What to Do When Flare-ups Take Over Your Life

What to Do When Flare-ups Take Over Your Life

I am lying on the sofa, eyes half-opened. My knees hurt, so I stretch my legs. Then I feel a pinch on my right thigh and another painful tug from my lower back. My brain is foggy, and my arms feel heavy. Is this an endometriosis flare-up or is it fibromyalgia? After all, I have only been diagnosed with the former.

I last saw my doctor over six months ago. We spoke about my constant pain, and I told her how it prevented me from sleeping at night. I explained that sometimes I can’t stand being touched. She shrugged her shoulders and told me there seemingly was no connection between the symptoms I was describing.

Migraines she could explain, so she prescribed me medication. But what about when my legs hurt? What about my thighs? My joints? More shrugging shoulders.

I know I should go back and insist. I should politely go over each symptom and maybe beg to be referred to a specialist. But then I remember that each time I’ve gone to a doctor, I’m told nothing is wrong with me, even when I tell them my heart sometimes beats irregularly, and my body hurts so much I want to melt away and disappear. I imagine my medical records have “She’s crazy, do not take seriously” circled over every test I’ve ever taken.

Jarvis demonstrates the optimum position in case of a flare-up. (Photo by Jessie Madrigal)

So, I will lie here until this fresh hell passes. I will watch reruns on TV, be nudged by my bored dog, and reach out for my phone only to put it back down a nanosecond later. I may close my eyes and try to nap, only for my thoughts to begin circling, providing me with just enough anxiety to keep me awake. It’s likely I’ll cry several times.

Endometriosis flare-ups are real.

They may be triggered by stress, overexertion, or periods, but they are real. Their severity varies, as does their frequency, but they are very much real. And because they are not figments of our imagination and produce clear, painful symptoms, we must do something about them. So what are our options?

  • Speak to a doctor.
  • Reach for our favorite type of painkiller.
  • Curl up in a ball and cry.

The list goes on. Dietary changes can help reduce inflammation, which eases some of the pain. Certain types of physiotherapy also can do wonders. As patients, we find what works, whether it’s with the help of an understanding doctor — aka a unicorn — or by canceling our plans and closing our eyes.

I suffered the mother lode of flare-up clusters the day before my birthday. I had planned to do some exercise, spend some time at the beach, and maybe even do some grocery shopping. But none of that happened. Instead, I resigned myself to a malfunctioning body and binged on “Broad City” and sourdough pizza.

The truth is that I can’t go on suffering through these flare-ups.

I am ready to go back to the drawing board. I cannot stand feeling this ill, this often. Jarvis needs me stronger and healthier. I am starting by eating better and following my endo diet to a T. I will start putting money aside to look for an affordable physiotherapist. The final step will be to speak to my doctor and fight for a referral.

Flare-ups are life-limiting, and while much of the time they key is to take it easy, we also have to take our symptoms seriously and give them the attention they deserve. If we don’t, how can we expect anyone else to?


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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.