endo & migraines: two peas in a painful pod
interview By: Fela M'tima
FELA: First off, tell me a bit about yourself, age, where you’re from, and what you do!?
PAIGE: My name is Paige Gibbons, I am 27 and from Palo Alto in the San Francisco bay area. I am currently taking a little break from working to focus on my health. During this time a friend and I have started a podcast about endometriosis called The Uterus and The Duderus. We talk and joke about endometriosis, in fact we joke so much that itunes officially gave us an explicit rating! If you have a sense of humor and a chronic illness check us out on itunes!
FELA: What have you been diagnosed with and how long have you been sick?
PAIGE: I have had endo since I was about 16 and did not receive a diagnosis until age 22. Being sick has changed my life a lot. I was sick for so long before my diagnosis and received so little medical help or guidance after that I honestly had no idea what was going on with my body. I never talked about it, I never told anyone I was sick, I couldn’t even admit it to myself up until recently. About a year and a half ago my endo and migraines got so bad that I could no longer live in denial. I went through a period of acceptance and isolation. Up until recently my pain called the shots in my life. I missed a lot, birthday parties, holidays, the casual girls nights. It was really hard and lonely. At the same time I also discovered the most amazing support system online of endo sisters. For the first time in my life I didn’t feel so alone in my illness. It was a hard yet empowering time.
F: How do you manage your migraines and if you could give advice to anyone else with migraines what would it be?
P: Having chronic migraines is exhausting and I would not wish it upon my worst enemy! My migraines are hormonal and caused by my endometriosis, sadly this is pretty common. My best defense against them is acupuncture and hormone regulation. Prevention is the only true way to not experience them. The only abortive methods I know other than acupuncture are peppermint oil, CBD medical marijuana and sleep, and even these rarely take the edge off at times. Hormonal migraines are unfortunately more difficult to control and prevent compared to a more common migraine. My advice to fellow migraineurs would be a change in hormone therapy and acupuncture. Acupuncture is great because chinese medicine addresses the root of the problem instead of covering up the symptoms with something like the birth control pill. Being treated by an acupuncturist who specializes in endometriosis and hormonal migraines has changed my entire life.
F: What are you favorite things that help when you’re having a bad flare day (Whether it’s Endo, Migraines, or both)?
P: Either migraine or endo my biggest flare remedy is acceptance. Accepting that in that moment I am compromised, in pain and outta spoons helps me focus and take care of myself. Trying to power through or push myself too far gets me nowhere. On a more practical level I do have a few flare tips. For endo a hot bath goes a long way! I also use CBD marijuana as well as a CBD topical lotion. There is also the classic heating pad and finally medications. I try to avoid prescription medications as they make me nauseated and anxious but in a pinch I will take them. I also try to eat an anti inflammatory diet and I take turmeric everyday.
F: How many surgeries have you had for Endometriosis and how successful were they?
P: I have had two surgeries for my endometriosis as well as my appendix out which was endo related. My surgeries did not help that much. I have not had a excision surgery which is really the only surgery that treats endo. Part of the reason I am so dedicated to my acupuncture right now is that I am desperately trying to avoid another surgery!
F: What advice would you give for women who are just recently diagnosed with a Chronic Illness?
P: My advice to those recently diagnosed with endo or any chronic illness is to find a supportive community! Reach out on instagram or twitter and find people that can support you and give you advice. I would also suggest not going to your primary care physician, do research and go to a specialist.
F: How do you keep yourself positive when you’re feeling discouraged about being sick?
P: Staying positive while managing chronic illness has been a long and complicated journey for me. I have really tried to adapt the mindset of accept and commit. Accept that I am sick and limited and committing to getting well and loving myself through the flares, the surgeries and the tears. I had to change my mindset from being the victim of my illness to be being empowered through it.
F: And to wrap up, what words of wisdom would you give to women who are battling more then one chronic illness?
P: To anyone out there battling more than one chronic illness all I have to say is give yourself grace. Love yourself through the pain, it’s our most powerful weapon.