Yellow Flower Network

Invisible illness can be lonely, confusing and consuming. There are many times you doubt yourself and the manifestation of the pain. Leaving your bed on somedays can feel like doing calculus, it has to be a calculated move. Some days the method makes sense and on other days, you don’t even know where to start.

The idea to start the Yellow Flower Network was birthed a few weeks ago when I realized that I want to support women in Kenya and give them the personal touch, but I am not physically able to.

My inbox is a buzz with women looking for support, women who have just had surgery, women who would like to meet other women to let them know that they are not going crazy, and that the pain is not all in their heads.

Yellow Flower Network

My desire is that no woman will walk alone, that every Endo-warrior will know that they are not alone. That the thing that tried to break her, will reveal a reservoir of strength and it will enable her to be encourage others.

If you are interested in supporting other Endo warriors in Kenya by texting, calling or visiting them when they are in need (in hospital, post surgery), please send me an email via yellowendoflower@gmail.com and I will be in touch.

To start us off, one of our Endo sisters, Jahmby, needs our help. Let us support her in any way that we can.

Jahmby Koikai

*endometriosis

 

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The Kenyan Endo Story: Reshma Maru

It’s difficult to tell the battle a woman is fighting by looking at her. Endo is an invisible force, it is tiny and mighty. It attacks from the inside out, Endo pain is something that all girls would love to live without.

There is a resilience, a fire in her eyes, a desire to win that Reshma has that lets you know that she is determined to beat Endo.

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Reshma Maru is a 27-year-old who works in procurement for a furniture store. She graciously shared her story with us.

What makes me smile is a face of a child-the innocence they show and so pure at heart. If there is something I can smile about, it is fantasizing about how I can hold my own child and just hold them close to me.

 

I started my periods at the tender age of 11. I would hear girls in schools saying that it is like a disease where if one touched a girl who had her periods it would spread, so I kept it hush from friends and even my mother. Being the only girl brought up in an Indian family I didn’t have someone to confide in, the day that my mother found the bed sheets stained she was furious that I did not tell her I had started my periods. In the Indian culture it is important to tell your mother so that she can explain to you that when you are on your periods you do not go to the temple or touch someone who is going. So many myths came together with this.

 

I went through years of painful periods that would last 7-8 days. Panadol was my best friend and without it I would not last any of the days, I just knew that ahhh its periods they are always supposed to be painful, so it is normal.

 

The pain got worse when I was 24 years old. I would have the normal painful period but the pain would continue even after the periods were over. So two weeks down the line I was like ‘This cannot be period pain, it must be something I have eaten.’ I went to a general doctor and explained all my symptoms to him, and he said that it sounds like amoeba. He took a stool sample and said that he found traces of amoeba and that was a sigh of relief as I knew there are medicines to get rid of them. I was on medication and a few days after ovulation I was pain free.

 

The next month came and I got painful periods and the same pain after the periods. This time I ignored it and took antibiotics for two weeks and voila I was back to normal. I just thought to myself that since the previous periods were painful I may have a less painful one next month. Come next month the pain was worse. I would get hot flashes, nausea, lack of appetite, and pain all over my abdomen especially my left side.

 

Since I had a medical cover at work I decided to go see a gyno and just get things checked out as it may be a small issue and besides since I wasn’t for it why not. I got advise from fellow workmates on which gyno to go see since they were using the same. The gyno advised I do a blood test and a scan so that she could have a clear view of what was causing the pain. When she saw the scan report she looked at me and said you have been diagnosed with Endometriosis. At first I was like ‘Huh? that is a long name to even pronounce let alone spell.’

 

I took the prescribed medication and decided to google the sickness she had talked about. After the research, I concluded that it was a common disease so may be the Vissane that she had prescribed would cure it as the box read specially for Endometriosis. I took it for 6 months as I went for regular checks with the gyno and I was really really happy. Vissane suppresses your periods, so no periods = no pain for me.

 

I was three months away from my wedding and pleaded to the gyno for me to continue the medication until my wedding and honey moon were over. She agreed and said that I should get a baby and all these problems should disappear. I was happy that I was pain free, able to work, plan my wedding, run around here and there.

