Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Year's Resolutions 2014

Many people make New Year’s Resolutions around this time of year.  The definition of resolution is “The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.” In the past I have made resolutions to exercise more, spend more quality time with friends and family or to eat better.  But as 2013 comes to an end and the start of a 2014 is imminent, I find myself simultaneously reflecting on this past year and thinking ahead to the future. I want to make attainable goals that really mean something, not only to me, but the entire endometriosis community.

Simplify My Life: Endometriosis is a very complicated disease. Even the experts in the field admit there is still so much more to know about endometriosis in terms of the origin of the disease and how to diagnose and treat it. Just this past fall, I had a complicated surgery with Dr. Seckin and his team of three other surgeons. I cannot change that I have endometriosis, nor can I immediately change how complicated the disease is and the pervasive way it impacts my life. So I have decided to simplify everything in my life that I can. I find myself repeatedly asking the questions, “Do I need it?” and “Do I love it?” If the answer to both of these questions is no, then I am letting go of it. I am determined to live more simply.

Be Gentle With Myself: I, like ALL other endometriosis patients, am a tough survivor.  But I also find, like MANY other endometriosis patients, I am tough on myself. Sometimes I think it stems from my own denial of the disease and other times I think it is from a deep desire NOT to let this disease cripple me or impact my life. I am constantly pushing myself to the point of exhaustion and often ignoring my endometriosis symptoms until they are debilitating. In 2014, I am determined to be gentle with myself. I am going to accept that I have a disease which makes me fatigued and sore. I WILL give myself a break. I am going to keep reminding myself that being aware of the impact of my disease and giving my body a rest, does not make me weaker, but makes me more awesome. I am determined be more awesome in 2014.

Be More Vocal About My Disease: I am determined to talk about endometriosis whenever it seems appropriate. For example, a group of my husband’s and my high school friends came over for a holiday gathering.  The mostly male group asked me how my year was. After taking a deep breath, I briefly talked about my epic surgery with Dr. Seckin, the same as I would if I had a knee replacement. They listened and wished me well and then the conversation moved on. We all survived the conversation and were better off for having it. I am determined to be brave and talk about my endometriosis, because my friends, my family, my co-workers, my community and the world at large will ALL be better off for having this conversation.

Reach Out to Other Women with the Disease: When I was first diagnosed with endometriosis, I did not talk about it and I did not know anyone else with the disease. Through the Endometriosis Foundation of America, Endowarriors, social media sites like facebook and twitter and even while sitting in the office of Dr. Seckin, I have connected with so many other women with the disease and have helped others get diagnosed. I have learned that reaching out not only helps others, but enriches my life is so many ways. The sharing of information and support is the only way we will get through the complexities of living with this disease. I am determined to make something beautiful come from this horrific disease.

I am wishing and hoping that all of those who struggle with endometriosis find some moments of peace and happiness in 2014. With the resolution of 2013, may we be a year closer to a cure, to global awareness and general understanding of endometriosis.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide for Your Loved One with Endometriosis

Is the one you love struggling with endometriosis? Would you like to give her a gift this year that says, “I love you and I am thinking about you”? Here is a list of thoughtful gifts for the woman in your life that suffers from endometriosis.

Gifts that are under $10

You don’t have a lot of money to spend? Have no fear, you can still provide a thoughtful, loving gift for your friend.

1.       A pair of fun socks: Comfy, cute or cozy, a nice, warm pair of socks can put a smile on anyone’s face.

2.       Homemade baked goods: Baked goods are comforting, especially if they follow the endodiet and are gluten and dairy free.  Gluten and dairy free recipes can be found online and are easy to make. My favorite sweet recipe is this brownie recipe.

3.       The gift of music: Look through your music collection and make a CD for your friend. Having endometriosis means often spending time alone while feeling sick.  Having a thoughtful playlist can make a person feel less isolated.

Gifts in the $25-$50 range

1.       Treat your friend to a manicure and pedicure by buying a gift certificate to a local salon.

2.       Don’t like baking? Find a gluten free dairy free bakery on line and ship your friend some Christmas cookies.

3.       Buy your friend something cozy to wear, like a nice scarf, or an extra comfy pair of pajamas.  Get her a new pair of slippers or a soft pair of yoga pants.

4.       Endometriosis patients are often going back and forth to doctor’s appointments. If you know she has an ipad or a kindle, get her a gift card to purchase games, apps, movies or books to keep her busy in the waiting room.

5.       Write your friend a certificate for a “girl’s night in.” Bring in take out and a movie on a night of her choice when may not be feeling well.

Gifts in the $75 range and above

1.       A heating pad is an endometriosis patient’s best friend and an excellent one is the gift that keeps on giving. You can find heating pads for less money, but there are some top of the line heating pads that can get pricey.
2.       A gift certificate for acupuncture or massage therapy.  Endometriosis is an expensive disease and often treatments that can help with the symptoms of endometriosis are too expensive for patients to afford. Giving the gift of acupuncture or massage therapy would mean a lot to patients.

3.       A donation to your friend’s “egg freezing,” “infertility treatment” or “surgery” fund would be an everlasting gift. Has your friend told you she is struggling to pay for needed treatments? Any donation would be a thoughtful gesture that shows you are aware of her struggles and care.

You can find many products on line made by women with endometriosis for endometriosis. Some products even benefit charities worked to improve the lives of women with endometriosis, like the Endometriosis Foundation of America. Honestly, even the smallest gesture, like a simple card saying that you care, would mean the world to someone who is in pain and suffering during the holiday season.

Casey Berna is a patient of Dr. Seckin’s and an endometriosis and infertility counselor and advocate. To learn more about her story and her practice go to