My Endometriosis Toolkit

[00:00:00] Sandra Henderson: Welcome back to the very last episode of my special March series, all about endometriosis awareness month. If you missed the last couple of episodes, I shared what my story has been first leading up to getting my diagnosis and then an update of what my life has been like over the last couple of years.

[00:00:17] So if that is at all of interest to you, make sure you go back and give those a listen. And today is just going to be a short and sweet episode where I am talking all about my endometriosis toolkit. These are things that I have with me on the go and at home at all times to just make my life a little bit easier.

[00:00:36] (Intro music) Welcome to Keeping it Candid. I’m your host, Sandra Henderson, an international wedding and family photographer and business coach. I help wedding photographers use systems to build out the back end of their businesses to gain control and continue to thrive no matter what life throws their way.

And on a more personal note, I’m a strong Enneagram three wing too who’s obsessed with I’m obsessed with tacos. My love for travelling combined with navigating chronic illness life are just two of the many things that drive my passion for all things systems, workflows, and beating burnout as a business owner.

Join me every week for a candid behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like working as a wedding photographer, where I’ll give you actionable steps to take your business to the next level. Absolutely no fluff here, friends, so go grab your favourite notebook and pen and let’s dive into this week’s episode. (music fades out)

02:13 Endometriosis Surgery Details

[00:01:25] Quickly, before I get into that, I had quite a few people pop into my DMs after last week’s episode to ask me about what my surgery is that’s coming up next year. And I realized that I completely forgot to talk about that in my last episode. I’m going to blame it on the fact that it was day one of my cycle.

[00:01:43] And Honestly, I thought it was a great idea to record on that day given that it’s Endometriosis Awareness Month, but in hindsight, it was a terrible idea. I felt horrible. I feel like you could hear it in my voice and the brain fog was so, so bad. So. I will probably never do that again, but just to give a quick little update on what my surgery is going to be, I don’t have a date for it.

[00:02:08] It’s going to be sometime in 2025, but I am going in for a hysterectomy. Now, it’s really important to note that a hysterectomy is not a cure for endometriosis. There is a similar disease, it’s kind of like endometriosis-sister disease called adenomyosis, and that is when the tissues start to embed themselves into your uterus.

[00:02:29] Whereas for me, those tissues are going elsewhere in my body. So when you have adenomyosis, removing your uterus is absolutely a cure for that because there’s no more uterus for the tissues to embed in. But with endometriosis, removing my uterus is essentially just going to stop my periods. It is not going to do anything for any tissues that are elsewhere in my body, but I’m not mad at the idea of not having periods anymore.

[00:02:54] I gave up my fertility a long time ago, and so if this surgery means that I have a couple of days less pain a month, then I am totally okay with that. I am having the hysterectomy performed by a surgeon who is an endometriosis specialist. And so while he’s performing that surgery, he’s also going to be looking elsewhere for any tissues that may have grown on my diaphragm is a big area that we’re going to be looking at.

[00:03:17] Also looking at my ovaries, the ligaments over top of my uterus, um, Where else? We’re going to be looking inside my bladder and looking at my bowels. They’re also going to be taking a look at my appendix and removing it if there are any issues with it. So it is going to be a very invasive surgery. they’re going to be doing a lot of looking around.

03:26 Invasive Endometriosis Surgery and Remission Period

[00:03:39] If they do find any tissues while they’re in there, they are going to remove them. So that’s kind of what that looks like. Hopefully having this surgery performed by a specialist is going to mean that I get a little bit of relief afterwards, almost like a remission period. After my last surgery in 2019, I was told to expect about five years minimum of remission and I had not.

[00:04:04] So I’m a little hesitant to get my hopes up. up about what life is going to look like after this surgery, but I do know it’s a necessary next step and it’s one that I’ve been pushing for. When the day comes, I am looking forward to it and I’m just going to have to take those unknowns as they come along.

[00:04:21] So I hope that clears everything up for you. If you were wondering what that was all about, and if you have any other questions at all, by all means, please feel free to pop into my DMs. You can find me on Instagram at SimplySandraYvonne, and I am totally an open book when it comes to talking about endometriosis.

04:40 Heating Pads and Robax Heat Wraps

[00:04:40] Okay, so now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to my endometriosis toolkit. First, heating pads of any capacity, but specifically some Robax heat wraps. I wish I was a Robax affiliate. I swear the number of people that I’ve had go buy these, they should be paying me a cut at this point for all the referrals.

[00:04:58] But these wraps are pretty much like those hand warmers that you can put in your pocket. So they come in a package and as soon as you open it up the air will activate the crystals inside and it has up to 16 hours of heat I believe. I’ve never worn it for the full 16 hours but let me tell you on a wedding day these are absolutely amazing.

