Sunday, 29 April 2018

INGA Wellbeing: comfortable and dignified patient clothing


"INGA Wellbeing's award-winning collection of meticulously designed, luxuriously soft and unashamedly stylish men's and women's wear is indispensable clothing for ill health: providing in and out patients with dignity, comfort, confidence and independence."

Having spent 3 weeks in hospital this year, one thing I very quickly got tired of was my clothing getting in the way when I needed injections, blood tests, blood pressure checks or while I was wearing an IV. I found I was having to wear short sleeved t shirts or vests and then I was getting cold, but if I put anything long sleeved on, it simply didn't fit over the cannula or it just as quickly needed to be removed again. Not only was this annoying for me, but it also held the nurses up while I was trying to remove the clothing so they could get access. It's not something you really think about until you have to spend a lot of time in hospital... But INGA Wellbeing have thought of it!

INGA Wellbeing are an award winning company, specialising in comfortable and attractive clothing, enabling patients to keep their dignity, independence and comfort while receiving hospital treatment.

INGA Wellbeing is named after co-founder Nikla Lancksweert's mother, Inga, and also inspired by Claire Robinson's mother, Diana, both of whom struggled with what to wear during their treatment for cancer.

Inga and Diana both found they were embarrassed and diminished by the limited and limiting clothing options available to them while hooked up to IV lines, drains and monitors. As a result, they walked less, ate less and saw fewer visitors during their frequent, and sometimes long, hospitalisations. This made them weaker and left them feeling helpless.

Having supported their mothers and friends through medical treatments, and, as a result of Nikla's own experiences as an in-patient, they were convinced that clothing adapted to the realities of medical devices and frequent examinations could boost patients mental and physical health.

Nikla and Claire joined forces with Fiona McGreal, a fashion designer, and Christine Berckmans, and their mission became clear: ensuring patients can wear comfortable clothing that is fit for purpose and beneficial to their physical wellbeing, as well as looking great.


You can view more videos on Inga Wellbeing's YouTube channel.


Inga Wellbeing's clothes have been created by a fashion designer with expert guidance from nurses, so they not only work really well in a medical setting, but look normal and are comfortable to wear. The discreet poppered openings provide easy access to the body and the clothes are all made using natural, soft, stretchy jersey for maximum comfort as well as pockets for drains, medical devices and personal items.

Patients
:: are empowered to dress themselves and can therefore maintain their independence
:: feel comfortable as IV lines and drains do not tug and the fabric helps regulate body temperature and odour
:: feel dignified, as they can remain well-covered for most examinations and many treatments
:: feel equal to their caregivers and self-confident, and thus more in control of their own treatment


INGA Wellbeing's clothes are not condition specific. They have taken great care in providing comfort and practical dressing solutions no matter how an illness evolves and what additional medical interventions a patient may require. Their clothing is made with soft and stretchy fabrics that will accommodate changing body shapes and sizes.

Features include
:: clothes look entirely normal
:: discreet openings for IV lines, drains, monitors, examinations, treatments and massages
:: full arm opening enables independent dressing and undressing (for many) even with IV lines in place
:: exterior pockets
:: soft, gently elasticated fabric
:: wrap design and/or poppers to adjust size
:: made from natural fibres, washable at 40 degrees C
:: contrast poppers/snap tape and red guide lines provided
:: no metal parts

I was kindly sent an item to review by INGA Wellbeing as part of the Chronic Illness Blogger Network.


I chose the women's long-sleeved t-shirt top in dusky pink (also available in navy blue) because I thought it would be a little more versatile. You could wear this item with other items from the INGA Wellbeing catalogue, or with normal pyjama bottoms. You could also pair it with normal everyday trousers if you have to go to the hospital for some sort of IV treatment.


Although the top gives full access to the arms, sides and back with the help of the discreet popper openings, it also keeps you fully covered. The poppers mean you can wear it as open as you wish and you can also roll up the sleeves.

The top is made with a cotton/viscose mix and feels really soft on the skin. Viscose (also known as rayon) is made from wood pulp and is very soft, breathable, drapes well, is highly absorbent and does not trap body heat.

The sizing is just about spot on. I'm a size 12 and went for the Medium (a UK size 10-12) and it was a comfortable fit and wasn't pulling across the bust. You can find a size guide here.

The poppers run down both sides, the front, and both arms (from shoulder to wrist). It also has a pocket inside and a pocket to the chest.

You can wash INGA Wellbeing's clothing as you would do your other clothes - just make sure you keep any poppers done up as it will keep the item in shape.

I'm really pleased with this top! It's really good quality, feels lovely on and I'm almost feeling excited to try it out in hospital!... Although not so excited for the hospital part!


If you would like to try INGA Wellbeing's clothes for yourself, you can find a full range of their products on their website, where they also offer free worldwide shipping. Their products are also available through a range of stockists.

If you would like more information on Inga Wellbeing, you can follow their blog or you can find them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

INGA Wellbeing have recently launched their #IFeelBetterWhenI campaign which you can read more about here. In conjunction with this campaign, they are also running a competition via their Facebook and Twitter pages where you can win your choice of a free top, trousers or dress from their adapted patient clothing collection. To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is share their #IFeelBetterWhenI post on either Facebook or Twitter and comment with what takes the edge off a bad day for you.

You can also get 50% off the Midnight Blue range in their end of line sale, but be quick as this offer is only on until 8th May (while stocks last)!

