Many of us entered 2020 with dreams of what a new decade would look like, but everything quickly turned upside down.
You may remember that at the beginning of the year, I set three main health goals. I had anticipated accomplishing all of them within the year, but circumstances changed.
Despite how frustrating this can be, it’s also OK. What I experienced last year was a dramatic redirection of my energies and a changing of course. My core goals remain largely the same, but the road to reach them has changed. That’s part of the healing process.
It’s part of getting to the root cause behind the symptoms. The more layers you unveil, the more a road map unfolds ahead of you. It can certainly complicate matters, but I would rather spend more time solving the root problems and less time masking the symptoms.
Two of my core goals in 2020 were to improve my sleep and reduce my bladder pain.
In the past year or so, I’ve shared my struggle with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysfunction, and what I suspect is a “flipped curve,” with my cortisol being low during the day and high at night. This leaves me with insomnia. I know the protocols to recover from this dysregulation and intended to faithfully practice them in 2020.
Two things happened that derailed me.
In January, I began seeing a nutritionist to work on my bladder pain. Despite the alleviation of certain symptoms, my bladder pain shot up. The result was night upon night of pain and little sleep, if any. After the protocol ended, my bladder pain declined somewhat in intensity but not in persistence or presence.
My suspicion was that the bladder pain stemmed from small intestine bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO. This is a gut health condition that is common in the endo community. My suspicions were right, and I had to change course. No longer was I focusing directly on the bladder, but rather on the gut in order to heal the bladder problems and be able to sleep again!
Treating SIBO is no walk in the park and can take several months or longer. I’m still deep in my treatment process and have started to experience a shift in my bladder pain. But I still lose a significant amount of sleep a few nights a week.
I now expect my SIBO treatment will take at least another six months, so I can’t put a real time frame on how long it’ll take me to experience an alleviation of bladder pain. At times I feel desperate, but I have hope because I’m so much closer to the answers, and I have a clear direction.
Additionally, I’ve embarked on therapy to calm my nervous system, and am soon to start a course of supplements shown to be effective with interstitial cystitis pain, to aid with symptoms in the interim.
The second thing to derail my goals, of course, was COVID-19.
Having COVID-19 hit three months into my coaching practice was crippling for my anxiety. I had to make some quick changes to keep my business above water. My work days stretched to 12 hours, late into the night. I would climb into bed wired and anxious about my business’s survival in this climate. This extra stress just added fuel to the fire that was burning my bladder and keeping me awake at night.
Like everyone, I did the best I could with what I had. Now, if I manage to wrap up work before 8 p.m., instill my sleep hygiene practices, and my bladder isn’t too bad, I can sleep through the night. But I still have work to do with my cortisol levels, given the current state of the world.
My path did not unfold in 2020 as I anticipated it would. But I was humbled by my health. As a health coach, I know all too well that health can take time to cultivate, and I was reminded of that last year. In my case, it’s taken many years for my bladder pain, SIBO, and cortisol to have reached the places they’re at, so putting a time frame of a year on them to be “healed” perhaps was unrealistic.
We can easily fall into a trap in which goals need to be achieved during a certain time frame, but in the case of health, we may need to be more flexible. Of course, I would love to feel better sooner, but trying to rush the process won’t aid my recovery. Whether I achieve a pain-free bladder in a year or two, I will still be thrilled in the end.
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.
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