As with similar conditions, an endo flare-up can be sudden, unexpected, and severe. It can curtail the best-laid plans, ruin days out, and take priority over special occasions ― nothing is sacred.
Flare-ups most likely have a catalyst, for example, sugary foods will cause flare-ups in my partner. But biology is a mysterious thing. Even the most diligent student of her own body, no matter how careful she is with foods or sleep or stress levels, may sometimes be caught out and have to deal with some unexpected pain. Because the exact time and place of these flare-ups are unknown, the best thing that can be done is to be prepared. And the best thing we, as partners or family of someone with endo, can do is to help with that preparation.
With that in mind, here are some tips I’ve picked up about how best to support your partner throughout a bout of endo pain, a first-aid kit for flare-ups.
Food and drink: Eating makes us all feel better, but certain foods can cause inflammation and make pain worse. Sugary food, drinks high in caffeine, wheat, soy, dairy ― many foods can cause more pain but it differs for each individual. Store your partner’s safe foods, and keep them in your mind, quick go-to meals that don’t take long to prepare ― you don’t want your partner to be alone and in pain while you’re slaving away over a three-course meal in the kitchen! And make sure you have some of those favorite herbal teas in the cupboard.
Bath time: Baths can be relaxing and really help with cramping, so make sure you have supplies. Bubble bath or essential oils, or even mineral salts for muscle relaxation. Clean the bath and get things like towels and robes out yourself, so you can make your partner’s transition to the water as easy as jumping in a pool.
Pain relief: Keep that TENS machine charged, make sure there are painkillers in the cupboard ― first-aid kit essentials ― in whatever form your partner uses, and make sure you’ve got a hot water bottle around. If not, then get those shoes on and go to the shop!
Questions: Ask your partner what help she wants, and be specific. Don’t ask, “Can I help with anything?” She may be in too much pain to think clearly and may be agitated and brush off the question. Ask specific questions like, “Do you want some tea?” or “Can I run you a bath?” As I’m sure you all know from being ill, being able to answer simple questions, yes or no, is way easier.
Hone your massage skills: Watch some videos and learn some simple massages that you can do to aid relaxation. Don’t go too crazy ― you don’t want to hurt her even more ― but giving your partner a good massage can take her mind off the discomfort of the flare-up, and gives you a chance to talk and learn about how the endo is affecting her.
Patience, flexibility, understanding: These are the most important parts of the first-aid kit. Always have patience, flexibility, and understanding at hand because endo flare-ups can come at really inappropriate times. Be prepared to change plans and to change your priorities for that day. Endometriosis can be an awful condition that no one chooses to have, so be patient and understanding ― kindness is more comforting than reluctant service, and love is more comforting than a hot water bottle.
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.