Free Shipping over $65 Buy a SET and save Australian Owned
Free Shipping over $65 Buy a SET and save Australian Owned
Free Shipping over $65 Buy a SET and save Australian Owned

$65.00 away from free standard shipping

$65.00 away from free standard shipping

Congrats! You get free standard shipping.

Your cart is empty

Let's change that!

Shop All Products

The Endo Playbook: Bella Valentini Shares Her Advice

Interviews

Bella Valentini shares her journey living with endometriosis and adenomyosis. From surgical interventions to dietary adjustments, she shares her arsenal of coping mechanisms and lifestyle tweaks for managing symptoms.

 

Tell us about your journey…

I’m 27 years old, and I was diagnosed with endometriosis and adenomyosis in August 2023 after experiencing symptoms for over a decade. Overall, it was a painful, time-consuming, and disheartening process. Getting the diagnosis made me realise the lack of information, awareness, and education there is surrounding endometriosis and adenomyosis. My experience has made me more passionate about sharing my story and spreading awareness so others don’t have to go through what I (and many other Endo warriors) did. I am still learning a lot about what it means to have a chronic illness and how to live my life with my symptoms best.

I work in the modeling and acting industry and have a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I’m currently studying for a Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy and am particularly interested in the impact that chronic illnesses have on women and gender-diverse individuals’ psychological and emotional well-being. It’s a complex area that needs much more research and attention.

 

How do you manage your symptoms?

It’s a combination of many different things. Having laparoscopic surgery and getting the Mirena IUD has provided me with a lot of relief, but there are many other things I can do to reduce my pain. I alternate between using a period pain TENS machine, heat packs, and Panadol + Nurofen. I also get acupuncture once a month and occasionally see a pelvic health osteopath for pelvic floor muscle therapy.

 

What dietary and lifestyle tweaks have helped?

To help reduce inflammation, I limit my gluten and dairy intake and be mindful of how much processed, fried, or fast food I eat. I don’t always get it right, and sometimes, my cravings get the better of me, but overall, I try to eat a balanced diet with lots of whole foods, good-quality protein, and fiber.

I’ve gotten into growing my own veggies and leafy greens in my little veggie patch at home. I have noticed that my flare-ups are usually worse when I am not eating well. In addition to my diet, I also take omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium supplements, which are shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. I occasionally take Chinese herbal medicine that my acupuncturist makes up for me as well.

 

Can you tell us about your experience with surgery?

I had this surgery in August 2023, which confirmed I had stage II endometriosis and adenomyosis. I was extremely nervous leading up to the surgery because I didn’t know what to expect and was worried they might not find anything.
Before the surgery, I was given instructions to start fasting after dinner from the night before surgery. I also had to get a script filled for the Mirena IUD and bring it to the hospital for the surgeon to insert during surgery. When I got to the hospital, a nurse also gave me compression stockings to put on my legs to prevent blood clots.

The procedure itself involved a laparoscopy and a hysteroscopy, which was done under a general anesthetic. For those who don’t know, laparoscopic surgery is keyhole surgery where small incisions are made on the abdomen, and a tiny camera is inserted to locate traces of endometriosis tissue and remove them through excision. A tissue sample is also taken and sent to a pathologist to confirm the diagnosis. During the procedure, the abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide gas to allow for better visibility of organs. Currently, this is the only definite way to diagnose endometriosis. The hysteroscopy is another technique used for examining the inside of the uterus, whereby a long fine camera is inserted into the vagina, through the cervix, and into the uterus. This is done so the surgeon can identify the causes of abnormal menstrual bleeding or any uterine abnormalities, typically in cases of adenomyosis.

Although the procedure only lasted a few hours, I was kept in the hospital overnight for monitoring. When I first woke up after surgery, I felt extremely sore, groggy, and nauseous. I had excruciating pain in my chest and shoulders. Turns out that the gas used to inflate the abdomen during the procedure gets trapped in your diaphragm, which can lead to pain in the chest and shoulders. That pain felt worse than the excision wounds themselves. I remember the first time I stood up after waking up. I went to go pee, and I felt like my insides were going to fall out. It was such a weird feeling! I also had an IV drip, which I had to wheel to the bathroom with me. I was so dizzy and uncomfortable that the nurses had to help me get to the bathroom.

