Friday, 7 February 2014

5 Things To Record In A Pain Diary

When you suffer with endometriosis, you will begin to realise that this chronic illness follows no rules or boundaries. Pains can be unexpected and your symptoms can change frequently. Pains can get worse at certain times of the month or be more persistent. Therefore, it is useful to maintain a pain diary. Recording your symptoms will help you and your doctor to identify if there are any patterns or triggers. It will also give you some insight into how you are impacted by endometriosis on a daily basis.

Here are FIVE things to record in a  pain diary that will benefit your pain diagnosis and management.

  1. Pain Location - Where are you getting pain? If in your stomach, then what side? Are you having pains near your ovaries or around your belly button? What about in your lower back or legs? All details can help to pinpoint pain and work out the causes.
  2. Pain Types - Are you having sharp, shooting pains? Or is it more of a dull ache? A burning sensation? Twisting or pulling? These descriptive words will help you to notice patterns or changes.
  3. Pain Intensity - Some people find it helpful to record their pain scale rating. Usually on a chart from 0 - 10. Zero meaning no pain at all and ten being the worst pain imaginable.
  4. Medications - Along with the pain intensity, recording the medications you have taken can be useful. What have you taken? What dosage and when? Not only will it help by providing a visual reminder, but if the medications are not providing any relief, you may need to consult your doctor.
  5. Triggers - Have you noticed that your pain flares up whilst doing certain activities? Does standing for a substantial length of time worsen it? Do you get pain during intercourse? Any pain from bowel movements? Or do you notice your pain more at certain times of the day? Do your pains increase in the morning, night, or afternoon?
You can keep a pain diary in any format that suits you. I use a personal journal and write down my information before I go to bed each night. You could use a free printable pain diary available from NPS Medicinewise or record your results online. There are also some useful phone apps available to update your pain diary wherever you are, including one named Catch My Pain which is available for IPhone and Android.

If you think of other important factors to include in a pain diary, or useful applications/websites you use to do this - please leave them in the comment box below!


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Endometriosis Glossary

When you are first diagnosed with Endometriosis, you may find yourself confused with all the different terminology... Pouch of Douglas, GnRH, HRT, Endometrioma, Menorrhagia and Zoladex to name but a few! Unfortunately, you do not get handed a fact sheet of FAQ's or information on what you can expect before, during or after your diagnosis. So, to provide some clarity, I have compiled a glossary of 'need to know' terms and phrases, that you may find helpful when learning about this chronic illness.

Adhesion: This is a band of scar tissue that can join your internal organs together. Think of it like a sticky glue, bonding organs to other organs or to your pelvic wall. This can cause a lot of pelvic pain.

Anaesthetic: This is used during surgery to either put a patient to sleep/make them unconscious (general anaesthetic) or to numb a certain part of the body (local anaesthetic).

Biopsy: During surgery for Endometriosis, a biopsy may be taken. This is when a sample of tissue is taken for further examination in a laboratory.

Bone Density: As a side effect of certain hormone treatments for Endometriosis (such as Prostap), the strength of your bones can be reduced. This cause cause pain, weakness and bones may become brittle.

Cauterisation: This is the removal of Endometriosis via a laser during surgery.

Chocolate Cyst (Endometrioma): If you have cysts in your ovaries, filled with old blood (dark brown in colour), it is known as an endometrioma - more frequently as chocolate cysts. This is due to their dark colours and liquid chocolate consistency.

Chronic: Endometriosis is a chronic illness. This means a condition is persistent and can last a significant period of time.

Cul-de-sac (Pouch of Douglas): This is the area between your womb and your rectum. Endometriosis can be found here.

Cystoscopy: This is the procedure used so that the bladder can be examined using a small telescope.

Dysmenorrhea: This is the medical term for painful periods.

Dyspareunia: This is the medical term for painful sex.

Endometrial Ablation: This procedure involves the womb lining being removed. It can be done using heat or being frozen, using lasers or electric currents. This will prevent a woman from becoming pregnant.

Endosister: A term used to describe other women who also suffer from Endometriosis (view here).

GnRH Analogue: Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Analogues (Agonists) are drugs that will put a woman into a temporary menopause. This is reversible. They work by stopping the ovaries stimulation and production of eggs. These can include drugs such as Prostap, Zoladex and Lupron.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): This is a medication used during the menopause or the medically induced menopause. It helps to reduce the side effects that come with it. These include hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness and loss of bone density.

Hysterectomy: This is when the womb is removed during surgery. The extent of what is removed can vary. A total hysterectomy would include the removal of the womb and cervix. A sub-total hysterectomy would be removing just the body of the womb. A third option is a total hysterectomy with the removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes also.

Incision: These are the cuts made into the body during surgery.

Laparoscopy: Surgery for Endometriosis is done via laparoscopy whilst under general anaesthetic. It involves a small telescope being inserted into your pelvis, normally through your navel. The telescope (also known as laparoscope) will have a camera attached to show the images on a screen for the surgeon to examine. If endometriosis is found, another incision is made to enable its removal.

Menopause: This is when a woman's periods stop due to her ovaries no longer functioning. Menopause can happen naturally or be medically induced with drugs.

Menorrhagia: This is the medical term for heavy periods.

Oestrogen: This is the female sex hormone that is produced in the ovaries. This controls the growth of the womb lining.

Ovarian Cyst: It can be found in or on the ovary. When it is related to endometriosis, it's known as an endometrioma (chocolate cyst).

Progesterone: This hormone enables the endometrium (womb lining) to allow pregnancy by receiving the fertilized egg.

Progestogens/Progestins: These are artifically created hormones that mimic the effects of progesterone. Also used in contraceptives. They can help to reduce endometrial tissue.

Transvaginal Scan: This is an scan that is done through the vagina. This will provide a clearer view of the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Ultrasound: This scan uses sound waves to produce images of inside your body (including organs and tissue) onto a screen to be examined.

Uterosacral Ligaments: Endometriosis can be found here. These are the ligaments that hold the womb in place.

If you think of any other useful terms/phrases, please add them to the comment box below!