My new friend from I Heart Guts, Ova the Ovary, reminding me to ♥ my period.
Maybe around a year or more ago, a person in a private Facebook group I'm a member of made a post about switching over to cloth menstruation pads. I thought it was very interesting, but definitely not for me. I have OCD, one aspect of it being contamination issues. I often think even my own body is unclean and disgusting, and I thought I would have a hard time with the experience.
There were two aspects that changed my mind about this. One was a slow progression, and the other hit me very quickly. The first hurt me, but ultimately led to empowerment. Someone I knew once had issues relating to physical aspects of my body and menstruation, and it made me feel very badly about myself. Being the type of person I am, I would do things to try and "improve" myself for the person out of shame or hide myself completely because I felt even more disgusting than I did previously, and after realizing how wrong this felt, I slowly started making choices that felt right for me. What I didn't yet have was an actual product that made me feel more comfortable with the process physically, or something that helped me talk more openly about periods. I wasn't quite there.
That brings me to around three weeks ago. On the 17th of June, I posted a link to Frill-Ability's Facebook page about a young woman, Lauren Wasser, whose case of Toxic Shock Syndrome was so severe that her leg was amputated. As I read through her story, I was struck for a number of reasons. It was almost unbelievable.
This girl never expected TSS and especially not amputation. She never had time to prepare. All because of something most people with functioning with uteri and ovaries might use every month or however often their period comes. She was doing what most people who use tampons do. She never thought much of her symptoms most likely because it's so ingrained into our minds to be tough and carry on when we're not feeling well, especially on our periods, even if the box gives us a tiny, nominal warning.
Then, there was that one word that's getting more and more personal to me. Amputation.
Amputation might be a necessary thing to make my life more livable and less life-threatening due to some risks of my condition of which I've become aware. That's a last option for me; something I have been working to push doctors to understand. (My condition is rare, and for some reason, even other people I have spoken to don't know about this published scholarly article which documents a common risk for aneurysm.)
Tampons. Tampons made of synthetic materials. I never thought of the risk much before. Once I got tired of pads and I could finally shove one of those suckers in my vagina, assumedly when my hymen was broken, I switched exclusively to tampons. Due to my condition, my period is one of the most painful times of my existence. Hormones negatively effect the venous malformations in my leg, like what some bodies naturally produce during a period.
I don't get normal cramps. They're not even really in my abdomen most of the time. It is nerve pain throughout my leg and back for hours to the extent I truly do not think most people can understand. I take morphine and hydrocodone (Vicodin) daily, and the medications becomes useless for one to two days.
I'll attempt to take a sleep aid (Tylenol PM or Benadryl depending on my acetaminophen intake) just so I can be asleep, and sometimes, the sleep aid does not work. So I lay awake while it feels like my veins are being ripped apart from the inside for hours. It comes in waves. A height of pain--I feel like I am not a body anymore, that the body is not a part of me, and I am outside of it, a slow release, a few seconds of a bit of relief, a build, and then the height of it. This has happened nearly every month since I was thirteen or fourteen. I am twenty seven.
In addition to abnormally excruciating, my periods have always been very heavy and long when I haven't missed them. They are often irregular and late. I used tampons frequently and not interchangeably with pads because they made me feel "cleaner." This led to vaginal pain, and I'd often feel ill. I usually didn't think anything of it and told myself it was in my head. After this article, I couldn't do it anymore, and if you're anything like me, even a little, I don't think you should either.
I thought of the reusable pads. There was something liberating about the idea. That girl swore to never use tampons again. I challenged myself one step further as many others have done before me: #DitchTheDisposables. From this point on, only reusables like cloth pads and menstrual cups.This might sound extreme, but it is a very personal choice that I feel brings harmony (and definitely less pain) to my life.
I'm really tired of how this industry that serves very obviously the disposable product treats us. We don't even see the other options in mass media advertisements, they are not widely distributed in stores, and we do not learn about them in schools. We're not taught what is potentially much healthier for our bodies. We're not taught not to be ashamed.
my Lunapads Mini Pads, in snow leopard and pink with one insert each,
If you're interested to learn more, I've been collecting things on this Pinterest Board.
I ordered a decent stash to get me going, and they've arrived! (perfectly timed for my period, might I add) I've done a massive review/haul type video for you including one of the brands, Lunapads plus some other products I've been putting off on I think you'll really like. It is monstrously long, so watch it in parts unless you are quite bored!
On the description page, I've included cheats to skipping around plus links to all of the product pages. Here's a little preview first, sans music, just the file you'll see used in the big video, but a nice panning through of all the images with descriptions. The actual video is embedded below it. I suggest clicking on it so it takes you to YouTube to watch later. The complete description is located there! Also, if you watch it on desktop, you'll get important annotations! (You might miss some important things in mobile, but don't worry, you'll get the gist.)
Note: I'm having an issue with the video not starting at 0:00 post upload. o.O I'm looking into this. Until I find the fix, please drag the playhead to start or use the restart button! Thank you!
Since having my first period with cloth pads, I am NEVER going back. It is such a difference. My period is not only easier to manage, it is less painful, and it's actually a little fun now. (All of the adorable prints!) It's relieving to know I'm wasting a lot less, doubly so that I'll never have to make another panicked trip to the store again. The pantyliners especially come in handy on non-period days for comfort and keeping my underwear fresh.
The most important lesson I'm learning from my switch: there is nothing wrong with us. There is nothing wrong with having a period. There is nothing wrong with having hair on your genitals. If you clean yourself, you are clean. Did you also know everybody freaking poops, and that is okay too? (but for gosh's sake, wash your hands, and ya'. know, be considerate; use an air freshener for guests and loved ones. ;p)
My birthday was a couple weeks ago. As I get older, I get more tired of doing the things that my body rejects. I want to do things that are kind to my body, and maybe if they are good to me, they might be good to you! Let's share. Mainstream society might not jive with them yet, but it doesn't like a lot of cool stuff that's good for it. It's kind of like that stubborn younger sibling that won't eat its vegetables. Give it time. If you put weird food colouring in it, it will come around. You do you, and Make Good with Your Ability Today.