My endo seems to love a party. Over the past few years, it has attempted to ruin countless birthdays, anniversaries, overseas holidays, important work events, Christmas, and New Year celebrations.
Looking back over the years since I was diagnosed, I’ve noticed that my endo and period, both seem to be particularly aggressive around the end of the year. Perhaps it’s the lead up to Christmas, or being more tired than usual, but bad endo flares and heavy periods seem to feature for me around December and January. It’s as if my endo doesn’t want to miss out on the celebrations. I on the other hand, would much prefer to enjoy the end of the year and a holiday without having to consider how much pain medication I have left, where to buy tampons, and whether or not my heat pack is charged and in close proximity.
As such I like to plan for how to get through the holidays with endo in tow. Since my diagnosis, I’ve tried a multitude of different things hoping that one might stick and ease the often inconvenient and always painful endo symptoms I experience. Some things have worked, others have been utter failures and in all honesty the whole process of trying to find something to help has been exhausting.
But I have found some small things that make a difference for me.
While I know and everyone’s endo is different, I hope that some of these things may also help you navigate the end of the year and the festivities that come with it.
Pack an endo bag
I no longer travel lightly. I rarely leave the house without a relatively large bag and if I’m going away for a weekend it often looks as if I’ve packed for a month.
My endo bag includes:
- A Heat pack – I like to use a rechargeable one, but also carry the disposable heat pads that can be stuck directly on my back or stomach as needed.
- Pain Medication – I always get a couple of prescriptions filled so I can carry some with me and have enough for home.
- Anti-nausea pills – my nausea can strike at any time of the month and can be crippling, so I tend to have at least one bottle of anti-nausea pills in reach at all times.
- Water bottle – I’m not the type of person who can swallow pills unassisted- so a water bottle is a necessity.
- Pillow for the car – If I’m travelling for more than a couple of hours, I like to have my U-shaped pillow with me. I find this is the best shape for covering my stomach and providing some back support in the car.
- Tampons – I still carry at least one pack of tampons with me at all times. You just never know.
- Change of underwear – my periods have become more regular in the past year or so, but prior to that, my spare pair of underwear came in handy many times.
Period tracking apps have been a lifesaver for me.
Not only do the apps allow you to track your cycle and prepare for when a period is due, but they can also be used to track symptoms, pain and medications. I even use mine to track those ever illusive pain-free days.
This tracking has been particularly handy for doctors’ appointments. Rather than having to remember when a new symptom started or how long my last period was, the data is all there and easily retrievable.
I like to plan what I’m wearing in advance. I’m not talking about picking out gorgeous designer outfits and matching shoes, I like to plan outfits that are comfortable and don’t exaggerate or infuriate my flaring belly.
This can be particularly helpful if you are seeing family members or friends you haven’t been in touch with for a long time. If your endo belly is making you look 6 months pregnant, having something floaty and comfortable can help you avoid any triggering questions.
Perhaps one of my most used strategies is the ‘lie down’.
I can’t count the number of social events where I have been forced to ask the host if there was a bed available. I’ve also been known to lie down on the pavement, in friends’ beds during the new year countdown, in the car during a social event, or on the seats in a pub.
While it may not be the most graceful or subtle strategies, for me sometimes it’s the only thing that works.
While the end of the year can be an exciting time filled with a multitude of plans and events that you don’t want to miss, it is important to take a break when you need it and practice some self-care whatever this looks like for you.
Sometimes I find just coming home between events, having a rest or a bath goes a long way.
Gone are the days of catching up with friends for breakfast, doing a little shopping, having dinner then finishing with drinks. I just don’t have the energy. So I’ve had to learn to say no. This can be hard, but with practice you get better at it (promise).
At the end of the day showing up exhausted and in pain doesn’t do anyone any good and hopefully your friends and family are understanding. Endo fatigue is real and you deserve rest.
Wishing you all the very best for the end of the year and hoping that your endo doesn’t come and ruin your parties. But if it does know that you are not alone and treat yourself with the kindness you deserve.