Warning: Self-Pity

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I’ll start you off with a picture of this morning’s needle. Day three of IVF attempt 2,  woop woop!

 

But now, today’s topic is not actually IVF. Last time I promised I’d write something more proper on the topic of period cramps, so here we go. Let me take you through a little story.

 

*

At the age of ten I had my first taste of this hell. I was in class when all of a sudden it felt as though lightning struck in my lower belly. I folded forward and gasped for breath, utterly terrified. With tears streaming down my face I went up to the teacher.

“Have you started having your period yet?” she whispered kindly.

I shook my head and mouthed a no. The pain was still so intense I couldn’t even stand up straight. Period cramps? No I thought, this is too bad. It can’t be it. Something must be wrong I thought, seriously wrong.

The teacher was kind. “Don’t worry,” she said. “You’re probably just getting your period.”

 

I had my first period within weeks of my eleventh birthday. The bleeding wasn’t a problem, of course it was icky and uncomfortable but still not a problem. The pain however was hell. Unable to rise or stand up straight I would just lay down, slowly rocking my hips back and forward in a desperate attempt at relieving the pain. Painkillers could take the edge off but not enough, there would be pain until I could fall asleep and escape into nothing.

 

“Don’t worry,” my mom would say. “I had these terrible cramps too. It gets much better after you have a baby.”

Somehow hearing that is no relief, not when you are a twelve year old biting into  a pencil to avoid screaming. (No, not really when you are an adult having tried to get pregnant for seven years either!)

 

Several times it got so bad that my family took me to the emergency. Gynecologists examined me over and over, and every time the result was the same. Just period cramps, some get them bad, sorry. I got stronger painkillers but they knocked me out, had me sleeping all day, so I eventually stopped taking them. I couldn’t function either way.

 

In school I was always at the top of my class. I was the study horse, only I didn’t really need to study until highschool when I attended the International Baccalaureate and studies suddenly got real. But before that? It was too simple, I could ace most tests without any work. So yes, I had good grades! But there was one thing that made the teachers unhappy – my attendance. One or two days a month I was just gone, my mom having called me in as sick, leaving me with far higher amount of sickleave than the other kids. Now this may sound silly, but you try being a 14-year old trying to explain to your male teacher that no, you’re not skipping school. You’re just curled up in a ball of pain due to cramps. They accepted it eventually but the skepticism still hurts, to this day. Of course they thought I was exaggerating.

 

This continued as a young adult. Every workplace eventually sees the awkward talk with the boss where I have to discuss menstruation. There is always skepticism. Can’t you take pills? Yes, but if they are strong enough to kill the pain they are strong enough to put me to sleep. I’ve tried, repeatedly. What does the doctor say? They say it’s just period cramps, they can’t help. Of course it sounds strange, almost every woman has period cramps after all and most work just fine. What kind of special snowflake is this girl who tries to claim she can’t work due to period cramps?

 

During the last few years the question of endometriosis has come up. It could explain the pain, if that’s what I have. There might even be treatment! I still haven’t had it checked. Am I stupid?

Yes probably. But do you know why I haven’t made the doctors look into it? I have mentioned the possibility to every gynecologist I’ve seen the past few years but they’ve always just brushed it off, but surely I could press on?

The simple explanation is I am afraid. I am afraid of hearing yet again that no sorry, it’s just period cramps. Of getting a pat on the head and being sent off feeling like a fool, like every other time I’ve gone to the hospital with hellish cramps.

Feeling like a fool is no reason to not seek medical help, I know. But this is humiliation I’ve lived with since the age of eleven, and at thirty-two it is pretty damn deeply rooted. I just know it won’t be endometriosis. I’ll get a sympathetic shake of the head and a shrug, I’m sure. As always.

 

This blog post is probably one of the worst I’ve written. So full of self-pity and stupid moaning that I am tempted to simply delete it. But no, I think I’ll leave it. Self pity and all, I’ll just put it out there. I’ll just press “publish” now before I change my mind. ARGH. Yes. Here it goes.

 

6 thoughts on “Warning: Self-Pity

  1. Poor you ((hugs)) I don’t think much of your doctors for being so uncaring. There is something you could have tried to reduce the problem, a workaround if you like. Not that this will be any help while you are trying to conceive, but to bear in mind for the future.

    You may have heard that the contraceptive pill can reduce severity of periods, which I find it does, but more to the point, what they don’t tell you is that you don’t have to take it for three weeks and then take a week off to have a period. You can just keep taking it for months and not have a period at all! I only have two or three a year now, as they do advise that you should have one from time to time. So unless there is some reason you can’t or don’t want to take it, once you have had your baby, you can try this and not have to face that pain every month.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is definitely a tempting possibility for when we’re no longer trying to conceive! Just regular contraceptive pills helped quite a bit when I was on those, but for obvious reasons they aren’t relevant at the moment. 😛

      Like

  2. Thank you for the read. It was brave. I think it’s yet another topic people just don’t talk about. But it is a conversation we should have.
    I bet there are millions of women who suffer from something similar, hopefully not as bad as yours, but they are all afraid of speaking up, for exactly the same reasons you mention. And since no-one speaks up, everyone suffers in silence, alone.

    Just like getting help with a pregnancy and undergoing IVF treatment (or any treatment) like me and my wife. We decided to be open about it, to everyone, and suddenly people around us came and whispered that they too had help or was receiving help. I can only imagine all those suffering through that hel all alone, with no-one to share it with. I hope and pray your treatment pays off this time. There are so many taboos in our culture, and it is brave of you to take them
    on.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Troels! It’s weird, isn’t it? How such matters STILL can be taboo. When we’re so open about just about everything, this is still somehow sensetive, hard to talk about.

      And thank you for stopping by! I hope you, your wife and the little ones are all well!

      Like

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