S.
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Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Playing the waiting game

Image courtesy of https://bit.ly/2Kde0CV

:: This column was originally posted on Endometriosis News ::


Endometriosis is one big waiting game.

I wouldn’t say I waited throughout my teenage years because I thought the immense pain I felt every cycle and extremely heavy bleeding was all completely normal. But I did wait for it to come each month.

Sex very suddenly became painful, and I waited for that pain to disappear. It didn’t. I waited for a doctors appointment to discuss how I was feeling. I sat through a series of examinations and endless embarrassing questions about my body and my sexual health. When everything came back clear, I waited for a referral to a gynaecologist.

I met with my gynaecologist and I waited for him to perform a diagnostic laparoscopy on me. I waited while he explained endometriosis to me by handing me a leaflet which told me nothing other than cold hard facts.

I waited for my next referral to a specialist consultant at another hospital. I spent years visiting him, watching as he would sit back in his chair, scratch his head and ask me “what do you want me to do”? I tried everything he suggested. I waited for him to fix me, to make me better, to stop the pain. Of course, that never happened. I waited for months and years for treatments to work like he said they would. I waited for this “cure” he always told me about.

I never expected to have any flare up’s with endometriosis. No one had told me that could happen. When it did, I waited for the pain to stop, for someone to help me. I waited to be given something that would stop this happening again. I wasn’t given anything other than an increased amount of painkillers. I had doctors refuse to take out the Mirena coil that I had inside me. I waited until they changed their minds.

Things didn’t get better. I didn’t stop hoping though. I took things in to my own hands, researching everything I could about endometriosis. I met people online who also suffered with the disease. I started speaking up about endometriosis and what it had caused to happen in my life. I helped others where I could. I waited for my specialist to tell me to stop “Googling endometriosis”, which he did a number of times.

I not-so-patiently waited to fall pregnant. My consultant told me to relax and it would just happen. A year down the line and relaxing wasn’t working. I waited for the waves of grief to flow over me month in, month out. I waited for our referral on to the fertility clinic, to find out that I was the problem. Months of counselling, regular blood tests, scans, injection lessons, egg collections, embryo transfers and then the seemingly eternal 2 week wait.

I waited for 2 years to fall pregnant. I then waited for our baby to arrive through 9 long months of extreme pain, long hospital stays, preterm labour scares and a multitude of scans and check ups. I waited for this miracle to “cure” me. I didn’t get my cure but we got our beautiful baby.

Post-birth, I knew what would eventually happen. I waited for it. The pain slowly but surely crept back in, gradually getting worse as time went on. I saw my doctors regularly and was eventually referred back to the hospital. I waited to see what my new consultant would suggest. I waited for her suggestions to work.

Now, I wait to see what happens from one day to another, because I have no clue, no indications that something might or might not happen. No big flashing signs to tell me a flare up is on the horizon. The pain comes and goes as it chooses too. And I wait for what it chooses to throw at me next.

Sadly, this is my last column for Endometriosis News, but you can read all of my previous columns here.

S.
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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Modibodi: modern underwear for every bodi


"Science and modern technology meets fashion undergarments, preventing leaks for all body types."

I've been keeping a keen eye on this recent wave of period pants that have been emerging recently. So, when Modibodi asked if I would like to try out some of their underwear, I jumped at the chance! A pair of knickers that you can wear without a sanitary towel or tampon... Really!? It's all been very intriguing!

Modibodi are an Australian brand, launched in 2013 and founded by fashion-tech entrepreneur and social advocate Kristy Chong. After having her second child, Kristy experienced bladder leaks from a weakened pelvic floor - something 1 in 3 women experience during and after childbirth. Kristy noticed there was little innovation in technology in products available to help women who face bladder leaks or heavy periods and she was inspired and determined to create a whole new solution for women that was fashionable, sustainable and reusable.

"Once I realised how problematic the issue was, I couldn't understand why, with all the advancements in technology, underwear and disposable hygiene had not evolved. I knew instantly that I was going to have to create a whole new product category for women. I am really proud that I took this idea and turned it in to a product that can more conveniently, comfortably and reliably manage menstrual flow or incontinence, and reduce the amount of single-use products ending up in landfill and damaging our environment."

Developed and designed by Kristy, alongside top Australian lingerie designers, Modibodi has created a range of stain resistant, fast drying and odour-free, period, pee and perspiration proof underwear and swimwear that are fashionable, sustainable, high-tech and comfortable. Modibodi underwear can be a total replacement for feminine hygiene products including pantyliners, pads and tampons, and works well as an additional backup for menstrual cup users. Their leak proof and moisture wicking products are available in a range of absorbances, protecting us from periods to discharge, light bladder leakage to weak pelvic floors.

Modibodi use high quality natural fabrics and breathable tech-savvy blends (bamboo, merino perform wool and microfibre) with the latest in antimicrobial fibres for a soft, silky fit.

There are a total of nine different underwear collections available in a range of styles and colours, including active wear, swimwear, maternity and pre-teen girls. Modibodi also offer a wide range of sizes from 4XS to 2XS for girls aged 8-14 years old, and sizes XS to 7XL for women.

Modibodi also have a newly released, patent pending, Modifier Swim Technology. This unique swimwear line is period and pee-proof, water and stain resistant, bacteria and odour fighting.

Modibodi products are more than just comfort and style, it is a mission that goes beyond fashion - it is empowering a kind of change that everyone can be a part of.