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I actually ditched the contraceptives when I started gaining weight and getting very emotional almost every day. I started going to the gym to lose weight but after 3 sessions max and I could hardly keep up. I was always tired, my feet always hurt, my shoulders felt like someone was sitting on them, I would cry for no reason over the tinniest things. My husband would be like, ‘What is the matter be strong,’ and I would just look at him and just cry and cry.

 

This time time when my periods came, the pain killers did not work at all. I could feel the pain like I was being stabbed on my left side but nothing was working. I even went to work in all that pain just waiting for the painkiller to kick in and may be get distracted from the pain while working but nothing worked. I rushed to my gyno and pleaded she does something about the pain. She injected me with stronger painkillers but nothing changed. All helpless I now asked her, “Please just tell me anything else we can do because I don’t think I will last a day like this.” If I saw a knife that day I would have stabbed myself just to remove whatever it was causing the pain as I knew exactly where it was.

 

She advised that I be admitted right away for a Laparoscopic surgery. Without knowing the details I was ready to go through it just to pass through this hell. In the evening as I was prepping myself for surgery, I started thinking ‘What is this I have agreed to do?’ but I prayed all will be well and went for it. A surgery that was to take 2 hours ended up taking 4 hours. I came out of surgery with a numb tummy and no pain I was like ‘Wow! I like this feeling.’

 

The pain started after I was out of hospital, I was constipated, healing from the surgery itself, dealing with a dry throat caused by the tube they insert down your throat during the surgery, extremely emotional and hating on those who didn’t come see me in hospital including a Best friend who I decided to let go of. I went back to the gyno for my report and to ask why the surgery took so long and she explained that I had a normal cyst and inside that there was now an endo cyst growing both being 5.5cm. These were on the left ovary therefore causing the excoriating pain. They were removed but since they were on my ovary the top tissues were removed as well so healing would take some time.

 

Post-surgery, I am still struggling to join this diet plan that endo patients are asked to follow but my work mates give me support and also join me in eating right. I do not want to lose a job or give up on life because of this. Believe me it is so hard, I lived for food and now I get told do not eat this or that. You think like where do I start looking for organic food and even when you do find some you are too weak to cook it for yourself.

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But believe me nothing is worth your health. The bills that you get with medication and surgery are more expensive than just eating right and taking care of yourself. I am now hearing of foods or herbal meds and I’m willing to give them a try.

 

This has really changed me in many ways – I am closer to God more than ever, thinking of him everyday – I am more positive and really willing to help someone else through this because NOTHING is possible without the support. When you are left alone your get negative thoughts play in. Even just listening to someone vent is good enough for me because we all at one point want to do that.

 

I always want to help and be there for anyone going through this as no one understands your pain like a fellow endo-sister. I believe this will be a thing of the past but this can only happen if we create awareness and research on what works or doesn’t work for each other.

 

What I always keep in mind that God gives the toughest battles to those he loves the most. Let’s not give up and always be there for someone whenever you can because time is short, let’s not run out of it!

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courtesy yesofcorza.com

My favorite flower is a black rose as it is unique and rare to find just like you!!

You can connect with Reshma on:

Facebook – www.facebook.com/reshma.maru

Instagram –https://www.instagram.com/drop.dead_diva/

Are you an Endowarrior living in Kenya?

Would you be interested in joining a community of women who support each other in this journey?

Do you suspect that you could have Endometriosis and are wondering where to start?

If you answered yes, please leave me a comment or send me an email via yellowendoflower@gmail.com and I will be in touch.

Despite the adversity and circumstances that surround us, we will still bloom and dazzle the world with our presence and beauty.

We are flowers; delicate, resilient and strong.

Yellow Flower Mail

The cold floor and I were once good friends, not by chance but as a result of circumstances. When Auntie Flo’ checked in, the pain would overwhelm me and the cold floor was my happy place. The pain felt like a furnace was in my belly, the painkillers seemed like drops of water trying to put out a raging fire.

My eyes were always moist, dust particles had an eviction notice every other day. Crying sessions were part of my routine, the pain made me feel like God, the world and my body were against me, no one wanted me to prosper. As I balanced on my sides I wasn’t seeking prosperity, it was survival I was after. I just wanted to survive, to be well, to be pain-free.

Eight years later, my story has changed, I’ve come a long way and the pain has subsided, I have energy and I have a testimony.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (AMP)

Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts and encourages us in every trouble so that we will be able to comfort and encourage those who are in any kind of trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

I want to share the comfort that I have received with other ladies fighting Endo in Kenya through handwritten letters of hope.

