March 2018: I’m 1 in 10….Oh the Irony!

1 in 10

March is Endometriosis awareness month. Right now, all around the world, women are lobbying, campaigning, telling their stories and getting ready to participate in the worldwide Endometriosis march.

So, I should really be writing an empowering, disease busting, Endo warrior blog post today….Yes?

Sadly, all that I can write is a frustrated, confused, miserable post ……. through all the tears I am not allowing to fall.

Its difficult to look at my Endometriosis on its own. Since I have both this and PCS. I can distinguish the differing pains; I can identify particular symptoms that are specific to one and not the other. However, just as my treatment cannot be isolating of one illness in favor of the other; neither can my posts.

Today…………right now…………. I am pissed….but you know the Psychology and my being all in my head…all the time. I know that anger is a secondary emotion. When I unpack this I am deeply hurt, I am sad, I am scared, I am frustrated. I told someone today that I feel like I am sinking and am unable to thread water. I feel helpless.

Since the surgery last year, when my left ovary, bowel and pelvic wall were separated I have felt some relief in terms of the stretching, tugging ………………constant pain. So, the surgery helped in that regard. However, I am still battling the pain…………………….each and every day. The Endometriosis pain and the PCS pain. Each constant, each debilitating and each unwelcome.

I know we try to be optimistic and not call trouble and issues but all of us who live with these conditions know full well when things are spiraling downward. So I knew, I know…..I just wish I didn’t.

Over the past month or two the pain has been extending over more days and I have had less good days ……..but you know me, I push……and push……….and push. Last time we made love I got the distinct impression that something was different inside. Remember, I wrote about the sex or lack of in Sex………Love to Hate to Love It!!! So, any sex is welcomed for us both. What I felt wasn’t anything that made me stop but it was enough for me to take note.

As usual, when the plateau ended and my endorphins fell, the pain began. I expect and accept the pain…………..well once the sex is good….or better than that 🙂 . So, I took my meds before and have been consistent with them ever since. The pain is not responding to the meds as it should and that made me wonder what else was amiss.

Sidebar: Did I mention I got a TENS unit? Don’t think so. It’s absolutely amazing! I’ve been using it and it does help loads. It gives me hours in my day with reduced pain. Where I would have to take fast acting morphine, layered between my prolonged release daily prescription; I can use the TENS instead.

Anyhow, when I assessed the situation, I initially thought that I had developed a cyst that had become problematic. Since, I developed the poly-cystic challenges, I have had a few of those cysts that brought extreme pain and then ruptured on their own………..with enough intensity to drop me to the floor, unable to do anything. So, I thought that was the case.

Then, I stopped everything and really connected with what I was experiencing………………it was at this point I realized that the pain was the same I felt before the surgery last year. The same stretching and tugging when I shifted in a particular direction, the same sharp pain down my legs, the same issues with even the slightest amount of urine in my bladder…………………..every-thing that I knew…………what I thought was gone………….it’s back.

Rationally, I know this, I understand Endometriosis and scar tissue and adhesions and just about everything else about my  illnesses. Yet………….I still hope/ hoped that at least the improvements would last longer.

Truth is surgery causes adhesions and surgery “fixes” adhesions.  I knew going in that This was the likely outcome……….I still spent the thousands and had the op done……just hoped for at least a year.

March 2018, Endometriosis Awareness Month. I am the 1 in 10. I say this not with pride or dread………….it’s just a fact. It is what it is.

Right now however, I wish it wasn’t 😦




Learned Helplessness & Illness


It’s amazing how long this post took me to write!

So much has been going on in my neck of the woods. So much to update on.

Well, you know Psychology is my jam…………….its my heart…………I love it! Sometimes though, it keeps me in my head………a lot!

In the 1970s, Martin Seligman came up with the term “learned helplessness” as a result of some experiments he did. Further study aligned it with the psychological concept of attributions.

Basically, what Seligman said is this:  we have a bad experience, realize we can’t control it and from then on become resigned to the outcome. We don’t try to do anything to change it. So the next time we are faced with a challenge we don’t try; just decide that the outcome will be negative and give up…………we’re resigned.

Attribution theory is about assigning feelings, beliefs,intentions and meaning to behaviour; especially that of others. In this case the meaning assigned is about us as individuals; we determine that we are powerless and that the outcome will be negative. Therefore, we do not try.

