I have been travelling more than usual lately so I thought it might be helpful for some of you if I share some my experience from travelling for work, or just holidays, with endometriosis and adenomyosis. It’s something I’ve struggled with quite a lot in the past, and along with anxiety it has actually made me cancel or put off holiday plans – which is no way to live! Having the ability to travel is something often taken for granted for those lucky enough but with a chronic illness, especially one that’s invisible for the most part, it’s one quite difficult for many reasons. Some people can either find it hard to understand why it can be such a struggle, and some are just plain naive.
I am currently in Washington DC for work, I am incredibly lucky I have these opportunities and I’m extremely grateful for them. I’ve had an adeno flare for the past couple of weeks which I have been managing quite well at home but being away has made things are little more tricky..
Be kind to yourself and rest when you need to.
One of the biggest things I found which can affect my symptoms is jet lag. Usually I cope quite well and adjust to the time difference without any worries, but this trip I have really struggled. I have been trying to go to bed later so I won’t wake up as early but I still am so it means very little sleep and very puffy eyes. For the first few days I was lucky enough to be able to take advantage of this and hit the gym which made me feel really good. Now I’m at the point where any high impact movement or strain on muscles just makes the pain kick off that much more. Normally this would make me feel quite shitty about myself and I’d feel guilty for not exercising. Over time though I’ve learned that the most important thing is to listen to my body and be gentle with myself. If I can work out I do but if I can’t that’s okay too. If all I can manage in a day is some light walking or gentle stretches then that’s all I can do. If I force myself to do something when my body isn’t coping then it will backfire and make a flare worse than it needs to be.
Nourish your body in the right way for you.
Another thing that has been really hard on this trip in particular is find the right food and eating well to nourish my body and help control unnecessary symptoms. Usually I find it quite easy to eat well when on holidays as we usually stay in an AirBnB so I can buy and cook my own food. On a work trip however I’m in a hotel with very limited options. I thought it was pretty standard these days to provide at least gluten free options for those who are allergic or intolerant but the place I’m at this time has literally nothing! I asked if they had any gluten or dairy free breakfast options and they told me to go to the supermarket! Anyway, I did eventually go to the supermarket yesterday because breakfast is so poorly catered. I got myself some microwave oats, almond milk, fruit and of course, peanut butter (of course)! I’m not sure if anyone else is like this but I absolutely love going to supermarkets in other countries and seeing what weird and wonderful things they have! For other meals we haven eaten out and so far options have been pretty limited. I’m sure I could be finding and making better choices at restaurants but most of the time I get so ashamed or guilty and don’t want to make a fuss. I get so anxious about what people think when I say I mostly eat gluten, dairy and soy free. I especially get paranoid about what people will think when they know it’s not because I’m allergic. At the end of the day though I need to look after me first, and doing everything I can to make life less painful, even if it’s not an easy path to follow.
I think there is so much stigma around the choice to eat gluten or diary free if you’re not intolerant and this needs to change. People can make this decision for any number of reasons. Just because they are not allergic it doesn’t mean these foods can’t impact your body in a negative way, especially if your have a particular disease or illness. Society needs to be better at keeping in mind that sometimes we have no idea what is going on in people’s lives behind the scenes. Sometimes it can be those who are putting on the most positive of fronts can be struggling the most.
Come prepared, and always being back-up supplies.
I have already been spotting or bleeding for the past couple of months. I find when I’m at home it’s quite easy to cope with, but when I’m travelling for some reason it becomes one more thing to manage that stresses me out. I never know when it’s going to get heavy and spend a lot of time on edge waiting for the dropping feeling in my stomach which signals shit is about to go down. Now, I am a very forgetful person but the one thing managed to remember is to bring a decent supply of pads after being stranded one too many times on previous trips. It’s so hard finding ones I can use in other countries! I can’t use tampons because they cause irritation and are painful for me, so I’ve managed to find the perfect brand, Cottons, which have a 100% cotton lining and aren’t fragranced which is a godsend for my sensitive lady parts. Not only have I remembered to bring them with me on the trip but more importantly I also remembered to pack them in my handbag! I know I’m basically winning at life aren’t I? But honestly, as we all know getting caught without sanitary products is an absolute mare and toilet paper is not an emergency option for me so just this small thing honestly helps me cope a lot better.
One thing I did forget though was a decent supply of my prescription anti-inflammatories. This has meant that I’ve had to ration myself and my pain has not been as well managed. I’m due to run out before I get home and it’s making me very anxious but I’m going to hit up a pharmacy today and see what they can do to help! In the mean time I do have my tens machine (lifesaver!) and some stick on heat patches which should help. Thank you to you guys who told me about these, no more carrying my heat pack around!
Finally, I want to stress again how important it is to be gentle and kind to yourself, wherever you are and whatever you may be doing. If you’re feeling well and strong enough to get out there and smash a workout or go exploring then go for it! But if you’re on struggle street there is absolutely nothing wrong with laying low. I see captions all the time on social media talking about how someone needs to get back on track, or this will be the day or week where they get back on the healthy train. I know I’ve said it numerous times in the past. Life goes through ups and downs, we go through good times and bad and just because we’re going through a challenging time it does mean we’re doing something wrong and that we need to do better.
Thank you for reading and I hope you all get what you want from the week ahead.