[00:05:18] They are really thin and sleek so they hide under your clothes. The material is almost like a stretchy diaper tab but Giant size. They’re one size fits most. I don’t want to say one size fits all, even though that’s what the box says. Because we all know that there is no such thing as one size fits all.

[00:05:36] So one size fits most. It does have adjustable self adhering velcro type material to hold it on you. And I just put it under my clothing. They do have ones that are specifically marketed towards being put on your uterus. But anybody who’s familiar with the pink tacks knows that those are actually more expensive than the ones that I use, which are just for your back.

[00:05:59] And all you need to do is just spin it around so that it’s sitting on your front. save yourself some unnecessary money. So those are something that I have in my camera bag for every wedding day, every session. I bring them with me when I’m travelling. And then of course I have my heating pads that I can plug in for when I’m going to be inside.

06:18 Ergonomic Seat Cushions

[00:06:18] Next is my ergonomic seat cushion. I have ergonomic seat cushions in my office, in my car, and one to travel with. Sitting on hard surfaces is really, really painful for me because of the tension I have in my pelvis and the damage that’s been done to my pelvic floor because of having endometriosis. So I was finding that I couldn’t even sit in my office to edit without being in pain.

[00:06:44] If I was driving for a long time, I was having a hard time walking when I was getting out of the car. And so getting these ergonomic seat cushions has been absolutely amazing. They just make sure that my hips are positioned properly. If you have any sort of back pain, regardless of what the cause is, this is going to be really helpful.

[00:07:03] This is going to be really helpful for you as well. and yeah, I just bring them on the go. So I have one with me on a wedding day so that I have that to sit on during a reception. I also have a pop up stool that I bring with me so that I can always sit if I need to and I can just put my cushion down on that.

[00:07:18] I bring it on airplanes because airplane seats are so comfortable. So uncomfortable. So yeah, I absolutely love these cushions. Highly recommend. I’m also going to be putting together an Amazon list for almost everything that I talk about in this episode. So make sure you pop over into the show notes to check that out if you’re interested in grabbing any of these.

07:37 Proper Shoes for Support

[00:07:37] Third is shoes. I’m officially in my sensible shoe era. I’m not gonna lie, I hate it, but I finally got some cute runners that have really great arch support, and that’s been making my life a little bit easier, making me feel a little bit less like my mom. , but, Wearing proper shoes has been so necessary for the pressure it puts on my joints, for the pressure it puts on my pelvis and my back.

[00:08:03] As much as I love wearing cute shoes, something had to give and I am already in enough pain without adding to it. So sensible shoe era it is. I just ordered some cute arch-support sandals from Amazon. So I’m hoping that those can replace my runners in the summer, but make sure that you have shoes that support you regardless of what kind of shoe that is.

08:23 E-Reader for Reading Comfort

[00:08:26] That is going to be super important for your toolkit as well. Next on the list is my e-reader. Now, this could be a Kindle, a Kobo, an iPad, whatever that may look like for you, but I made the switch to using an e-reader rather than reading books because of the pressure it was putting on my hands, especially on days that I was recovering from a wedding or was dealing with a flare.

[00:08:51] I love reading. I love the feeling of turning pages and the smell of books, but it was really discouraging for me that on days when I was in pain, I wasn’t able to read when reading is something that I do to be able to take my mind off of how I’m feeling. So I officially made the switch to using an e-reader and it has been so nice to be able to just pop my screen up and have it there and not have to worry about holding the book.

[00:09:15] And I’ve gotten so much more reading done since then. My goal for 2024 is to read 20 books. I am on book number five right now. So fingers crossed that I can keep up with it, but that would definitely not be able to happen if I was still reading paperback books, sorry. Even worse, hardcover books.

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09:43 Water Cooler and Water Bottle

[00:09:43] The second last thing on my toolkit is, strangely enough, my water cooler and my water bottle. These are, I know, two things, but we’re going to combine them into one. Getting a water cooler was one of the best purchases I ever made for my house. I know that we have water coming out of the tap, I get it, but I just don’t like it.

[00:10:00] If you drink water all the time, you know that water has a taste. and I will die on this hill. Water has a taste and every kind of bottled water tastes different. Every tap water tastes different. And I just really don’t like the tap water at home. So we got this water cooler and now that’s all I drink. I drink water all day long.

[00:10:19] Like, I have probably increased my water intake by about a thousand percent since we got this. I also always have an insulated water bottle with me so I can bring cold water on the go, but I actually call it my emotional support water bottle because I literally have it with me everywhere. At this point, it doesn’t even stand up straight anymore because I’ve dropped it so many times and the bottom is so dented, but I love this water bottle.