What has this to do with my illnesses?

Well, learned helplessness is linked to anxiety and depression and we all know that chronic illness is a major risk factor to both these conditions.

Thing is though, I am beginning to feel like people expect me to be helpless, rather they expect me to act helpless.

I am ill yes………that could be considered a negative experience and in many ways I have no control over it. It’s a recurring decimal in my world. I don’t think it means I should be resigned to it. Yet, others seem to think that.

I go to lift a bottle or drag a table or just try to do something……….anything and I get a look or a question like “why are you doing that” or “you know you shouldn’t do x, y, z”. It is a catch 22 because yes I know……..the potential exists that the activity may cause pain……….but I still have to try; what if they weren’t there? What would I do then?

You know the picture of the elephant above? It’s tied with a tiny rope to a small peg. Yet, the big, strong  elephant just stands there. The elephant has been trained to be helpless; to act helpless………….and it works!

I refuse to be like that elephant!

So many days and nights I wonder if this is it for me. I wonder if things will continue as they are or if they will get worse. I don’t know……………….I don’t…………… but I choose to push. I choose to learn optimism.

It’s for this reason that I still  work; I still choose to study new things; I still crave new experiences; I still make plans for the next 2….5…..10 years. I push…………………because I have to. I don’t see another option.

Maybe if more persons believed in us, if they looked beyond the illnesses and their limitations and instead remained present to help if needed, but not always rushing to do things for us…………………maybe we won’t learn helplessness.

Friend, I encourage you and I today………….learnt optimism instead. Keep pushing!

Thankful for the cup!!!


So another new year, another old year past.

I’ve been really pensive and reflective for the past few weeks since my last post. I’ve been really caught up in my head and in my own space. Just trying to sort all my stuff out.

I guess that’s what new year celebrations, resolutions etc. bring about. I have been trying to identify all my blessings and to name them one by one…as the song says.

I find it difficult to see the positive most days and I really want to be optimistic instead of pessimistic. I know that my thoughts, fuel my mood and my mood does impact how I handle the pain from day to day.

Don’t get me wrong, the pain is bad; my mood doesn’t change that in any way…………but it changes the other stuff. It changes how hard I try, it impacts how I interact with others and really whether I push or just wallow.

So, I’ve decided that half full or half empty is a difficult question. Most times I’m trying to figure out if there’s even anything in the cup. I’ve decided to be thankful for the cup.

Regardless of everything I am alive!

I can breathe! Even if it’s between tears.

I can walk! Regardless of how painful it is at times.

I can love! Even when I feel as though nobody loves me or can even remotely understand.

I am here!

I choose to be thankful for my cup.

This is my only promise to myself for 2018.

I will be thankful for what I have.


To explain my illness …or not to explain ;(



Sometimes telling people about my illnesses can be a double edged sword.

On one hand I get tired of people commenting that I don’t look ill or that I should be able to do x y or z because I look just fine to them. Many times I have to tell people that I am not well and that is why I cannot do or help or work on something or go somewhere.

Honestly, most times I say I am tired or just not able, since I look just fine. There are people who may be suffering form an acute situation who actually “look ill” while mine is chronic and I don’t. Sometimes, I am compared to them and just about everybody else.

In this situation I figure the best thing to do may be to explain what’s going on. Thing is I am not always ready for the reaction.

I don’ like pity but that’s what I get more often than not. “I’m so sorry for you” or ” that’s so sad” or ” oh my, that just makes me want to cry”.

The flip side of it is people treating my like I’m dying ….or dead……. because they know I am ill. I wrote about it in I’m not dead yet…..sheesh! at that point I was frustrated because I was constantly overlooked for the simplest things.

Those who know I am ill and how the illness impacts me sometimes make comments like ” I know you won’t be able to handle it so I didn’t bother to ask” or ” You too sick to do that anyway” or even ” that isn’t for you, you gotta be able”. These types of comments cut me to the core.

Its as if my inability to do today equates to my inability to do ever again. Its the same thing that has frustrated me for a while now; people making decisions for me. They don’t even get my opinion on the matter and most times I can’t do anything about it.

See, I don’t want to seem ungrateful for whatever help is offered but at the same time I have a brain and an opinion on matters. I would like to be heard.

