Monday, August 10, 2009

Status update brought to you by the drugs don’t work.

Take my advice and leave a short comment of general support in the section kindly provided by blogger just for this purpose but don’t actually read the following. I double this if you are a boy and/or at all squeamish. Actually, this seems to be turning into the much threatened and long non-awaited menstruation post so I completely understand if everyone runs away now. Seriously, I’d be in another room right now if it wasn’t for the fact that one cannot yet divorce body from mind no matter how great the provocation.

I’ve considered skirting the topic but I’ve decided to be out and out militant and aggressive and shit because I’m in a terrible amount of pain and I’m grumpy and I have a nasty vicious little intention of sharing every last moment with you. Go cry in a corner if it works for you. It doesn’t work for me but, hey, who the hell am I? To start at the beginning (though it’s now somewhere in the middle), I have my period. This has never been a particularly fun state of being for me and in twenty years it’s not an experience that I’ve ever gotten used to. Even as a child reading a horrible and tedious amount of Judy Blume I cannot say I was one of those girls who looked forward to the Glory of Puberty and the joys of Becoming a Woman. Personally, no matter how you try to package the concept nothing makes bleeding from the vagina sound like fun. It never sounded anything other than frankly revolting and a tiny bit disturbing. I can quite understand how an entire chunk of a fairly major religion has built up on the concept of this as a punishment. It certainly feels like a curse. Perhaps you could argue that my view of this as something other than a positive experience has lead to this being an incredibly negative experience in my life. Perhaps I’ve reached the stage in my life where all kinds of magical thinking make me want to tear your head off and shove it up your arse. I don’t believe this, obviously. And the tearing your head off/shoving it up your arse thing is only partly the fault of PMS.

There is a part of me that is embarrassed by this topic. Embarrassed by experiencing it and embarrassed that I should discuss it and in mixed company. Cover your ears boys, hide your eyes, this is women’s business and we all know how they exaggerate. Embarrassed for experiencing what my body is supposed to do. Embarrassed for doing it so poorly, for not being secretive enough, for not floating through and running along the beach and holding hands with other girls and riding horses. Isn’t that how one is supposed to experience menstruation – men oblivious and women joyous? Perhaps I am embarrassed by my body’s failure to do and have done. For it to be quiet and normal and natural. For minor inconvenience and some slight emotional silliness of the kind that embarrasses women but that men understand. Oh great mystery, of course she’s being silly, she not tough like us menfolk. Oh fuck off. Fuck off. Any man who’d experienced and anticipated the pain I’ve had lately – and simply had to endure to its end – would have ended up in emergency. It is sheer bloody pointlessness that stops me wailing for help to the world at large. What can be done is being done and nothing can make it go faster.

And I’m making a hero of myself. I’m not a hero, far from it. I simply accepted as normal that which was not and have taken my time in resolving the situation. I remember childhood and those stupid puberty sessions and the absolute overload of non-informative information in leaflets and cutesy little brochures and a number of weird things on normal and not. I remember the first time I got my period. I remember being embarrassed and mortified rather than pleased at all. I remember wanting my parents not to embarrass me or to tease me as they picked me up from school. I remember the pain and illness both before and after a kind cousin put me on to naprogesic. I don’t remember the leaflets or anyone else saying that there was an upper limit on the pain. A point where there is a serious problem and that put up and shut up should not be engaged in. Women, perhaps, don’t talk about these things as they should. Some of us less than others. I suppose that it’s not strange that I should demur from discussions about things that cause pain. And, of course, the eternal one-up-ness that always leaves one feeling like a whinger. You don’t know pain, I know pain, mine’s worse than yours, I’m better than you for not whinging, for just putting up. And, as was so derisively said to me recently when I admitted that I’d taken rather a lot of painkillers for cramps, ‘you mean period pain..?’ You know, it may be no big deal to you but I can’t unbend. My legs shake like the elderly when I stand. My face is so white people keep asking me what’s wrong. And it turns out that after twenty years of putting the fuck up with it (with a recent dramatic increase in the pain stakes) that the pain was abnormal. And that there is a reason for the abnormality. And now I am so fucking angry at the contempt and the patronising that I want to repeatedly punch people in the stomach and ask them how it fucking feels. Oh you’re screaming and crying now? LET ME KICK YOU WITH A STEEL CAPPED BOOT. Fucking weakling.

