Alvaro recently gifted me with my second cold in two months. I’m successful when it comes to avoiding germs out in the rest of the world, but when he brings a plague home, I’m going to fall victim to it. And I did. This one was worse than the last, taking me completely out for four days, and I’m still sniffling and congested a few weeks later.
The cold was the new baby in the family, getting all of the attention, so the middle child that is MS felt left out.
“Wait!” MS said. “I’m here, too! I’m doing terrible things to your body, too! What about meeeeeeeeeeeee?”
Middle children are miserable creatures, aren’t they?* My feet tingling and numb as I sneezed and coughed, I had to concede that MS is going to worm its way into complicating everything else that goes wrong for the rest of my life. Its main mission besides making me miserable is not to be left out of anything, ever.
If MS is the middle child and my cold is the baby, the older child is my reproductive system. I understand that some people may not want to learn more about my uterus, so feel free to sign off now if you are one of them with all of my best regards. I understand.
My menstrual cycle (oops—about to lose those of you men who didn’t realize that this is where the post was heading, so fare thee well) has always been difficult, coming with cramps and pain and rage. In the past ten years, that pain has become excruciating, especially on the first day of my period. People who don’t have debilitating cramping may be picturing a woman on the couch with a heating pad and a cup of tea looking mildly forlorn, but those are the kind of cramps Midol can handle, and there isn’t enough Midol in the world for mine. It feels like a 100-pound anvil is attached to my insides and is trying to pull them out, my lower back the string somehow holding everything together, doing a poor job of it.
This summer, things got exponentially worse. Somewhere between day three and day four, my period stops for about 12 hours, and then the real pain begins as it decides it’s not finished torturing me. My back screams as I writhe, trying to find any position that will lessen the suffering. Alvaro knows the drill, but it still freaks him out. I beg him to push all of his weight into my lower back, the only thing that provides a glimpse of relief, albeit temporary. I yelp when he does it, making him jump back, afraid he has hurt me, not understanding how it’s possible that he hasn’t hurt me. “Again,” I plead, sobbing. “Are you sure?” he asks. And so on and so on until neither of us can take it anymore. Although I’ve never considered it before, if someone had offered me heroin last night when this happened, I would have taken it. No joke—anything to make the pain stop because nothing available over the counter helps in the slightest.
I spoke with my doctor about this issue a couple of years ago and went in for a transvaginal ultrasound to see if imaging showed any irregularities. None were found, but the images were murky, and a few weeks later, I lost my vision, sending me on my journey to an MS diagnosis, my “female problems” placed on the back burner, where they remained until I revisited the topic with my PCP at my checkup in September.
We talked about my options. Hormonal birth control was one, but because of my age, it’s not the best idea. Getting an IUD was another option, but that also involves hormones, and as I approach menopause, I really don’t want to mess with them until I need to. Then we talked about endometrial ablation, a procedure she described as burning the uterine lining so that it scars over, possibly stopping menstruation completely, but certainly making it lighter and easier. It felt like the right way to go, especially when she said the procedure could be done in office.
My next stop was to see a gynecologist trusted by my best friend and my PCP. She was lovely and agreed that an ablation was probably best. Because I haven’t had children, she said an IUD would be difficult to place properly and could cause more issues. Then she said the ablation needed to be done in the hospital under general anesthesia, that it will be more complicated and painful for me because I haven’t had children. Unable to successfully get a biopsy during my exam to make sure there are no indications of endometrial cancer (not having children strikes again—have we sufficiently covered the fact that I HAVE NOT HAD CHILDREN?), she decided to do a dilation and curettage once I’m under before performing the surgery.
Said surgery will be happening Monday morning.
I’ve never had surgery, unless you count a dental implant, and I certainly wasn’t put out for that. I’m anxious about anesthesia but looking forward to having the procedure—and hopefully this unbearable pain—behind me. The cold will be gone soon, too, leaving me with that pesky middle child, the one who will never leave home but can hopefully be coaxed into staying in the basement, less inclined to cry for attention with its competition out of the way, there but not there.
There, yes, but more NOT there.
*I’m a middle child, but the rare unicorn kind who is an absolute delight. 😊