Its either feeling sorry for me and throwing a pity party or treating me like I am not capable of even the smallest decision/ action.

So, what do I do? What should I do? In many cases I do what most of us with chronic and especially “invisible illnesses” do; I say nothing and go about my business. I never ask for help because I don’t want to appear weak and I have mastered the straight/ normal face even when I am in the most excruciating pain.

I live a double life. I present one image but underneath the truth is very different, yet, I don’t see any other option. I can find the middle ground between being pitied and being deemed helpless but I think its difficult for those around me. Invariably those who I let see the real me gravitate to one position or the other. There are even those who shift from one to the other and back again.

Its taxing beyond words to live my life…………… I know and can appreciate how challenging it would be for those who love me and have to work or interact with me on some level.

Yet, this is how I feel.

Processing Morphine


Did I mention I had  morphine IV? I think so, I believe I mentioned it in my last post Stages of Chronic Illness.

This was almost 3 weeks ago now. I was set to return to work on Sept 4 and back to the doctor Sept 11.

Firstly work on Sept 4 was different to work on Sept 11. School staff return to work one week earlier than the students. So the students only joined us on Sept 11. My gauging pain/ progress really starts from Sept 11 (but that’s another post).

Anyway, at the doctor’s visit we discussed my using extended release morphine. We had this discussion before but I had always said no, I was not doing that.

You see in my mind morphine said I had reached a stage that I was not willing to accept as yet. It said that I was “really” ill. Yes I know and I have known I am ill for years now but here in Barbados morphine is related to being terminal or at the very least “forever ill”. When you reach the point of having to use morphine on a daily basis you know that there is no going back. You will never be “well” again.

So all this was going through my mind each time the discussion came up. I knew I would have to get the IV ever so often but taking the tablets at home meant something different.

My cognitive dissonance was high. I was in a battle in my mind over whether I should accept the prescription and try the drug or decide not to do it.

My other concern was becoming dependent on it. That was the most scary thought 😦 I did not want to even process that but I had to.

So there I was in the office, wondering if I was fooling myself by holding out hope that my situation could get better. Was I fooling myself? Am I fooling myself? Am I in denial? Does my refusal to just accept that my life will always be like this say that I do not accept that I am ill? Does the refusal say I am not being realistic? All those questions were going through my mind and on some days still go through my mind.

Chronic illness has a psychology all its own. As I wrote in the last post Stages of Chronic Illness, this process is anything but linear. That is why I go forward and backward; why I think I have made decisions and then go over them again.

As a Psychologist, I sometimes beat myself up because I do understand all this. I get it! I can help others with it! I just can’t seem to help myself 😦

So, I finally said “Ok I will try it” to the doctor and left with the prescription in my hands. Off to the pharmacy I went with trembling hands, an unsettled mind and dissonance enough for me and a few others combined.

Morphine is such a controlled substance here that it is not stocked by most pharmacies. I had previously been able to get the fast acting morphine solution from the pharmacy without issue but they did not stock the extended release tablets. They had to order the tablets for me and that would take about 24 hrs. That gave me some more time to ruminate; and ruminate I did. I spent the time going over all the information I had previously researched and just making myself more nervous about taking the meds. I was a hot mess, to say the least.

I brought the morphine tablets home and after much prayer, took the first one. I really didn’t know what to expect. What I got was a level of pain relief that I had forgotten was possible.

I have been taking them now for almost three weeks, daily. My prescription is not very high 90mg a day. I have dropped it to 60mg per day and I am still able to function at a higher level  than before.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have pain and issues, especially at work, but I will write about that next time. However, I am doing better in terms of managing the pain.

My dissonance remains, I am still not comfortable with it but I can see the benefits.

In my perfect scenario, where I could not eliminate the pain, I would not be taking morphine; but hey, life is far from perfect.

I have Pelvic Congestion Syndrome and Endometriosis. That’s my truth. I am not in denial, I am not fooling myself but I am learning to Test and Adjust.

For now this is the best I can do and it will have to be enough.

Stages of Chronic Illness



When I first decided to study psychology I was so excited to learn all about….well everything. One thing that always fascinated me was stage theories. As I grew and developed I learnt that the stages were never what I originally thought them to be………….I assumed, like most others that they were linear. Meaning, you move from one on to the next and so forth, so more like steps instead of stages.