I am, as usual, mostly angry with myself. In me this is recurrent – I get angry with myself when I misunderstand or just don’t get it, and angrier still when the light flicks on and I suddenly do. Oh, how stupid I’ve been is my constant refrain. It’s not just the bad stuff that I get upset about in such terms. I remember getting irritated when a friend – ironic new use of the word – kept harping on about my good skin. You know what, I neither knew nor cared but her neuroticism made it my problem. Genetics are a bitch but you have to get over that, right? Well, eventually, I suppose. This is all about genetics, really, as I discovered yesterday. Women talk about a lot of stuff but mostly you don’t share when you’re on the rag or embarrassing untimely bleeds or just how much pain you’re in. Even very close friends skim rather than go into detail. Family likewise - though this could be just me. Maybe everyone else is all yay-bleeding-from-the-vag-happytime share share share. It could just be me who’s all fuck off I feel ill and psychotic and GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME but leave the chocolate, back the fuck off but leave the damned chocolate. So anyway, it turns out that my particular issues, the progressively worse and now almost constant pain stem from the revoltingly gag-making endometriosis – or as both my mother and aunt describe it ‘that E thing that I can’t say’. Sometimes it’s frightfully easy to see that they’re sisters. It also turns out that I’m the third diagnosed case from a generation of four girls. My sister – and I’m sure we all hate her for this – may have missed out thus far by a combination of good luck and/or getting knocked up at the right time.

Where I stand now is crampy, frustrated, and well over having women’s hands and other fascinating medical paraphernalia up my vagina. Waiting for the fabulous take-all-the-time Pill to kick in and the hormones to normalise before I accidentally kill someone who says hello to me (I do not think prison would be conducive to avoiding the combination of other women and my vagina) and waiting on an official list designed just for the purpose for someone to inflate my gut and hoover out the nasties. And, of course, continuing to daydream about menopause or the day I’m old enough to have a hysterectomy. I gather that the latter removes the part of your brain that causes hysteria. I greatly look forward to it. In the meantime, there is pondering my dissolute life to be done and trying to decide once and for all the question of children – and I don’t mean other people’s. It seems that I will forever be on hormones and that anything involving my uterus will be a rather fraught experience. Still, why should the future be any different from the past?


Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Oh, gah! I'd assumed from the way you've spoken of your period in posts of your that you had endometriosis - and gosh, wish I'd said something. My former housematess has it and my eldest sister used to (before three bouts of surgery and five pregnancies). I hope now that there's a diagnosis there's a treatment that works for you and isn't itself too hideous. I'd definitely be giving you my chocolate, and I don't part with my chocolate lightly.

nailpolishblues said...

Alexis, it's pretty obvious in retrospect - for me, anyway. It's just that it got a lot worse in a very short space of time. Which, obviously, hasn't been a whole lot of fun.

Please tell me I don't need five pregnancies to get rid of this shit. What horror!

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

I think the one pregnancy did it, actually, but it was mighty hard to conceive (which is where the surgery came in, clearing endometrium out of the ol' tubes). Sorry, that's hardly consoling.

nailpolishblues said...

Exceedingly cold comfort.

Maria said...

"I gather that the latter removes the part of your brain that causes hysteria."

Wish it did, I know someone who had a hysterectomy who could do with some hysteria removing at the time ...

For many it is not, I believe, an easy transition to make.

As for me, I really think we have some evolving to do, why is it we have such a messy and painful way to signal our abiliy to procreate?? Surely a better designed human would be able to do this in such a way that wouldn't put a woman out of action for quite a few days in a month and turn her into a snarling animal!

Seems to me very inefficient. I read Judy Blume too but I didn't really want to get my period. I didn't spend preteen years checking my undies for spots.

I do experience emotional differences then, I don't think that's a myth at all, and also medical differences, I'm actually more vulnerable to certain things medically during my period. Like you I think of it as a literal pain.

Oh yeah, and when am I due ...?

nailpolishblues said...

Maria, more frustrating for me is alcohol intolerance. How the hell does menstruation effect one's ability to hold one's beer? That's just not cool.

Lack of design is probably a key issue. Thank goodness for pills, implants, and surgery.

Caz said...

Yes, I gather endometriosis is a total bitch. One of my sisters has it and has suffered awfully over the decades. The ship has come and gone for her to have children, but that was mostly her choice, I think, even if a passive one.

