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My Guide to a Flare-Up By Ellen

This week, guest writer Ellen Larsen of @chronicallyellen_eats & @chronicallyellen_creates drops in to offer some practical & experience-based flare up tips.

 

My Guide to a Flare-Up


This toolbox is suitable for people with varying levels of pain from manageable to disabling

and is based on my lived experience. This is specifically targeted at those with endometriosis,

adenomyosis, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and similarly related gynaecological

conditions.


I wish I could provide you with some mind-bending revolutionary answers to all your flare-

up problems here. The magical answer that anyone with a pelvic-related chronic illness has been looking for. Honey, if I could wave a magic wand, do a little dance and make your pain

go away, or invent a single-dose miracle pill with no side effects, believe me, I would.

Instead, I'm just a fellow chronically ill human, in the middle of a hefty flare-up herself, with

a few tips that I find useful to help get me through.


Don't be afraid to medicate


Doctors prescribe us medication for a reason and there is no shame in reaching for those

heavier doses or stronger drugs when you need them. No one else can tell you to take them

or tell you how bad your pain is, but you aren't cheating or failing by starting here. In fact, it

can be a brilliant tool to help you get back on your feet and comfortable.


Don't Forget to Breathe


If you find yourself on the bathroom floor doubled over in pain and home alone, unable to

get to your medication, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to breathe. Close your

eyes, and focus on your breath. Slow your breathing right down by using some breath

techniques, my favourite is the following: breathe in through your nose for 5 seconds, hold

for 5 seconds, and breathe out through your mouth for 5 seconds. Ideally is 10 seconds, but

mid flare you aren't likely going to be able to achieve that!


Reach for natural pain relief


When you have things under control and you are in a comfortable position, grab a wheat

bag or fit a Tens device such as Tap 2.0... or both! Wrap the wheat bag around your hip

where the worst pain is or across the front, and fit your Tap 2.0 as per the instruction leaflet to best target the most painful areas. Don't go straight to a high setting either, be gentle with yourself.



REST AND RELAX


Pain uses a lot more energy than we realise and your body will need additional rest and

sleep to recover and get through this. So put on those comfy pants, take some magnesium,

make a hot cup of something, and get comfortable on the couch with a good bit of reading

material or your fave TV show. Maybe grab some knitting, a puzzle, or something tactile you

can physically do with your hands. Not only does this distract the brain from the pain, but

there is also lots of evidence-based research on the topic showing that it releases dopamine

and contributes to stress relief. Have an early night and sleep in if possible. Another great way to assist your body in relaxing is to grab some essential oils to sniff or rub into your

pressure points. A few drops of lavender in the bottom of a hot shower or some peppermint

oil on your wrists can make a huge difference by activating part of your brain to release

serotonin and dopamine. They won't cure your endometriosis but can assist in putting you

in a state of relaxation.



Remember to hydrate

It doesn't have to be water, but it really shouldn't be alcohol or fizzy! I try to lose the booze and opt for something containing terpenes. Drinking carbonated beverages just adds extra gas to your gut making you bloat more. I tend to crave ginger beer when I am in a flare but always regret it due to the bubbles. Instead, opt for something like electrolyte drinks to help hydrate your body whilst it's expending extra energy dealing with pain and keep your gut

motility activated.


Eat well


If you are flaring you are either going to be craving something ridiculously badly or have no appetite at all... there seems to be no in-between! So make sure to keep eating and when

you do that it's nourishing, gentle, easy-to-digest food. Your gut is right next to your pelvic

organs, and there is a direct link between the two areas. When one area is in pain you are

likely to feel symptoms in the other if you have endometriosis. So whilst yes, your craving

will generally be indicating something your body is needing - stop and think and try to break

it down a little bit further. You are craving chocolate hugely... could it be that you need

calcium? Perhaps natural sugars/electrolytes? Don't deny yourself that piece of chocolate

but try to supplement it by following up with something a little more mindful that your body

will gain more nutrition and long releasing energy from.


Streeeeeetch it out


When the worst is over, try a few gentle stretches that stretch out the tummy and pelvic

area to encourage your muscles to release and stop spasming. Youtube is a wealth of

information when it comes to this - so have a quick look and find a 2-minute gentle stretch

that you can follow along. remember not to push yourself and work to your level. You are

aiming for a gentle stretch, not trying to become a yoga master by twisting yourself into a

pretzel. You don't want to add additional stress to your pelvic area!


Remember the above are just a guideline, not an order. You know your body best, and you

know what you are capable of at different stages of a flare-up. The key is to be gentle and

kind with yourself, and let all those frustrated emotions wash over you, not being ashamed

to ask for help and support. If the pain is bad enough, please seek urgent medical attention

or call an ambulance to get access to the relief you need. That's what they are there for.


-Ellen Larsen


A huge thank you to Ellen for coming on to Bloody Good to share such great tips!

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