Braless continued

Been a rough couple of weeks, so I preferred to record the second part of #braless and since I am not able to articulate my thoughts in writing, my partner helped me capture my thoughts so well in this video.

Big thanks to my partner Sagiroy, for having my back through it all! such a strong support system I got right here!

In conclusion, remember to tell yourself “Good things are happening to me.” Stay positive minded my friends.

BRALESS

For the longest time I was trapped in this feeling that I have to fit in, and to be honest in some ways, I still do when it comes to some things, I however I’m working on that, the worst of the kind is when I felt that I needed to fit in because the size of my breast was what I felt defined me as a woman. Back in my prime, I was super slim, natural hair and no asset that defined me as a woman, so I only wore push-up bras to feel as though I fit in…

I remember this one time when I was a bridesmaid in my friends wedding, so obviously we all had to dress from the same room because the house was full of friends and relatives… Now here I was, just feeling myself as I wore my beautiful fitting dress and one of the maids decided to take a swing at me and asked, “But Jess hauna matiti aki, ghai! make sure uvae push up bra extra extra zikae kubwa” loosely translated as “but Jess, you do not have any breasts, make sure your bra is extra extra padded.” in my head  I was like “How dare she, I mean HOW DARE SHE! at that moment I got very low and throughout the ceremony, I felt  sad for myself, I felt like I lacked approval and you know what, she got to me, she really did and I hate the fact that I let her get into my head and why? I cannot change the fact that I blossomed into an almost chest-less girl, I mean! I am fearfully and wonderfully created, so who the hell was she to make me feel insecure, and why did I let her?

Anyway, you see, with endometriosis comes this entire hormonal whirlwind that surprises you each new day, it could be the heat rush (that I am experiencing as I write this) could be the migraines (I just happened to pop some pills to a migraine that came about from yesterday) and could be painful sensitive breasts that seem to be sent from hell, aaand candidly, that is why I am writing this blog today.

You see, I felt that I needed to be normal because when living with a chronic disease, you already feel all sorts of abnormal to the point you sometime feel sorry for yourself. Sagiroy, for the longest time used to urge me to stop wearing push up bras, because anytime I would remove them in the evening, I would always be in so much pain, the excruciating kind. Worst case is how I would wake up in the morning with my hormones at their peak and still wear those bras only to end up pulling them out at my workplace bathroom, and only for what, to fit in!

So what I decided is having that I am blessed with close to no breasts to use a bra for…eh “NO MORE BRAS” yap, I used to judge women who walked braless because I felt it was against society norms, but now I get it, comfort comes first, health comes first, now don’t get me wrong, if you wear push up bras, that’s your cup of tea and if it works for you, great. As for me, I had to let go of my mental captivity and accept that my comfort comes first and that I should let these two itsy bitsy ladies have their freedom.

This cannot go without saying that it is time to look for new tops and sports bras because the way they get so pointy pointy when I am braless could perhaps make people stop looking at my face and end up on my chest wondering what two small guavas are doing there. I kid a lot, anyway, if you happen to have sensitive breasts, try this, it has worked for me super well and I can say that my breasts are doing so much better, if this is not an option, go the sports bra way, or get well fitting comfortable bras which can also help. P.S. This is my personal opinion and not from a doctor…

I mean, #FreeTheNipple anyone?

Watch out for part two, where I’ll talk more about my journey, what I’ve gained since going braless and advice from like-minded ladies.

Feel free to comment below with your comment, advice or feedback from today’s post.

Love, Jess

Trying to get back at it…

You see, this year has had so many ups and downs for me. I think after wishing for a better year, considering the hardships I faced the previous year, I got a 2017 part two; double the challenges, double the pain and double the questions as to WHY!

Currently, I am at a point in life where every little bit hurts, the physical, the emotional and the mental. I find it hard to accept that the space I am in requires me to push myself to a state of growth and not stagnation anymore. I am not even sure what I am writing about, what I am planning, what I am wishing for, whatever it is that I currently want with my life. I am super tired of holding it together when everything has fallen apart.