The Modifier Technology found in Modibodi's flagship period and pee-proof underwear is super slim at only 3mm thick and is a three-layer component:
:: A top layer that quickly wicks away any moisture, fights bacteria and stops odours
:: A middle layer that quickly absorbs fluid and locks it away (up to 20mls of absorbency)
:: A third, bottom layer allowing for extra waterproof protection.



The lining of Modifier Air Technology in combination with the breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics, draws sweat and discharge away from the source and fights bacteria to keep you cool, dry and fresh all day.



You can view more videos on Modibodi's YouTube channel.

Modibodi kindly sent me two pairs of underwear to try out for myself...


These are the Sensual Hi-Waist Bikini (in black) which have a heavy absorbency. They are Modibodi's bestselling style and feature natural odour-fighting organic bamboo fabric trimmed with lace, hugging the waistline.

These looked really nice on. This is my preferred style of knicker, but some can look less than attractive when they come up to your belly button and are bunchy and baggy on! These sit really nicely on your tummy, pulling you in where you need to be, but not digging in - great for those with sensitive tummies due to endometriosis, or any other tummy related issues. They also look good, with the lace trim adding some simple detail. The material is a lovely, soft cotton and feels and looks like really good quality.

I imagined that the padding in these pants would be thick and uncomfortable. I also thought it might move around a bit, you know like it does in some padded bras? But, no! It's just the right thickness, really comfortable and it definitely doesn't move around - it's fully enclosed in the underwear themselves! What I really liked about these, is that the padding comes from the front of the gusset area, right to the top of the back of the knickers. This would be great for night time use, giving you more protection than a standard pad.


These are the Classic Bikini (in beige) which have a light-moderate absorbency.

Surprisingly, I found these to be the comfier of the two pairs, which is pretty unusual for me since I love a big knicker! I usually wear a bigger style due to my c-section scar and I've always found anything smaller digs straight in to my scar which, as you can imagine, is not comfortable in the slightest. These, however, were really comfortable and didn't ride up at the back either.

The padding in the classic bikini style is less so than in the hi-waist bikini (heavy absorbency) pair, and it doesn't come up over the bottom area, so these would be great for lighter days.

The material is again very soft, and the beige colour is great for when you need some nude underwear. The material is the same as the black pair, and is again very soft and great quality.


I can't comment on the absorbency of either pair as I have to admit I've not been brave enough to wear them without a pad as yet. However, what I really liked about these, is that they gave me that added security in case something did happen to leak! I am one of those women who has to constantly feel their bum every time they stand up in case there is some wetness of some kind there! I'm always worrying about it! So, for me, these are perfect! I also really liked that the lining of the padded areas of both colourways is black so there won't be any yucky stains left inside.

To wash the underwear, you simply rinse in cold water and then cold wash on a delicate cycle.

If you would like to try Modibodi's underwear or swimwear for yourself, then Modibodi is available in Australia, online in the US via their US website or via Amazon USA, and in the UK via their UK website.

If you would like further information on Modibodi, their website is jam packed with everything you could ever imagine wanting to know! You can also find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

"Together with Modibodi, we are breaking taboos, opening minds, mentioning the "unmentionables" with a reusable, sustainable product line that will benefit all bodies on this planet."

S.
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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

My story: Varsha Chaudhary


I had endometriosis and I don’t care if you know. I owe it to March 2018 (and beyond) – month of endometriosis awareness campaign worldwide and my fellow companions (both men & women) who are still connected through social media.

I know that this epidemic affects 176 million women worldwide and I am sure thousands of cases would still be unreported/unheard. I was happy to find that there are communities and celebrities running campaigns to spread awareness against endometriosis among women and hence I would do my part too.

Here comes my personal story.

I was diagnosed with this epidemic 6 months ago in September 2017 which was quite severe. It came as a setback partly because neither I had any classic symptoms which generally lead to diagnosis of endometriosis (treating doctor was little shocked too) nor was I into a sedentary lifestyle or junk eating. I have always been into a very rigorous and well defined fitness regime and yet victim of this epidemic.

I had multiple cysts surrounding both ovaries with a frozen pelvis. Doctor investigated by all means, if there was ever any pain that I suffered but I hadn’t at least for last 7-8 years as far as my memory goes. She also tried to find out if there was any herbal product that I was consuming which created cysts and again I wasn’t. All I could recall was the discomforting pain during my cycles for couple of months almost 10 years ago while I was still in school. I very clearly remember my mother took me to a general physician at that time due to chronic pain and I was prescribed a pain killer and nothing more.

Later, post completing school, I didn’t have any complaints. Education and successful career have been my top most priority and I was quite clear that I am not going to get into any matrimonial bond before a certain age unless I place myself financially independent considerably. Therefore, I decided to get onto a rigorous fitness regime which is a good blend of weight/strength training, cardio, swimming, cycling, cross fit, yoga etc, to keep myself fit so that I don’t regret later. In fact, I had most effortless periods like clockwork every month. They say that effortless periods are a sign of strong physiology and what more could I ask for but any symptoms.

During one of our consultation sessions with my gynecologist, my husband and I were contemplating reasons for not finding any symptoms so far, we realized that it might have been due to body’s response of entirely shutting down (flight/fight mode) that part when required care/treatment wasn’t provided during early years when I felt chronic pain. We took opinions of two more doctors and both spoke similar language.

