So regular readers will know that I've been dealing with some medical stuff lately. As I've said before, I've never been one to shy away from explaining biological processes or illuminating "private" parts of my life in the name of
humiliating myself keeping a blog that is full of honest reality. What follows isn't going to be all gory or anything, but it will contain some tidbits about my lady bits that some of you might not want to know. It goes like this, though... I need to rant. And as you'll soon see, part of that rant is the "keep it quiet" mentality.
But I get ahead of myself.
Anyway, if you don't want to read about ultrasounds and my honest loathing for how we treat our bodies, click here and read something more fun. I won't mind, and we'll catch up next time, k?
So...I've been having problems with my cycle for the past year and a half now. This after a lifetime of predictable periods. Sure, I had a few rogue moments here and there....the occasional reboot to my system...but otherwise, I've lived a reliable reproductive life. Then, shit started to get wonky. I'd go months without a period. I started having hot flashes and night sweats. So, last May--after about 6 months of this special hell--I went to my doctor and said, "What's up with this shit?" She did a pap and blood tests that all came back "normal" and said, "Well, Jamie, I guess this is just your new normal. Come back if it gets worse."
It didn't get worse. It just kept going. Until January of this year when it started getting worse. By February, I was just frustrated as hell. So I set up an appointment with my doctor to say, "this isn't normal". She ordered a pelvic ultrasound as well as one on my thyroid and a new round of blood tests. Both of those scans came back "normal" as did the blood work.
That pissed me off. This is what I wrote in my paper journal after that appointment with the doctor:
"No, this isn't normal. This affects my life. I am in a ton of pain that I don't have to be in. I dislike playing Russian Roulette with my pretty underwear. I've gained weight (like, 40+ pounds in a year!) and no amount of work at the gym has made a dent in that number. My brain is foggy as hell and it's getting worse. My memory used to be something uncanny, but as of late...shit, I'm lucky if I remember what I had for breakfast. My focus has gone right out the fucking window and even medicated, my depression is a factor in daily life.
Something. Is. Wrong."
So I went to see an OB/GYN rather than my primary care doc. She listened to me as I explained what everything had been like. She then looked at the ultrasound and said, "This isn't normal. Nor is what's going on with you. You're displaying textbook symptoms of PCOS."
I left with a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a prescription and a new diet. That was 5 weeks ago today. I've been gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, caffeine free (alas, Chai, I hardly knew ye) and alcohol-free all whilst watching my carb/sugar intake. I've lost 10 pounds and can tell a difference in my functionality. So far so good in those regards, but still working out some kinks as my hormones begin to level into some semblance of actual normal.
So yeah, because the ultrasound showed my uterine lining was 3 times as thick as it should be, we did a biopsy. (Let me just say this: if I ever have to have another uterine biopsy, I will tell them to just take it out and look at it that way. Or get myself good and liquored up first. That was the worst experience involving my nethers. Ever.) That came back clear, which led to yesterday's discussion with my OB/GYN about "okay, now what?"
I'll be getting two surgeries on April 30th. One will burn away the uterine lining and scar it, thus ending my periods. The other surgery will burn the Fallopian tubes, disconnecting them from my uterus. This will not only (hopefully) put an end to the past 18+ months of crap, but also the pain that went along with it.
Anyway...aside from the fact that I'm dealing with the fears of these surgeries and the odd emotions that go along with chosen sterilization... I'm a little angry. Angry that things got this bad because someone said last year that this was "normal". I'm so fucking tired of "NORMAL".
I was talking to a friend on Facebook the other day. She's a nursing student and was present for an ultrasound on an ER patient. She came in with stomach pain and left with the diagnosis of "Surprise! You're pregnant with triplets!" Now, the patient was only 8 weeks along, so that's still in the window of "reasonable ignorance", but people were harping on her like she's one of these people who goes into the hospital for cramps and is told, "You're in labor!" having never known she was even pregnant.
"How can someone *not* know they're pregnant?"
Or like those stories you see about a woman finding a 10-pound cyst on her ovary.
"How could she not know?"
Well, for starters, how many of us go to the doctor at every hint of an issue? Part of that is shame, I think. If we went to the doctor for every little thing, we'd be branded as hypochondriacs, right? Paranoid. Part of it, though, is that we are good at rationalization. We have so many ways to explain away our little aches and pains. It's just the weather. It's stress. It's probably nothing. If it doesn't go away by next week I'll do something.
Then there's the "pain scale". I fucking hate the pain scale. And let me tell you why....
Pain and I are not strangers. I've got 7 tattoos. I've had multiple clashes with ruptured ovarian cysts. I've given birth without medication. I've had sciatica multiple times and two herniated discs in my back that caused pretty righteous nerve pain and damage. I've dealt with the high end of my personal pain scale, alright? Whenever someone says, "Rate your pain", I feel like this immediately invalidates the pain that I am currently feeling. Why? Because it's not as bad as that time I laid writhing in bed, begging for someone to kill me because my left leg felt like it was on fire. (That's a 10+ right there on the pain scale, right?) I've gritted my teeth and worked through worse.
Last week I asked a friend of mine (a nurse) if I should go to the ER. She said, "If you're asking that question, yeah, you should go." She asked me why I hadn't gone already.
Part of it is that I hate ERs and the copays that come with them. (One more thing.) But THIS is why. This whole "rate your pain" thing. Because right now, on my personal scale of "sunshine daisies" and "fucking kill me!", I'm not dying. I just hate everything and want to scoop out my feminine mystique with a melon baller.
And when it comes to pelvic pain, a lot of women are told, "Well, that's just part of being a woman." We wear our birthing stories and c-section scars like badges of honor. But, getting laid low by PMS? Weak sauce.
I can't speak to what it's like for men. I don't have their parts and that kind of life experience. But, this shit sucks.
It's kinda stupid really. We don't take care of ourselves nearly as much as we should. In the name of normal.
Grr. Just fucking grr.