Thursday, June 09, 2011

Was that what I think it was???

So this is going to be a personal post. For anyone grossed out or offended by period talk, just stop reading now.

It was the summer of '85. My mom and I were visiting family in North Carolina: my Aunt Janie, Uncle Howdy and my mom's mother (we called her "Meem") who was in a nursing home near my aunt and uncle's house. It was a difficult trip for my mom as Meem's health was declining and it was nearing the end of summer vacation, and in my 13 year old world, visiting a nursing home for hours in a day was not the ideal way to spend it. A few days into the trip I went for a swim in their pool and my mom came out back to tell me it was time to come inside and get ready for another visit to the home. I ignored her and kept swimming. A few minutes went by and out she came again, this time with more force in her voice announcing that we have to leave NOW. Again, I just swam along, not paying much attention. I was definitely entering the "bitchy stage" of my adolescence. The 3rd and final time my mom came outside, she was not happy. She shouted as my head popped in and out of the water and her final shriek was, "LAURA ANNE get out of that pool RIGHT NOW! We are NOT HERE TO HAVE FUN!!" I will never forget that line because up until Aunt Janie's death a couple years ago we still got quite a chuckle out of it. 

So begrudgingly I got out of the pool, put on some clothes and off to the home we went. My aunt had a fancy candy dish in the foyer and I had grabbed a handful of cinnamon disks to take along with me as a treat.

Remember these???


I had eaten quite a few of them, my tongue was bright red and started to get those little nubbies on it from eating too much sugar but that didn't do much to stop the binge. As the day went on I started to get a bit of a stomach ache so my mom took the rest of the candy away and said "No more." 

We got back to my family's house early in the evening and I remember feeling exhausted, bloated and pissed off at the world. My mom and Aunt Janie were in the kitchen making dinner which I said I didn't want, so I sulked in the living room and watched Remington Steele. Even though my tummy ached, I continued to sneak more candy, carefully opening each one so my mom didn't hear the wrappers crinkle. Next thing I knew, I woke up covered in a blanket, still sitting upright. It was still light outside, maybe 8:00pm but everyone else had gone to bed. As I got up to go to bed my lower back was incredibly sore. Maybe I thought it was from sleeping in the sitting position, or even from too much swimming, but the pain was very different from anything I had felt before. And I remember this, even now some 26 years later. 

And the other thing I will never, ever, EVER forget is when I grabbed the blanket off the couch there was a nice big bright red spot on the cushion where I sat. My aunt and uncle had a light blue couch with pale green and white floral designs and believe me when I say that spot stuck out like the Target logo. Immediately I freaked, not quite sure what to do (Google would have been nice) so I went into the kitchen, grabbed a towel and tried to dab it up. It was still very visible and I was almost in tears so I went into my mom's room, woke her up and asked for help. Now, I was not a naive 13 year old. I knew a LOT of things I probably shouldn't know at 13, all thanks to my 21 year old sister and her friends/boyfriends. So when I told my mom what happened, it was not out of ignorance, it was only because it made logical sense, based on the events of the day.

We walked over to the stained couch and I said something like, "Don't get mad, but I ate too much cinnamon candy, even after you said not to, and it's starting to come out of me." 

My mom looked at the couch, then back at me with an expression I did not recognize and hugged me tight. With pride? in her voice she said, "Honey...you're becoming a woman!!" 

I looked at her like she had seriously lost her mind and thought maybe she thinks I'm growing up because I told the truth about eating more candy but whatever her reasoning, I was convinced the red stuff was from the dye of the cinnamon disks, which continued to pour out of my ass (or so I thought.) I tried explaining this to my mom a second time because it was happening again, with more force. 

We grabbed some clean underwear from my room and my mom escorted me into the bathroom. Before leaving she told me to identify the source of the stain and that she'd be outside waiting for me. After a few seconds it was VERY clear which orifice was leaking so I cleaned up as best I could and folded some toilet paper in my panties. My stomach cramps were growing worse by the minute and I started to feel achy all over. I washed my face and brushed my teeth and opened the door only to find my mom and aunt both standing there, with ridiculous grins on their faces. And my aunt was holding a box of gigantic maxi pads with attached belts that wrapped around your waist. This scared me.

I was pissed that my mom woke up Aunt Janie to tell her "my big news" but I was even more embarrassed to tell her about the couch stain, which she casually dismissed with a hand wave. She handed me the pads and said I could use these for the night and tomorrow we'd go shopping for my own supplies. Back into the bathroom I went trying to stick what felt like a twin mattress to my teeny tiny underwear. It was the most uncomfortable feeling and the pad kept shuffling to the sides when I walked not to mention it sounded like a diaper. I was afraid it was going to seep out when I slept so my aunt gave me a soft blue babydoll nightgown (which I still have to this day!) because I didn't want to stain my pajama bottoms. I also put a dark towel on top of the sheet so as not to ruin anymore stuff in their house. Before I went to bed I asked my mom if I could call my sister and she said of course so I did. When I told her what happened she seemed surprised and thrilled and then told me that when we go to the store tomorrow to get slim tampons because pads are a sloppy mess and feel like a diaper. No shit.

