First things first, if you do NOT want to read about my uterus or my blood, you should definitely skip this post. You heard me, move along. There is plenty of other crap on the internet you can read without having to hear all about my lady parts. Off you go.
Alright. So it is now fair to assume that anyone still here is well aware of any possible queasiness as I discuss my bits and I am not to be held responsible for thigh clenching, wincing, and general sympathy pains. Ok, good talk. Moving on.
A year ago I wrote about the horrific and fairly regular lady parts pain I have experienced for YEARS as a result of at-the-time not yet diagnosed poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis (endo). Basically, I’d get these horrible cramps that would practically knock me out, my body regularly going into shock to deal with it. And then ON TOP OF THAT a few times a year I’d have a cyst on my ovary rupture, the only thing that helped relieve that particular flavor of hell is morphine, which they (wisely) keep locked up in the Emergency Room/Instacare. So, there I would go, sometimes of my own accord, others via friendly chauffeur (a friend, not an Uber driver), and once via ambulance because I honest-to-God thought I was going to die, alone, on the bathroom floor.
I have really great insurance and access to some fantastic doctors, that being said, for several years I had a new OB/GYN every six months through zero fault or initiative of my own. Same clinic, new doc. I finally threw a TREMENDOUS fit about it because the level of care I was receiving/not receiving was plummeting while my health concerns escalated. And, low and behold, I have had Dr. Mark ever since. He is smart and kind and slightly effeminate in a way that makes me feel comfortable around him, despite his being all up in my biznass. He is patient and takes his time to explain everything, he listens to me and fields all my questions. I trust him.
He’s the first one who diagnosed my PCOS and also the one who is pretty damn sure I also have endometriosis as well. I don’t have an official diagnosis on that because, in general, it requires going in and scraping out the affected parts for testing.
A quick summary: PCOS is when you have cysts growing on your ovaries or fallopian tubes, sometimes they just sit there doing nothing, sometimes they interfere with trying to get pregnant, and sometimes–my case–they rupture for NO GOOD REASON except that ovarian cysts are assholes.
Endometriosis is when you have the tissue that is supposed to only line your uterus growing outside your uterus. But it acts the same way in-your-uterus tissue acts. So, it thickens, preparing for a baby, and then tries to slough itself off…only, there’s no place for it to go (like, down your vagina and absorbed by a tampon/pad/whatever and then to the Great Beyond). So, it boils down to me having internal abdominal bleeding every month, and my body trying it’s hardest to absorb that tissue and blood. The best part? Endo can continue to spread onto the other organs it touches, like a fucking cancer, and everywhere endo touches will then most likely generate OTHER endo cells, the kind that cause internal abdominal bleeding every. single. month. There is no real cure. Doctors can go in and laproscopically scrape out all the offending tissue, whcih will slow the growth, but for most women it will eventually grow back. You can have a hysterectomy to eliminate the feeding ground, but that is a pretty extreme step that I’m not quite ready for.
Ok, so Dr. Mark and I decided to try an IUD to see if that would help treat some of the most painful symptoms of both PCOS and endo. Now, I was pretty nervous about an IUD. I had tried a bunch of other kinds of birth control to reduce the cysts and the endo pain, and they all had pretty horrible side effects (the most traumatizing being 6 and 8-week long periods where I was soaking through two jumbo tampons an hour, every hour). I’m pretty sure I have some kind of PSTD from those months. My concern with an IUD was that it would generate the same kind of never-ending period, but that instead of just pulling off the patch, or removing the ring, or stopping the pills, I’d have to go to the hospital and have a procedure. It seemed a lot riskier to me.
But, Dr. Mark assured me that he could get me an appointment to have a “malfunctioning” IUD removed within 48 hours, so we decided to go for it. Prior to getting it put in, I had to have a few tests, you know, standard procedure, blah blah blah.
