Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Endometriosis: What is Chronic Pain?

The word chronic is used to describe an illness that lasts a long time or one which constantly reoccurs. When referring to chronic pain, it means pain that has lasted more than three to six months. A serious condition which lasts less than this time scale is usually referred to as acute pain.

The most common types of chronic pain include headaches, backaches and pain from an injury. Other sources stem from the shoulders, neck, pelvis, muscle or nerve pain. Chronic pain can vary in severity, it can fluctuate from mild to severe, be sporadic or continuous. It can be described as shooting, aching or burning feelings. You can get discomfort, stiffness or soreness. Unfortunately, pain doesn't come alone. People with chronic pain also report changes in their moods, fatigue, insomnia and the need to rest a lot more.

There are different types of chronic pain which depending on location or illness, are put into different categories. Endometriosis falls into what's known as nociceptive pain. This is pain that is detected by soft tissue, muscles or organs. Visceral pain branches off from this which detects pain specifically from your internal organs by your sensory nerves.

There are so many different types of chronic pain that people suffer from, which makes it hard to diagnose or treat. There is not just one type of treatment, it will all depend on the pains and causes. You may have some tests or scans before diagnosis to rule out other conditions. Chronic pain can be treated medically or through physical therapy. When it comes to endometriosis, medications and surgery and usually the way forward.

Speak to your doctor or consultant in order to work out the best plan available to you.


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Endometriosis: My Battle With Depression

Today is exactly one year to the day that I was diagnosed with depression. August 11th last year I had my first panic attack after being extremely depressed for a few months. August 12th last year I had to finally admit that I couldn't control it. I couldn't hide it and certainly couldn't cope with it anymore. I was taken to the doctors by my mother and put on antidepressants. I wrote a post last year on my diagnosis which I found quite hard to write. (Click here to view.) This second one is not proving to be any easier for me. I can write about my endometriosis symptoms quite easily, all the ins and outs of it, I find it as a second nature to be as open as I possibly can. So why when it comes to my mental health do I feel myself clam up and struggle?

The honest truth of the situation is I don't think I portrayed the full extent of my depression last year. Even close friends and family wouldn't know the full extent of it. Thinking back on the thoughts I was having terrify me, yet now I can't fathom how I could have thought such awful things. It got to a point where I noticed a packet of my sleeping tablets under my bedside table and I started thinking how many would I need to take to just sleep and not wake up. I had this thought on more than one occasion. I felt that I had no purpose in my life. I was no use to anyone and especially no use to myself so what was the point of me being here? I felt my life had already been taken away from me by endometriosis. It took away my health, made me lose my job and stole my social life. I was just existing day to day, waiting for the hours to pass so I could go back to bed. I never felt like I would act on my thoughts but I just wanted to stop the pain... physically and mentally. I was breathing but not living.

I still get days now where I don't feel myself. I get bad days when I can't cope with even the smallest of things. But compared to where I was this time last year, I am so different. I am still out of work and in pain from endo. However, my mindset has changed. I have faith and hope that things will improve. I realise I have a purpose being here by being a daughter, a sister, a best friend and an endosister. Just by being me.

Due to depression being highlighted in the media today I wanted to post this to remind anyone reading this that you are not alone. Please go and talk to someone if you are feeling depressed. See a doctor, tell a family member, a friend, even me! I won't be able to fix you or wave a magic wand but I can listen. It is nothing to be ashamed of. It is not something you can just 'snap out of' or try to 'pull yourself together'. It is a medical condition and you deserve the best help possible. Don't be too hard on yourself. Things will get better. You may not believe in yourself right now, but trust me there are plenty of people who do - even if you can't see it.


Monday, 11 August 2014

Endometriosis: Pain Management Appointment

At my Gynaecology appointment last week I was referred to Pain Management. I was more than surprised to be contacted the next day to be told they could fit me in a day later. I was somewhat apprehensive on what would be suggested... if anything! I am so used to explaining to doctors about endometriosis and my symptoms to just be met with a blank look across their faces. If I am being completely honest, I thought it would be a waste of time, but worth going as I've tried everything else that's been thrown at me. I'm happy to report that I was completely wrong with my prejudgment.

I met an endometriosis specialist nurse at the University of Wales Hospital who went through every single one of my pains and symptoms. A history of my pain was noted as well as current pains, including what types of pain I get during cycles, pains during the rest of the month, energy levels and sleep. Thorough is an understatement. We also talked through my current pain medications (Tramadol, Oramorph, Paracetamol, Marvelon, Mefenamic Acid and Tranexamic Acid) and how much relief they provided.

Once the nurse had collected all the information (which she needed extra sheets of paper for!) some recommendations were made to try and help alleviate my pain or make it more manageable.

  1. Stop Mefenamic Acid. I have Asthma and this medication can make it worse.
  2. When I take Tranexamic Acid, I can take it four times a day (currently told three) and I need to take it between days 1 - 4 of my period. If not done this way, the medication will not work to its full effect.
  3. Buscopan has been prescribed to try and help with pain, spasms and cramps, especially when going to the toilet.
  4. It has been recommended that I should be taken off Tramadol and put onto MST which is a morphine slow release tablet. MST should provide a long lasting relief throughout the day. It will need to be taken twice a day, every day. The reasoning behind this swap is that I have been on Tramadol over two years and the relief I get from it is very hit and miss.
  5. To have Oramorph prescribed on a regular basis so that I can take it for any breakthrough pain whilst taking MST. 
  6. I have been told to purchase a TENS machine to help with managing pains. It can help to block the pain nerves.
The nurse will now send all details to my own G.P to tell him the changes that are required. Normally I have to fight for any help from my G.P's so this will make a nice change for them to process it without any arguments (hopefully!) 

I hope some of you may find this information helpful.

I will do further research into MST and the benefits of a TENS Machine.


Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Endometriosis: Back At Square One?

Do you ever feel like you're going round and round in circles? You think you have jumped through every hoop and crossed every hurdle that endometriosis can throw at you... then all of a sudden you end up back at square one? That's kind of how I feel right now. 

It was confirmed to me yesterday that I definitely need another operation. In the back of my mind I knew it was coming, but having it said out loud by my doctor makes it somewhat more real. Definite. Thinking that my endo may have got worse is no longer a passing thought that I can put to the back of my mind. The pain I've been having is real. And I'm on the list for a third laparoscopy, my first only being in 2011.

The doctors think that more cysts may have developed on my ovaries and are concerned that endo may have spread to my bowels again. They are currently checking my notes from my previous operation to see where on the bowel it was found. From this, they will decide if I need a longer time in surgery. The waiting list for this operation will definitely be over 6 months, so I feel in limbo at the moment. 

Of course I am happy that I have such a great gynaecology team, my specialist and his staff are so lovely and I spent a whole hour talking to them at my appointment. The doctor listened to everything I had to say and was extremely knowledgeable. I know I am finally getting the help I need and I am extremely grateful for that. I just have a lot of mixed emotions at the situation, being back in this position for a third time is not something I wanted. But then again, endometriosis never gives us what we want. It never plays by the rules. That's just something that I have to come to terms with...again.