurn Technique.  If you’d like to see a great visual demonstration of some of the techniques they use, click here.  There are also some testimonials of some very satisfied clientele.  The video is roughly 2 minutes long.

Infertility

Testimonials are a great way to do business; however, Clear Passage wanted scientific proof!  They conducted a small clinical trial of a woman whose Fallopian tubes were both severely blocked, and she had been diagnosed with a frozen pelvis.  Previous surgical intervention to unblock her Fallopian tubes failed and she was resigned to not having any children.  After working with the therapists at Clear Passage and using the Wurn Technique, they were able to completely unblock one of her Fallopian tubes!  Fantastic results, but not enough proof.  So…they went BIG and began a 10-year study of their technique and infertility results.  And it was recently published in the Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine journal.

In that study, they examined and treated nearly 1,400 patients over a ten-year period.  Of them, many women had Endometriosis-related infertility and astounding 43% of those patients conceived after their Clear Passage/Wurn Technique treatments.  A figure which surpassed even the surgical intervention figures (38-42%).  Women with both PCOS and Endometriosis also reported a successful pregnancy rate (75%).  Undergoing IVF?  This study found that Clear Passage and the Wurn Techniques had pregnancy rates 1.5 times higher than IVF alone.  Overall, Clear Passage and the Wurn Technique had a 60.85% success rate in opening one or both blocked Fallopian tubes! How does it work?  “…the Wurn technique… appeared to work by deforming adhesions in the body, thereby allowing increased mobility, motility, and function of the structures involved in fertility.” (Alternative Therapies, May/June 2015, Vol 21, 3, p. 37)

Further studies are needed to evaluate if the Stage of Endometriosis has any bearing on the treatment outcomes.

Endometriosis Pain

Painful sex and painful periods.  Two very painful things most women with Endometriosis have to deal with…

adhesions
Click for larger view

In 2011, Clear Passage again hit the scientific and medical community to see how their Wurn Technique affected these painful issues associated with Endometriosis and the study was published in 2012.  All of the study participants had been previously surgically diagnosed with Endometriosis and 78% of those women also had pelvic adhesions.  One study consisted of 14 women who complained of painful sex; another consisted of 18 women who complained of painful sex and painful periods.  Each of the women underwent 20 hours of physical therapy using Clear Passage’s techniques.  The studies concluded that painful sex and sexual function were statistically significantly improved and painful periods statistically significantly decreased for the study participants.

In 2014, they submitted an update on that study! Seven of the 18 patients from the 2011 study were available for follow-up a year later.  Fifty percent of the women still did not experience any pain with sex!  Fifty percent!  And the participants also reported a continuing decreased amount of menstrual pain.  The Wurn Technique may prove useful to a woman who is having painful intercourse or painful periods prior to undergoing another laparoscopic surgery, or if she cannot afford a(nother) surgery.  An alternative option, which may lead to a year of reduced symptoms.  But, again, this appears to be only adhesion-related; shifting, freeing, and stretching the adhesions.  It may not work in all painful cases if adhesions are not the causation.

The Interweb’s Two Cents

I decided to wander around the Internet for testimonials, questions, and nay-sayers about the Wurn Technique.  So I waded through the first 20 pages of Google search results and present you with a few results:

Zoe was a satisfied customer from 2007 (click here).  She stressed that the Wurn Technique is neither massage therapy or physical therapy, but a “deep deep deep body work…”

Pogo1 wrote on a forum in 2008 (click here) and was met with a good experience of the Wurn Technique in the UK.

KimmyKay inquired online in 2009 (click here) and only received a response from a very skeptical doctor, who then offered to make himself available for a consultation to evaluate her infertility issues.

Layne Emerson wrote in 2011 (click here) about the potential risks involved with massage therapy or the Wurn Technique. Clear Passage also outlines the risks of their methods here.

Amber3 reached out in 2011 (click here) for anyone who had experience with the Wurn Technique.  FaithHopeLove responded that she had the Wurn Technique to treat ankle scar tissue with fantastic results.

Mojo1234 posted in 2011 (click here) that the Wurn Technique did not work for her, but “…I think it does for some.  It depends on the extent of adhesions and what’s attached.”

Janice O posted in 2011 (click here) about her bowel obstructions due to adhesions and how she manages her pain and symptoms with the Wurn Technique.

Bookbabe posted an inquiry online back in 2013 (click here), and was met with skepticism, but also a few positive remarks.  She had her physician talk to Clear Passage and, “[h]e said what they are doing makes sense to him and that there is a chance that it would work.  He also called an ob/gyn friend of his to see what she thought of it and she said that when they do surgery to try and remove scar tissue and they are also stretching and tearing so it make sense to her as well, although she had never heard of it before.”

Mark Crislip posted shortly after the 2015 study was released (click here) with some points as to why he feels the results of the study, and the study itself, are disingenuous.

Craig Bowden’s daughter started a Gofundme campaign (click here) to help with medical and travel expenses for his Wurn Technique treatments.  He had severe abdominal adhesions after several surgeries, but updates, “[b]efore heading down to Clear Passage, I had a persistent/painful bowel obstruction, could only walk short distances with a crutch, had trouble going up/down stairs, experienced tremendous pain in my abdomen on a daily basis, had a very limited diet of crackers/similar items, and required a significant amount pain medication everyday. Only a mere five days after their treatment, I’m writing this as a person who can walk extensively without a cane, stand upright with great posture, and move freely without pain. I have diminished my baseline of pain and I am tapering down my pain medication. It’s absolutely incredible!”

Nicole Brown left a raving review (click here) after her four-hour Wurn Technique session at Align PT.  And she goes on to describe her experience after her week-long treatment.  “It was the best call I’ve made in a long time.”

