Karen was able to try a new therapy that is available to women with Endometriosis in the UK, the USA and Canada. She has shared some intimate details with us and wants her story to give women hope to keep searching for ways to naturally cope with Endometriosis and the associated symptoms.
Here is her story:
My Story (written by Karen Blankenship)
Endometriosis can be different for each of us, so I want to share my story with you first. I was diagnosed in 2011 at the age of 31. I first suspected I had endo after reading an article in a magazine about it when I was 27 or 28. My doctor told me that it couldn’t be diagnosed without surgery and put me on birth control. I’d tried birth control several years before and hated the side effects, but I couldn’t bear the pain each month any longer. I tried a couple of different ones before finally settling on Nuvaring. I used it for a few years and stopped it when I was 30. A few months later, I developed a painful cyst on each ovary, and I noticed a small lump in my belly button. My doctor told me the lump was probably just a small hernia and not to worry about it unless it got worse. She also suggested that I go back on birth control to help with the cysts, so I did.
Fast forward to October 2011. The lump got bigger during one of my periods. There was also a painful pulling behind my naval that was worse than before. I went to the doctor and they decided they would remove it to see what it was and fix the hernia if there was one. It turned out to be endometrial tissue and there was a tiny hernia that they put a stitch in. I was in the military at the time, and they just gave me a pamphlet about endo and said to let them know if it got worse. This is when I began my search for natural healing.
I spent countless hours on Google trying to find out more. I started eating a mostly paleo diet, eventually got rid of chemical laden cleaning supplies, soaps, and lotions, and was able to finally get off of birth control and manage the pain through diet. I still had some pain during sex, tightness in my abdomen and hips, pain with ovulation some months, lower back pain, bloating, and painful periods on those months I didn’t eat as well as I should have. Luckily, my husband has been supportive of all of these changes. I know it’s been hard on him. He’s a “fixer” and this has been something he cannot fix.
I first called Clear Passage last August to find out about more information and about pricing. We were in the process of switching insurance so I had to wait to see if mine would cover any of it. The insurance we had would have covered part of it, but my current insurance has a deductible of $6000, which is the price of the 20 hour therapy. So I had to wait till June to finally go.
I decided to go to the Gainesville, Florida location since my parents live about halfway in between, and we could spend some time with them on the way there and back. After I set up the appointment, one of the therapists called and asked me more about my medical history and was even familiar with the military and asked me questions about vaccines and places where I’d travelled to make sure I hadn’t been exposed to anything that could interfere with the therapy. They also sent me a welcome packet that included information about the therapy, hotels, and things to do while in Gainesville. Some of the hotels even offer a discount to patients. We decided to stay at the Sweetwater Branch Inn, which is a bed and breakfast in downtown Gainesville. They have a pool, gardens, a wine and cheese hour, and is walking distance to a lot of restaurants. My husband even found a golf course so he could entertain himself while I was at therapy.
I arrived on Monday morning at 7:45. They gave me my schedule for the week (typically about 4 hours of treatment a day), gave me a tour of the office, and explained how the week would go. They also gave me a list of walking trails in the area since they wanted me to walk after therapy each day. I was also instructed to drink lots of water.
During the first hour, I met one of my physical therapists, Evette, who did an initial evaluation on me. She checked my range of motion, felt around on my abdomen, and asked me questions about any falls, injuries, surgeries, and pain that I may not have listed on the questionnaire I’d filled out a couple of months before. She also checked my posture. She could tell just from looking at me that I was very tight, especially on my right side. She also let me know that my range of motion wasn’t within the normal range on a lot of things. I’ve practiced yoga off and on for about 10 years and considered myself fairly flexible. I kept wondering who these “normal” people were! She also evaluated me internally to find the source of my pain during sex.
The evaluation only lasted about 30 minutes and then she began treatment. I’m not going to pretend it was pleasant. It wasn’t. It was pretty painful, especially in the places that needed it the most. It felt like the deeper layers of skin were burning and tearing, but as soon as they released the pressure, it stopped. I tried to just breath like I would during a hard yoga pose to help my muscles release. They said it feels like butter melting or taffy stretching beneath their fingers.
What I learned is that not all of the pain, tightness, and pulling was due to my endo. The muscles of the body are surrounded by fascia that can become tight from injuries or surgeries. The way they explained it is that the adhesions from the endo can pull on parts of the body and so the body reacts by trying to heal and creating more fascia that becomes tight. The Wurn Technique (or myofascial release therapy) stretches the fascia so that the body can go back to its original shape and the organs can fall back into their original position. So, in other words, I could feel that my right ovary was stuck to my hip and bladder, but it wasn’t adhesions that were necessarily holding them together. It was the fascia.
After Evette was finished, I met my other therapist, Kim, who did some more work but in different places. Kim and Evette alternated throughout the week, working on me internally and externally and the changes were almost immediate.
Epsom salt baths were my best friend the entire week. I soaked for 20 minutes every night to help keep from getting sore. Kim and Evette also told me that, since my husband was with me, they wanted me to have sex during the week so that they could see where else they needed to work internally to help reduce pain during intercourse. Even after only two days of work, sex already felt so much better. It was a miracle!
They also worked on my back and hips since I’ve also had pain and tightness there. They also worked on my right side where my ovary was stuck, and as they moved into the deeper layers, it began to burn more than the day before.
They give you a bit of a break on the third day as they go over exercises and self help techniques for you to do after you return home. My husband was able to come and learn the techniques so that he could help me in the places where I can’t reach. He was also able to watch Evette treat me so that he could see how long to hold the pressure and how to follow it all the way through the release. They also gave me a bag full of massage tools, tennis balls, and a soft ball that I can use to treat myself at home. They also suggested that I get a foam roller to use on my back and legs at home. I bought one that day! The exercises reminded me of yin yoga because each of the stretches is held for 2–5 minutes. They gave me specific ones based on where I needed it most.
Kim really worked on the scar tissue in my belly button and it brought me to tears at one point. But my belly button started to finally look more like a belly button again. After my surgery, my naval was almost flat and even with my stomach. Now it sinks in again, which is amazing! They also worked on my right side some more (it was really tight) and this time it started to feel like hot pokers in my hips. But I could tell it was really helping. I was feeling looser already.
Today, they worked on my back and sides some more including my legs. I’ve always had a spot on my ribs below my shoulder blade that would make me jump anytime someone touched it. Now, it doesn’t bother me anymore. Kim also worked on my right shoulder, which has bothered me since high school, and it felt better almost immediately. Evette also did a light cranial and neck therapy to help stimulate the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. It was a nice break from the deeper work on my belly.
Sometimes it felt like they were working someplace else. As they moved deeper into my right side, I could feel it in my lower back and even just below my shoulder blade. Everything in the body is connected! I also started to notice that I could breathe more deeply. I didn’t even know that this had been a problem.
They encouraged me to follow the self treatment plan and to continue eating a diet low in inflammatory foods like wheat, soy, dairy, and sugar. They said that patients who do tend to have better results that last longer. In fact, they said that most of their endo patients don’t need to return for a second treatment unless they have a severe case that they feel requires more therapy.
Apparently I hold all of my stress in my body. Kim encouraged me to find different ways of dealing with stress including making an appointment with an empty chair. She said you could put anyone in the chair and talk to them and tell them things you probably wouldn’t tell them in real life. She said you could talk to someone who is no longer in your life or even your younger self. She said it was very therapeutic. I immediately started making a list in my head of people I should probably put in that empty chair and planned to start the next week.
By the last day, the pain was significantly less in my lower back, abdomen, and shoulder and sex wasn’t painful at all. What I’d always thought was a bloated endo belly turned out to really be the fascia. My stomach is flatter and everything is more squishy (the way it should be). Evette evaluated my range of motion again and told me that I had improved quite a bit even in areas where they didn’t really work, like my neck. I also felt like I had better posture and was standing up straighter.
They said that I could call or email any time and talk with them if I have any questions about at-home treatment. I could also find a myofascial release therapist in my area if I needed more work on my shoulder or back. I haven’t looked into it yet, but I wonder if a myofascial release therapist might be helpful for those with endo who cannot visit Clear Passage. It may be worth looking into.
Evette and Kim changed my life and I am so grateful for them and for the work that they do. They are truly changing lives!
One Week Later
Riding in a car for 5 hours Saturday and Sunday was pretty uncomfortable so we kept stopping so I could walk around. They said that I would probably be sore for about 7 days, but the soreness was gone by Tuesday so I started doing my exercises, stretches, and self treatment . My husband said that it was almost like having sex with a new person because I was finally able to relax and enjoy it for the first time in years. My back hurts less, and I find myself trying not to hold tension in my body like I did before. I feel loser and lighter. I’m sleeping better than I have in a long time. There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel!
Thank you, Karen, for sharing your story. We both hope this message will fill you with hope and opportunities to explore for your own healing.
To find out more about Clear Passage and the Wurn Technique, please visit their website here.
You can also watch a fabulous interview I did with Larry and Belinda Wurn some months back.
We look forward to hearing your comments and if you feel like sharing your experiences with similar treatments.