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If you are an Endowarrior living in Kenya and you would like to receive Yellow Flower Mail please fill in the form below and I’ll get writing.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/M6G3NQ2

If you would like to support women living with Endometriosis please send me an email via yellowendoflower@gmail.com and I will be in touch.

Prepping for Auntie Flo’

After many miserable months of barely surviving during my periods, I realized that I could make my experience better by preparing my body in advance. The little changes have had such a huge impact, incorporating certain foods into my diet a week before Ms. Flo’ checks in has proved to be beneficial and made certain symptoms one less thing to worry about.

Constipation, cramps, clots, bloating and migraines made me dread my periods, my only saving grace was that I had a long cycle which meant 11 periods a year, I was counting all the blessings I could think of.

The game changer for me was the migraines. I had found a way to live with the other symptoms but the migraine was the one that made having to stay home from work worse, I couldn’t read, think or sleep.

Here are a few of the things that I have since incorporated that are giving me some much-needed relief.

I’d love to know what is working for you, I am open to trying out new things, so please leave me a comment below.

Under Wraps

There were certain things that could not be discussed at the table. Menstruation was one of them. It was discussed in the shadows, amidst whispers. Truth seldom lurked in those shadows. That’s how I was convinced that painful periods were normal.

I suffered in silence. When I tried to speak up, I was told that it was normal. When the pain got excruciating, I was told that it was all in my head. It seemed my head had a circulatory system, an SGR that helped it move from the North of my body to the Equator, my waist.

The first time I set out to buy pads as a young girl, I walked praying that I would find the shopkeeper’s wife. It would be easier to ask her for Always. When I found the shopkeeper himself, I thought about going back home and coming back later, but I needed the pads urgently. I mustered all the courage I had within and asked for pads.

“Habari yako? Tafadhali nipe Always.” I said as I looked at the stock behind him.

“Mzuri. Oh! Unataka Always?” he asked with half a smile on his face as he connected the dots, I was finally menstruating, no longer a little girl.

“Ndio.” I answered as I looked at the ground. It was already an awkward conversation, we didn’t need eye contact to make it worse. He hurriedly picked a packet of Always with wings, wrapped it in a newspaper and then put in a black paper bag. I was embarrassed. This action spoke volumes to me, it said: periods were to be kept under wraps.

A painful diagnosis with Endometriosis got me talking about periods on any platform I could find. The pain of surgery and hormonal treatment eradicated the illusion of shame. I shared a bit of my story on my Vlog.

We need to talk about periods at the table, even from the mountaintops if we can. There are too many women suffering in silence, too many girls languishing alone, hating menstruation, yet it can be a beautiful thing.

As our girls are home from school, I encourage us to talk openly and freely about periods. Ask them about their periods the last couple of months and take steps to help them.

Let’s talk about periods over a cuppa.

Dream Again

I’m having a little party today. Celebrating a new beginning.

I found out I had Endometriosis when I was ready to change the world. It interrupted my life, plans and dreams. I was young, naive and somewhat full of energy. The endless opportunities in my horizon excited me, that was until Endo got the best of me. I went from being energetic to psyching up to do simple and mundane tasks such as showering. Leaving the house was difficult, while keeping my dreams alive seemed like folly.

My periods had taken over my whole life. Pain was my companion and medication had become my cuppa. My previously blemish-less tummy, now held scars that were the only proof that my pain was real. That it was not a figment of my imagination. They vindicated me, though they remained hidden.  The color had been erased from my world. My rainbow had become a Zebra.

Even after I got better, it took a while to reclaim my mind. To change my mindset, to embrace the new season. I was scared to be okay, because I thought that a flare up was lurking in the shadows. When I had a series of good days, I almost felt guilty. One day, it dawned on me that I had given myself to Endometriosis. Yes, I had Endometriosis, but it too had me. I was stuck and suffocating. Life without Endo seemed foreign, like it was too good to be true. Like a privilege that I wasn’t supposed to enjoy. Fear held me captive, the possibility of having a normal life and then relapsing to the dark valley where I could barely do anything scared me.

I managed my life, expectations and dreams. Endo had taught me to cope, never to thrive. Somewhere in the midst of it I forgot how to shine, so I settled for mediocre. This mindset reduced my dreams to naught.

