I woke up on Christmas morning in Florida last year to an excruciating pain in my abdomen. I’ve felt pain before. I’ve give birth. I’ve taken a line drive softball in my breast when I was 13 (that really really hurt). I slammed my vagina hard on a bike seat poppin’ wheelies. I know some pain. But This Pain was the kind of pain they are talking about when they say pain that stops you dead in your tracks. And it was Christmas Day, which was unfortunate timing, because I have at least one child who still believes in Santa Claus. But I also have a worrying Irish mother, so I was carted to the Emergency Room by a worrying Irish aunt.
Watching my mom and my aunt speculate about what was causing The Pain was entertaining, and served to break up the agony in my belly. “Oh, it could be a gallstone, I had that, oh it is appendicitis, oh, maybe it’s a tumor, or cancer!”
On the plus side, I learned why Dilaudid is called Hospital Heroin. On the minus side, after a Very Expensive MRI, my crack medical team never did figure out why I had The Pain. My doctor back in Baltimore seemed terribly unconcerned, and said we would “explore further if it came back.” Thanks Doc! Is this normal, that doctors don’t care what causes The Pain, so long as it isn’t happening now?
A few months later – it came back. The Pain that stops you dead in your tracks. It didn’t last as long this time, but it was long enough for me to realize this wasn’t abdominal pain.
This was Female Pain.
Like almost all Girls and Women, I have a Period. I bled on the back of my terry cloth white shorts when I was 14 and my uterus never looked back. I was what they call a Heavy Bleeder, and Very Regular. And I read all the books about My Period, and how it meant I was a Woman, and how it meant that if some nice man stuck his dick in me, one day, when I was married, I would have beautiful babies and Be Happy (hi, this is Gender).
And I, like many, many Girls and Women, planned my life around when my Vag would be spitting out copious amounts of blood during My Period. Would I need to find an excuse to skip gym? Would I be able to go swimming? Would I be able to play football? Would I be able to have sex with my girlfriend (just kidding)? These are some of the questions you ask when You Have A Period.
This is Sex, not Gender. Bleeding out of your Vag is Sex.
My Period happened to me. I didn’t identify my way into getting it. Indeed, I cried, prayed, protested that I got My Period At All, because I didn’t want it. But It happens. It is biology. It happens.
After giving birth to two (ADORABLE) humans in the lesbian way, I decided I didn’t want to bleed like a stuck pig every month until I hit menopause. So I talked to my doctor and he suggested an Endometrial Ablation to make My Period fuck off.
And Endometrial Ablation is, basically, burning off the lining on your uterus so you don’t bleed every month. Here is a more scientific explanation.
The biggest “downfall” of this procedure, according to my doctor, was that I couldn’t have any more babies. Since I was done having babies, I scheduled the procedure.
It was an out patient procedure, and it worked, for a while. I didn’t have a period, and I enjoyed not contributing my blood-soaked pads to landfills. I still got a cycle, but it wasn’t as bad as the Crimson Tide.
That ended on Christmas Day, when I experienced The Pain. And when The Pain happened, again, I called my doctor to have him tell me what I had already figured out.
The Ablation had failed.
Apparently, when Ablatations fail – which happens, according to my doctor, in 15% of cases, and, anecdotally, more often to women who have delivered a baby by C-Section (Check) – adenomyosis (ad-uh-no-my-O-sis) can occur. This is a condition when endometrial tissue, which normally lines the uterus, exists within and grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. Adenomyosis may cause:
- Heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding (Nope)
- Severe cramping or sharp, knife-like pelvic pain during menstruation (dysmenorrhea) (YES)
- Menstrual cramps that last throughout your period and worsen as you get older (Yes)
- Pain during intercourse (Like I Would Know, And Yes This Is Fucked Up)
- Bleeding between periods (Spotting, But Yes)
- Passing blood clots during your period (Yes)
I asked my doctor if there is anything I could do short of having a hysterectomy. He said I could go on birth control, but since I don’t want that poison in my body, that is not an option for me. And, it turns out, I don’t have to have a hysterectomy, so long as I am willing to live with The Pain.
I can live with The Pain, I think, for now, and The Pain will end when I hit menopause, so, that’s like, say, 8 more years? I think I can try to do that. My doctor gave me some pills to help with The Pain, so I am going to try that for now.
Menopause is something that will happen to me, like it happens to all Women who are “lucky enough” to live long enough to reach that milestone. (And of course, many of us don’t live long enough, what with all the male violence, rape, mayhem, murder, things that also Happen To Women).
Is this discussion ok? Does it offend you? Do you need a trigger warning? Are you triggered? Is it ok for me to talk about my female-specific health on the Internet? Do I need to be more inclusive in my language? Do I need to consider that My Period is some kind of a privilege, a privilege I have over Men who never got to experience the joys of bloody period clothes, or of being told to sit something out, feeling like garbage once a month for years?
Is this Hate Speech?
These are the questions I have now every single time I am confronted with Something That Happens Only To Women. More than anything else about these clod-awful times we live in, I resent, more than anything else, how This Issue Has Invaded My Space. How This Issue Has Invaded All Women’s Space. How This Issue Has Framed How Women Are Allowed To Speak About The Things That Happen To Us Because We Are Women.
I’d like it if you all, all of you who push these ideas that Vagina is a transphobic word, that Lesbians rejecting Males is bigotry, that Women-Only Space is hateful and mean and FredPhelpsHitleresque, how about if you, say, for a change, how about say you just back the fuck off.
Because I have really awful cramps, and they put me in a Very Bad Mood.
I am in a Very Bad Mood.
I am guessing it’s because of My Period.
And you know how Bad Women On The Rag Can Be.