Over the years, I have learnt that there really is nothing linear about them and although they are presented in a step by step manner, that is not necessarily the order in which they manifest. I also came to understand that passing through one stage does not equate to mastering it, neither does it mean you do not revisit that stage.

The photo above speak to the stages of grief developed by Eizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler. The fact that the ribbon is twirled represents the fact that its not a straight line. Sometimes it can be like a never ending spiral. This image is more apt in my opinion.


So what are the stages I have identified in terms of chronic illness?

Shock and Denial

Truth is life was pretty good, going along without a care in the world, well no major ones anyway; then illness happened. I was shocked and many times I said ” this can’t be happening”. Whenever something new pops up I find myself surprised. Someone actually said to me ” you should be accustomed by now, why you acting surprised? This stuff always happening to you.”

I’ve learnt there is a progressive nature to chronic illness and issues faced when ill. So if I use my ever changing GI and diet issues as an example: every time I have a reaction to a different food that once before I was able to eat I do go into shock and there is an element of denial.

In terms of the Pelvic Congestion Syndrome and the Endometriosis, the same thing happens. Even when I know whatever has happened is possible for someone with these conditions, I am still shocked.


After being shocked I automatically get angry. In my mind I have had enough challenges, enough surgeries and procedures and enough medications to last a lifetime. I find myself more and more frustrated.

Sometimes I am angry at God and let Him have it and then feel guilty about being ungrateful when I should just be grateful for all the blessings I do have. Other times I am angry at myself; wondering if I had not done so and so or if I had approached a situation differently, if the outcome would have been the same.

I get angry when I think about all the things I can no longer do; sometimes I just look around the house and I get angry because I know if I were not ill the house would be cleaner and more organized or more would have been done with it in terms of being finished……if my finances weren’t focused mainly in healthcare.

I look at what needs my children have and try to figure out how we are going to balance their needs with the limited finances and I am angry………..because if I wasn’t ill …..things won’t be so difficult………….or so I think anyway.

I get miserable and irritable and piggish. I snap at my husband and children and/ or shut them out completely…………well try to anyway. Then I feel guilty because its not their fault that all this is happening to me and then I am embarrassed at my behaviour and then I am angry again.


Next I become overwhelmed. This doesn’t take much time to achieve really. I just have to start thinking about what my life was/ could be vs what it is and there it is.

I find the darkest moments are when I am in pain. The type of pain that forces me to codeine and tramadol together or into the doctor’s office for IV meds. This week it got to that point where I spent 2 hours nursing a morphine IV.

Its almost as if in those moments all the activities, dreams, desires etc. that I have given up come rushing back to my mind and push me further down into darkness. Its an all out fight to keep positive in that moment. I do the best I can….listen to music, sing, quote Bible promises, read good books, do in bed activities with the children, watch movies………..I try. ………..I continue to try.

I have found that its at this point that my stages stop being linear. From here I go back to denial or anger; depending on the particular issue at hand.

This week I went back to anger because I just had surgery in May and spent thousands of dollars that I didn’t have and 3 months later I am back on IV morphine.

Dialogue and Bargaining

This stage is where I believe I spend most of my time. I search for answers and talk to others about what is happening. Even though I was angry about the surgery not being the type of success I wanted I still sought to understand why that happened.

You see, from a rational, objective standpoint I do understand. I understand the diseases and my body and I can see why I am presently in the space that I am in. This does nothing to help in the midst of the flare though. This is all left brain stuff and when in pain its my right brain that takes over. Its all emotions………..not facts.

Thankfully, I am trained to help people in the exact situation in which I find myself. So I know what to do to engage the left brain and calm down. It does work, I am calm………just I would like to be calm and pain free at the same time 🙂


For me relief comes in relinquishing control of the very thing I know I cannot control. When I accept my life for what it is I can progress. I cannot control the illnesses, all I can do is adjust and make the most of what remains.

Ironically, this week I had an epiphany concerning acceptance. As much as I had said before that I accept my reality; deep down I was still in a form of denial. This is tricky because there is a line between acceptance and giving up that sometimes gets blurred. They are not the same things.