[00:10:43] And having it with me at all times means that I’m always able to stay hydrated, which is really important for keeping down my inflammation levels.

11:43 Cannabis Products for Nausea and Endometriosis Pain

Now, the last thing in my toolkit, this is one that I will say being able to include it is going to depend on where you live, what laws are like in your area, and what your comfort level is.

[00:11:04] But for me, I am a 420-friendly person. This is a 420-friendly household and living in Canada, cannabis products are legal here. So using cannabis products, I use a vape currently, and this is something that I use every day to help with my chronic nausea and pain levels. I know a lot of people may hear this and just be like, no, that is not for me.

[00:11:29] But if it’s something that you partake in, no, I fully support that decision. If it’s something that you’re curious about and want to ask questions in a safe space, by all means, slide into my DM. I am here to help support you through this. but yeah, it’s something that has been prescribed medicinally for a long time.

[00:11:48] I think that there are a lot of benefits for it and how it can impact my body. And of course, yes, there is the argument about the damage that it’s doing to my lungs and I understand that, but it’s just another one of those conversations about the juice being worth the squeeze. The amount of damage that I would be doing to my body if I was allowing my chronic nausea to run rampant all day long if I was not able to eat properly, if I was in extreme levels of pain.

[00:12:16] And having to use narcotic pain medication, all of those things would be doing so much more damage to my body than consuming cannabis. And I think it really goes to show how important it is to get rid of the stigma around using cannabis products because not only can they really help people with chronic illnesses, but it doesn’t mean that you’re not capable of doing other things.

[00:12:37] I’m running two businesses and being there for my stepson and a part of my household and part of my relationship and my marriage, all while still consuming cannabis, the idea that it’s going to turn you into this stoner who is not capable of doing anything and just wants to sit around and eat all day.

[00:12:58] You know, maybe that happens every now and then, but it’s definitely not true a hundred percent of the time. So if there is one thing that we take away from this part of the episode, I hope that it’s just to let’s end the stigma around a lot of things, but especially around using cannabis products.

13:25 Recap and Conclusion

So as a quick little recap of what is inside my toolkit, we have heating pads, but especially Robax heat wraps for your back that you can either use on your back if you have back pain or spin them around to the front to help with cramps.

[00:13:28] An ergonomic seat cushion that I bring everywhere and have in my office, in my car, comfy shoes with lots of arch support. A water cooler and a water bottle so that I’m always staying hydrated. An e-reader so that I don’t have to worry about the pressure that books are putting on my hands on bad pain days.

[00:13:46] And my cannabis vape. I hope that these are helpful to you. If you have anything that you include in your toolkit that you want to recommend, by all means let me know. I love having endometriosis friends in my community. I always say that it sucks that we have to bond over something so shitty, but at least we have each other and there is so much comfort in just knowing that someone else gets it.

[00:14:10] So pop into my DMs if you have any recommendations, and next week we are going to be back to our regularly scheduled programming. My friend Alex from Alex Collier Design is joining me for an interview to talk all about your website homepage, things that are important to have on it, things that you want to avoid, and hopefully give you some ideas on how to spruce up your homepage without feeling like you have to completely redo your entire website.

[00:14:35] And for me, I’m actually heading to Florida on Monday for a couple of weeks. It is going to be a working vacation, but I am going with my husband, my best friends, and their family, and I cannot wait. I am daydreaming nonstop about the endless hours of sun that I’m going to be getting. Hopefully, by the time I am back in my office, I will be a bronze goddess with a tan that is going to last me through the end of this Canadian winter.

[00:15:00] Anyways, friends, have a great rest of your Wednesday and I will be back next week.

(Outro music) Thank you so much for listening. You can find full show notes from today’s episode at In the meantime, let’s connect. You can find me on Instagram and TikTok, just search @SimplySandraYvonne. And if you love this podcast, I’d be so honoured if you’d go ahead and hit that subscribe button and leave a review. Until next time. (Music fades out)

About Sandra

A rose gold cup that says "Fuck Endo" sits between two plants. The photo is used in a post about my endometriosis toolkit.

Sandra Henderson is a photographer, systems strategist, and podcast host based in Ontario, Canada. She specializes in helping photographers create strategic systems for their businesses to help them get their time back so they can spend it doing the things they love most. As an entrepreneur who also navigates chronic illness life, Sandra takes a unique approach to using systems that will help businesses thrive no matter what life throws your way.

On a personal note, she loves tacos, all things Bravo, 90’s music, travelling, and spending time at home with her husband, stepson, and two cats!

A rose gold cup that says "Fuck Endo" sits between two plants. The photo is used in a post about my endometriosis toolkit.

March 20, 2024

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