What was supposed to be something close to “we’ll just take a look and maybe need to take a sample” (for the uninitiated: that’s what a doc takes a little scrape of tissue from the inside of your vagina) ended up being a big, ole bloody mess. Instead of the “look-see” he ended up taking SEVEN significant samples from the inside of my vag. Seven! And the sample sites wouldn’t stop bleeding. He eventually sent the nurse running for some silver nitrate, which chemically cauterizes a wound, and it took multiple applications for me to stop bleeding. Ya’ll, there was blood everywhere. On my legs, on my doctor’s coat, I soaked through all the pads they brought AND the others in the room AND the ones he sent a frazzled nurse scurrying off to retrieve. There was blood on the floor and probably on their shoes. It was….it was a fucking war zone.
I was a sobbing mess, Blue Eyes nearly lost it, and Dr. Mark felt truly horrible about the entire ordeal, but explained that what he saw did not look normal and he had to make sure, which, frankly, I agree with. A few days later my test results came back as “not cancer, which is good, but these aren’t normal cells either, so we definitely need to keep a close watch on them.” Um, yay? At any rate, that sort-of All Clear meant I could schedule a day to get the IUD.
Dr. Mark, bless his heart, wanted to make sure I was well drugged for this next procedure. I am unnaturally small in my lady bits, especially when you think that I’m not petite in any other way. I often require the pediatric duck-bill clamp thing during a pelvic exam. To insert an IUD I’d have to be jacked open farther than I’d ever been before, and for quite a bit longer so he could get the thing placed correctly. We were both nervous about it, rightfully so. I took Pitocin (drug often used to promote labor) for a couple of hours prior to my appointment, in order to soften the insides of my lady bits and allow that damn clamp thing to do it’s gruesome job. I also took a doctor-recommended double dose of Valium to help control my anxiety and reduce muscle tension. No, I did not drive myself to the hospital, I was all sorts of loopy and still had a few more pills for the actual procedure. I took Percoset when I arrived and then it was Go Time. Even through my drug-induced haze I was super nervous, the last time I’d been in that room had been HELL and I was having flashbacks of ALL THE BLOODY THINGS.
Ya’ll, modern pharmaceuticals are freaking amaze-balls. I took more Pitocin and Valium during the procedure, which lasted about 20 minutes. It hurt, don’t get me wrong. I could still feel pain and all sorts of hurtiness. There were actual tears and I probably squeezed the hand off my poor Dad* but this procedure did not cause nearly the trauma the one a month before had, IUD was placed, clamps removed, and I got to lay there for as long as I wanted before shuffling out of the hospital and back home to bed.
*My Dad drove me to the hospital and sat with me while the doc did his thing. Blue Eyes had an out-of-state work thing he couldn’t change, I’m not on speaking terms with my Mom, and I figured my Dad would be able to keep it together even if I totally lost it, and he’s the best candidate for helping me get BACK up the stairs into my apartment. Weird? Maybe. But I was really glad he was there with me, despite the very strange looks we got from nurses and waiting room people. He’s 6’6″ with a full head of impressive white hair. Without business attire/makeup/demeanor I am usually mistaken for someone in my early 20’s…I’m sure people assumed he was the father of my unborn child and not, you know, my actual father. Whatever, it certainly isn’t the first time that assumption has been made, and probably won’t be the last. People are the worst.
For three months after my IUD I had horrible cramping almost every day and a lot of bleeding…I sent a report to Dr. Mark every two weeks. It’s not unheard of for someone to have those symptoms for the first three months, but it’s kind of unusual. After about 8 weeks Dr. Mark asked me to come in to just make sure the IUD hadn’t come loose and was poking around in my uterus, willy nilly. Nope, it was there, right where it was supposed to be. Dr. Mark offered to take it out if it was too uncomfortable, but I really really wanted this to be the last thing I’d have to try for a couple of years, so I opted to stick it out for at least three months, he refilled my pain pill prescription and sent me on my way.
At exactly three and a half months the pain suddenly stopped. Completely. Gone. No more bleeding, no more cramping, just…nothing. I had finally triumphed over my damn uterus. While trying other birth control options I had these horrible six and eight-week long periods where I was using two-at-a-time jumbo tampons and changing them out every hour. My regular periods pre-IUD were five or six days of jumbo tampons changed out every two hours. For both of those I would routinely lose pretty large blood clots (like, several inches long and thicker than two of my fingers), periods have been traumatizing for me for as long as I can remember.
