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Paralympics and endometriosis flare-ups



This magical mermaid, Monique, is truly a role model to us, and we’re so excited she’s introducing our YuYu long hot water bottles to her Endometriosis community to help with their pain. Read about how her YuYu Bottles have come in useful with easing her pain from Endometriosis flare-ups. She is also an inspiring Paralympian and all of us at YuYu are cheering her on for the 2021 Tokyo Paralympic Games!

 

Monique and her Zavi Zebra YuYu Bottle

 

I was sitting in the passenger seat of the car, with my partner driving. We were heading to his parent’s house for a family dinner.

I was in pain.

Holding my knees to my chest, head leaning back with my eyes closed. It was a deep, strangling pain in my lower pelvis. Unrelenting. Unforgiving. Unbearable.

It had started earlier in the day, building in pain shortly after having sex. I took some pain relief tablets and managed to get through my afternoon swim training session. But as I headed home to get ready for dinner, it came back, stronger, and more intense.

I was diagnosed with endometriosis in May 2019. A condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, usually in the pelvic cavity. With each period, as the lining is shed, this tissue also bleeds. Yes, ouch. My surgeon does not refer to endo in stages, as is commonly done by others, as no two experiences of endo are the same. Someone’s stage 3 endo may feel like someone’s stage 1, and therefore they do not find it an accurate way of defining the chronic illness. When I woke from my first laparoscopy to hear my diagnosis I cried. Tears of relief. It had been 5 years of questions with no answers, symptoms with little validation and constant questioning ultimately taking a toll on my swimming performance and mental health. I had 4 incisions around my stomach, for the ‘extensive removal of endometriosis’ that the doctor had found.

As a below knee amputee as a result of a fall from a 5th floor balcony, I’ve had my fair share of surgeries and recoveries, but I have to say, for me, the recovery from this laparoscopy was one of the more difficult ones. Nevertheless, I was back in the pool training for the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships 2 weeks later. In hindsight, I should have taken more time off. Less than 3 months later, I was touched out at the wall at the championships in London and didn’t place in the top 3 for the first time in 3 years. On top of this, I was still suffering from pain.

By 2020, on the day the Paralympic Games were announced as postponed due to Covid-19, I was being wheeled back into surgery for a second laparoscopy. As a result of how much endo, and therefore tissue was removed from my first surgery, combined with a quick intense return to training, I had developed adhesions and one of my ovaries had gotten stuck to my pelvic wall. I had also developed Adenomyosis, a cousin of Endo, where the lining of the uterus grows into the uterus wall- yes, like having a corked muscle. Ouch. With this diagnosis we began a new treatment called Zoladex. Very basically, it’s a total reset for the body by medically inducing a state of menopause. Yes, at 26 years old I’ve spent most for 2020 with hot flushes, joint aches, and mood swings. Its been helpful pain wise, except for these occasional spikes, like the one previously mentioned.

As I stayed curled up in the car my partner asked what he could do to help. There wasn’t much he, or I could do, as Id already taken pain tablets. But then I remembered, as we were heading to a hotel in the city after dinner, spending the weekend celebrating my partners birthday, I had packed a weekend bag, including my new YuYu Bottle. Perfect! 

 

Monique is wearing her Japanese Cotton Orange Stripe YuYu Bottle

 

We arrived at the house for dinner and quickly made our way to the kitchen to turn on the kettle. Confused at the long worm like thing I was holding I explained it was a hot water bottle to my partners mother and filled it with the warm water and proceeded to tie it up around my waist. Had I known I was going to be wearing it, I may have worn an outfit to match. When my partners sister came in, I genuinely think she believed I had purposely matched the bright orange and white striped Japanese cotton as a belt to my floral navy-blue skirt. As a swimmer with chlorine straw hair and red blotchy chlorine burnt skin I wasn’t too worried about my appearance, I was just happy the warmth was helping ease the pain in my belly.


I wore the YuYu all night, the water still warm when I emptied it before sleeping. It had helped reduce the pain so much I didn’t need any more tablets before sleeping that night.


The 2 greatest things about the YuYu for me are, its that it stays warm for hours. As a leg amputee, nothing annoys me more than having to get up and put my leg on to re-heat a heat bag once I’m comfy and cosy on the couch. With the YuYu, I do not have to move at all, unless I get hungry.

The second-best thing, is that even when I do have to move, usually to get snacks, the YuYu stays put. Being able to tie it around my waist, or over a shoulder, means I can still move around getting things done while getting the relief for the pain. I find it helpful even after a training session for my shoulder or neck, which often get very tight swimming lap after lap after lap after lap… It is so effective my partner even borrows it after a Muay Thai class from time to time.

One in 10 people with a uterus lives with endometriosis, and after discovering YuYu, most of the people with endo living in Brisbane, Australia have listened to me rave about the long hot water bottle. Some of the lucky ones will even get one for Christmas.

My two recommendations for living with endo and or adenomyosis is, connect with your fellow endo warriors, a strong support network is what will get through the ups and the downs of managing the conditions. The second, get yourself a YuYu. Wear it at home, to the shops, at work, to your partners family dinners. You won't regret it.

For more information about Endo and Adeno visit: https://www.qendo.org.au/learn

 

 

Follow Monique on instagram at @mon.murphy

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