The next morning at the drug store my mom fought me tooth and nail when I grabbed a box of tampons but thankfully my aunt intervened and said, "Just let her try them." When we got home I had absolutely NO CLUE how to use them, and ended up with it just sort of sitting in the middle of my lady parts, sort of like a log, not really hidden from sight if you know what I mean. It was even more uncomfortable than the pad, especially when I sat down so I ended up using some smaller Always pads that fit much better than my aunt's surfboard length wonders but were still cold and icky feeling.

From that day forward and every single month that followed I had horrific cycles, several times ending up in the ER starting in high school through my late 20s. A new gyno put me on the Depo-provera shot which alleviated some of the symptoms but after a bout with pre cervical cancer in 2000, I stopped using it. I was taking prescription motrin often up to a week before my period started to help reduce inflammation and get "in front of" the pain. Some months that helped but more often than not I would end up throwing up the pills before they even had a chance to kick in. In 2008 I had surgery to remove endometriosis that had actually grown outside of my uterus, attaching to my bladder and colon. It seemed to help for the first few months but soon was back to square one with severe pain, diarrhea and vomiting, the first day of my period.

Which brings me to the present. I had what I can only describe as a very mild pang of a cramp the morning it started. In fact, I didn't even think it really was a period at all. It lasted only 3 days and aside from minor lower back aches, that was all I got. I took zero medication, prescription or over the counter and even ended up running 5 miles on day 2!  In 26+ years of menstruating, that has NEVER happened.

I continue to reap so many rewards of my new diet and lifestyle, that I don't even miss what I thought I'd be missing! (If that makes sense.)


6 comments:

karen gerstenberger said...

Okay, that is amazing. Who would have thought that what we eat would affect our periods? But I suppose it affects EVERYTHING. I'm so happy for you! You seem to be on the road to healing all kinds of things that you had grown accustomed to suffering. What a wonderful change in your life!

Me said...

This was such a surprise to me as well! I was completely blown away and kept saying every night to Tom how I can't believe it. It's like I was re-born into a different body. And tonight I made dairy free Indian food and there's no sign of any explosion so far! THAT is the true test!!! xoxo

karen gerstenberger said...

Your writing about it is going to help a LOT of other people, too. xoxox

Australian Stephanie said...

It's an amazing result - brava. The way you've told the story is hilarious. That vision of your aunt's stained couch in the shape of the Target symbol and you thinking it was the candy! It would make a great scene in a screenplay.

KBL 2 ORD 2 SAN 2 LUV said...

I think Australian Stephanie hit the nail on the head! You are an exceptional writer and what a spectacular screenplay your tales would become!!!

I second Karen as well. Praise God, Allah, Buddha, Jehovah, and all the rest of them! You have no idea how thrilled I am that you’re finally in a zone of relief.

Like I’ve told you before, I’ll never forget witnessing the excruciating pain and panic when you were at our house. Gosh, I felt for you my tiny friend. This is why I am so happy right now after having caught up on your posts and see that all is going so well.

Milo is hanging in there. For every 1 bad day he might have, he has 3 to 4 good ones, so we’re all still on the ride with him. His bad days = bad nights, which = sleeplessness for us. But, oh well. He is our Golden Fuzzy Bear and we love him so.

Please give Wrigs and Chums love for me. Last week was 2 years that Achilles said good-bye. We thought of you guys and the trips he took with us to your Mission Viejo home. You are so much a part of our memories of Achilles. We miss you.

Me said...

Thanks so much you guys. It's unbelievable how many ppl have come out of the woodwork either on here or facebook or even at restaurants, whether it be servers, business folks we're dining with, even people at neighboring tables with questions who have similar issues. More people than not seem to have some pretty significant digestive issues. Crazy!!

KBL, I've been thinking about you a lot and am happy to hear that Milo is holding his own. His ration to good and bad days is good! I wonder why that one day is tough though. If he's on kidney medication do you think he needs to take it more frequently? Chum is on his meds twice a week because going a full week would be too much lag time. So we give him meds Monday morning and thursday night to help regulate him. But there are still days where he'll be sick for 3 or 4 days in a row, then bounce back. It's all very inconsistent which is the hardest part. I no longer state out loud when he's doing really well because inevitably the next day is a bad one. :(

And thank you for your pratThanks so much you guys. It's unbelievable how many ppl have come out of the woodwork either on here or facebook or even at restaurants, whether it be servers, business folks we're dining with, even people at neighboring tables with questions who have similar issues. More people than not seem to have some pretty significant digestive issues. Crazy!!

KBL, I've been thinking about you a lot and am happy to hear that Milo is holding his own. His ration to good and bad days is good! I wonder why that one day is tough though. If he's on kidney medication do you think he needs to take it more frequently? Chum is on his meds twice a week because going a full week would be too much lag time. So we give him meds Monday morning and thursday night to help regulate him. But there are still days where he'll be sick for 3 or 4 days in a row, then bounce back. It's all very inconsistent which is the hardest part. I no longer state out loud when he's doing really well because inevitably the next day is a bad one. :(

And thank you for your love, support and acceptance of my ick issues. What you witnessed at your house was becoming a daily occurrence no matter what I ate. I'm making all sorts of fun, new recipes I will share with you that don't make me sick anymore! YAY!

xoxo to all!