As always, you must decide for yourself what you will believe and what course of action you will take.

If you think you’d like to try out Clear Passage and their Wurn Technique, please contact them at info@clearpassage.com or 1 (352) 336-1433.  And, as always, consult with your physician before starting any new regimen…

I would like to thank the Clear Passage team for being a wealth of invaluable information and putting up with my endless questions and requests during this blog-writing process.  If anything, Clear Passage’s dedication to improving womens’ lives is very evident to me.  They truly believe in their work.  I hope that they are able to continue to ease the pain and suffering of others while also continuing their pursuit of additional scientific proof.

Resources:

Adhesions.org

Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine (2015; Article) Ten-Year Retrospective Study on the Efficacy of a Manual Physical Therapy to Treat Female Infertility

Babycenter.com

Clear Passage

Journal of Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain Disorders (2012; Article) Decreasing Dyspareunia and Dysmenorrhea in Women with Endometriosis Via a Manual Physical Therapy : Results from Two Independent Studies

Journal of Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain Disorders (2014; Letter to the Editor) Update on “Decreasing Dyspareunia and Dysmenorrhea in Women with Endometriosis Via a Manual Physical Therapy : Results from Two Independent Studies”

~ 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

Poor Posture & Pain

Posture_types_(vertebral_column)

Growing up, you’re always told to “sit up straight” or “don’t slouch!”  I don’t know about you, but as an adult, I do anything but.

I spent most of this last weekend sitting at the computer wasting away on the internet, smooshed into a little ball on the chair. Either hunched over or leaning back into a curved husk.  And it got me thinking : what does bad posture do to my body? Internally. Mentally.  Physically. So, you know me : let the research begin!

Good posture!

Just what is good posture?  Thanks to rethinkingcancer.org, they’ve broken it down for us:

“When sitting, get you low back and hips close to the back of your chair -if you don’t, stress is created by the curved position of your back and this curve will gradually become a postural habit (defect). Try to keep your stomach reasonably in and up – the same with your chest – sit as tall as you can, keeping the shoulders relaxed. It is better to keep your feet flat on the floor or crossed at the ankles rather than crossed at the knees. If you must bend over you desk when working, keep your back straight and move forward from the hips – don’t bow your back. When standing or walking, keep tummy comfortably in and up, chest fairly high, head not bent forward, keep your shoulders loose. If walking, lead with your front thigh on the striding leg, land lightly on your heel and rock up to the ball of the foot and try to keep your toes pointing straight ahead. When standing, don’t sag on one hip.”

Their page also offers several links (at the bottom) for ways to work on obtaining better posture.

Skeletal & Muscular Issues

Poor posture can misalign the spine, which may lead to pain or even muscular or skeletal issues.  It may also cause issues with the cartilage and connected tissues between your joints, which are now bearing the load of your shifted weight, your poor posture, your hunching over, your slouching.  This may also add to any pain or long-term skeletal issues.  These misaligned or over-stressed connective tissues may also alter the muscle growth, strength, or stature.  And *augh* the degredation of those discs and connective tissues may lead to osteoarthritis, which none of us want.

The altered state you place your body in with poor posture will likely increase any muscle soreness.  You’re stressing your muscles and sinews in a way that your body wasn’t intended to support your weight.  This added stress may lead to chronic neck and back pain. Feeling a bit tense?  Try to be diligent in your posture, see if it begins to help alleviate that pain.

Blood Vessels

Blood vessel constriction may be caused by spinal misalignment. What is blood vessel constriction? It’s when your blood vessels are literally constricted, reducing the flow of blood and oxygen to cells in your muscles.  In the case of spinal misalignment and blood vessel constriction, you may be depriving vital muscles and nerves around your spine of oxygen and nutrients. Blood vessel constriction may also increase your chance of blood clots or DVT (deep vein thrombosis).

Nerves

Like blood vessel constriction, spinal misalignment may also cause nerve constriction, or “pinched nerves.”  When a nerve becomes pinched, it can send pain not only to the immediate area where the damage is occurring, but anywhere along that nerve.

Breathing

Studies have found that sitting with poor posture, or hunched, may reduce your lungs’ efficiency and capacity.  Your breathing is shallower, and your heart is getting less oxygen, having to pump a little bit harder…a little bit faster, in order to circulate oxygen throughout your system.

Sitting with hunched shoulders also restricts the ribs, lungs, and diaphragm.

Intestines

Sitting scrunched or hunched may alter your regularity.  Visualize with me : your intestines are no longer free like a bird : they’re trapped in a hunched up position.  They may not be movin’ and groovin’ as smoothly as they normally should.

Fatigue

Some have suggested that poor posture can cause fatigue : that it takes a lot of your body’s energy to hold and maintain poor posture.  Since it’s not a “natural” position, you’re burning more energy to hold the position.  Add to that your diminished breathing and oxygen-intake.  You may just be feeling more sluggish these days because of your posture.

Mood

There was a professor who asked his students to walk down the hall in a slouched position and to also skip down the hallway.  The students reported less energy and were more depressed when walking slouched; and more energetic and happy while skipping.  This may not prove that your mood is truly effected by your posture, but what can it hurt to walk a bit straighter…or skip?

I for one need to work on bettering my posture.  But having learned that it effects more than just my neck and back muscles, I’d like to work on it on a regular basis. I encourage you to do the same 🙂  Sit up straight! Suck those abs in! Breathe!  Stretch and walk around.  And stand up straight! Ha. Our mothers were right…

Resources:

AZ Central

Blackdoctor.org

Breathing.com

Livestrong

Rethinkingcancer.org

Whatsyourposture.com.au

~ 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