There are many dietary matters to be aware of - perhaps you've already done a Google on that. Every little bit helps: the proven medical support, 'natural' therapies, nutrition, looking after yourself. Take a multifaceted approach ... you will resort to that eventually in any case, so may as well start now, not later.

Children are not out of the question, but medical support and advice are often needed, by which I don't mean IVF, although I'm sure some end up giving that a whirl too. Sometimes persistence is enough, despite gloomy medical opinions. Not something you need to make a decision about, and at your age, you shouldn't be putting pressure on yourself to make such final decisions. For now, you need to do what's appropriate to look after your uterus first, rather than thinking about tossing it away.

Good post btw.

If the pain meds aren't working for you, insist that your GP gives you something that does work, or provides different options for you until you find an effective pain relief. Pain is horribly debilitating, physically, mentally, emotionally. Try to take it easy on yourself, and take pain meds early and often, don't be brave.

nailpolishblues said...

Caz, yeah, I've been doing quite a bit of reading - internet and the charmingly illustrated leaflets the doctor gave me and also talking to people. I'm surprised how common it is given that the stats claim only 5-10% of women. Seems to be quite a link to autoimmune disorders of which I have, to the best of my knowledge, none. I will, however, have to wait for the hormones to kick in to figure out if the exhaustion etc has any other cause. How tedious that this could take a while when I want it fixed now!

Pain really has been a bitch and for the moment we're working on stopping that. The big problem is that between periods I forget how bad it was and it does seem to get worse each time now. Still, I keep swallowing down far too many drugs and that seems to work sooner or later. I'm a screaming coward so there's very little chance of me trying to brave it out.

The doctors have been pretty sympathetic and upbeat. I just haven't been in a state to appreciate it. My GP was really good actually, she had it figured out so fast that the specialist she referred me to is something of an expert in the field. No time wasting there.

The angst re children comes from never having decided what I want and having the phrase 'preserving your fertility' thrown at me. Otherwise, I've ever looked forward to menopause/hysterectomy. Can't wait for it to be over.

Caz said...

"Only" 5-10% amounts to, maybe half a million, or more, women in Australia. That's actually a lot.

My sister has no autoimmune disorders, but that's one anecdote, and not much value to you. My unprofessional opinion is that if you don't believe you have any autoimmune disorders, then you don't, unless medically identified at some later time.

Pleased to hear that you have a good GP, who got onto the problem quickly and has referred you to an appropriate specialist.

Sometimes proper diagnosis takes such an age that it's a wonder people bother going to GPs at all, instead of just asking some random person around the neighborhood.

Not sure how women with endometriosis fair when it comes to menopause. Overall, most women sail through menopause without any problems; I have no inkling if it's less fun when there's a history of prior problems.

However, that's a waaaayyy off for you young lady! Not a cure on the verge of happening.

I don't think most men or women "know what they want", not really, in relation to having children, until they meet someone they feel a genuine urge to breed with.

I guess that has shifted a lot, far more people making a decision not to breed, having that fact on their dating calling card up front and centre.

There are also the clucky folk who coo from an early age about all the kiddies they want to have, but they're throw-backs to some older, less expensive and less emotionally draining era.

You don't have to "decide". In any case, sometimes the decision is taken out of people's hands. In the meantime, you should head the call of "preserving your fertility", just in case a time comes when you do want to exercise it. If not, you haven't lost anything.

nailpolishblues said...

One of the aforementioned cousins is also has Coeliac Disease and a colleague has Insulin Intolerance but I don't think I have either of those. My mother remains convinced that I have Pernicious Anaemia but I've never been tested. I think as you do - surely, by now, it would be obvious.

Sometimes it's easer to be a throwback - so much less angst.

Caz said...

Sometimes it's easer just to throwup - so much quicker to end their running commentary about your person. :-D

JahTeh said...

Having had one child and a history of ovarian cancer in the family, I was quite happy to get rid of the ovaries and companion cysts with a hysterectomy.
My first gyno told me that period pain was virtually first stage labour and I'm thinking "fuck what are the 2nd and 3rd like" and pressing knees closer together.

nailpolishblues said...

Caz, works for me.

JahTeh,I've heard similar about the period pain/labour thing. I gather the drugs are better for labour though.