So I accept that I have Endometriosis and Pelvic Congestion Syndrome. I have Fructose Malabsorption and GI issues related to food sensitivities and intolerance. I do what I can to handle each situation; be it tweaking the diet; changing my clothing/ shoes; having minimal social life outside home; reducing my driving and the times of the day in which I drive; taking more breaks; wearing compression hosiery etc. etc.

This acceptance helps me to move forward. The challenge is creating a new life instead of constantly mourning the old one. I’m still working on this 😉

Truth is, just as we experience grief and loss over a person, job, pet, friendship …..that is no longer a part of our lives; we experience the same when examining the impact that chronic illness has had on our lives. Many times we don’t view it this way, therefore we don’t apply the coping strategies and techniques that we would in that situation.

Chronic illness steals life as we know it. There is a death, there is a loss………….there is no going back to the life we knew. Just as when a loved one dies we need to create a new normal in order to go on; so it is with chronic illness.

I mourn the life I had, yet I am grateful to still have life. As I seek to create the new normal/ the new life………..the stages are ever before me. I would love to be always in the space of acceptance and moving on to/ having a meaningful life but life isn’t linear. I will be shocked and in denial from time to time and I will get angry. The nature of chronic illness may cause moments of depression and I will bargain and seek dialogue.

As unwelcome as this process is………… is the process. I must go through it to make my new life more meaningful and enjoyable. One day I will look back, being grateful for the journey and the process without being stuck in what was.

I focus on what is and for that I am grateful.



















































Chronic Illness….. Like Swimming? My dream revelation.


I had the most interesting dream recently.

For years I have been sleeping and planning my next day, or up all night and planning the next day from painsomnia. When I dream though, I have always had the ability to talk to myself about the dream, stop the dream and start another….pretty different stuff from what people tell me they experience.

I guess I would make a good candidate for dream analysis 🙂

Anyhow, so I was dreaming that I was at the beach. I haven’t been to the beach in a few weeks, I live on an island after all; I mean people come here for the beaches! Maybe its just because its summer that I’m thinking beach.

As the dream progressed and I was in the water, I said to myself (this is said to myself. like in my thoughts about what was happening in the dream) Lyn, how long can you really swim before you are floundering and trying to thread water. Then it hit me…….this is just like dealing with illness.

Truth be told I’m not the best swimmer 😦 when I;m on I’m on but when I’m off its a mess.


My preferred style is freestyle, I am relatively good at it, not to win a race or anything but I get it done well. When everything is aligned and my body is slicing through the water it is beautiful.

When I am feeling well and able to do what I want, when I want, that is beautiful too.

Just like when I’m swimming, this doesn’t last too long. Ironically, for both situations its the pain that cuts it short. In swimming, the abdominal engagement needed to be in good form, quickly becomes painful.  In handling illness the pain stops me in my tracks. Just like swimming I end up….


In the water as my form goes, my strokes become short or not as streamlined. The kicks start to be uncoordinated and I really don’t go as far as I can. It is clear to all looking on that I am struggling or becoming tired.

In handling the illness, my struggle is mental before I even acknowledge that I am floundering physically. Its hard to concentrate, brain fog is intense and then the physical steps in. I am exhausted and can go from there to being in bed just because walking or moving is too painful.

Treading Water

I’m really not good at this part.

I see my husband and children treading water for over an hour sometimes….or it seems that way to me……I can manage a few minutes. I think its a combination of physical skill and mental energy.

By this point I am usually tired from what has happened before and I find no relaxation in treading although I believe I should and it is to serve as a time to regroup and rejuvenate.

With illness its the same. I believe I am frustrated by this time and feel that I should be doing better or handling the situation better. Although, I know its OK to rest. Its necessary to rest.

The pain colors the experience in both situations.


They say this is the fall back position when in the water and exhausted. Float on your back. Me, I say get out of the water……..that’s not always possible. I can’t get rid of the illness, gotta find a way to deal.

The beauty of floating is that the water supports your weight.. It reminds me that there is support, in places I know and in some that I haven’t thought of.

When in the water on my back, I look up and see the sky and clouds and all the beauty. It reminds me that there is a God who is there for me, holding me up when I can’t do it on my own .


So, yes I will actually go to the beach and do some swimming. Just like that is a process, dealing with my illnesses is a process as well. Some days I will be good and others not so good. Then I may be barely making it and keeping my head above water.

I know though, that through it all there is support. For this I am grateful.