Despite of this there were few things quite right which helped in advanced treatment and recovery. For starters, my hormonal balance was good, I was physically strong to go through bilateral surgery on immediate basis due to a good fitness regime. Hence started my journey as a patient which led to a successful bilateral laparoscopic surgery in last week of December 2017. I am now back to my normal life and taking few injections (Decapeptyl) to suppress body’s tendency to create further cysts.

My journey as an endometriosis patient has been quite an eye-opening experience against stereotypical mindset and rumors spread like wildfire. Pain during periods isn’t normal and way of life as they say. Women of all age groups, if you feel slight discomfort during your cycles or even if you do not, as was my case, then also please go for regular medical checkup at least once a year. We are living in different times when diseases surprise us with no beforehand symptoms ironically when we do everything right. Each woman must consult a well-practiced gynecologist regularly about personal well-being. I found mine in Dr. KS Jeyarani Kamaraj (leading Gynecologist & Obstetrician in India) and I couldn’t thank her enough for right guidance. We must seek professional guidance and shouldn’t go by widespread rumors served as wisdom.

We as women must speak enough for ourselves and rise above stereotypes. Walk away from those who make you feel guilty about a disease that you did not have a clue about in the first place. Time to break free from narcissists who manipulate to drag you down at the hour of need and support, and especially if that narcissist happens to be a woman playing any role in your life. As women, we need to join hands for each other’s progress if not now, then when?

A good support system always works magic. I am fortunate and blessed with amazing husband, mother, father, sister, friend, brother and colleagues at work who supported me abundantly at every stage and this phase passed in no time.

Last but not the least, we owe no one any justification for our body. We do not ask for diseases and no one suffers in our place hence nobody has rights to condemn us or our body. Let us join hands to spread awareness to eradicate disease not women and make this world a better place to live.


Thank you for sharing your story Varsha.

If you would like to contact Varsha, you can follow her on Twitter @varsha1123 or on Instagram @varshachaudhary1123.

Remember, every one of us has a different story, and the more shared, the more we can learn. If you are interested in sharing your story, please contact me at shireen.emlwy@gmail.com.

S.
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Monday, 16 April 2018

When others have a blinkered attitude towards a shared illness

Image courtesy of https://bit.ly/2HrB4ix

:: This column was originally posted on Endometriosis News ::


One thing I have noticed since being diagnosed with endometriosis (and other chronic illnesses) is the lack of understanding others have of your illness. I know it’s a big thing in the world of endometriosis, how little others know about this disease, but, I myself have no problem with this. These times only serve as an ample chance to raise awareness of endometriosis and I’m more than happy to discuss it if someone wishes to sit and listen. What I’m actually talking about though, is when you find other people with the same illness having the greatest misunderstanding of it.

I’ve seen it happen a lot, where someone doesn’t have as severe pain as you and because of this they cannot comprehend that your pain might be greater. Where people have to have time off work because their endometriosis is affecting their day to day lives, whereas someone else might never have to take a day off work for it. It’s the same with medications and treatments, where something has worked for one person so they push it on others and they cannot understand that it might not work in the same way for another person. And also, where a treatment or medication has worked for them and they cannot see how it can’t be working for you.

It’s almost this kind of “blinkering”, rather than plain ignorance. People tend to think things are much simpler and easy to “solve” rather than accept that things might be worse, or, even, different for someone else.

I like to remind people that we, human beings, are all different. We have different problems, we work differently and in the same way, although we might have the same illness, we often don’t have it exactly the same. Take endometriosis, for example. Because endometriosis occurs so differently in each and every one of us, is situated in different areas, causes different symptoms, and because our bodies are all so different, the same treatments will always give differing results. You might also find that a person with stage IV (severe) endometriosis is in less pain than a person with stage I (mild) endometriosis, as this depends, largely, on where the endometriosis is located. You’ll find that this same example works across a broad spectrum of illnesses, conditions and diseases also.

It’s taken some time for me to fully understand this notion. We’ve become so accustomed to illnesses like the common cold causing blocked, runny noses, sneezing, maybe a stuffy head, sore throat and a cough - a standard set of symptoms with a standard resolution - that we apply that same impression to other illnesses. But, something like endometriosis is far more complex than a cold or a simple infection. There is no standard resolution to our pain or the other issues endometriosis throws at us. Some try every option out there, from birth control pills to excision surgery (and everything in between), only to find that nothing helps them.

It’s easy to become blinkered by health issues, thinking that things are only as bad, or good, as we have it. But, we must remember to understand and hear others voices, to not disbelieve them when they say things are worse for them. Even if we ourselves haven’t shared these experiences with our shared illnesses.

You can follow my Endometriosis News column here.

S.
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Monday, 9 April 2018

The guilt of being a chronically ill mama

Image courtesy of https://bit.ly/2HmANen

:: This column was originally posted on Endometriosis News ::


When the thoughts of having a child first popped in to my mind, I imagined a life much different to the one I lead now.

In an ideal world, a “normal” non-chronically ill world, I would have been working, providing for our family, in a home of our own and having fun times and holidays with my little family. Instead, I find myself often having to drag myself out of bed, not able to leave the house, popping pills left, right and centre, all to just get by.

It was, without a doubt, something that I thought about in great detail before we even started trying for a baby. We planned, we saved, we had our home and everything we needed. All the usual, practical things. I thought about how my health might impact our lives.