So I had a call with someone dear to me and she reminded me to do it, whether I am beat down, frustrated, depressed or pushed to the wall. I just need to keep at it, not give up or give in until the race is over. Until God says, Issa wrap, time for a break. And now I believe that the break will be a blessing, something that will give me rest, to get a chance to mentally heal and get some sort of relief from all the pain that I still hold from the past.

With this small feeling of growth that I am willing to fuel, I have done some soul searching and reckoned that one of the things that I need to be consistent in… is writing. The dear person I mentioned above also told me to place something to paper, whether it makes sense or not, and just make sure that I instill the virtue of progress instead of stagnation. So there goes nothing! I am just here to tell you that I am still here, still willing to write on, to push harder, to look forward and not get stuck in the past.

And to you who is reading this, do not dare give up! Keep pushing harder. Try and heal from the pain. Allow yourself to hurt, but just don’t allow yourself to wallow in your own pity.

And hey, don’t forget to smile.

Love, Jess

The Tall Virgin

I still am, wink wink… okay rewind. I took the loyalty pledge and swore that I would remain a virgin until marriage. This was something that I was super proud of while in high school. Sadly, I –broke-my-virginity-while-riding-a-bicycle.

It was a beautiful afternoon and I was riding the bicycle real fast down a slope, and woops! there I was, hymen all over the place. Okay, to be honest, I thought one could lose their virginity from riding a bicycle… do I see someone judging me? No? Good.

You see how it starts? You set off on this state of being on heat, to taking care of the heat, to the point that you suffer for handling the heat. And if you know me well, I have a vice which is being a passionate sex lover, so you can imagine how hard it can be for me. Okay. Brain out of the gutter 🙂

Sexually active, yes! Enough libido, yes! Eager to try out positions, yes! Sex toys? Ahhhhh, hehe… So when I was diagnosed with Endo, I had already faced all these Endo-related sex symptoms. And let’s just say, the sex part was saddening, because it became extremely painful to the extent of not being able to handle the entire process at times.

See how a man would beg for ‘just the tip?’ Ha! That could be hell, too. You could start spotting in the middle of an amazing session, there you are, wonder woman and your nunu is your shield, conquering the world of D, and all of a sudden!!! The redzis visit. I mean, who does not want to enjoy some good stuff with her hubby? And I may sound as though I joke about it, but this is just so I do not fall into a pit of depression.

At some point, the fear of getting into the act started to build up – seeing my man kissing me seductively, and ending up lying that I’m constipated, just to disgust him and keep him off the idea :D. Those good old impulsive sex days are gone. Sex in the car? On the kitchen floor? Well sir, let me confirm with my calendar if that is possible and I’ll confirm next week. However, once you get to know your body, you may still end up being as spontaneous as always.

But it is not all bad, especially once you know what you are up against. You find ways to counter it. Someone once wrote to me and asked, ‘Jess, how do you enjoy sex then?’

Simple, I-don’t-have-sex-EVER!! hahaha! Just kidding.

Well, it all starts with one thing, communication! One of the key things that I learnt was that, when you have Endometriosis, you have to be honest with your partner about what your body is going through. So I have always discussed which positions might be better than others, and/or what fun sex things I can do that don’t involve intercourse.

You see, your partner may be going through a lot of different emotions, so finding out what works for both of you will not only improve your sex life, but may lead to discovering a whole bunch of new techniques that you might not have even considered before.

Anyway…Below are some additional tips that I have for you

Open and honest communication between you and your partner. I got to learn that both of us needed to be patient and understanding towards each other. In particular, we needed to develop an awareness of each others’ predicaments and feelings. As a woman with Endometriosis, I needed to explain to my hubby the nature of my pain, and how it affects me, physically and emotionally.

Secondly, Experiment! Experiment! Experiment! Some women are able to enjoy intercourse if it is shallow, or of slow and gentle penetration. So we started to experiment with a lot of foreplay. Some of us are able to have pleasurable intercourse if there is plenty of foreplay to stimulate the natural lubricants in the vagina. Or if you are on hormonal treatment and cannot get satisfyingly wet, artificial lubricants such as Durex Play can be used.

