Dear Uterus

It’s been six months since you left me. Or I left you. Either way, you went up in flames in a medical incinerator, for which I’m glad. You were the bane of my life for around thirty years and I fought so hard to have you severed from my body.

So how am I doing? Pretty damn good actually. Although, all the self-care I spent revving up to get rid of you; was undone by a bereavement wobble, meaning the sober start to the year went out the window. And all the carbs I’d also cut carefully out my life, sped back in again.

Here I sit, probably the heaviest I’ve ever been, but for the first time in a month – thank you flu. I’m fizzing with energy, which was what I was like immediately after surgery.

Tomorrow, after a nachos meal with the boys tonight, I’m off carbs. And the booze. Again. Part self-medication and part self-medication – I need to work out what I’m avoiding dealing with. I had a couple of nights on my own last week, and funked sitting there in silence to let it bubble up.

I am fed up of hiding.

Six months out, three and a half since Erika died, she visited me this week; shook me up and out of myself. It’s time I put me number one again. Maybe over the coming eight weeks, I’ll understand why I go so far, then self-sabotage. Wonder why I feel I’m not worthy of looking after myself consistently.

It’s a recognised part of depression, not taking care of yourself. But after my epiphany when I was barfing the other week and I realised that actually, I didn’t want to die. Despite another part of my brain telling me that it would be easy to fall down the stairs with vertigo, it’ll be an ‘accident’.

Here we are uterus, a line in the sand. Nachos and red wine blow out. I’m officially fully recovered from my surgery where you were dragged out my body. Aside from the odd leak when I sneeze, because to be fair you were a lot bigger than you had any right to be *cork popping* I’ve had no other issues.

There are three months left of this decade. I’m going to use them to my advantage, and hope that the orange cheeze-weasel doesn’t blow us all up in the interim…

Stream of consciousness. Typos are mine….

Well, that explains a lot

I had an ultra sound last Thursday; the technician was awesome, she explained everything that was going on all the way through the appointment. Short story, I have endometriosis.

She asked heaps of questions; how long I’d been struggling with my periods – um, for as long as I can remember? Was I ever in pain – yes. On and on we went. We found lesions all the way through my uterus, luckily it hasn’t migrated anywhere else, but it looks like it’s done enough damage as it is.

I am acutely aware I’m very lucky as all my organs are moving around freely, nothing like a good stomach palpitation to check that out *crosses eyes*. Other women who have this condition diagnosed can have lesions that migrate around their abdomen, causing all sorts of problems when it adheres to different structures.

Unlike most, I don’t actually remember my first period. but I remember thinking I had it one evening before a swimming club Christmas disco. I do know my periods always had a big impact on my moods, my life. Some days I was so sluggish in swimming races I didn’t even make my qualifying time (to get our entry fees back); a time a few weeks earlier that I’d been able to meet with ease. I remember one 200m breaststroke heat at Crystal Palace, it felt like I was swimming through treacle. My parents and coach were disappointed, I did the second turn (50m pool) and was in tears through the underwater phases, everyone in my heat had turned miles ahead of me. I just had to keep on going otherwise I’d be disqualified. I was just too slow, my arms and legs going through the motions, but not getting me anywhere.

As I hurtle towards the menopause, I do wonder how much longer I can do this. Sitting at my desk on broiling hot days with hot water bottles on my stomach, carrying undies around ‘just in case’. Le sigh. To add insult to injury, I’m now going to have to see my GP for paracetamol and codeine – from February, the hard stuff isn’t available over the counter any longer, which is a good thing. Unless you need it because you can’t move and are curled up in a ball in bed, as I can’t now send Hubs to get it for me. [As an aside, if you can’t get into your GP to help manage long-term pain issues, what do you do?]

I cannot believe that a few days shy of my 43rd birthday, probably thirty years after they first announced themselves, I get this diagnosis. The technician also said to me last week that if it was any consolation, my ovaries are in overdrive with heaps of active follicles. No, it wasn’t any consolation thank you very much. o.O To my girls who have struggled through trying for, IVF-ing or miscarriage – I’m sorry that apparently I’m a veritable battery chicken over here.

Anyhoo, I see my OB/GYN early next month as what precipitated this entire event is that the mirena that I’d been ‘given’ decided of it’s own accord to fall out just before Christmas. Simon wrote “any changes to periods, refer back to me” Thank goodness, the ultrasound was the first part of investigating what the umpity-ump is going on. It’s a start, and hopefully the end as I argued for and lost the battle to have a hysterectomy a few years ago. But I’m done. I am sooooo done.

periods

Picture credit – the inimitable Sarah Anderson

I’m not sure where this is going to take me…

…I’ll just write and see what happens.

There have been a lot of media reports and coverage on menstruation and periods just lately. Primarily following the frank disclosure by Heather Watson, the British tennis player who was knocked out in the first round of the Australian Open, who cited ‘girl things’ as part of the reason behind not playing at her best. Having competed at swimming all through my teenage years, I know that my performance was definitely affected by my cycle. Swimming at Crystal Palace one weekend, I didn’t even make the qualifying time in my heat, a time I would normally have beaten easily. I can still remember feeling sluggish, swimming as hard as I could, but just not getting anywhere. Out of so many races how and why do I remember that one in particular? I’m not sure, I may have had a strip torn off me for a wasted trip, I don’t know.

I’ve got dysmenorrhea, which is not just period pain that makes you wince. I can be doubled over and bed-ridden, curled in a ball around a hot water bottle, sleeping off a codeine induced stupor as that is the only way to survive the day. Some days I’m lucky and have to go to work, I sit at my desk in a pain-relief fog with a hot water bottle on my lap, counting the hours until I get home and can crawl back to bed, Hubs taking over household and parenting duties from me.

TMI paragraph if you want to skip: When I have no option but to leave the house on my worst days, I have every bathroom on my radar. I change on the hour, but still can flood and leak. Aside from the usual pads and tampons, I also carry spare undies, a travel bottle of baby wash, a face washer and do what I need to do out the house as quickly as I can, so I get back home.

Until a few months ago a different medication had made my cycle bearable, but now for whatever reason, I’ve gone haywire. I’m at the beginning of being investigated again, with a blood test taken Wednesday to link in with my cycle and hormone levels. I have to take a ridiculous iron supplement daily, otherwise I fall off the charts. Combined with other food malabsorption issues I have as a coeliac; calcium and Vitamin B12 in particular, I take lots of supplements.

Last week Peanut was watching me in the bathroom, as you do when you’re a toddler and into everything. He asked what I was doing, so I told him, I was having my period so I needed to change my pad. He thought it was a nappy to start off with, I said that it was similar, but not quite the same. We are firm believers in if a child asks you a question, you should do your best to answer it openly and honestly. I explained enough to satisfy him, but not enough so that he went off and told everyone what was going on (which has been known before now!).

When I was growing up, mum and I called tampons ‘doofees’, why we used euphemisms, I don’t know. Why we tried to sanitise the language we used around what is a normal every day occurrence, I don’t know. Why advertisers use blue liquid, I don’t know.

I don’t want my son growing up that periods should be anything to be ashamed of. I want him to see that yes they can be debilitating for me, but you know what? I get out and do stuff any way. I stop when I have to, I get poleaxed with pain if I don’t and try to carry on. But again, that teaches me that I need to listen to my body and treat it with respect. I want him to understand that the women in his life just do this, get on with things and it is perfectly normal. I don’t want him to be ashamed or embarrassed or ignorant of what is an amazing cycle. Without it, we don’t get anywhere – literally.