For the rest of the hospital visit, I was pretty out of it due to the general and pain medication, so I mostly drifted in and out of sleep. I wanted to know the results of my surgery straight away, so I kept asking the nurses, but they didn’t have the answers. I didn’t get to see my surgeon until the following morning. That’s when he told me that the procedure had gone smoothly and confirmed he had found stage II endometriosis. He also showed me images of where they had excised the endometriosis tissue and surrounding thick bands of scar tissue (adhesions). Most of the issue was around my uterus, pouch of Douglas and bowels. They also removed adhesions that had formed around my bowels, essentially constricting my bowels, and sticking them to other organs. This made a lot of sense as to why I had been having pain and struggles with bowel movements for so long!

Model Bella Valentini's Endometriosis Journey

How did you prepare surgery?

I listened to an insightful podcast called The Endometriosis Nutritionist Podcast by Anne-Marijke Gerretsen. Episode 66 is all about preparing for and recovering from surgery, and it gave me many great tips and strategies to work with. Anne-Marijke suggests starting surgery prep at least two weeks before by following a gluten and dairy-free diet, eating good quality protein, increasing fiber intake, engaging in regular gentle exercise, and taking vitamin C supplements to help prepare for wound healing. I would recommend listening to this episode if you’re unsure where to start.

     

    What was the recovery like?

    Although endometriosis surgery is referred to as a ‘minimally invasive’ surgery in clinical terms, it certainly feels major! It’s important to understand that it significantly affects your body. Even though the laparoscopy incisions might be quite small, the act of the incision is traumatic for the body. My OBGYN suggested I take two weeks off work to recover. I wish I had taken more but ran out of sick leave.

    Regarding what to expect, you will feel sore, bloated, weak, and fatigued for the first few weeks. The first few days are the worst, though! I had awful cramping, bleeding, and shoulder/back pain from the gas used to inflate my abdomen. I was given after-care instructions to avoid strenuous activities or exercise, which means you can’t lift or carry anything that will make you strain. This makes it difficult to do most of the things you’d normally do alone. I strongly recommend staying with someone who can help you, especially in the initial stages of recovery.

    Be aware that pain medication can also lead to constipation, which is the last thing you want. It’s important to try to walk a little bit each day to get your blood flowing, which helps prevent constipation and blood clots.

    The first month of recovery was the worst, but I slowly started to feel more relief around the 3-month mark and even more around 6 months. This is just my experience; everyone’s recovery journey is different. Remember to be compassionate to yourself and allow yourself as much time as you need to heal.

     

    BELLA’S ENDO LITTLE BLACK BOOK

    What to pack in your hospital bag:

    • Wear loose, comfortable clothing and underwear. Choose something that’s easy to get in and out of and won’t put pressure on your abdomen area.
    • Cosy slippers or slides, so you don’t need to bend down or strain to put your shoes on.
    • Peppermint tea or de-gas tablets help release the carbon dioxide gas trapped in your diaphragm.
    • Essential toiletries help you practice self-care and feel refreshed after surgery.
    • Electronics such as a phone charger so your phone doesn’t die, and if staying overnight, a laptop or tablet to watch your favourite shows.
    • Earphones so you can block out hospital noise.
    • Loose fitting period undies (shoutout to Scarlet!) or pads, as it’s common to have some bleeding after surgery.
    • Comfort items like a teddy, sleep mask, or blanket. Also, a hot water bottle or heat pack—anything that helps reduce discomfort.

     

    Online Resources:

    • Endometriosis Australia for in-depth research on Endometriosis, information fact sheets, blogs, and links to resources like specialist clinics, support groups, and advocacy programs. 
    • Visit the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care website for the locations of all current national Endometriosis and pelvic pain clinics.
    • Qendo provides support to those affected by endometriosis, adenomyosis, PCOS, and infertility with a free mobile app, mentor program, workplace support program, face-to-face support groups, and workshops.


    Facebook Groups:


    Podcasts:


    Instagram accounts:

     

    For more from Bella, follow her @bellarosev. Interested to read more on her journey. Here Bella shares more about her diagnosis.

    ×
    Welcome Newcomer