Sunday, 30 March 2014

Endometriosis - Letter To My Mother

Today in the UK is Mother's Day. For that reason, I dedicate this post to my beautiful mother - who supports me every single day through my endometriosis journey.

Letter To My Mother

Dear Mam,

Where do I start? People say the best place would be the beginning, but I'm going to jump to right now. Without you, I wouldn't even be at this point. I want you to know how much I appreciate what you do for me daily. I bet you never thought you'd still be making me hot water bottles and checking on me at night. You go above and beyond the duties of a mother. Your selfless ways and generous heart constantly amazes me. Even on days when you may not feel 100%, you will still put everything aside if you notice I'm struggling. From making me endless cups of tea's, reminding me to take painkillers, ordering me to rest and to even helping me dress and put socks on when I'm having a bad day!

Endometriosis was a word neither of us had heard of until my diagnosis. But now you're practically an expert in the field and can give any Doctor a run for their money! (Which you have, on more than one occasion, much to my embarrassment.) Without fail, you are at every Doctor's appointment, specialist consultations, scans and operations. Making sure I'm listened to. Giving me a voice when I'm scared.

Some days, endo really does scare me. The pain frightens me. The feeling that I'm losing control over my whole life. But you are always there, with your reassuring, thoughtful and tender words. Sometimes when words are not enough, your hugs or kisses on my forehead are more than enough. I know deep down that you worry about me. However, you never let it show. You are there for me every hour of the day, every day of the week.

These last five years have been some of the hardest times of my life. I've experienced my lowest points but you never let me crumble. I know for a fact without your constant support, understanding and encouragement, I would not be where I am today. Even though I'll be 27 this year, you still nurture me, protect me, look after me and support me. Just like you did when I was little. You are not only my mother, but you truly are my best friend. You are my biggest support.

Some people say there are angels on earth, looking after us everyday.
Without a shadow of a doubt you are my angel and my inspiration.

I love you with all of my heart xxx

Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Endomarch 2014

Thursday 13th March, 2014. This was the day when women all over the world came together, for the first time, to raise much needed awareness for Endometriosis. I am so pleased to have been a part of it. My day started very early! At 5:30 am, my wonderful mother and I left Cardiff to travel to London. I had arranged to meet some endosisters from Twitter in Starbucks beforehand, then walk to the event together. When I arrived, I was the first one there. I was so excited but so nervous at the same time! I had been talking to these women for months, sharing ins and outs, and today was the day we would meet. It was like pre-date nerves! Soon, everyone started turning up and I couldn't have been put more at ease. The ladies were lovely. Straight away we fell into chatting about endo, our symptoms and most of all, how thankful we were for Twitter giving us a platform to be completely open and honest with others who understand. I felt normal! My stomach was extremely swollen, which I was so conscious about. I had planned to try and cover it, hold my bag in front of it, keep my jacket on etc... But do you know what - being with these ladies made me realise they all experience this - and I wasn't alone. I didn't have to hide or pretend for a change and that was lovely. 

When we arrived at Kensington Gardens, a crowd had already started to gather. We all set off on our march with sashes, badges, yellow headbands, banners and posters. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, sisters and partners all there for support. The sun had come out too, everything was just perfect. Trevor Dahl, the Chairman of Endometriosis UK, gave such a heart warming and motivational speech. A lovely group of school children were nearby and cheered louder than us! I think they were in a competition with us all, which was so funny, but it definitely got attention! I was pleased to have a chat with Trevor afterwards and can honestly say what a lovely, genuine and caring man he is. We are so lucky in the UK to have him involved with our Endometriosis charity. In front of the Albert Memorial, we all posed for our group photo and set off to finish the march. 

Being able to talk face to face with other endosisters was priceless. Although a few of us had to confirm each other by our twitter names, which was hilarious! We should have all had our Twitter names on some badges to make it easier! It was brilliant to be surrounded by people who wanted to help raise awareness and who actually understood our daily struggles. We certainly created a buzz, an atmosphere and a visual impact in Kensington Gardens. Many members of the public approached the crowd throughout the day to ask what was going on. We got people talking and that's a start! The Million Women March event wanted to empower, educate and effect change. I for one certainly felt empowered and united. I just hope that our voices will now be heard! Here's to 2015 :) 

Endometriosis: My Daily Challenges - Bed

Daily Challenge 3: Getting Out Of Bed

To people who do not suffer with a chronic illness, this may just seem like a 'lazy' excuse. However, getting out of bed on a daily basis can prove to be a challenge. These last few weeks I have seemed to be struggling more. It does not matter if I have had a full nights sleep (unlikely as that is), or have been awake most of the night (more thank likely), I will wake up with no energy and aching all over. Last week I had an appointment at 10:30 am. My alarm was set, my alarm went off.. I couldn't move. I had to make the decision of getting out of bed to have breakfast or stay in bed for an extra twenty minutes. You can guess which one I chose! BED! Just to reiterate, it's not the normal person feeling like "ohh just five more minutes, I can't be bothered to get up yet"... It's literally the fact that I CAN'T get up. It can be too painful, too exhausting, or just take up too much of my energy that I need to save for the day. Some days, my spoons can run out before I've even made it downstairs! Please bear in mind that having endometriosis does not make a person lazy. What you can do without even thinking about, on a bad day we have to plan our every move. 

<< Click here for previous challenge <<

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Endometriosis Awareness Month 2014

We are one week into Endometriosis Awareness Month and I am greatly surprised with the amount of coverage its had so far. I would go as far as to say it is the most publicity I have seen since my diagnosis. Endometriosis UK has done an amazing job with getting endo into the media. Firstly, a TV interview took place on Monday on 'This Morning' with Endometriosis UK Young Ambassador, Alice Smith. The resident Doctor on this show talked a bit more about it, stating that endometriosis is 'horrendous pain' and compared it to 'the same pain you get in the final stages of childbirth'. Dr Chris also went further by clarifying that it is not 'just a bad period' and that it causes 'widespread pain' which is not just restricted to your stomach. The next day on the TV programme 'Lorraine', Endometriosis UK Trustee Carol Pearson joined Lorraine to talk about the effect Endometriosis had on her life. It gave particular focus on the loss of her career through living with this chronic illness, which I can relate to. The fact it got so much recognition on two very popular morning TV shows amazes me! To add to this, the talk of endometriosis on social media platforms has gone up a gear. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have all been flooded with posters, conversations, articles, tweets and hash-tags about the topic.

I am so proud that other women are talking about endometriosis, not just between themselves, but also publicly. There is no reason to shy away from discussing symptoms. There should be no stigma around talking about periods. This is the only way we will get more awareness and recognition. 

This week, I have been sending messages, linking to articles and posting pictures I have made for endo awareness on Twitter and Facebook. I will continue to do this throughout this month (and beyond). At the end of March I will combine all pictures here.

What are YOU doing for Endometriosis Awareness Month? How are YOU making people sit up and listen? Just because this illness is invisible to others, it does not mean it should be ignored!