I’m about to get real personal.
Be forewarned that this post is going to contain talk about female body parts, so if you are a lady, a girl, or know a lady or a girl that you care about this post is IMPORTANT and please keep reading.
When I was a young girl I was what is considered to be a “late bloomer.” I would literally pray every night for my period to start and for me to have boobs. All my friends, starting in 6th grade were getting boobs and I was severely left out. Boys would make fun of me constantly, calling me “a pirates dream, a sunken chest” or “a carpenters dream, flat as a board and never been nailed.” Ahhh growing up in the 80’s was such a dream. At least our insults were more than just “whore”, “slut,” and “bitch.” All through Jr. High I was the only girl who hadn’t gotten her period or boobs. Going into my freshman year of High School I FINALLY hit 5 feet tall. I was so excited. Now maybe the boobs would come. And they did. Along with my period. Which of course came at the BEST time. Right in the middle of basketball tryouts. I thought I was peeing myself. But no, just an uncontrollable flood of blood.
I panicked. I didn’t know what to do. This had never happened. So I just pulled my shirt down over my blood soaked shorts and continued playing one handed the best I could. There I was surrounded by a ton of girls embarrassed for being a girl. Funny how that happens.
I didn’t know what I was wishing for then. I thought getting my period meant I was a “woman” now. That I was “Growing UP.” Like that would come with some sort of superpower or that I would start to look like Linda Carter and BE Wonder Woman. Actually all it meant was that I was fertile and had the ability to bear children. I didn’t realize that it would REALLY be every month, I mean, they told us that in Health class that it would, but I really thought they were exaggerating. I didn’t realize that EVERY month I would be going through this and that there would be PAIN involved. LOTS of pain. And I didn’t get to skip school for those 5-10 days, or not play basketball or be alive, I just had to keep going. Eventually of course I got used to it and knew when it was coming and got copious amounts of chocolate to get myself though it.
So looking back on the beginning of it all, 25 years ago, is making me happy and sad at the same time. Then I was “Growing Up” now I am just “Growing Old.” Today is the first day of my last period ever. How do I know that? Well I know that for sure because on the 27th of this month I am having a Hysterectomy. What? You just turned 40! Aren’t you a little young for that? Are you sure you want to do that?
Yes I just turned 40 and yes I am slightly young to be needing this procedure. BUT, I have needed it for some time. And this is why I want all of you ladies and anyone who cares about ladies to pay attention.
I have two beautiful children. They are turning 11 and 8 this year in the fall. I was overweight when I got pregnant with both of them, but I lost all the weight I gained while pregnant. I have done various diets over the years, everything from Vegan to gluten free. And a teeny bit of weight would come off. I would exercise, I walked, I ran on a tread mill, lifted weights, swam, P90Xed and everything in between. And a TEENY bit of weight would come off. But the last few years I have really just felt like a hot pile of shit most of the time. I have been having a terrible time sleeping, night sweats, and a LOT of pain in my “stomach”. No matter what I ate I seemed to have this pain.
When I would bend over to tie my shoes, pain. When I would lift something slightly heavy, pain. I thought this pain was because I was “fat”. I thought that when you are fat it caused you pain. This year I FINALLY got some health insurance that was worth a damn and I decided to get EVERYTHING checked. I got an MRI, a CT scan, an EEG all to check WHY I was having migraines, all NORMAL. I got a full physical, all tests were NORMAL. Blood pressure, NORMAL. And finally I got every woman’s FAVORITE exam, the Pap Smear. That too was NORMAL except right after having it my period started. Which shouldn’t have happened since I have been on the pill for more than a year and I was in the MIDDLE of the month of pills. No where near starting my period.
I noticed too that if I missed my pill by even a few hours my period would start, even if it wasn’t supposed to start for another 10 days, and it would continue until I started a new pack. This was very upsetting and energy draining. Having a period, that is HEAVY as hell for 10-15 days a month just makes it near impossible to get anything done. I found myself sleeping a lot during these months and wondering what was wrong. I seriously thought I was dying or had cancer or something.
I got an appointment with an OB and told her everything. She agreed that none of this was normal. She suggested and IUD which would stop my periods for 5 years and then we could reevaluate afterwards because it was early for a hysterectomy. I said, “Sign me up!” No periods for 5 years? YES please. She proceeded with the “manual” exam to check my uterus, she told me, “Your Uterus is huge.” I was pretty sure that wasn’t a compliment, so I asked, “is that bad?” She said not necessarily but it could mean that the IUD could fall out. Great. Now my Uterus is the Grand Fucking Canyon. We both decided to give it a go anyway. Worst case scenario, it would fall out. Before they put the IUD in they have this dipstick looking plastic thing that measures how big your uterus is so they don’t put the IUD in there too far and perforate your Uterus. As she was doing this she told me my Uterus was “tilted” and had to be “Stabilized” but it was no big deal. I said alright. As she was “stabilizing” my uterus I experienced more pain than I ever have in my life. I couldn’t breathe, and I just started bawling. She stopped everything. I almost passed out. They brought me some juice and the OB hugged me.
Now she was concerned. This, the pain I experienced, that was still vibrating in my groin, was NOT a good sign. She wanted to do some tests and then we would talk about the next step. The tests were an Ultrasound of my Uterus and Ovaries, both the outtie one where you drink water like a camel while they put pressure on your tummy to see everything and of course the INNIE one when you get the wand up your Vagina to see even more. SO much fun. And then a biopsy of the Uterus. Pap Smears only test for CERVICAL Cancer. Nothing else. And the ONLY way to test for Uterine cancer is a biopsy which meant I was going to have to go through the Uterus stabilization AGAIN. This time I got Percocet for that and THANK ALL the GODS for Percocet! I was a nervous wreck following the biopsy. It took days to get the results and despite the Percocet helping during the procedure I needed MORE following it.
FINALLY I heard back that it was negative. No Cancer. Now what? When I saw my doctor she told me what the ultra sound had found. I have over 30 fibroid tumors all over my uterus. One, that was well over 3cm long was perforating the Uterine wall and that would be why I had so much pain. And to clarify the “Huge uterus” statement she explained, a normal Uterus is about the size of your fist. A little smaller even. (See Diagrams) When you have your period it swells a little and then goes back to normal after. My uterus, ALL the time was the size that a 4-5 month pregnant woman’s would be. (See Diagrams) Which is about the size of a Rugby Ball. Well NO WONDER I was in constant pain and having trouble eating and pooping. I have been walking around HALF FUCKING PREGNANT for a few years. Everything made total sense to me then. I decided, I already had two beautiful children and I wasn’t planning on having more and that I wanted the Hysterectomy. She agreed, since there was no way to reduce the size of my Uterus back to normal.
So that brings me to today and starting the last period I will ever have. It is bittersweet to be sure. But I feel like right now I have control of my life and I am headed toward healing and health in a way that I haven’t in a long time.
Why did I write all this down? I want EVERY woman to take care of themselves. DO not think that PAIN is normal. We are SO incredibly strong, us women. We deal with pain of our periods, pain of childbirth and we just keep going. But LIVING in pain is not normal or healthy. Talk about your UTERUS and VAGINA. They are not bad words. It is important to know what is going on with them. So please talk to your OB and if you don’t have an OB GET ONE. Can’t afford it? Go to Planned Parenthood. They can help you out. YOU ARE WORTH IT.
So cheers to you, my final Period. You served me well. Thank you Uterus for my two beautiful Boys that I treasure more than anything in the world. Farewell. I will miss you, but seriously not that much, I mean NO MORE PERIODS EVER!!! YAY! Growing “OLD” isn’t so bad.