I dread the turning of every month, I dread feeling that little stab my fallopian tubes give me to signal “Your eggo can get preggo.”
My ‘period incoming’ bell begins to ring and I rush to complete any tasks both professional and social I may have outstanding in the next ten days.
The word I first heard associated with my uterus aged 19. Having begun my period at the ripe young age of 9, I had at that point grown used to the profuse clotting, bleeding and pain that came along with each of my periods.
Constant iterations from my aged, male GP offered no solution to my life-ruining monthly visitor.
“You are young, hormones are raging this will even out”
“Try this, three times a day, during the worst days of your cycle let me know if it makes a difference”
Prescription after prescription, I would have preferred my teenaged self not to have to swallow.
I had assumed this is how periods were for all women, A painful, dreadful monster it was my lot in life to withstand because I had drawn the XX card in the genetic lottery.
“This is to be a women” I had been told, Normally by well-meaning middle-aged men or baby boomer women who either had never had to deal with a uterus of their own in their lives or whose uterus had long since desisted in its monthly shredding and for whom their uterus was but an abandoned first home of their now-grown offspring.
I am not bitter you understand, but at my now nearly 28 years of age, holding back against 18 years of “It can’t be that bad” has gotten me done, just fucking done. Most women do struggle for 8-12 years to get any kind of diagnosis, so I guess for once in my life I was right on schedule.
Aged Nineteen, I was taking an antibiotic that seemingly interfered with my birth control at a time I was beginning a new relationship, with all the sexual vigour that entails. I became pregnant, it was unexpected, unwanted and confusing. For the three years previous, I had been struggling to reconcile the more catholic parts of my upbringing ( on the part of my grandma) with everything I now knew about myself, my politics, opinions and agendas. I was a completely pro-choice, feminist liberal, moreover, I was an atheist.
My Grandmothers death when I was 16 had the most profound effect on me that hasn’t been seen before or since.
She had been my mother, friend, competition, teacher and moral compass.
For these reasons, the typical teenage confusions of feeling and hormones, the struggle to reconcile with myself and my overwhelming feeling for the 27-year-old father I didn’t go through with an abortion.
The pregnancy ended in a miscarriage and the repercussions of my indecisiveness travelled with me until I was 26, in fact only 6 months ago was I able to say out loud
“It was for the best, you need to live your life!”
One very unexpected ‘perk’ of carrying this pregnancy, however, was that for around three years my endometriosis was seemingly “cured,” I had no pain at any point during my cycle besides some light cramping on the first days of my period and a few clots. Finally, I was having the periods I had always heard about. Functional ones where I could be a member of society, work, socialise, shower, eat… LIVE!
It began to be believed perhaps I had been misdiagnosed, perhaps I truly was “growing into” my period and this had all been a mistake.
One afternoon mid-2012, I began to have the strangest rumbling and cramp in my abdomen/pelvis, now a distant memory, endometriosis didn’t cross my mind, a parasite did, endo did not.
I had a very sudden, very real need to either poop, vomit or give birth, dashing faster than I ever imagined my portly frame could muster I ducked into the nearest bathroom with relief etched upon my face.
Diarrhoea, comforting diarrhoea that proved I wasn’t about to be the next feature on ‘I didn’t know I was pregnant’
“Must have been something I ate?” I told myself as I quickly recounted every morsel that had passed my lips in the last 48 hours.
A sobering recollection of quite how much of a gannet I am.
As my bloating and cramping grew, I began to consider going to the E.R. Fits of overwhelming heat followed by soul-freezing cold, convinced I could feel the parasite burrowing deeper into my intestines.
It was there on my bathroom floor, dripping with sweat, naked and fetal that I felt the first globule of this new era of endometriosis in my life.
I was barely able to leave my bed for 4 days, considering with each passing hour how much time I could sit on this sanitary pad before I would have to muster all my strength to move to change myself and clean up this mess.
Once making it to six hours before I was overwhelmed with sitting in cold dampness and the smell of rotten clotted blood and also having left a sufficiently large blood-print of my ass on my crisp and new white marital sheets. A blood print I would live and sleep with for the next two days because the effort required to move to change and launder the sheets honestly, made me want to use my sheets to hang myself if nothing else.
Long suffering Ren, bless him offered to help me but the effort required to transport my bleeding mess from the only comfort of a fetal position to an upright human on a couch literally felt like the longest few feet in the world. Marathonic proportions.
Eventually on the third day and both sides of the same bed bloodied and arse-printed, I armed with 2 chocolate bars, diclofenac tablets and cream, weed and three simultaneous heat pads moved long enough to allow a sheet change and mattress provisions to be made ( Old towels and old sheets and replacement mattress protector were needed)
Thus re-begun the monthly disruption of an otherwise relatively successful life. I was writing as I always had, as I had always wanted, I was free and outside of the corporate machine and my art was mine alone.
I was living in the peace of the country, with nothing to do but write and live happily. Alas, I could not, more and more my days were consumed with cramps and discomfort, bloating a desire to eat everything in the house then not want to eat anything for three days because my stomach was turning inside out.
“I’m on warm milk and laxatives, cherry flavoured antacids” became my life.
This disease, illness affliction tom-foolery whatever you wish to call it, overtook my life with such ferocity I was powerless to resist. My writing leaving me was the cruellest thing endometriosis took from me, my body after 15 years of constant battle had given up on me and wanted to rest, shut down and barely functional we skulked back to the city for job opportunities I would never be able to take anyway.