But I also had this pipe dream that pregnancy might well solve all my endometriosis problems. The old “pregnancy will cure endometriosis” thoughts that stick at the back of your mind. A pipe dream it certainly was. We tried for 2 years before we went through IVF. The pregnancy was fraught with complications. The birth was pretty traumatic to say the least. But, we got our baby, and for the first few months, life was (exhausted) bliss.

Unsurprisingly, slowly but surely, my bad health crept back in. A few aches and pains here, periods returning sooner than I thought they would, agonising tummy pains… Life as a new mother is challenge on it’s own, but throw in illness to the mix and it becomes a balancing act.

For the most part, and maybe looking in from the outside, I guess I’ve not done too badly. Of course, I’ve not done it all on my own. But our baby is a normal, happy little 3 year old boy now, and, by all means, he certainly doesn’t go without. But I often find myself over compensating in other areas to make up for all the times I need to rest instead of play. For all the times I cannot leave the house and take him out.

I think little things like going for a walk, playing in the park, having the energy for simple play at home is often taken for granted. They sound like such easy tasks for an able-bodied person. And that’s where the guilt creeps in.

I so want to be able to do all these “normal” everyday things. Not just every now and then, but all the time. I look at our little boy and I feel like he misses out on so much, all because of me.

Parenting with a chronic illness (or several) is hard work. But it sure has made me appreciate what we do have and all the things we do get to do, all the more.

You can follow my Endometriosis News column here.

S.
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Monday, 2 April 2018

How endometriosis hid my Crohn’s Disease diagnosis

Image courtesy of https://bit.ly/2GtlBz4

:: This column was originally posted on Endometriosis News ::


Only a few days in to 2018, I found myself in hospital after a sudden flare of nausea, diarrhoea and intense abdominal pain. I thought it was food poisoning that had irritated my endometriosis. The doctors thought it was my appendix. But when every scan and test imaginable came back clear, I was sent home.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of my tale. I continued to have problems. When the pains were becoming too much for my trusty painkillers and my beloved heat pad/TENS machine combo to handle, I went to see my doctor.

I had been having agonising pains that felt exactly the same as contractions. As soon as I described this to my doctor and filled her in on what had happened in January, she said it sounded like a bowel problem. She prescribed me anti-spasmodic tablets and asked for some stool samples to check for infections and/or inflammation.

My samples came back with a high calprotectin level which showed there was inflammation in my bowels. The doctor suggested it could all be an after effect of food poisoning or an infection, or it could be endometriosis causing problems. However, an eyebrow was raised when they asked me if anyone in my family had bowel issues: “Yes, my brother has Crohn's Disease”. I was referred on to the hospital. I still thought nothing more of it. Yes, I’d had recurring bouts of pain, nausea and problems with going to the toilet, but I thought this was all pretty normal for someone with endometriosis.

On the 27th February, we went out for the day. I managed a short walk around a couple of shops and then the pain started. From where this pain was, I knew then it wasn’t endometriosis. I went and sat down for a rest and took all the painkillers I possibly could, but they did nothing.

The contraction pains started again and they were only intensifying. Within the hour, back at home, I was writhing around the floor. I didn’t know what to do with myself. The pains took a sudden turn for the worse and I couldn’t do anything but scream out in agony and pray that I would pass out so I didn’t have to take it anymore.

By the time I arrived at hospital, I’d had several ‘accidents’ and was passing bright red blood. The pain was like nothing I had ever felt before and even morphine and gas and air wasn’t helping.

Eventually, the pain dulled but the trips from the bed to the commode quickened. This time they thought it was my gallbladder and I was prepped for emergency surgery. With a bit of luck, I saw the same doctor as when I was admitted in January. Gallbladder was ruled out. Crohn's was mentioned again. The next day I had a colonoscopy and although a diagnosis wasn’t given for several more weeks, I began a course of IV steroids to treat the inflammation.

I was in hospital for almost 3 weeks. It was a complicated time of constipation, diarrhoea, scans, x-rays, blood tests, allergic reactions, enemas, laxatives, nausea and depression. I don’t think a day passed where I didn’t cry. I wanted to be at home with my partner and little boy so desperately.

I’ve now been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. And, looking back, these problems didn’t just start in January. But, I had always passed them off as my endometriosis. I mean, if I’ve learnt anything over the past 23 years of having endometriosis then it’s that it usually is endometriosis causing the problems!

Frustratingly, my original endometriosis consultant had wanted me to see another doctor because I was presenting with bowel issues back in my early 20’s but I had refused on the premise that so many other women were fobbed off with an Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) diagnosis instead of being checked for endometriosis.

In 2015, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia because of pain in my knees, hips and hands. For years I questioned that diagnosis. Even my rheumatologist didn’t think it was Fibromyalgia. And it’s now looking likely that it was indeed Crohn's all along.

And, last year, after having my Nexplanon implant fitted, I started getting these contraction pains. But who would have thought it was a completely separate disease causing these pains to start at the exact same time I started a new treatment for my endometriosis?

The point of my story is this: Endometriosis is commonly misdiagnosed as IBS, and although doctors will sometimes try to pass off bowel problems as just that, ignoring endometriosis symptoms in the process, remember, it could well be a bowel problem. If you are having pain before or after bowel movements, please know this isn’t normal.

You can follow my Endometriosis News column here.

S.
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Friday, 30 March 2018

Healthyline heated natural gemstone therapy mats


You should all know by now that I love anything even remotely related to a heat pad! It's one of the most comforting feelings when you have any type of chronic pain and I've found it a great relief for my endometriosis and fibromyalgia pain. The good thing about heat, is that you can use it alongside any regular medication or therapy without it affecting those things.

