Losing the Battle…But Winning the War


“You ever had one of those wars where everything goes wrong?” Hawkeye, M*A*S*H

From the earliest history classes, we’re taught how it’s very hard to win a war fought on two fronts. You can easily be overtaken. If you start to ignore one front to concentrate on the other, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble. Just ask Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Hitler.

And me.

I have endometriosis and fibromyalgia. It seems like I’m constantly fighting a two front war to keep both illnesses from overtaking me. Sometimes the war is quiet, sometimes it’s a full frontal assault while also getting flanked. I know I’ll never fully defeat them, but I can try to keep a cold war from heating up and play the game of appeasement.

The last few months my endo has been on the offensive. I’ve been throwing everything I’ve had at it just to keep it semi-manageable. Think of it as my troops riding in on shower stools, armed with spoons shimmering in the sun, pain medications flying through the air pelting the endo, and waving heating pads as flags.

As I’ve been occupied on the endo front, the fibro front went largely ignored. I was staring at it over a no-man’s land, too worn out to battle it. It wasn’t flaring too badly (were my propaganda bombs of “you will never beat me” effective?) so it was easy to only focus on the endo front.

Little did I know that my fibro had been using this time for efficient strategizing and gathering reinforcements. I also went through a fibro medication change at this stage too. Remember the phrase “Don’t change horses in the middle of the stream?” I was so caught up in the endo fight that I wasn’t aware of the dangerous side effects this new medication was having on me. I should have caught it much earlier than I did. It resulted in a hospital stay, my first brush with mortality, and the realizations that ignoring one illness in favor of another was not a wise strategic move or that taking on too much at once will cause me to be less effective as commander in chief of this war.

As I began paying attention my fibro again, I realized that I had been very negligent. All I had been doing was shooting the occasional pill at it, thinking that it would immobilize it long enough for me to deal with my endo. Then I changed fibro medications without thinking how beleaguered my poor body and mind had been during the endo assault; I should have waited for a more opportune time to try out new weapon advances. I had pushed aside all the intelligence reports I had about the lifestyle changes–maintaining the home front if you will–the little things that I could do to undermine fibro’s control on my body. This was apparent when I went in for an hour full body massage and my massage therapist never left my shoulders.

I now know that I need to be waging war on both fronts. Even if I ignore one illness, it doesn’t retreat or disband. At the least it will become a subversive, causing minor skirmishes; at the most it will be waiting and ready to strike at your most vulnerable, bringing about total war. From now on, I will be vigilant, surveying both battlefields routinely. After all, like George Santayana said, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”


Article written by staff writer, Sonja K. Peterson

Sonja is a cat mom with endometriosis and fibromyalgia. She also had a hysterectomy for adenomyosis. She blogs about her experiences at The Mud and the Lotus www.mudandlotus.com

  • I understand the importance of not neglecting an ailment. But what do you do when there are so many you can’t even keep track of them? I must admit I mainly pay attention to whatever is being most disruptive at the moment. Because I spent the past five years trying everything under the sun to lessen my horrible exhaustion, the pain got short shrift, especially since I can’t take anything for it. But I finally got some insurance that would cover physical therapy, and it has been hell to endure because my brain is stuck in permanent pain signal mode and can’t seem to comprehend that I am changing my body for the better. Trying to keep up with everything is like running on an endless treadmill.

    Well-written article.

  • Diane

    Crystal – Something my grandmother turned me onto when I was pregnant with my first child (and wound up hospitalized for 5 days with dehydration from severe morning sickness) is peppermint herbal tea. It’s great for so many things, especially nausea. Its also good for sore throats and chest congestion. It is all natural, caffeine free, and is a clear fluid. I’ve given it to all 5 of my kids when they’ve had colds or flu, from the time they were infants on bottles. It really helped me with morning sickness. I wish you all the best.

  • Ellen

    I needed this..I have CFS and fibromyalgia, which are two things that wants the opposite things. At the same time I have untreated bipolar disorder..trying to please all 3 is kinda…impossible. Where the hell do I start, how do I balance this?
    One way or another, I’ll lose. Most likely I’ll go mad in the process. But I am trying! Thats the important thing, right?

  • Gail Wilder

    Whoa I really needed that. I’ve been trying to figure out what disease was causes me problems and I just learned it was both my PID and Addison’s. It was mentioned my Grace period might just be over but I’m going to keep singing the song, Amazing Grace because I am realizing the fight starts in the mind and moves to the soul.

  • Crystal

    Thank you, that is how I’ve been feeling lately. Still trying to figure out how to battle morning sickness the newest front. Today is a loosing battle on all fronts.

  • michelle

    Wow I can so relate! I just had the surgery for my endometriosis. They had to take my ovary and my appendix. The dr said it was all over the place even in my bladder! My fibro has been horrendous lately but I think its cause Im not really sleeping well…… ((((hugz))) to all!! 🙂

  • Beautifully written. Keep fighting the good fight!

  • Rene

    Absolutely loved this! Being chronically ill is a war! And one that few people understand, especially when they think that you look “just great”. I always think to myself that if people really knew what was going on inside of me they would run in horror. I think I’ve even told people that it feels like a war going on, where I feel like my body is eating itself alive, and I have to sit and watch with my eyes open…tied to a chair. It’s a terrifying thing we go through, but that we’re able to still to push through is a testament to the hidden mental, because it’s definitely not physical, strength we’re given when ill.

    Thanks again for the post! I’m right there with you in the fight!!

  • I never thought about it this way. I have multiple, overlapping auto-immune dx’s (or wastebasket dx’s as one doctor so rudely put it 18 years ago) and have been spending my energy just trying to out-run all of them. It hasn’t been very effective. I need to print this and re-group my forces. Thanks…

  • natty

    Mine’s a 3 sided war at the moment. I hadn’t realised I was neglecting one while trying to battle the other two. I shall pay more attention from now on! I really don’t want a flare because I’ve ignored the signs!
    Thanks for understanding

  • isabelle janicaud

    thankyou…im in that place right now and well,you know what its like when people actually really KNOW know what you are experiencing

  • Ashley Morgan

    Wonderful! I love the imagery you used!