I Take My Hot Water Bottle Everywhere To Soothe My Endometriosis

Even in the height of summer, I won't be separated from my blue, plastic companion.

Honestly, it’s life changing’ is a regular series where we talk about the weird and wonderful possessions we can’t imagine life without. Think of it as an ode to the mundane, bizarre and, sometimes, wholly unnecessary products in our lives.

I don’t think it would be unfair to my husband to say that my primary adult relationship is with my hot water bottle. In fact, he acknowledges this fact with good humour – namely by boiling the kettle for me.

I’ve never enjoyed being cold, so it was an easy relationship to fall into, but my hot water bottle and I became particularly attached after I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2014. Now, my blue, plastic companion accompanies me everywhere: to work, on holiday, and from the sofa to my bed.

Endometriosis is, in itself, a chronic pain condition, where cells similar to those found in the lining of the womb grow elsewhere in the body, and it has caused my insides to be knitted together with scarring and nodules. After multiple surgeries to remove the offending tissue, I developed complications and a secondary pain condition that I wrestle with daily.

The problem with managing chronic pain is that most of the solutions suggested by doctors are based on what we know about acute pain: take painkillers, and rest up. Apart from, when you’re in constant pain for months or years that strategy isn’t always sustainable. Applied heat is just one small part of the finely-tuned routine that keeps me going, but it’s an important one.

My hot water bottle can be stuffed behind my back as I furiously edit copy to a crazy deadline. I can lie it across my legs under my desk when I’m catching up with my colleagues in meetings. And sometimes, gloriously, my husband has it waiting for me when I come home after a tiring day. The heat offers me instant relief, a soothing distraction from the klaxonning alarm sounding underneath. Even when it’s not in use, just knowing that I have it to hand helps calm the anxiety of what I’ll do if the pain becomes unmanageable.

Hot water bottles are cheap and sustainable. They are almost always under £10 if you’re going for an uncovered variety such as the Boots one that I have. If you want to splash out on one with a furry protective cover, The White Company has one for £30 that looks super soft. But honestly, any brand will do the job.

They are laughably portable (I stuff a hot one in a tote bag as I’m leaving the house) and they stay hot for hours, especially when smuggled under a jumper or a blanket, which I’m now claiming as my personal style.

I’m not ashamed to do this in public. On the tube or at events, my bulging, plastic belly does occasionally invite a questioning look. But more often than not, no one notices, and I can get on with my day in close to comfort. Some people assume I’m on my period, and I occasionally catch male colleagues averting their eyes from my garish, blue friend. But that just adds to the fun. For me, it’s a show of outward rebellion – a blue, rubber flag of victory that says: “Despite the extenuating circumstances, I’ve shown up and am fighting to take up space.”

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