Working through an endometriosis flare can be incredibly distressing and painful. Last week, in Part 1, I began exploring ways in which you can make the experience more manageable by involving your employers and colleagues. This week, I’m focusing on small things you may want to begin doing that could make work life that much easier.
Do the prep
I still get caught out. Today I’m in pain, and there are no heat patches in the drawer and TENS machine isn’t charged. Don’t be like me; prep in advance, so if you get a flare-up at work, you don’t have to walk to three pharmacies, in agony, to find the medication you need (true story).
Have a drawer at work, packed with your essential endo-pain kit items. I like to have magnesium spray, a TENS, a wraparound heat pack, stick on heat pads, medication, my CBD vape pen, sanitary pads and some essential oils to help calm me down.
Additionally, I also make sure my desk area is as comfortable as possible when working from an office. I have a back support, rests for my feet, and a good chair. Having these make a big difference. When I didn’t have them and the pain kicked in, the lack of support on my back heightened the aching and stiffness.
What can you do to make your day more bearable? If you really have to go in, have some go-tos that help lift your mood. It can be hard to feel positive about anything when you’re in this kind of pain, but at least having some positive aspects of your day can ease the pain slightly.
Wear an outfit that’s as comfortable as possible, even if that’s just your most comfy underwear under your suit. Have a playlist ready with all your favorite feel-good songs, or, if they’re too upbeat for your mood, have your favorite albums on standby. I love listening to my favorite podcasts to lift my mood, and they always work; without fail I always feel better than I did. My current faves are One Part Podcast, The Lively Show, and Harry Potter and The Sacred Texts (ultimate comforter).
If you know your triggers, try to stay away from them as much as possible. Avoiding inflammatory foods like sugar, caffeine, and gluten where you can. Of course, if these don’t affect your pain levels, just do what’s right for you, but I know, for me, these food types are my key aggravators.
On these days, it can be hard to think straight and find an endo-friendly, comforting lunch or snack. I used to find myself wandering around Pret, the healthy/organic food store, becoming overwhelmed by the choice and walking out with something that had a trigger in it and that I didn’t really want anyway.
Because of my experiences, my suggestion is to plan in advance for when you do get flares: know what’s in your local area, do some research, see if you can get delivery or have some meals you’ve made frozen and ready to take to work. You could even keep these times as your treat days. I used to work near some incredible healthy and endo-friendly hangouts, but I couldn’t afford to eat there every day, so I waited until I really needed to go there, and it gave me something to look forward to despite the pain.
Be mindful of your self-talk
I used to get so angry and resentful when I was in pain. I used to direct that anger to my body, and feel like a prisoner for being at work. All day I would allow really dark and negative thoughts to torment me. And of course they only made the whole experience worse.
The way we experience pain can be influenced by this: “Pain has two components, the physical sensation and our emotional reaction to the physical sensation. We cannot control primary suffering — which is the pain itself — but we can control secondary suffering through our reaction to the pain.”
We can work on how we react to it. Granted, it takes time, and I often have to keep getting back into it after every new wave of pain, but it’s worth the effort and persistence for the change in perspective and mood.
When you’re getting yourself into a real frenzy, pause the chatter by asking yourself, “How do I want to feel?” Of course, pain-free, but think about the main emotions you want to feel through your day-to-day life. Ask yourself what you can do to get a bit closer to those feelings. At first, you may not have an answer, but it will certainly halt the negativity in its tracks and shift your focus.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.