Enter: IUD. Currently, my periods require one of those ridiculously tiny pale yellow tampons that I can wear all day or all night without any messes. I honestly feel like I’m using doll-sized tampons. “This is the size of my PINKY finger! Are you sure it has enough oomph to do the job!?” Time and time again, it does. Amazing. Fucking amazing. Nine months after getting an IUD I still have some cramping every so often but my periods are almost non-existent. Now, if I could only find a similar magical device for my ribs and back, I might start to feel like a real person!!
How traumatizing! I better give thanks for my mostly-fine lady bits.
The whole thing has just been hell, for YEARS. I *really* hope I’m on the upswing of all this crap.
What an incredibly excellent improvement!
It’s like magic. Seriously. MAGIC!
I feel your pain lady! I go through the exact same thing every month. Glad to hear everything worked out for you with the IUD!
I do not understand why this is evolutionary-y necessary. I mean, HOW ON EARTH does insane cramps and all this other crap benefit the species overall? It doesn’t. Come on, Darwin, get it together!
Haha that’s so true!
Glad to hear that the IUD worked! Prior to getting fibroids and my endo surgically removed I would have periods where I would go through 4-5 super tampons in an hour on my heaviest days. After the surgery my period got MUCH better and is now a “normal” period. I would highly recommend the surgery if you ever get the IUD taken out. Endo tends to come back in 50% of women and when I had my c-section for my daughter my OB couldn’t see any sign of endo so it looks like I was actually on the good side of statistics.
Oooooooh, my hell. No. Nope, nope, nope. I’ve had maybe 2 or 3 days like that total in my period-having history, and I cannot even imagine it on a regular basis. Gaaaaaah, I’m so sorry!!! I really really hope the endo never ever comes back. I will also keep your experience tucked away in my mental files for future conversations with my OBGYN.
Yahoo! Harriet: 1 Uterus: 0! I’m thrilled it’s working!
Yeees!!! Me too!
Oh my goodness! I’d totally have PTSD from that too. Glad that you finally found something to work for you.
I wish the solution was, like, extra dirty Diet Coke’s with a side of Tres Leches cake…why can’t THAT fix all my lady-parts problems!?
Oh, I’m so glad the IUD is doing its job and has made a difference in this nightmarish scenario for you. I have a Mirena and I looooooove it.
I was pretty skeptical at first, but I have so very few complaints now, I usually forget that it’s there, which is a GLORIOUSLY WONDEROUS STATE OF MY UTERUS! To forget it’s there!?! It’s a freaking miracle.
I have an IUD too and I love it. It hurt a lot more than I thought it would to get it in, and the first couple months were rough, but after that I’ve only had good things to say about it. I have the copper one, because although my insurance covered the procedure, you had to pay out of pocket for the thing itself, and the copper was 1/3 the price of the Mirena. Anyway, I hope the respite holds up! You deserve some trauma-free time.
Oh wow, I’ve never heard of that kind of insurance policy (although, I am only recently discovering that I have Super Kick Ass insurance, like SUPER, so perhaps I should just accept that I’m way lucky in that area and move on with a bit less bulging-eyes over other people’s experiences). I’m glad its working for you, and I’m also glad (in a twisted way) that the inserting part was uncomfortable, it somehow makes me feel a little more normal/less of a lady-parts freak.
I was so worried when you said you were getting an IUD, because often doctors only insert the device in women who have already given birth. SO GLAD to read he gave you petocin! I’m on my second IUD now, got the first 6 weeks after Tobias was born and didn’t remember it being too bad; my cervix, I imagine, were still somewhat open.
The second one, however, when he was 5 (I use the Mirena, not the 10 year one) was SO PAINFUL! But my periods are nearly nonexistent as well (aside from psycho hormones affecting my patience, of course) so it is so worth it! I would recommend IUD to all women.
My doc told me that he most often gave them to women who had given birth, but after nothing else worked and my symptoms continued to be so severe, we decided to move forward with it, just in case it DID magically help.