A  few months ago, I had an idea to start a Vlog, I had the episodes all lined up in my head, but the voice deep within, screamed that I couldn’t do it. So I buried the idea, but it kept resurrecting, no tomb of darkness could contain it. It became clear, that part of my life’s mission was to create content.

After weeks of toying with the idea, burying it, fighting it while embracing it, I decided to start it. What a relief it is, to finally just start. The hurdles seem bigger when you are stationary, when the ball starts rolling you see that your dreams can become a reality.

Karibu Yellow Endo Flower . To start us off, I talk about my journey with acne and why I stopped drinking coffee.

Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCQOngXT4WM&feature=youtu.be

Meltdown

Walking with an irritable, overstimulated and exhausted toddler is like carrying a ticking time bomb. It is only a matter of time until it goes BOOM, and you are left dealing with the shrapnel. So you hope and pray that the bomb goes off in the comfort of your home. This tense situation is the reason I stopped going shopping with my little girl at lunch time. It was just a recipe for disaster. Sleep is like the ocean, sometimes it comes subtly, other times, it rages and turns calm water into volatile waters. One minute she is calm, and the next she is on the floor wailing, all because she wants to sleep.

After 1pm, you will rarely find me tagging along Miss K. If we didn’t go together in the morning, I go by myself. And shop in peace, while she takes her afternoon nap in peace. This arrangement works for everyone.

Going shopping when hungry is a horrible idea. Everything calls out your name, and your otherwise disciplined body wants everything that it lays its eyes on. You go from craving chapati, to ice cold soda, to chocolate, to ice cream. to chevda,  to chips. And you ask your body, ‘Who are you? How can you possibly desire all these things at once?’ The thing is, hunger just wants to be sated. It makes you desperate. You become like an indecisive little child who doesn’t want to share. Your body screams ‘Mine!’ every time you pass an item that it likes. It has a meltdown.

If you give in to the all the cravings, they taste good while you are eating them but a few minutes later, you belch and bile rises to the top of your oesophagus. You are instantly disgusted by your actions. Regret fills your belly.

To avoid the meltdowns and body tantrums, I have identified my triggers. Hunger is one of them. So I try to go shopping when I am full. I have my oat smoothie or sweet potatoes before I leave the house to avoid eating a mandazi later. When I am hungry, mandazis look like manna and Quail looked to the Israelites in the desert. Heavenly.

There’s an exhaustion that sleep cannot solve. This fatigue doesn’t befall you overnight like a thief in the night, it fills up slowly like the waning drops of rationed water in a bucket. It takes being aware of your emotions and fatigue levels every day or week to notice the exhaustion, before you find yourself in a meltdown.

Understanding when you are most vulnerable helps you to be proactive, this minimizes your chances of having a meltdown.

Misunderstood

‘Who hurt you?’ I asked aloud, referring to my uterus. I was tired of her tantrums. She behaved like an old bitter woman, who was trying to hurt me and cramp my style. Her negative attitude was like a pregnant dark cloud in my bright blue sky. My positive attitude was like the blaring sunshine before it rains. The proverbial ‘Hii jua ni ya mvua.’

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The mention of Eve’s name would make me cringe. I blamed her for my uterus’ monthly anger. Why did she have to listen to the serpent? Of all the trees in the garden, she chose the one that was forbidden. Curiosity killed the cat. Curiosity also harmed Eve and her descendants.

One day I woke up and called my uterus to a meeting. That morning, I blasted some worship music, wore the prettiest top I owned,  sprayed some nice smelling perfume, and read up on how to deal with a hurting individual. Then I prayed and I set out, well, more like set in, to have the discussion of the day.

I had decided that nobody, or uterus for that matter, was going to dull my sunshine.

“Hi Missy! ” I said in a high pitched voice.

“Hmmm!” she grunted

“First, I’d like to say sorry about all the mean things that I’ve said about you. I didn’t meant to make you upset.”

“Go on, I’m listening.” She responded. My sandwich approach seemed to be working. I was apologizing before stating my case.

“I’d like to call a truce. Help me to help you to help me.” I said, almost pleading.

“Y’know, you sound like a really nice person, when you are not talking badly about me. I think that I can help you, I’d like to give it a shot.” Uterus said as the smirk on her face turned into a gentle smile.

The voices in my head shouted “Hallelujah!”. I was excited that I was making some progress, but I needed her to tell me exactly how we could work together.

