Finding Comfort in the Uncomfortable
By Anusha Gandhi
Founder, Femade Inc.
Soul. Crushing. Periods. That was the theme of my life, beginning at the age of 14. Doctors used to say the heavy blood flow and extreme period pain were just that; painful periods. Each month I would miss a day or two of school or work, curl up in the fetal position, bleed through my sheets, and hide in the warmth of my own cocoon until the days passed and I could stand on my own two feet again. Nobody around me truly understood the depths of this pain or how debilitating it was. Throughout the years doctors would murmur the word ‘endometriosis’ but none of them were sure enough to give me a diagnosis. This disease that affects 1 in 10 women – which does not account for the number of those assigned female at birth – impacts quality of life in the following ways:
- Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), especially in the uterus, abdomen and lower back
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Pain during sex
- Painful urination during menstrual periods
- Painful bowel movements during menstrual periods
Some also have issues with fertility which is how I was eventually diagnosed 20 years later. After two years of trying to conceive and many failed diagnostic tests later, the doctor advised we needed to do a surgery in which biopsies would be taken and analyzed for endometrial tissue. It was during this process the doctor was able to remove any suspicious tissue and provided me with an official diagnosis. I have now had a total of 3 surgeries to remove endometriosis. Shortly after my second surgery I was also diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a chronic autoimmune disease which affected my bowel movements (ahem… diarrhea) which I always thought was the endometriosis. On one hand I was shocked to learn that none of my doctors had picked up on this completely independent diagnosis and yet, I reminded myself that with such a siloed healthcare system, these nuances often went unnoticed. Treating my ulcerative colitis alleviated a large fraction of the bowel pain I used to experience during my periods.
It wasn’t until I was in an endometriosis flare, and my doctor was on vacation that I decided to try a massage to soothe my aching body. While it helped, it could not stand up to the amount of pain I was having. At that moment, while putting on my shoes ready to go home, the admin asked if I had ever seen an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner. I had not, but was willing to try anything. My Osteopath was able to look at me – as a whole body – and help with the pain associated with the endometriosis, the bowel pain, and the adhesions that were dampening my mobility. In one fell swoop she was able to tend to three different systems in one appointment because of how connected they were. A few months later I also started seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist who prepped me leading up to my third (and most recent surgery). The exercises I now have under my belt are life saving. Since my last surgery I have learned to manage the pain, to utilize my body as its own healing tool, and have learned to look for signs and symptoms that I can address right away.
But I thought, why couldn’t all of that be under one roof? One multidisciplinary, whole-body, safe space for women and those assigned female at birth, who so often run their course in the medical system? And so came the birth of Femade.
Femade is a pain management centre that offers complementary and alternative medicines to manage pain that has become chronic and debilitating. We are specialized in illnesses that disproportionately affect women such as gynecological pain, and invisible illness.
At Femade we selected practitioners who are equally as passionate about women’s health and the involvement of the endocrine system. We curated individuals who themselves have experienced health issues and are forging a path for others who need more tools to manage their chronic pain. Our approach is two-pronged, acting on the physical and the mental aspects of chronic pain to truly increase quality of life.
- Osteopathic medicine
- Naturopathic medicine
- Registered massage therapy
- Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy
- Nutritional services via a nutritionist and registered dietitian
- Social support groups
What I never took for granted was that one person who reached out to me and asked if I had tried a therapy that could work for me. So at Femade we have created a layered process whereby:
- Any patient can book an appointment with a practitioner at their convenience
- Patients who are not quite sure if they can commit can have a 15 min discovery session with any of our practitioners at no cost
- Those who sincerely do not know where to begin on their alternative medicine journey can submit an intake form with general symptoms so that our team can come up with a personalized plan.
Chronic pain is hard enough-navigating your health journey shouldn’t be too.
Visit us at femade.ca to learn more.