My doctor told me that even with the most patient and sensitive experimentation, some women with Endometriosis will not be able to experience pain-free intercourse. If this is the case, you need to find other ways of sharing intimacy – after all, intercourse is not the only way of being intimate!
Lying in bed together, kissing, hugging, holding, stroking, massaging, and mutually masturbating can be just pleasurable as intercourse if you want it to be.

Track your cycle and try at certain times of the month.
For most of us, discomfort caused by Endometriosis is constant. But the pain becomes even more excruciating during your period – and sometimes during ovulation. What I came to learn is when you keep track of your cycle, you can also keep track of any symptoms related to Endometriosis. This will help give you a better understanding of what time of the month influences potential pain the most, and when you’re more likely to be pain-free.
There are free mobile apps you can download, such as Flo Period Tracker, to log your cycle. Or you could keep track of your period by creating your own menstruation calendar.

Try different positions.
If you have Endometriosis, you may find that some sex positions will cause you intense pain. The missionary position tends to be the most painful for me since because of how my uterus is tilted and the depth of penetration.
Experimenting with different positions has taught me and my partner which ones hurt and which ones to try only at certain times, so that we can have the most pleasure during sex.
Although which positions are considered better will vary from person-to-person. Think modified doggy style, spooning, raised hips, face-to-face, or with you on top.

Find the right rhythm.
Sudden deep penetration and quick thrusting can exacerbate pain for most of us with Endometriosis. Finding the right rhythm can help you experience less discomfort during sex. Talk with your partner about slowing down and not thrusting as deeply during intercourse. You can also switch positions so that you can control speed and limit penetration to a depth that feels comfortable for you.

Planning.
Plan for potential bleeding.
Bleeding after sex, known as postcoital bleeding, is a common symptom of Endometriosis. Postcoital bleeding can happen because penetration causes the uterine tissue to become irritated. The experience can be frustrating, but there are ways you can prepare for potential bleeding.

The bottom line.
Although Endometriosis can have a negative impact on your sex life, it doesn’t have to stay that way. Communicating with your partner about Endometriosis and its effects on your sexual desire, as well as pleasure, is key to your relationship. Do not let your partner view you as some fragile doll. Endometriosis doesn’t define you or your sex life.

 

Wigs and Bras in the back of a cab

Growing up, I was such a boy! Okay… not what you’re thinking. I behaved like a boy; climbing trees, getting into fights – you should see the marks on my legs! I never played Cha Mama na Cha Baba (back in the day, I think this confirmed how girly you are) I never thought I’d apply make-up on my face or ever wear lipstick, but the day I told my mum that she needed to buy me a brassiere, I knew the spell had fallen upon me. I was becoming a little woman. That, was girly to me.

 I sit here thinking, why did I even bother my mum for bras? I mean, I literally have two dots on my chest. The song Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe should have an addition; Jessie’s breasts. That’s how small they are. I’m I comfortable with them? Yes off course, they are mine.  Would I want bigger breasts? Hell no! These ladies take me through a roller coaster, almost as much as having a set of double Zs would (do those exist?).

No kidding, I have made countless appointments and trips to the doctors to have them checked. I thought I was really sick because of the unbearable pain they took me through. 

Little did I know that I suffer from cyclic breast pain. Basically, my hormones get all freaked out every month when I am approaching my period, and they punish my body in a go-sit-in-a-corner-and-think-about-why you-are-a-girl type of way. I remember sometime back, I was seated in a cab after a meeting and my breasts were so painful that I just removed my bra plus my wig to get that instant comfort, and just threw them in the backseat. The cab driver was confused but luckily for me, he acted all cool and just said, ‘Zimekuchokesha?’ Long story short, I forgot my wig and bra since in the cab since I was in a hurry to get into the house… How embarrassing was it for the driver who had to drop them over the next day.

Breast pain is real pain. It messes your entire mood. You have to regulate your movement, and any change in temperature can ruin your entire day.

So I found some ideas that helped me sort out breast pain, or at least give some relief and I hope it can come in handy for you or your loved one. 

Massage

Use hot or cold compresses on your breasts. To be very honest, I have a problem with this, so I let someone else do it for me. I am not able to do it myself because I get super scared, like what if I squeeze them too hard and they just disappear altogether? Yikes.

