For six years I’d been travelling with endometriosis and didn’t even know it.
I didn’t know the pain I was experiencing multiple times per month, the fainting, the back aches, leg pain and the vomiting were all part of it either.
For those who don’t know much about it, endometriosis is a disease in which tissue, similar to the lining that grows in the uterus, grows in other parts of the body. Usually it’s the pelvic region, but sometimes it’s in other areas, including the brain.
If you have endo, each month, when your period comes, those growths bleed as well and often that blood has nowhere to go. This can lead to cysts and adhesions, excruciating pain and can even cause organs to bind together.
The average time it takes for an endo sufferer to be diagnosed is around seven years.
The very first time I experienced any endometriosis-related pain was while I was travelling. While my symptoms are so much more manageable now (thanks to medication, diet changes and surgery), these are some tips that can hopefully help anyone else experiencing this unpredictable and painful disease.
1. Know your triggers
When my symptoms were at their worst, it felt like anything could trigger a flare-up. But I began to notice that when I ate certain foods or drank alcohol, the flare-ups would become so much worse and often even more frequent. It’s easy to want to indulge while on holiday, but if you can be aware of what your triggers are – whether it’s not enough sleep or too many carbs – try and steer clear of them while you’re in an unfamiliar place.
2. Have pain medication ready to go
Pain meds are an absolute must for a lot of people dealing with endometriosis, so make sure you pack enough meds to get you through your holiday. You don’t want to get caught out without a prescription in between sightseeing schedules. And keep them handy, you never know when you’ll need them!
3. Schedule some rest days
Give yourself time to rest during your trip and make time for doing nothing but cuddling up with a warm tea and a good book. There’s nothing wrong with having some downtime on holiday – that’s what they’re for, right? If you have a busy schedule planned, don’t underestimate the importance of planning a few low-energy days in amongst all the hustle and bustle.
4. Schedule travel during less problematic times of the month
If you know when you’re likely to experience a flare-up, then try to plan your trips around those times. It’s really hard to know though. Some months I would have pain in the lead-up to my period, other times during ovulation as well, and other times at complete random, which caught me off guard. If menstruation is your most problematic time, look at ways you can plan a trip for before or after. I began tracking my periods for months and this gave me a better understanding of what was happening and where the patterns were.
5. Bring a heat pack
Heat can be a real comfort during flare-ups, so pack a travel-friendly heat pack you can take on a plane, train, bus or anywhere else. It’ll also come in handy on those low-energy days.
6. Ask for help
If you do find yourself in a painful situation and aren’t sure what to do, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Whether that means from your travel buddies, the hotel you’re staying at or the many online communities that are full of knowledge and support. You don’t have to go through these things alone.
It’s Worldwide EndoMarch, with events being held around the globe to raise awareness about endometriosis and money for education and research. Find out more or check out how you can get involved.PLAN YOUR NEXT GETAWAY