“You need to understand that it’s now a part of your life.”
By the time April Christina met her now-husband Greg, she had already been diagnosed with endometriosis and was dealing with regular and frequent pain. As their relationship progressed, so did Greg’s approach to supporting April as she managed her chronic illness.
For April, the symptoms were nothing new. Like many women with endometriosis, April suffered from endo symptoms for nearly a decade before getting an accurate diagnosis. After initially struggling to accept the news and deal with the condition, she decided to embrace her illness. Today, she’s an endometriosis advocate and blogger who lives her life with optimism and purpose.
However, it took time for April and Greg to “find their groove” for dealing with the illness as a couple. While every partner wants to see their loved one happy and healthy, a chronic illness comes with limitations. “You feel powerless,” says Greg. “There’s nothing you can actually do to take away their pain immediately in that moment.”
Greg wasn’t the only one who had to learn: April admits she was used to doing things for herself and being independent. Having endometriosis only made her more determined to be resilient and independent.
“It felt like she was pushing me away in order to deal with it, and it was difficult on our relationship,” says Greg. “She would be very adamant that she can do everything on her own.”
What Works, and What Doesn’t
Ultimately, Greg had to learn when April did—and didn’t—need help. Similarly, April had to learn when and how to ask for and accept support from Greg.
“I can still feel powerful and not feel powerless by having someone like Greg help me,” says April.
One way that Greg has learned to support April through her endometriosis is by looking at her eyes. He can see in her eyes when she’s having a particularly bad flare, and when he might need to step in and help. Otherwise, he steps back and respects her independence.
It’s true that nothing can completely “take the pain away” during an endometriosis flare, but April and Greg have learned ways to provide comfort during a flare. “There’s a blanket that my grandmother made for me. Being wrapped in that blanket gives me a sense of home,” says April.
In general, many women with endometriosis find some comfort or relief from things like rest, meditation, or heat therapy (e.g., taking warm baths or applying a heating pad or hot water bottle), according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. However, each person is unique and may find relief from different things.
For example, April enjoys drinking herbal teas or ginger ale during her flares. “[Greg] already subconsciously knows which one I need within that moment. [That’s] something else that I love that he picks up on,” says April.
“My advice to other partners who are with someone with endometriosis is you need to have patience, you need to understand that it’s now a part of your life, and you need to understand that it’s not going to limit your life,” says Greg.
00:00:02,630 --> 00:00:05,820
Watching someone I love deal with
endometriosis is very hard because you
00:00:05,820 --> 00:00:06,530
00:00:06,530 --> 00:00:10,380
There's nothing you can actually do to
take away their pain immediately in
00:00:10,380 --> 00:00:11,040
00:00:11,040 --> 00:00:14,238
It felt like she was pushing me
away in order to deal with it and
00:00:14,238 --> 00:00:16,323
it was difficult on our relationship.
00:00:16,323 --> 00:00:22,040
00:00:22,040 --> 00:00:25,940
She would be very adamant that
she can do everything on her own.
00:00:25,940 --> 00:00:29,530
And you do have that partner and
they're willing and
00:00:29,530 --> 00:00:33,210
open to actually helping you to
receive that help from them.
00:00:33,210 --> 00:00:36,000
I can still be powerful and
00:00:36,000 --> 00:00:39,890
not feel powerless by having
someone like Greg help me.
00:00:39,890 --> 00:00:42,520
Because she still has to
have some form of independence.
00:00:42,520 --> 00:00:46,140
I've gotten kind of used to looking
at her eyes and telling whether or
00:00:46,140 --> 00:00:49,280
not she's going through something or
whether she has a flare.
00:00:49,280 --> 00:00:51,320
But if it's one of those things
where it's one of those days where
00:00:51,320 --> 00:00:53,330
she can't get out of bed
then I'll literally jump in.
00:00:54,550 --> 00:00:59,373
Yeah, there's a blanket that
my grandmother made for me.
00:00:59,373 --> 00:01:02,843
Being wrapped in that blanket
gives me a sense of home,
00:01:02,843 --> 00:01:07,985
feeling comforted to know that my husband
is with me also when I don't feel well.
00:01:07,985 --> 00:01:11,310
I've always loved teas or ginger ale.
00:01:11,310 --> 00:01:16,991
He like already subconsciously knows
which one I need within that moment.
00:01:16,991 --> 00:01:20,790
It's something else that I love,
that he picks up on.
00:01:20,790 --> 00:01:21,630
It's worked itself out.
00:01:21,630 --> 00:01:23,980
So now we have like
a good kind of routine.
00:01:23,980 --> 00:01:30,494
Our lifestyle and the way that we
operate together, as a unit, has changed.
00:01:30,494 --> 00:01:33,052
It was a hard balancing act,
trying to learn,
00:01:33,052 --> 00:01:36,390
we have endometriosis because
it affects both of us.
00:01:36,390 --> 00:01:40,234
My advice to other partners who are with
someone with endometriosis is you
00:01:40,234 --> 00:01:41,477
need to have patience.
00:01:41,477 --> 00:01:44,053
You need to understand that it's
now a part of your life and
00:01:44,053 --> 00:01:46,855
you need to understand that it's
not going to limit your life.
00:01:46,855 --> 00:01:47,355
Endometriosis. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Medicine. (Accessed on October 9, 2019 at https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/endometriosis.)
Endometriosis. Washington, DC: Office on Women’s Health. (Accessed on October 7, 2019 at https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/endometriosis.)