I was contacted by Healthyline to discuss not only their heat products, but also how they incorporate Far Infrared Rays (FIR), Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy, negative ions, photon light, hot stone and magnetic therapy in to them... And to offer you a cheeky 10% discount too!

Healthyline manufacture the world's largest selection of heated natural gemstone therapy mats. Starting out in 2013 in New York (USA), Healthyline began as a collaboration between doctors, inventors, lawyers and entrepreneurs and quickly became an industry leader. They now work closely alongside doctors, acupuncturists, reiki masters, professional spas, wellness centres, holistic practitioners and more.

In addition to mats, Healthyline also offer heated knee pads, shoulder pads, pillows and energy bedding. These products not only offer infra-red technology but also have the added benefits of negative ions and PEMF therapy. You can view Healthyline's full range of products here or their (.PDF) brochure here.


Healthyline's gemstone heat therapy mats are designed to facilitate proper functioning of the heat of a traditional heating pad and utilises gemstones to channel deep penetrating natural therapies that work together to provide one comprehensive experience, stimulating advanced natural healing of the body, leading to an increase in overall general well-being.

Without the incorporation of natural gemstones, you would not receive the benefits of FIR or negative ions. Healthyline make many different models that include different variations of stones. Some consist of one stone, some a combination of two and then some use three or more. The more stones included in your model, the greater the range of benefits.

:: Amethyst is a natural conductor of FIR and negative ions. It is known to have calming and stress-reducing effects that make it ideal for meditation and calming practices. Amethyst has been known to enhance the body's ability to help with sleeping troubles, undergo detoxification and boost cell regeneration.

:: Jade is made up of two components: jadeite and nephrite. Jade is a natural conductor of FIR and negative ions and is known to amplify the effects of other stones around it. It helps the body function more efficiently by restoring your energy and emits a low heat that is good for relaxation and meditation. Jade is often used as a treatment for kidney illnesses.

:: Tourmaline is said to be a magical stone that protects those who covet its powers. It is known to help detoxify tissue and body systems. It emits FIR and produces the highest amount of negative ions out of all the gemstones Healthyline use. Tourmaline helps to revitalise the mind and body, speed up your healing functions, and aid in the regeneration of bone tissue.

:: Obsidian doesn't produce FIR or negative ions but is a healing stone. The jet black colour of the stone is believed to draw all negativity to it, both physically and mentally, protecting the user from any harm. Obsidian is a very powerful support gemstone, amplifying the effects of other stones around it.


Healthyline combine several different therapies in each of their products:

FIR (Far Infrared Rays)
FIR are invisible waves of energy that have the ability to penetrate all layers of the human body; deep in to tissues, muscles and bone. FIR are on the opposite side of the spectrum to harmful ultraviolet rays.

The sun, our bodies and our hands are always emitting FIR. In the past, this discovery lead to healing methods like palm healing. This has evolved in to what is now known as Reiki, a form of healing that utilises the heat from the palms of the hands to assist in the body's natural healing process. Science has been able to focus the healing component of FIR and utilise these rays to improve our natural healing abilities.

FIR
:: control muscle and joint pain
:: detoxify your body
:: reduce pain and stiffness
:: relieve back pain symptoms
:: help chronic fatigue
:: improve quality of life and overall well-being
:: reduce blood pressure levels
:: treat some forms of cancer
:: lower side effects of diabetes
:: improve motor functions
:: prevent sunburn
:: treat arteriovenous fistula
:: treat allergic rhinitis
 
Further reading:

PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy)
PEMF, also known as Low Field Magnetic Stimulation (LFMS), uses electromagnetic fields in an attempt to enhance your body's overall functioning as well as improving blood circulation, reducing chronic pain, promoting bone healing, alleviating symptoms of arthritis, treating symptoms of depression, increasing range of motion, and more.

The process of receiving PEMF involves sending energy waves towards damaged and injured areas of the body. The waves pass through the injured areas and increase the spin of the electrons within them. As a result, the cell's potential is restored and improved healing can take place.

PEMF
:: relieves pain
:: improves blood circulation
:: helps with arthritis
:: relieves the symptoms of depression
:: treats migraines
:: promotes bone healing
:: decreases diabetic factors
:: induces nerve repair
:: increases range of motion

Further reading:

Negative Ions
Ions are invisible charged particles in the air - either molecules or atoms, which bear an electric charge. Some particles are positively charged and some are negatively charged. Positive ions are molecules that have lost one or more electrons, whereas negative ions are actually oxygen atoms with extra negatively charged electrons.

Negative ions are abundant in nature, especially around waterfalls, by the sea, after a storm, in mountains and forests. The highest concentration of positive ions can be found in polluted cities, crowded areas and in confined spaces such as offices, industrial areas, schools and cars.

Negative ions are beneficial for the human body and are scientifically tied to a lot of health benefits, whereas positive ions are harmful.

Further reading:

Photon Light Therapy
Different body tissues absorb energy from different wavelengths of light energy. Unlike FIR, photon light therapy has a shorter wavelength so it doesn't penetrate as deeply. Photon therapy uses visible red lights at a wavelength of 660 nanometers.

Photon light requires direct exposure to the skin in order for it's full effects to be received. When the photon light is absorbed by the body, it forms in to nitric oxide. This stimulates synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is essential for the metabolism of all cellular regeneration.