The pharmacist who was filling up my prescriptions was sooo confused. She asked if I knew why I was taking this strange combination of pills, I think she wanted to just double check because the different medications and their doses were…quite unusual. When I briefly explained what was happening, she gave me the most piteous look, like I was somehow the saddest wet puppy in the world. Ha! Hi, I’m Harriet, and my struggles with my lady parts incite pity from medical professionals. Ahem.
Lady! I am so happy that this problem has been some what taken care of. I have been really worried about you. Love your face!!!
Loves to you too!
Just, wow. I’m so sorry you’re having to go through all of that, and it makes me feel incredibly privileged.
I think the thing I keep realizing more and more is how great a medical insurance package I have. In talking with other women I seem to have (finally) LUCKED OUT with both my doctor, clinic, and the stuff my insurance pays for completely. Makes me more and more grateful that I was able to move to Arizona but keep my same job/benefits. I cannot imagine having to fight an insurance company to get all this stuff approved and blah blah blah.
Congratulations on your successful symptom relief!! I have several friends with PCOS and/or endo, and they’ve described similar stories. Thankfully I don’t have that problem…
I can’t even fathom a double duty period. And I thought mine was heavy when I have to use a super and change every two hours (that’s just for one day, so I should thank my lucky stars).
Hope to keep hearing good news on the health front from you!
It’s all relative though, right? I mean, your worst period day is as bad to you as my worst period day is to me, even if they aren’t the same. Because while we talk about it, we don’t ever go around actually experiencing other people’s worst period days…does that make sense? Traumatizing is a sliding scale, different for every person….hrm, I’m all sorts of pensive right now. Lawsy. Get this girl some chocolate!!
Holy Moly. So glad you’re doing better. A friend of mine’s wife has endo and PCOS and she has nothing but nearly horror stories also. It makes me thankful I’ve never had anything more than typical inconvenience when it comes to my reproductive parts. Keep on keeping on! And talk about your uterus all you please!
Thanks me too. 🙂
On Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 8:36 AM, Feisty Harriet wrote:
Good grief, woman. You’re making me feel like a complete wimp for the few burst cysts I’ve had to deal with. (Thanks for nothing, PCOS.) Hooray for solutions! Hooray for non-painful uteri! Hooray for awkwardly pluralized -us words!
Burst cysts are NOTHING to write off as “meh.” If you’ve had them, you deserve ALL THE CHOCOLATE SUNDAES! (Also, I think Chocolate Sundays should also be A Thing. Possibly complete with chocolate sundaes…yes, good plan, glad we had this talk.)
On Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 10:15 PM, Feisty Harriet wrote:
Oh, girl. You need a vacation from your body!!
My SIL has both cysts and Endo and I know how horrible it all is. I’m so glad something WORKED for you.
I was super hesitant to write about it because it would be JUST LIKE MY BODY to completely freak out about something else, just out of spite. Here’s hoping I have a few months respite.
On Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 9:27 AM, Feisty Harriet wrote:
Girl. GURRRLLLL. I have had some epic-ly terrible periods in my day but nothing compared to this – I was lucky in that birth control pills fixed me, and it only took a few months of death-periods before my mom relented and allowed her innocent virginal 17 year old to get on the pill (thank you tiny baby jeebus).
I am SO GLAD that IUD is working for you, although wowza that is quite the learning curve before your body acquiesced. But three cheers for finally triumphing over your uterus!!
About damn time!! I *so wish* I’d had a doc in my teens/early 20’s who listened to me, really listened, and could have possibly saved me YEARS of pain. Although, I suppose back in those Good Ole Days the IUD wasn’t as readily available? Imma go with that instead of loathe all previous OBGYNS and their lack of follow through.
What an ordeal! You’ve really been “blessed” with some terrible health issues… but I am so glad you finally found something that works!
RIGHT!?! I was thinking the other day “yeah, I’m pretty healthy…” but, um, that’s not really the case. I mean, on a day-to-day basis, sure. But overall? I have ISSUES. Lawsy.
On Wed, Mar 30, 2016 at 11:10 AM, Feisty Harriet wrote: