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Grown Up Periods

The first 16 years of my period were as beautiful as they could be.  No major cramps.  No super big mood swings.  Four days and done.  I stayed off birth control after my second birth and Mark had a vasectomy.

And then the Red Devil began to gnash it’s teeth.  It’s almost as if he whispered in my ear, “Oh honey…  You didn’t think you’d get away that easy did you?  Silly fool.  I waited patiently for you to get cocky and now I’m waging war on your Goods.”  He smiled with blood pouring out of his eyes, ears, nostrils and mouth.  For 6 years, he waged a crafted war by monthly adding to his arsenal.  And then 3 years ago, he attacked viscously.

A week before my period, I ate every single thing in the house.  And then wouldn’t eat a thing for the next two weeks.  Leaving me bloated and light-headed because I had no food in my belly. Cramps would halt me in Target aisles and they were never eased with drugs or heat.    Diarrhea always appeared without warning so farts became scary.   Or was that just gas which rolled into cramps?  Why am I crying?  Why am I violently angry at the Tide commercial?  Fuck you, Tide and your bragging. I’m pretty sure you’re destroying the planet.  OMG, we’re all gonna die.  I’ll just cry until Ohio falls into a vat of fire.  My flow got to the point where I was going through a tampon an hour.  No need to yank on the string.  Nope.  They dropped out as soon as I could get to the toilet.  Once out more things plopped out.  What the fuck is that?!  Plop.  Splash.  Seriously, what are those?  Are they swimming?! If I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night to change a tampon, my bed looked like the “horse head” scene in “The Godfather”.  Minus the horse head.  And they lasted for at least a week and most times longer.

I talked to my OB and never got anywhere.  “Sorry, but this happens as you get older?How’s your mood during?”  How’s my mood?!  My mood?  How would your mood be if you’re dropping blood nuggets in the toilet every month?  How would your mood be if you looked like you woke up midway through an operation and the doctors left?  How’s my mood?!  I decided to be polite only because I ran the risk of security entering the room, “My mood is normal PMS pissy, but that’s not the point!”  She looked at the chart and said, ”  How was it before kids?  Oh fine?  Well…  Some women have been dealing with these symptoms from the beginning.” I left upset, but semi-gracious.  So I dealt with it.

And then one day my period pushed me to the point that I was unable to ignore its vengeance.

We were visiting an Urban Art Scrawl.  Think artists’ studios set-up in a sectioned warehouse.  “Uh oh.  I think I need the bathroom.  Shit… Shit.  I have nothing on me, but it’s too early anyways.” I frantically thought.  I found a makeshift bathroom on the first floor.  I swear the near-by artists were into horror movies and mocked up a bathroom to suit their style.  Rickety walls were propped up around one stall.  A simple uncovered 20 watt light bulb swung above my head.  It flickered randomly enough to show me where to sit.  I sat down and I realized I matched the creepy nature of the “restroom”.  I was covered in blood.  Not just contained to underwear, but covered in blood.  It was frightening.  I started to panic because I couldn’t find the toilet paper.  I waited for the light to swing to the right.  Nothing.  Swing to the left.  Nothing.  Fuck. I thought I was going to have to use the tattered fliers on the “walls” and I would have with no shame.  I finally saw a tiny roll on the floor.  Dirty?  Not as dirty as I was.  I picked it up.  Of course it’s a single ply…  I furiously and cautiously used what was left on the roll.  Attempted another make-shift pad and left the stall. Tied my hoodie around my waist and found my family.

“Do you want to try lunch?” he asked when I explained the situation.  I think I’ll be ok and a beer would help.  Was I in shock?  But that had to be a one time deal…  No tampons in his car.  Duh.  But it had to be a one time deal.  I went to the bathroom  as soon we got to the restaurant.  It had proper lightening and I realized I did a decent clean-up.  Schew.  Nothing new.  I’m ok!

And then I wasn’t. Being quick eaters comes in handy when you have toddlers and when you have a Grown Up Unpredictable period.

This became the norm for my period.  My purses always had at least a dozen tampons because I’d always toss some in before leaving the house.  This meant I was constantly buying tampons because the box was always empty.  But I still got really good at pushing a smoosed one back to a comfortable shape.  Clean looking underwear?  Please.  It was washed.  If I had forgotten, I became skillful at finding a sympathetic looking woman to beg for a tampon.

My period was officially effecting my life.  I could no longer comfortably do things on the first and second days which were never consistent.  I was miserable.  Vasectomy or no vasectomy, I was going back on birth control.

The generic pill helped the flow.  Except now I was having a period all month.  One week it was normal heavy and the other three were spotty rust.  It can’t be normal.  But my OB’s shrugged and said, “Sorry.  It’s your age.  It’s better than before, right?”  Again, I shrugged with disappointment and semi-graciously left.

Enter my sister-in-law.  She’s a nurse practitioner.  “Nope.  That’s not ok.  If you do ok on the pill, try this one.”  It’s not ok.  No shrug.  No “deal with it”.  It’s not ok. I’m happy to say my periods are whipped into shape by changing the type of pill.  A simple fix if my OB would have presented that option.

I wish I had a witty ending.  I don’t.  But I do have a manageable cycle.  Oh!  I didn’t have to use fliers from that bathroom and I should’ve gotten rid of those shorts years before I was forced to.  I consider those huge wins.

Moral of the story:

  • Periods are a bitch in the best of circumstances.  When they control your life?  It’s not right.  It’s cruel.
  • I have insurance.  I’m lucky.  But every single woman should have a way to control their periods.  Birth control isn’t only used to avoid pregnancy.  Many times it helps control and manage your life.
  • Periods change.  It’s normal.  They change and maturity doesn’t help you deal or understand the Why.
  • Makeshift toilet paper pads NEVER work.
  • If you see a “bathroom” with a swinging uncovered light bulb, DON’T use it.
  • OB’s don’t know everything.  A smile and a shrug are NOT a substitute for a solution.



  • Imene - I did get the Mirena because of my awful periods and nce the first 6 months have past I do see a change pain wise. I am not doubled down but my mood…ouch
    My 12 year old just told me that I’m a nicer person when I don’t have my periods. I guess he better learn soon to kepp clear of a menstruating woman ;o)November 18, 2017 – 8:34 pmReplyCancel

  • Donna - I popped over to visit your work by way of your beautiful guest post on ViewFinders today, and this blog post grabbed my attention immediately. I’m older than you, now post-menopause, but you’ve described with honesty and sincerity one of the most difficult phases of my life. My periods were exactly like yours, and my response from my Ob/gyn was similar – “deal with it.” I awaited menopause like a kid anticipating Christmas, and now that I’m there, I’m happy and free. But, if women talked about this subject, I might have been more forceful in demanding help, might have sought other options as you have done. I’m glad you got help, and glad you are shedding light on this subject. Thank you!November 21, 2017 – 7:52 amReplyCancel

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