Photon light therapy assists directly with the mitochondria, the part of the cell responsible for generating proteins and collagen. The new cells are able to destroy old cells, assisting even further with detoxification.

Photon light therapy 
:: treats depression
:: improves motor function and nerve regeneration
:: promotes better wound healing
:: improves skin and acne


Hot stone therapy
Tourmaline, jade and amethyst are natural conductors of FIR and negative ions when they are activated by the heating technology. While you get all the typical healing experiences associated with hot stone therapy, these benefits are greatly amplified by the combination of these gemstones.

Magnetic Therapy


Magnetic therapy is a science focused on maintaining the body's proper electromagnetic field to promote healing.

When a magnet is placed on the body, it promotes increased blood circulation. This increased blood flow helps to deliver more nutrients to your body and flush out toxins and contaminants. The magnet also relaxes the surrounding muscles and tissues, enabling your body to heal more efficiently.

Magnets offer a natural form of pain relief that can be used as frequently as required with no side effects.

Magnetic therapy
:: is a natural pain reliever
:: reduces swelling
:: promotes healing after injury or surgery
:: reduces the symptoms of osteoarthritis
:: helps general well-being


Healthyline's products can help with the following health issues:

:: Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
FIR stimulates the circulatory system, promoting increased oxygenation throughout the body. FIR can also help create white blood cells which improve your immune system and overall wellness. You may also find a decrease in stiffness and stress.

Negative ions focus on the respiratory system and detoxification. They can help improve mood levels and generate more serotonin in the brain to facilitate sleep. Negative ions can help restore energy levels and help the body function more efficiently.

PEMF initiates cellular revitalisation and helps maintain proper healing functions throughout the body. PEMF can alleviate painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and increase the range of motion, reduce muscle spasms and neck pain in osteoarthritis patients.

:: Chronic fatigue syndrome
FIR can improve your sleep, reduce sleep disturbances and minimise aches and pains associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. FIR can also help create white blood cells which improve your immune system and overall wellness.

Negative ions focus on the respiratory system and detoxification. They can help improve mood levels, generate more serotonin in the brain to facilitate sleep and restore energy levels.

:: Sleep conditions
Magnetic therapy improves blood circulation. This helps to deliver more nutrients to your body and flush out toxins and contaminants. Magnetic therapy also relaxes muscles and tissue. The process stimulates melatonin in your brain, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep.

FIR and negative ions increase blood flow, promoting oxygenation that improves blood pressure and the immune system.

Negative ions will also improve your state of mind as a result of detoxification and increased serotonin levels.

:: Fibromyalgia
FIR and negative ions influence aspects of the body that are altered by fibromyalgia.

PEMF can help those with fibromyalgia recover some of their body's natural ability to manage it's pain and relieve muscle tension.

Photon light therapy aids fibromyalgia sufferers as it can relieve neuropathic pain and strengthen the immune system to help the body improve it's wellness. Fibromyalgia sufferers might notice a decrease in fibro-fog, a reduction in tense muscles, increased ability to get to sleep and a reduction in overall pain and swelling.

:: ... And many more.


If you are interested in any of Healthyline's products, then you can view their full range in their online store.

Healthyline have also, very kindly, offered a 10% discount to you all. Just visit their online store and enter the code above at checkout!

If you would like any further information, you can find Healthyline on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

S.
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Monday, 26 March 2018

Please don’t make a joke of pregnancy this April Fools Day

Image courtesy of https://bit.ly/2IUvvak

:: This column was originally posted on Endometriosis News ::


If there is one day of the year I find difficult, it’s April 1st, aka April Fools Day. And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. Let me explain… 

We were blessed with a gorgeous little boy. He’s a funny, loud, energetic, loving 3-year-old now. But, one thing that doesn’t escape me, is the years of trying for him: the heartbreak every single month of finding I had once again started my period when I wished upon every star that I wouldn’t; the knowledge that my body had failed us both. 2 long years passed before we got our chance at in vitro fertilization (IVF) and fell pregnant on the first round. Our only round, since none of our other 9 eggs survived.

We have been lucky in our journey. Others, less so. The trying can continue for years to no avail. No amount of money, fertility treatments, magic potions or pills work. These women live with that hope in their hearts that one day they will hold a baby in their arms, and, for some, it doesn’t come.

There are many paths on the road of infertility, pregnancy and baby loss. It’s not always quite as clear-cut as you get your baby and everything is forgotten. And this is the reason that, still now, I get a sense of dread wash over me towards the end of March every single year.

You see, and it might seem a little unbelievable if you haven’t ever witnessed it yourself, but there are people out there who think it’s hilarious to make a joke of pregnancy on April Fools Day. Maybe I’m just being a sensitive Sally, but I can’t see myself having found this funny even if I hadn’t have been through the whole infertility thing.

I’m hoping that you haven’t seen these types of “jokes” before, but they go something like “Surprise! We’re pregnant!”... Followed quickly by a “April Fools! Got’cha!” type message. Some do it to be funny, some to shock their family and friends. I have seen them, many a time. In fact, I’ve seen some of the top Instagrammers make jokes like this. One in particular has since been on her own adoption journey and might not have found her own jokes quite so funny now. Even one of my own idols, singer Gwen Stefani, made a joke of it back in 2016 by putting up a sonogram on her Instagram with the caption “It’s a girl”.

