That’s right, I’m talking women’s business but that doesn’t mean I want my male readers to skip this post. Everyone knows a woman or girl who experiences a painful period. I’m not talking about ouchie cramps that a panadol or two will knock over. I’m talking ashen faced, foetal position, guttural moaning, hips on fire, discharge and clots, loss of appetite and extreme fatigue.
There is always one woman who’s period seems much more dramatic than her girlfriends but that doesn’t make her an attention seeker. What she needs is to seek the attention of a doctor better yet, a specialist. Pain is not ok, there is no “normal” and if painful periods are effecting your life, work or school get it checked out.
I was the last of my school friends to get my period when I was just shy of 13, they teased me about it. When I finally got it I was so happy, confused but happy. Then for one or two days every month in a perfect cycle I would find myself incapacitated, blood drained from my face and unable to eat.
Whole days spent in the sick bay staring at the lame posters, clinging to a hot water bottle and crying. I couldn’t stay home as no one could be there to look after me. I couldn’t swallow pills, they made me gag so my mum had to make me thick peanut butter sandwiches with crushed up panadol tablets in it.
None of my friends experienced periods the way I did. Even my Mum, although she wanted to, didn’t understand why my life would come to a standstill over a period. Why I’d crawl into my parents bed, even when I was 17 and I’d sob until I had a panic attack. In school you were told periods were painful, you’ll bleed a little for about 5-7 days and until it was over you had to just suck it up mentally and literally with tampons or pads.
When Steve and I were introduced as friends I had my period. I went out drinking to numb the pain then late that night I dropped by his house. I liked him, he made me feel safe and I just wanted to hang out. He could see the pain in my face despite my dopey love drunk grin and as we lay talking in the dark he spooned me, stroked my forehead and kneaded his fists into my lower back until I fell asleep. He didn’t even try and grab my boobs. I woke a little later from the cramps, Steve had fallen asleep next to me. I freshened up in the bathroom, snuck quietly back into the room, softly woke him up and I kissed him.
I kissed my husband.
For 10 years Steve has watched me in agony but it wasn’t until 5 years into our relationship at 22 that I was diagnosed with Edometriosis and suddenly it all made sense. Why my hormones were erratic, why my pain was so intense, why I had clots… I had an answer. I wasn’t insane, a sook, overly dramatic or sensitive to pain, I had a disease. I was admitted for day surgery and was meant to be in and out in less than four hours.
There was more tissue than they had expected for my age, my endo was hardcore. The removal took longer and had complications which lead to an overnight stay. I have the whole thing on DVD but even the stills make me want to puke. Lets just say my pelvic area isn’t Disneyland but having that surgery meant that several months later I’d conceive Aidan naturally and he is very best thing on earth, my heart walking outside my body.
It’s been five years since that surgery and the blinding pain and irregularity of my periods (anywhere from 6 weeks to 5 months) leaves me unable to function. I know it needs to be done again, every fiber of my being tells me to but I also know that there is a slim window to try and conceive again. The “trying” put me in such a bad place last time I’m not sure if I’m strong enough to go through it again, let alone with Aidan as a witness.
If wonderful things do happen and I do fall pregnant, I would have a hysterectomy after the birth. That’s a very heavy and final decision to make, especially when I’m not even 30. Nothing about life is simple. Mine isn’t a tragic circumstance, life could be much crueler but I only know my own pain just like only you know yours. Endometriosis isn’t something older ladies have later in life… it’s just taken them years to get the right diagnosis. If you suffer too please don’t be one of them.