Supporting Women During Their Time Of The Month Is HOT
One of the many reasons I started Healthy Is Hot, was to create a community where we could talk openly about anything and everything related to health - it's not always pretty, it's not always easy but when we open up, we quickly realize we are NOT alone in this. The other day, I received an e-mail from someone I had never met and she opened up about something that all women can empathise with (and supportive partners can certainly feel for as well), periods. Motherfuckin' periods. The timing of her rant could not have been more ironic - that day I was going to the clinic to talk to someone about getting stronger prescription pain medication and asking for an ultrasound to check the status of my womanly parts.
Fast-forward to 48hours ago...
I found it unbearable to walk to work, and so I swallowed my stubborn pride and hopped in an uber, debating going home and crawling under the covers to hold my stomach and let the tears fall out of me like a tsunami, but I had to work, it was a day back to back with shoots and I didn't want to let anyone down or confess that my endometrial lining was trying to destroy me from the inside out. So, I swallowed the maximum dose of meds prescribed, threw on some make-up, winced as I walked into the building and put on a happy face while filming. All was going relatively well until the pain became so excruciating the fetal position was the only way to feel reprieve. During my touch-up, I held back tears as my make-up artist fixed the mascara that had leaked during a voice-over session minutes before, and then it was time to walk on set and do my thing for Etalk. During one of my links on set, someone made me laugh. The innocent giggle resulted in agonising pain on my left side, which resulted in more giggling (when I get nervous I giggle, and at this point I was mortified that I was crying in front of everyone on set, while my microphone was hot and the camera was pointed at me which meant everyone in the control room was witnessing me fall apart at the seams) and more tears came which led to more giggling... You get the gist. I was caught in a vicious cycle and no one quite knew how to react.
At some point, the vortex slowed down and I was able to stand up, blot away the tears and get through the script in front of me. At which point I couldn't help myself and exclaimed to everyone that my uterus was having a day.
A huge thank you to Mary-Catherine for reaching out and sharing something so personal, yet so relatable to many of us. This is why Healthy Is Hot is here - for all of us to feel connected, motivated, inspired and a little less alone (especially on days where flow comes knocking). Read her story below.
I would like to start this rant off with how grateful I am for the days I am pain free. As I am typing these words I am on my first day of my period which is, as many other women can agree with me, one of the most excruciating 24 hours I’ll have to deal with until my next period. This is my pain, and I am not diminishing others pain. We are in this together even if we do not know each other.
Lets take a minute to look back on 14 year old me, laying on the floor of the kitchen because the tiles were cold and it felt nice on my aching body. Bleeding so much that I was too weak to stand up, and when I was brought to the hospital the doctor asked if I could be having a miscarriage. Nope, just a girl on her period freaking out because I was young and barely knew what was happening to my body for it to hurt this much.
At the time I was bleeding through everything, and I was terrified. It's not exactly an easy topic to bring up either, there is an automatic shame and shyness that came over me. Yes, this is graphic and it is the reality of many females. My parents were amazing to be fair, but because I was so shy about the topic I never brought it up which was my first mistake. After that slightly mortifying day at the hospital and having been so candid about everything a switch went off in me where I was no longer ashamed. I came to terms with the fact that this is as normal as breathing and there was no shame to it. If only that was the end of the pain and shame…
My body was going through its own battle during that already fragile age of mid-teens. It got to the point that I had my period on and off for three weeks, and it was affecting everything. I was put on the pill to regulate my period and decrease my pain, something I believe a lot of other women were recommended to do. At the time I was nearing 5’6 and weighing in at 100 pounds. I was admittedly quite tiny, and I remember boys in the cafeteria thinking it was funny to call me anorexic which at the time didn't sink in to how terrible joking about that really was.
Anyways, back to the purpose of this speech. After being put on the pill my body went a bit on an adventure and I gained 30 pounds in a matter of weeks. While on the pill my body never felt as it was suppose to, but after a few years I decided to get off the pill and it was at that point I found a bit of normality. When I decided to get off the pill I was at my heaviest, weighing in at 150 pounds and nearing 5’8. I never went back on the pill, and I am now 28 years old at 120 pounds, which is what feels right and normal to me. Imagine that, just to handle some symptoms I was put on a pill that completely changed by body. Obviously people always say that it isn’t linked to weight gain, but in my personal experience it was linked and it wasn’t my body’s natural course of action.
Until last year I was blessed with relatively painless periods. I was so thankful for not having to live through pain during a week in the month. I was grateful I didn't need to take any painkillers, or lay in bed in pain. I was able to live. I remember being in Rome walking around and the fact that it was my first day on my time of the month was not even a worry.
That all changed in January 2017 when I got my period and I was in an impressing amount of pain. I hadn’t experienced that kind of menstrual cramping in a long time, and blamed it on the fact that it was my due to my hangover from Hogmanay (new years in Edinburgh). I stayed at my now boyfriends that night and spent most of time against the radiators trying to ease my back pain. I was hiding it, but I was really worried because the pain started in my chest and ran all the way down to my right knee. I was on a flight the next morning and it was feeling a bit better so I brushed it off to the potential hangover.
The next month it was worse, I woke up in the middle of the night confused and in pain. I stumbled my way to my heat pack and decided to have a marathon of bad tv shows on the couch, but I was crying the whole time in pain. Every month is the same now, and that pain has yet to leave me.
Once a month I wake up crying in the night from the pain, half asleep reaching for pain meds. I refused to take painkillers at first, and was barely able to stand. It was crippling and affected my day-to-day life. I had to leave work, or not go in at all at times. I finally caved and started to take pain medication. It wasn't enough. Even taking regular doses of Aleve as prescribed I was still hunched over in pain needing to be in bed.
I went to my doctors and we did a lot of testing including scans to see if it was endometriosis, which came back inconclusive. I was put on naproxen and told to start it the night prior to my period starting and continue it until needed. To be fair, yes this helped. I also did yoga, changed my diet, and went to a chiropractor to try to find alternative cures, more natural cures, but always had to resort to naproxen. The side effects of being on something like naproxen aren’t all peachy and warm. I am zoned out and a little out of it because the dosage is strong, but it's gotten to the point that it's necessary because this morning I woke up again grasping for relief. I am hopeful that one day I won't need to take pain meds, or need to stay in bed from the pain.
It's not easy being a woman, and even some women can't grasp the pain others go through. I am sure there are people who suffer far worse than I do during this natural process of life. Some may not have cramps, but headaches. Some may have mood swings due to the changes happening in the body (I cry and am on edge the day before).
Here’s the thing… not everyone appreciates the fact that periods can be painful, unbearable, and crippling. We should not be punished by employers, or criticized by fellow humans for what we have the go through. Our bodies endure a lot of shit, how about showing some support next time someone admits they are in pain, or perhaps give them a cup of tea and a heated blanket.