“What can I do to make your living conditions a bit better?” I asked.

“Thanks for asking.  This is going to be a long response, you better get a pen and a paper.” I quickly removed my notebook and pen, and put my phone on ringer. Nothing was going to disrupt my peace negotiation.

“What makes me most upset, Ess, is when you eat all that oily food, dairy and wheat and your stomach bloats all up in my business. It’s difficult to breathe with your intestines in my face. How would you feel if you had balloons constantly poking at your face? Huh?  Bananas make me happy, They relax my muscles, I’d like more of those. It wouldn’t hurt, if you’d drink some more water. Chill out on the alcohol and coffee.” Missy said then paused to catch her breath.

“Ess, Heat is bae. Snuggle up with hot water bottle, I’m cold. I want some love. Have a cuppa and warm me on the inside. I know you want to lie all day, but I need you to keep moving. Give me some endorphins. Boost your levels of fish oils and magnesium, those help me feel less cranky. Finally, if I cause you too much pain, please remember that it is not personal. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t enjoy losing a part of myself every month. If you are in a lot of pain, please pop a painkiller. If it feels as though I am screaming each month, or cutting you from the inside, do us both a favor and see a doctor. Lord knows we need all the help that we can get.”

“Oh Uterus, you had a lot on your chest. Thanks you sharing your thoughts and the tips. I will definitely take them into consideration. I want us to live in peace. I’m sorry you’ve been hurting so much all this time. Honestly, I thought you were just a grumpy old lady. But, it turns out that you are pretty cool. Let’s hug and make up.” I said as I stretched out my hands to embrace my fiend turned friend.

“Ess, I’d love to hug you but your intestines are all up in my space.”

“Oh! I’m sorry about that. I’ll work on the bloating. Now, let me eat a banana and make you happy.”

It turns out, I’d gotten it all wrong, Miss Uterus is not a bitter old woman, she’s just misunderstood.

 

 

The Overflow

During the period talk in primary school, one key detail was forgotten: ‘What to do when you have heavy periods.’ Nobody prepared me for the overflow that would come with my periods. The first time I soiled my clothes, I thought I was dying. It seems silly, but then, it was a crisis.

I was a happy camper as long as I was sitting, when I stood up, gravity would come in to full effect and the rivers of Babylon would flow. I felt completely powerless, there was nothing I could do to stop it. It felt like my womb had turned into a waterfall for a few minutes.

My primary school dress was a mixture of white and grey, so a red stain stood out like a blob of jam on toast. It was not supposed to be there. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that you are not supposed to use hot water to remove a blood stain. Sigh. I learned the hard way.

How to deal with the overflow

For months, I ended up soiling my sheets, I eventually learned how to cope with the heavy periods. Here are some of my tips to handle the overflow.

1. Save your pretty panties

I used to wonder why anyone would want to wear granny panties during their periods. Especially since they are everything but sexy. Then I had a heavy period that painted my panty red like a toddler with a paintbrush. On that day, no one needed to tell me to have separate panties for shark week.

When you are struggling with bloating, a bikini cut may not be the best option. Choose something with a some allowance to grow. Comfort is key, your uterus is already having a battle on it’s own.

2. Layer!

Back in the day, I used to layer my pads. When I first saw a pad with loops, I was baffled. I kept asking myself, ‘Who wears such things? How is it worn?’. Fast forward to the first day post delivery, and I was so relieved that I could elongate my pad. Their adhesive is horrible but they make up for it with absorption.

Maternity pads are great for heavy flow. They cost a lot more, but they are very effective. We need more affordable pads like these for women with heavy flow.

Putting an old towel beneath your bum helps to protect your bed sheets. Set an alarm to change your pad in the middle of the night so that you can avoid the accidents.

 

3. Cold water

When it comes to cleaning blood stained clothes, refrain from soaking blood stained garments in hot water. It will cause the stain to set in to the fabric. Instead, use cold water. You can soak the clothes in cold water for 30 minutes then . You can use either salt, bicarbonate of soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or ammonia to make a paste on the stain and rub it.

4. Stock up

It is easy to become iron deficient if you have heavy periods. Eat more iron rich foods like beans, leafy greens, dark chocolate, peas, meat and liver, all through your cycle.

If you feel foggy, tired and have to change your pad or tampon every hour, please see a doctor.