Festive Periods, Bloated Stomachs, and Endometriosis

Festive Periods, Bloated Stomachs, and Endometriosis

‘Twas the night before Christmas … two years ago. I was wearing my favorite silk pajamas, comfortable slippers, and some fake pearls — because why make it festive, when you can also make it fashion? Keeping me company were several boxes of chocolates, some cakes, and a golden bottle of cava. Lying on my sofa, I caressed my bloated belly as I cried at the last Harry Potter movie.

On Christmas morning, I treated myself to some syrupy pancakes. For lunch, there were more bubbles paired with a satisfying, rich meal. By bedtime, I felt slightly uncomfortable. The following morning, Boxing Day for us Brits, quickly morphed into Judgment Day.

My intestines and uterus joined forces to demand payback. The sugar overload I had enjoyed the days before was now tying me to my bed, as I tossed and turned in incredible pain. This horrible ordeal went on for 11 hours. I cried, sweated profusely, and lost incredible amounts of blood. I cursed my body, my insides, and felt like the biggest fool for having brought it all upon myself.

Since that personal rendition of a scary Christmas movie, I am now wary of the festive period, and my own “festive periods,” because that’s life with endometriosis.

This year calls for a different celebratory mood.

We’re in the middle of a pandemic, which means that the responsible thing to do is to stay in. There will be no parties, and most of us will be showing our love for everyone else by self-isolating as much as possible and waving at one another from our respective windows.

Because of this year’s special circumstances, more than ever, I feel OK with being an outsider-by-chronic-illness.

The Jarvis Effect: My former roommate’s Christmas tree gets its own festive sausage dog. (Photo by Jessie Madrigal)

I will not be drinking any alcohol. Instead, I have bought soft drinks that are low in sugar and will turn them into mock cocktails by mixing them with lime juice and soda water. There will be just one box of chocolates to devour. Any meal I put into my mouth will include plenty of vegetables. And I will drink a healthy amount of water because hydration is self-care.

If this looks like a lame Christmas to you, I assure you it isn’t.

In fact, being on the lookout for triggering foods during party season is actually fun. “Have endometriosis? Then welcome to my own version of ‘The Hunger Games!’”

Yes, the truth is that I have to manage my eating habits more than anyone else. It also means feeling a bit left out when everyone seems to be able to consume whatever they fancy. But to me, a comfortable Christmas and a break from my endometriosis would be the best of gifts.

My plans for Christmas Eve involve a walk around my new neighborhood to enjoy the Christmas lights and the huge trees everyone is keenly displaying in their front windows. On the 25th, I will go on a long hike with both of my dogs  — the eldest will be carried in a kangaroo-style pouch. I will watch only great films, eat good food, and feel merry. I will be super kind to myself if any endometriosis symptoms occur.

And I will do all of that while wearing comfortable clothes — not forgetting the pearls.

‘Tis the season to have a flare-up. A simple journey to the crowded grocery store is stress-inducing enough to result in a decent amount of physical pain. If I have to lie down, I will do so, happily clutching my hot water bottle while I watch “The Holiday” for the seventh time.

Whenever everyone is given permission to overindulge, I need to remember to take it easy. Quoting Lady Gaga, “I was born this way,” definitely not made like everyone else, and that’s OK.

Now, where’s the sugar-free cava?


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.