January 28, 2012

Aging, Essays for Giggles

I remember the exact moment that I received my first information about menstruation.  I was in first grade and for some reason, we were using the fourth grade bathroom and there was a feminine products machine on the wall.

Some fourth grader, with amazingly large tits for her age, told me that once a month women bleed and they use these things in the machine to staunch the flow.  She didn’t say “staunch”.  This was a 9-year-old in Kentucky in 1971, but you get the idea.

Well, I wish I had a picture of the look on my face when I heard that.  My response was basically, “no WAY”… I mean that is crazy talk, right?  Whose big idea was that?

So I went home and immediately went to my mother so that she could end my concerns over this vicious rumor, and reacted with horror, when she CONFIRMED it.  Jesus Christ, this was some bad design on somebody’s part.

It was 6 years later before I had my own first period and a decade after that before I learned about menopause (we were slow learners back then).

I remember looking at my 90-something-year-old great-grandmother and being horrified that she had to deal with the maintenance and sanitation issues of a menstrual cycle.  I wondered how hard that must be for her to squat and bend over in that position without getting dizzy.  I was so relieved for her when I learned, many years after her passing, that this woman had not had to worry about that for the last 40 or so years of her life.

I also had a slightly renewed respect for the “design plan”, that thankfully, we were not expected to deal with this indignity our ENTIRE lives.

The moment I started my first period, I asked my Mom some questions.  “How long would this last?”  I think she said “a week”.  My next question was “for how many years?”  Her answer was “for the rest of your life”… hence, my confusion about Grams.

So, fast forward to getting pregnant at 39… after 27 LONG YEARS with a period that ran like a Swiss watch… no period for 9 months of pregnancy… thank you, Jesus… that was my body’s only benefit to being pregnant at my “advanced maternal age” (which is an honest-to-God MEDICAL term, thankyouverymuch)… then I nursed said baby for 2 years and 5 months (that is a WHOLE other essay)… and I simultaneously had an IUD inserted 6 weeks after birth – which I kept for a year after weaning my walking, talking toddler… so I had gone a blissful 4 YEARS without a period.

At the risk of TMI… but hey, we can share birth control stories among friends, right?… my IUD was removed because an internal exam revealed that it had broken loose from its moorings and was desperately trying to drift out to sea… and after that I went back to my 3 month at a time BC pills and that didn’t work for me… so ultimately, I wound back up on a normal 28 day pill cycle…. having a monthly period… and I just about lost my mind.

How did I stand it all those years before?  It was CONSTANT maintenance.  Either I was actually dealing with it on a daily basis, or I was preparing to deal with it.  Did I have enough pads or tampons in the house?  This was a frantic question that I posed to myself every 28 days.

The thinly disguised balls of trash in the bathroom can.  The mysterious object in wad after wad of toilet paper.  The thick, dark discharge.  The unholy smell.  The fact that this mess had been laying against my skin since the last time I changed the pad.  Oh… My… God.

I remember being in a Nashville blues bar once, and reading a sign in the hallway that lead to the toilets that said, “Never trust anything that bleeds for a week and doesn’t die.”  I kind of felt like a reverse vampire in this way.  Instead of drinking blood to live, I was hemorrhaging it.

So, three years ago, I had another IUD implanted.  That’s also a story for another time.  Sure the fact that it was birth control was nice… but the real reason I did it was that, based on past history, my periods would disappear like Houdini.

Now a friend of mine, within an hour of my “procedure”, gave me her theory as to the cost vs. benefit analysis of an IUD.   According to her, when the female body stops menstruating and is therefore no longer offering eggs for implanting, the body is telling the universe that it is ready to die, so that younger, more fertile females can take over the propagation of the species.

I was a little concerned… I said:  “Body, do not tell the universe you are ready to die.  Just tell it that you are disgusted by the yuckiness of your periods.”  I do think her ideas have some merit.  I always look to the “what would nature design this for?” idea as an aspect to understanding the physical world.

Thankfully, for the last three years, I have managed to hold my place on the planet against the more aggressive young breeders.  And I have managed to do it without having a period for the last 6 out of 7 years.  Who’s playing the system now?  By the time my IUD expires, I should be close enough to menopause and after that… I will be… my own great-grandmother… holy shit.

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About reneadijab

Renea Dijab

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7 Comments on “Period.”

  1. Joan Says:

    Mine are gone now… It is bliss (except for that crazy menopause crap)…


  2. ozzyatl Says:

    I was just thinking yesterday how strange the whole thing is. From an evolutionary standpoint, I’d think we would have attracted wild animals and sharks and become extinct. Plus, why not once a year like animals? Everybody at once! Look out!


  3. Kevin Ternes Says:

    Skeptically Speaking is a radio show out of Edmonton, Alberta (you know, Canada).
    Last week’s episode may be of interest to anyone interested in the actual whys and hows:

    Disclaimer: The above link is of no interest to people who believe certain stories about talking snakes and magic fruit.


  4. Shea Says:

    Renee, I am currently on my 2nd IUD! I swear a woman must have been involved in this invention! Period free for 7 years! Could not tell you the last time I purchased tampons. FREE AT LAST, I say!


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