I don’t usually despair when it comes to my physical health. For many years I felt helpless with my endometriosis pain, but I hadn’t experienced that degree of despondency in a long time. If you read my column, then you’ll know that I take a solution-focused approach to endometriosis. Yes, I get real and tell you when I’m struggling, but I am continually searching for new ways to live well with the disease.
However, last night, I experienced a short but powerful sensation of despair, though this time it wasn’t about endometriosis, but interstitial cystitis (IC) — or painful bladder syndrome.
The reason for my despair is the complexity of treating both endometriosis and IC while also trying to support my hormones and level out estrogen dominance.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to eating for endometriosis, many health experts believe that an anti-inflammatory diet can help to reduce pain. I eat this way 80 percent of the time with some treats at the weekend, but despite my endometriosis responding well to my dietary regimen, my bladder pain is getting progressively worse.
As I write, I’m at the peak of a two-week flare-up that has gathered speed every day. The worst times are in the evenings, and last night, I awoke at 3 a.m. in pain that I couldn’t sleep through.
The despair hit when I flicked through a new book titled “Beating Endo” to the chapter on painful bladder syndrome. I have often relied on avoiding three key triggers: tomatoes, alcohol, and coffee. I am facing another dietary shift to get my gut issues under control, but as my symptoms heighten, I can’t ignore it anymore. While I knew that chocolate, B vitamins, citrus fruits, and spices were all likely to cause bladder pain, reading the book last night drove the message home.
I know I’m lucky that it’s not worse. But, when it comes to IC, this was a blow.
I make my own brain fog-busting coffee replacement every morning — this drink, which includes cacao and lion’s mane, has been life-changing for my fatigue. I take turmeric (spice) supplements that have helped to reduce my pain levels. I take B vitamins for hormone health, which is essential given that I follow a vegan diet. Finally, I love to use citrus fruits in my meals to enliven the flavors.
These key triggers for IC are the foods that I rely on the most to support me with endometriosis. I am scared to reduce or eliminate turmeric because, as I mentioned, it helps with my pain. I am equally concerned about the effects on my fatigue and hormonal balance if I cut out B-vitamin supplements and cacao.
I have found a diet that works well for my endometriosis and it feels gutting to have to pull that apart.
I don’t believe in following an extremely restrictive diet as I could risk missing out on essential nutrients. But, now because of my IC issues, I feel like I’m being pointed toward a temporary elimination diet, as recommended by pelvic pain experts such as Dr. Jessica Drummond and the authors of “Beating Endo.”
I hope that this diet will reset my system to enable me to reduce my IC symptoms, gut issues, and endo pain. I hope that turmeric and B vitamins aren’t the culprits here and that I’ll learn what my triggers are. Of course, I’ll need to do this responsibly so that I’m still getting the nutrients that I need.
If you’re curious about an elimination diet, I recommend that you consult a professional such as a nutritionist or dietician.
Even the mere act of writing about my recent challenges with IC brings me out to the other side of despair, allowing me to hope of a future with less pain.
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.