Once upon a time, in a land near here, but a time LONG ago, our intrepid young heroine received a present. One day in sixth grade, while wearing white shorts, our future Feminist received an unexpected visit from “Aunty Flo.” This gift not only imparted a still held belief that white clothing was “the bringer of periods,” and led to a lackadaisical approach to her relationship with Aunty Flo. This is the story of how our heroine overcame the latter.
Until the eighth grade, our heroine had a pretty good relationship with Aunty Flo. Her aunt always visited her as scheduled and didn’t overstay her welcome. Sure it was a pain in the uterus, but what visitor isn’t? However, in the eighth grade, Aunty Flo suddenly stopped visiting regularly. Our heroine didn’t know why, she didn’t ask. Truthfully, she didn’t miss her. Still our heroine, did not dare buy white shorts.
After fifteen winters of Aunty Flo’s increasingly irregular presence, our heroine found out why she infrequented. Our heroine had been cursed by an evil wizard with diseases of the thyroid. The evil wizard knew these curses would keep Aunty Flo from visiting our heroine. Our poor heroine was indeed poor, as she was a student in the midst of her studies. Sometimes Aunty Flo would go two seasons without coming, and still she didn’t miss her. One day, during the festival of the laborers, our heroine dared to wear a white dress to make merry at a lake. Aunty Flo showed up, unannounced and unwelcome. Our heroine felt a need for justice, so entered the hallowed halls of jurisprudence. That first night, she burned all her white clothing.
The halls of jurisprudence were no trifle, our heroine was tested beyond endurance. She didn’t excel at anything, but she wasn’t bad at anything either. She still didn’t miss Aunty Flo. Once our heroine left the halls of jurisprudence, it was custom for her to toil for a wage. Our heroine became indentured to the kingdom. With employment secured yon kingdom’s health insurance. Our heroine traveled to a nearby township to visit with a Healer who specialized in lady bits.
The Healer of the Lady Bits did a lot of observing, prodding, questioning, and had occasion to extract arm blood from our heroine. “Good news young feminist,” began the Healer, staring at the heroine’s arm blood. “The curse of the diseases of thyroid has been lifted.”
Our heroine was elated. “However,” the Healer’s voice froze our heroine’s joy immediately. “Aunty Flo has not visited for a while. If she doesn’t come visit regularly, you will be in grave danger later in life.”
Our heroine inquired if there was a course of action the Healer of the Lady Bits recommended, knowing full well it was probably a scam to cheat the heroine out of her meager wages. Still, in the off chance that her life was in jeopardy, she couldn’t risk her life over Aunty Flo’s absence. “A daily poultice is needed,” the Healer’s solution was delivered in a determined tone.
She knew it. Her face must have betrayed her scoff because the Healer said “The poultice is of no cost to you dear feminist. The King of this land has decreed that the poultice to be free if you have certain assurances.”
Our heroine took these daily poultices for three winters. And every month, rain or shine our heroine played hostess for Aunty Flo for at least three days. Aunty Flo was more like the old friend she first knew. The following summer, our heroine was besieged by an unseen injury to her left leg. She went to a different Healer this time. One who specialized in internal workings. The Internal Healer said that our heroine’s blood had clotted, she would have to stop taking the daily poultices. The Internal Healer gave our Heroine a tonic to drink for three full moons and the blood would be healed. And so it happened.
During her travels, as she marveled at modern magic and potion-making, our heroine stopped in to the Healer of the Lady Bits. After much talk with the Healer of the Lady Bits, it was decided that our heroine would have to be implanted with an IUD. “Aunty Flo may stop coming with the IUD, but it is perfectly safe,” intoned the Healer. “For five years,” she hastily added.
The Healer of the Lady Bits performed some slight-of-hand and carefully placed the IUD in our heroine. She went home and lived happily for the next five years.
For the most part that is what happened. But life ain’t a fairy tale. The actual implanting of the ‘magical’ IUD was one of the worst experiences I have had in a doctor’s office. Did you know that your insurance company may call you to confirm that you indeed want an IUD? I am more than perturbed that up until today, me, my OBGYN, and some guy named Pete at Aetna knew I was getting an IUD. I doubt they call men to ask if they for sure know they want that three-month supply of Viagra.
I required three appointments to get this done, one more than normal. They recommend coming in when “Aunty Flo” is visiting. I didn’t have that option, she was M.I.A again. The first appointment, after I was “measured,” (which felt like my womb was being melon-balled) my cervix shut that shit down. But the nurses tried for 30 minutes. Let me tell you the pain of your cervix rejecting invasion is no damn joke, multiply it by 30 minutes. At one point, I was swabbed with topical lidocaine. My cervix was not having it. Before the second appointment, I was instructed to take a “Cervix loosening pill.” If it wasn’t for that and the grip of ibuprofen I took before, the nurse said it probably would not have happened. Turns out its easier to get an IUD implanted if you’ve had a kid. The final appointment, six weeks later, was a sonogram to ensure proper positioning. Interesting note, the sonogram was the only part of this whole thing that actually involved a wand.
So my OBGYN is great she and her staff were very thorough every step of the way. Explaining the process, risks, and benefits, which are things you should always be aware of at all times. The standard advice is that it will take some time for your body to “regulate” itself and get used to the IUD. What they failed to mention is that “regulate” translated into massive mood swings, crying for no reason and being physically unable to stop, being tired ALL the time, and 19 days with Aunty Flo. 19 days. I called my doctor’s office and screamed at a nurse when she didn’t understand that I could not stop crying and I didn’t care that it could take up to six months to feel normal, and that the experience was unique to all women. Why couldn’t she see that we were talking about ME and MY obvious nervous breakdown induced by my IUD. In that moment normal seemed like a distant fantasy. I took her a box of cookies the day of the final appointment.
Moral of the story: always be engaged in what your body is telling you, seek out medical help if something doesn’t seem right, get second opinions, and stay informed of your choices, side-effects, risks, etc. It is your health, it is the one thing we all need to do a better job of caring about.
Things Keeping Me Sane This Week: I went to the zoo Sunday morning. We got there when it opened, because it gets hot, and the animals sleep during the day. I am not a fan of zoos because I do believe animals thrive in their own habitats, but I also believe that zoos do accomplish a lot in terms of research and conservation. I LOVE GOING TO THE ZOO. The I have fond memories of the Fort Worth Zoo. Certain exhibits are totems to my childhood. On Sunday, I ate dippin’ dots without the spoon, a felt terrible about ordering a tiger’s blood (watermelon + strawberry + coconut) flavored sno-cone, fed parakeets, rode the train, took a selfie with the flamingos with a flamingo patterned wrist clutch. Sometimes you just have to revisit the things you used to love as part of your self-care.