Prescription

If the pain is too much at a particular time, I get a prescription from my doctor to give me some comfort. I know how tempting over the counter meds are but I would recommend that you ask your doctor which pain med is better and how much to take, as long-term use may increase your risk of liver problems plus other side effects.

Wearing bras that fit

Amishadai (my hubby) introduced me to sports bras, so I started wearing them for those days when the pain is intense. I am not a fan of these since my breast suddenly go into nothingness, and the hope for a cleavage is forgotten J

Observe your diet

A dietary change can be really helpful. My doc told me to eat more complex carbohydrates, (I know! What are complex carbohydrates?) These are found in foods such as peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables. So my doc told me that taking this is a strategy that helps with breast pain. To be honest, I haven’t tried this for breast pain but all I know is that diet is very important when you have endo.

Keep a journal

Noting when you experience breast pain and other symptoms, to determine if your pain is cyclic or non-cyclic. So that you can see when to see your doc…

P.S: Always have your breast checked for the slightest of changes. 

 You see, the pain can be in excess and make your life hard to bear, so it’s probably best to find ways that work for you so that you can have a great quality of life.

photo by @deni_raymond 

What did you say again?

Endometriosis! Try say that out loud. Go on – try!

Now try saying it again and again. Super hard to pronounce right? My mum still shrubs on this word. “Endome… endotri… Endoto… “Personally, I almost forget what the word means, it comes in so many shapes and you can just lose track of what it is, what causes it, how to manage it… so many questions!

Now if you thought pronouncing ‘endometriosis’ repeatedly was hard, imagine living with it. Again and again.

When I turned 13, I was still clueless about what periods felt like. All my friends had experienced them and I couldn’t be the only girl who hadn’t had hers, so obviously I was super psyched in anticipation to get them. (I still wonder why I was so happy – is it a milestone? Sigh!) Months later, my parents and I were seated at a clinic waiting to see a doc because I was bleeding heavily from my nunu and nuni (both front and back).

None of us knew that this was the beginning of painful and tough times. At that point, both the doc and my parents thought  it was amoeba, but after tests, all the doctor could do was give me sanitary towels.

I was now a young woman.

The next day, my mum had my aunts calling to congratulate me – apparently it is a big deal to get the red robots. However, days later I was still in pain and I missed school because it was unbearable.

Let me put it this way: When one is seated on a plane, you are normally prepped in case of an emergency – where the mask is? jump from here etc… it scares me to be on an airplane but at least I feel like I’d know what to do. Mh! (or maybe I would just be scared shitless and faint?)

With endo, you have no clue what is about to happen. Is it pain? Is it fever? Is it diarrhea? You almost live like a stranger in your own body, waiting for the owner to come reclaim it every month.

 

Pain is not the only challenge of living with this condition. It is daily torture. You never know what to expect – that slice of bread or that glass of milk could land you at the ER.

I met one endo warrior who told me that she blacks out because of the pain; another has no pain at all, she was just infertile. As you can see, endo takes many faces despite being a faceless douche-bag.

The other day I was at the ER and had a trans-vaginal ultrasound that indicated that I had a cyst on my left adnexa – is that even a body part? That sounds like a name of new planet that only supports the life of camels. (I love camels.) Anyway, with endo, I ended up knowing parts of my body that I did not know existed. Seriously, what is an adnexa?

So the question that most ask is, what is endo? This explanation is a dedication to my friend Natukunda who, to this point, has still not been able to understand what the condition is – and no, it’s not for lack of trying.

Endometriosis is often a painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus.With endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions — abnormal bands of fibrous tissue that can cause pelvic tissues and organs to stick to each other. This entire process makes it extremely painful to live a normal day to day life. 

Endometriosis most commonly involves the ovaries, Fallopian tubes and the tissue lining of the pelvis. (And the adnexa) however, endometrial tissue may spread beyond pelvic organs.

When you read this, it may still sound hard to understand, I think, it’s just too foreign, I wonder if there is a Swahili word for it? Any idea?