You see, pregnancy announcements are difficult enough as it is. Knowing someone else is getting their first, second, even fifth or more chance of becoming a parent when you cannot conceive is heartbreaking to say the least. But, once we get past our bitter emotions, we will at some point find that joy for the parents to be. We don’t want to be outcasts, we want to share in this wonderful news. It’s just sometimes not quite as instantaneous as we would all like.

But it’s not just the person making the joke that’s the problem in this situation. It’s the comments that follow. Someone will point out how hurtful something like this can be, only for others to tell them to “stop making it about themselves”. Can you ever imagine how painful it must be to have lost your baby or to have never experienced pregnancy and be told to “get over it”? Well, even if you can imagine, you will never know the sheer pain we feel deep inside. Nothing can ever make you “get over it”. These fake pregnancy announcements are just a massive reminder of what we do not have.

What I’m trying to say, is please don’t be that person. Just stop for a moment and think of the emotional impact your “joke” could have on those around you. Those who face infertility, pregnancy or baby loss don’t have big stickers on their foreheads or flashing signs pointing towards them. Much like chronic illness, these situations are invisible. Often, women, and their partners alike, might feel some sort of embarrassment in their plight. Not everyone likes to make it known to the world that their bodies cannot achieve what others can. And, while some of us do speak out about it, it doesn’t make it any easier.

If you take a look on April 1st, I assure you, there will be at least one person making a joke of pregnancy… Have you ever been hurt by a statement like this or do you think we should all lighten up and get a sense of humour?

You can follow my Endometriosis News column here.

S.
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Monday, 19 March 2018

Is there a cure for endometriosis?

Image courtesy of https://bit.ly/2pyR5bP

:: This column was originally posted on Endometriosis News ::


Research into endometriosis is advancing and we regularly learn new things about the disease. However, a cure for endometriosis is yet to be identified and this is simply because we are yet to discover the actual cause of endometriosis.

There are many theories behind what causes endometriosis. These include oestrogen production, retrograde menstruation, genetic predisposition, lymphatic or circulatory spread, immune dysfunction, metaplasia and even, environmental causes. But none fully explain why the condition occurs. It is possible that a combination of these factors could cause endometriosis to develop.

There are also several myths floating around regarding the causes of the disease. These include abortion, wearing tampons, sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), psychological trauma in early life, douching, diet, lack of exercise, contraceptives, the colour of your skin and/or sexual promiscuity. However, there is no evidence any of these factors cause endometriosis. One thing we do know is that there is no way of preventing the disease.

Let’s explore some of the treatment options that are commonly referred to as "cures" for endometriosis.

Pregnancy
During pregnancy, hormones help to regulate the many changes that take place in the body to enable a baby to be born safely. In early pregnancy, a females hormones (which includes oestrogen and progesterone) elevate to help the ovaries release an egg and implant it in to the lining of the uterus. Once an egg embeds in the uterine lining, hormones tell the blood-rich tissue to stay intact to support the growing baby - therefore, the body does not expel the lining as a period.

The symptoms of endometriosis are suppressed during pregnancy but the disease is not eradicated, and symptoms will usually return at some point post child-birth.

There are also cases where some women will only experience symptoms of endometriosis after having a child.

Hormone treatments
Hormone treatments last varying amounts of time. From birth control pills that can be taken for years, to shorter courses of injections like Zolodex or Lupron. 

These drugs act in a similar way to the hormones the body naturally creates during pregnancy, with the aim to stopping periods all together. The symptoms of endometriosis are therefore only suppressed, the disease is not eradicated and symptoms will usually return at some point after the treatment ends. 

Menopause
The menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs in females between 45 and 55 years of age. As oestrogen levels decline, a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.

With the body no longer having a regular menstrual cycle, it is thought that all symptoms of endometriosis should disappear. However, endometriosis can still occur past menopause.

Hysterectomy
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure where the uterus is removed from a woman’s body. It is probably the most commonly reported ‘cure’ for endometriosis, but, it isn’t one. As endometriosis isn’t limited to the uterus, removing the uterus won’t eradicate endometriosis from other areas of the body. This means endometriosis will continue to grow.

It should be noted, however, that endometrial tissue can also grow in the muscle layers of the wall of the womb, causing a condition called adenomyosis. The only way to eliminate adenomyosis is via hysterectomy.

Surgery
There are a number of different techniques of laparoscopic surgery used in treating endometriosis. These include laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) ablation, electrocoagulation/diathermy, excision surgery, helica thermal coagulator and harmonic scalpel/CUSA (cavitron ultrasonic surgical aspirator).

Techniques such as laser ablation and electrical fulguration are ineffective because they don’t remove all of the endometriosis. With these surgeries, it is thought most patients symptoms return within a year. Excision surgery is seen as the gold standard of care in the treatment of endometriosis. This is because it removes the inflammatory tissue down to its roots, instead of just the tip of the disease. However, excision surgery is still not a cure for endometriosis and symptoms can return.


The phrase “cure” is often thrown around in both the medical world and by sufferers who have found a treatment that has worked for them, who have been led to believe by their doctors that this has subsequently rid them of the disease. However, if these treatments do not remove the disease from the body, and every single microscopic cell of it, the disease is simply suppressed - not eradicated.

Until a cure for endometriosis is discovered, these methods are seen as effective treatment paths in the management of endometriosis pain.

You can follow my Endometriosis News column here.

S.
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