She’s Just a Girl

Yap, that’s true… well obviously, I am a girl, my biological formation comprises of a female anatomy. My name is Jess; I am 26 years old. As I write this, I would say that I feel lost, and for a long time I thought this was a bad thing, but not anymore. I came to realize that it is just a phase that will pass in due time, but trust me, it took some balls to accept that I don’t always have control over everything… that it is okay to be sad, to be emotional, to start over. I feel that time has moved so fast and it seems like I stopped somewhere and didn’t keep moving, maybe I should have sought counsel from Johnny Walker and kept walking. Get it? keep walking? Okay, you probably got it.

On a serious note, why do I say this? A monster called Endometriosis came and took a hold of my life some years back, and to be honest, what was left was a girl, trying to survive, did someone just ask what is Endometriosis? Let me put it in simple terms, it is a big ugly monster that comes when a lady starts her periods and kills her slowly everyday, that’s the easiest way I am able to explain this, I will get into details some other time, for now, consider it an ugly monster with red horns , drooling yellow mucus… too much? okay I’ll stop.

This has not always been the case. I grew up in Mombasa, in a beautiful compound with those big mango trees and beautiful red coastal flowers.  I still remember the stories I was told about these trees apparently Jinis lived among the branches! Do you know how hard it was for me to sleep at night?

It was only dad, mum and myself. Yap, I am an only child. Life at home was very normal, dad taught me karate, mum made sure my homework was done, and the Minders ran around to make sure I ate. I was a really slim tall girl, not that I have changed much, however I am now what many may call ‘Kula Kula’, because I can eat food for 10, mmh, let us leave this at that… can you imagine when I was 7 years old, I had a habit of throwing sausages in the kitchen store, well this is because I was vegan!! Lies! A 7-year-old vegan? How? I just hated food and when my mum wanted to clean the store on weekends, she’d find a foul smell comprising of eggs, sausages and bread.

What was wrong with me though? I remember this one time when my mum locked me in the store as a punishment to contemplate about the rest of the kids in the world dying of hunger. I cried for hours but I don’t think I understood the lesson, I just took it as torture.

I grew up from hating sausages, to overeating sausages, to diets that cannot withstand sausages. We say being a woman is hard, well try be a woman on a strict diet in a world full of genetically modified food… guess what happens? Can you guess?

Well, you end up becoming a farmer, I am very serious! I plant my own veggies (not entirely, I am helped) Just so that I can take better care of myself.  Not that I hate it, but waking up every morning to water my own spinach is something I am not enthusiastic about all the time especially with chronic fatigue.

Food is only a portion of the story, Endometriosis has changed my life, my world. From a girl who aspired to become a top model, or maybe a news anchor, to a girl who NOW only aspires to wake up the next day without pain or maybe just a mild one that won’t drain me, priorities changed. And for a while, I hated myself, got depressed, blamed God, cried myself to sleep and pushed everyone away, they say that nothing happens by chance, that everything has a purpose, so I am discovering mine. Slowly.

I can’t sit here and lie to myself about how easy it will be or worth it, but see, when you are going through excruciating pain, your entire body goes on lock down and you can end up depressed, sad, withdrawn and frustrated. What keeps me going is the thought that I can’t give up, that there is more to life than pain. What will a frown help me with? so I decided to cry when I feel like crying and smile despite whatever. I go with my moods now, Jess can be sad, emotional, happy, hungry, angry, stressed (I try avoid stress but oh well) it is a work in progress.

You see, growing up, I did not imagine that anything wrong could happen to me (let alone to anyone I love), I guess when we are young we have this bubbles that we create to protect our innocent minds… but look at me now, I am in a place called limbo and all I want to do is scream, but because I won’t be loud enough, I prefer to put my sentiments in writing, to try get a point across and resonate to a girl like me trying to survive just as I am.

Today, as much as everything seems hard to fathom and unaware of what is to come, I am hopeful about tomorrow.  I know all this, despite having no meaning is preparing us for the afterlife, so in this life I have lost love, found love, fell in love, lost a loved one, but most importantly, I am discovering self-love.

Care to join a girl with Endo figuring out this thing called life? Grab some popcorn and hold my hand.

No seriously, pick a big bowl. 🙂